An experienced personal injury lawyer will aggressively negotiate with the insurance company to ensure a full and fair settlement. The negotiation process generally consists of multiple phone calls, meetings, and communications between your lawyer and the insurance company. Your lawyer will keep you informed throughout the process and, ultimately, it will be your decision whether or not to accept any agreement offered. While it's important to understand what you're getting yourself into, it's always possible to handle your own personal injury claim without hiring an attorney.
And in cases where your injuries are relatively minor and the other party's fault is quite clear, it may be cheaper to negotiate your own personal injury settlement, rather than giving one-third of your compensation to an attorney (which is common practice in personal injury attorney fee agreements). When to Consider Self-Representation Important First Steps & TipsEstimate Your DamagesSubmit Your Demand LetterFind and Accept a Settlement It is certainly possible to represent yourself in a personal injury lawsuit after an accident yields a satisfactory outcome. This is especially true if you have experience handling your own legal issues in the past, and are able and willing to defend yourself and your case. But when deciding if self-representation is the best option, it's helpful to consider two key factors.
How badly did they hurt you? If you slip and fall in a store and suffer a few bruises, the store may not be very opposed, and you may be offered a quick agreement to cover your medical bills with a little extra money for your inconvenience. But if you were involved in a serious car accident, underwent extensive medical treatment, lost a good amount of income, and experienced significant pain and suffering as a result of your injuries, you may want to at least discuss your case with an experienced injury lawyer. When losses (damages in legal jargon) are significant, the stakes increase for everyone, for you because you want fair compensation for your injuries, and for the defendant (usually an insurance company) because you don't want to pay a large amount to resolve the case. This is when things get conflicting, and also when you want someone who has experience with the (often hostile) comings and goings of litigation.
Is it clear that the other party was at fault? If it's obvious that the defendant or one of their employees is at fault in your accident, you have witnesses who will testify on your behalf, for example, you may find it easier to prove fault and get a satisfactory settlement on your own. But, as with the injury severity issue discussed above, you can expect more fighting if it's not so clear that the defendant is responsible for causing the underlying accident. The defense may even point your finger at you and tell you that you weren't looking where you were going when you slipped, or that you were driving too fast and could have prevented the car accident, or that you fell down stairs because you were on your phone (not because the stairs were defective). Again, in these types of situations, it's usually worth the cost of hiring an attorney.
Special damages include property damage (costs to repair or replace your car after an accident), loss of income and earning capacity, medical bills, and other financial losses attributable to your accident. They are able to perform exact calculations because they can usually be summed. Since medical bills and property damage in an accident claim are fairly straightforward, let's see how lost profits work. The lost gains are exactly what they seem: how much money have you lost and how much can you lose as a result of your injury? Because future lost profit capacity involves a loss calculation that can extend for many years in the future, it generally has to be calculated in terms of its current value.
Present value is a financial concept that involves determining the value of a future revenue stream (ie,. In other words, how much money does your employer need in a bank account today to pay you your salary for, say, the next twenty years? This is a complex financial calculation and is usually done by an economist who your lawyer would hire as an expert witness in your case. If you are unemployed at the time of the injury, you can generally claim your earnings from your previous job as your earning capacity at the time of the injury. If, for whatever reason, you have not worked for many years, the defense attorney will argue that you have no earning capacity and that you should not have any loss of income claims.
It can be difficult to refute this argument. In this situation, you and your lawyer will need to work together to formulate a plan for filing a loss of income claim. If you're retired, then you don't have any loss of income claims. If you were injured the week before taking a new job for a higher salary, you can generally claim that higher wage rate as your earning capacity.
If you are self-employed, the defense attorney will carefully examine your business records and tax returns to see if their actual records support your loss of profits claim. For any type of employee, the general rule is that anything you tell the government on your tax returns about your earnings is what you should tell the defense attorney and jury. This category of damages includes pain and suffering and mental anguish that result from your injuries. There are no exact guidelines for determining the liquidation value of an injured person's pain and suffering.
These types of damage are not able to be accurately calculated. In the typical timeline of a personal injury lawsuit, the demand letter is the starting point for serious settlement negotiations. But the demand letter is usually only sent once an investigation has been conducted into the circumstances of the accident (including fault), and the extent of the injured person's losses is known or those damages can be reasonably predicted if future medical care or loss of income is expected. To get an idea of what a good demand letter looks like, see our Demand Letter Examples page.
Remember, the insurance adjuster will probably lower you, but then you can start trading. It's OK if your demand is high, this will give you room to negotiate later. Learn More About Responding to a Low Personal Injury Settlement Offer. Consider the counteroffer and then decide if you want to accept it or not.
Take the money and sign an authorization. If you don't, prepare to file a personal injury lawsuit in court. You may be reluctant to resolve your lawsuit, but there is a risk of going to court. The jury can decide for the defendant and give him nothing.
Therefore, a fair settlement amount should reflect this risk. In addition, reaching an out-of-court settlement means you'll receive faster compensation and avoid a lot of court appearances and high litigation costs. Most claims are negotiated and resolved out of court. Remember that most adjusters will be more willing to help you (i.e.
Resolve your complaint) if you are courteous, reasonable and explain your story. You'll need to show clear liability and records of all your injuries before they can come to an agreement with you. Learn more about working with an insurance adjuster to resolve your personal injury claim. If You've Been Injured In A Car Accident, You Should Consult With A Personal Injury Attorney As Soon As Possible.
For more details on negotiating an insurance claim, including model letters to insurance companies, suggestions for handling negotiations, and strategies for dealing with an insurance company that refuses to make a fair offer, see How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim, by Joseph L. Keep reading for more tips on how to negotiate an auto insurance agreement and learn how to calculate a fair settlement for your damages, including payments for pain and suffering. You can deal with the insurance company yourself, accept a settlement offer, and close the case without an attorney. The first step in negotiating an auto insurance agreement is to start the claim as soon as possible.
A car accident insurance agreement is simply the amount of money you agree to accept from insurance to pay you for your injuries. If, for example, you have sent the adjuster a particularly strong photo of a crashed car or a serious injury, refer to it. Car Accident Attorneys in Houston, TX. California car insurance pays proportionately, which means you receive compensation based on your percentage of fault in the accident, even if it was 11% or 89%.
Your negotiation with the claims adjuster is the most important part of getting a fair settlement for the damages caused by the accident, so having an experienced negotiator on your side can make all the difference. . .