Filing a personal injury lawsuit can be a strenuous process in what is already a trying time as you deal with an injury, property damage, and other related losses. It is made even more difficult as the insurance companies that claim to have your best interests at heart attempt to mitigate your claims and offer payouts far lower than you deserve. While these insurance companies prey on the negligence of their customers, by following these simple steps, you will receive the maximum settlement for your claim.
Keys That Will Make or Break a Personal Injury Lawsuit
1. Take Thorough Notes About the Scene
A personal injury lawsuit can be a long process. Claim negotiations can often last anywhere between 10 months to 2 years. Over this time, an individual’s memory of the incident is unreliable, and notes become crucial in the negotiation process.
To ensure you get the maximum possible value out of your claim, you want to ensure you accumulate as much information as you can collect. While some notes may not come up in negotiations, it is essential to note all injuries, economic losses, property damages, and any conversations related to the incident. The note-taking process isn’t just for the initial incident, and thorough notes should be taken throughout the negotiations.
2. Collect Your Evidence and Take Photos of Everything
While it is important to remember the details of the incident, the evidence will make or break your case. If you cannot prove your case’s claims, then your case will simply be dismissed, and you will receive no compensation.
You’re going to want to be able to present physical evidence for all claims you make in your notes. This includes photos of all injuries, property damages, medical bills, and even records of conversations. A sound filing system of evidence that contains dates and times is crucial for presenting your evidence when called upon.
3. Collect Information of All Involved Parties, Objects, and Witnesses
While accidents can be perplexing situations, it is vital to maintain your bearings and collect as much information as you can. Contact information for all involved parties and witnesses will prove critical in establishing your case during the investigation process.
You’ll also want to collect the information of all vehicles involved in the accident, including make and model, as well as their housing location in the case that an inspection is deemed necessary.
4. Contact All Insurers of All Involved Parties to Determine Who’s at Fault
Texas is a tort state. That means if you are making your claim in Houston, Tx, or anywhere else in the state, the individual that is deemed at fault for the incident is responsible for paying all others’ medical expenses and property damages.
For this reason, it is important to contact not only your insurance provider but also all involved parties in order to determine the at-fault participant.
5. Seek Medical Attention ASAP, But Do Not Discuss the Lawsuit
It is essential to acquire medical attention as soon as you possibly can after the incident in order to obtain the medical records that will prove to be valuable pieces of evidence during negotiations. The longer you wait for an examination, the more evidence will be lost, and the weaker your case will be.
While these records will help facilitate your claim, you should never mention the lawsuit during your examination. A discussion with your doctor regarding the suit may make it onto the medical documents. If it does, that information can be used by the insurance company against the validity of your claims.
6. Be Honest With Your Doctor and Don’t Stop Medical Treatment Until Released
While exaggerating your injuries may seem intriguing to increase your claim’s value, doing so will only be harmful to your case. The true extent of your injuries will come out during the investigation of your medical examination, and any exaggeration will only challenge your credibility.
On the other side of the coin, you also don’t want to underplay the extent of your injuries. It is essential to be upfront and honest with your doctor in order to achieve the total value of your claim.
It is also vital that you continue following up with your doctor until they have cleared you from treatment. Any missed appointments, refusal to follow treatment regimens, or any other negligence in following your doctor’s orders may result in the forfeit of your compensation claim.
7. Ensure a Complete Investigation Is Conducted
Make sure that all evidence is accounted for during the investigation process. This means all injuries and damages are accounted for, all medical bills are presented, and an entire account of the events of the incident is recorded. This may mean that vehicles or other property items are placed in storage until a thorough inspection is conducted. Even a single piece of missing evidence can be used to devalue your claim.
8. Know Your Insurance Policy and Don’t Forget to Include Future Damages
Before you even contact your insurance company, it is crucial to review your insurance policy. It would be best if you understood what claims you are entitled to and should be able to determine a set figure that you would accept as a minimum compensation for your claim.
While this figure is subject to adjustment during the negotiation and should absolutely never be mentioned during the process, it will prevent you from signing a settlement way below your claim’s value.
Don’t undervalue your claim by forgetting any future medical expenses or property damage. These are insurable in your claim, but your insurance provider will not remind you of that.
9. Share Only the Facts of the Incident
Just as any exaggeration with your doctor will challenge your credibility, so will any speculation or deviation from the facts in your recount of the incident. Only speak to the things that you know to be fact. Avoid talking about what other participants may have been doing during the accident, and only share the things that you saw or did.
10. Don’t Be Too Eager and Consult Your Lawyer Before Signing Anything
Never sign the first settlement presented before you. A common tactic used by insurance companies is to present an extremely lowballed offer to get the upper hand in the negotiations. Remember what you’re entitled to, stick to your preestablished settlement figure, and never present a second offer without first hearing a return offer.
While the negotiating insurance officer will attempt to use tactics in an attempt to cause you to devalue your own claim, it is essential to maintain confidence in your negotiations. Ask questions about why their settlement offer is so low, and present evidence as to why their reasoning is off. Put pressure on the insurance officer, and show them you are validated in your claim.
It is never a good idea to sign any settlement agreement during a personal injury lawsuit without first consulting a personal injury lawyer. Having an attorney in your corner is crucial for high valued claims, especially those that present a question of fault. For any personal injury lawsuits in Houston, TX or surrounding regions, contact Abraham Watkins, and we’ll ensure you receive the settlement you deserve.