Speed is the Name of the Game
There is nothing quite as pressing or vital to maximizing a personal injury settlement as acting quickly following the accident itself. Obviously, one must first recover enough from their injury to have the physical ability to begin the legal process, but as soon as that is humanly possible, they should obtain legal counsel and get to work. It is essential because there are strict time limits set up by law that one must abide by if they wish to lodge a personal injury claim against another party.
There is a wide range of time frames that one might expect to experience when filing a lawsuit. Anywhere from one to six years is common. This may seem like all the time in the world, but remember that the legal process itself is quite lengthy and drawn out. A full-scale investigation of the claim and a lot of paperwork filing must happen before a settlement can be reached. There is no benefit in waiting to begin the process. The time limits may expire, or the evidence may lose some of its value as time goes by.
Obtain a Quality Attorney From the Start
You are encouraged to move to file a personal injury claim as quickly as possible, but you should take your time to find the proper attorney to represent you in court. Such an individual should have statistics about personal injury cases won from the past. Many of these attorneys will display some of their biggest wins directly on their website. This is a fantastic resource for you to evaluate how well a given attorney has done in the past. Take caution though and understand that all attorneys present their very best material where it is easily visible to the outside world. This by no means guarantees similar results in your case. Demand a few things from an attorney you consider hiring:
Free Initial Consultation– There is no reason to speak to a personal injury attorney who does not offer a free consultation as part of the initial personal injury advice that they present. The purpose of these free consultations is to sit down with potential clients for between 30-60 minutes and go over the specific factors that play a role in your case. The attorney is attempting to determine if there is a legitimate case to be had and how they might be able to work with you to pursue that case. The attorney wants to answer the question: What are the chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit? If they believe that the odds are strong enough they will likely take on the case.
Working On Contingency- The attorney should always work on contingency. This means that they only get paid when their client gets paid as a result of the settlement. Not one red cent should be spent on an attorney until he or she has proven that they know how to win your personal injury claim. Clients need only worry about attorney fees before their case is settled. The costs are typically advanced by the attorney rather than requiring payments upfront.
A Winning Record/Solid Reputation- It might be somewhat difficult to find precise statistics on how many cases a particular attorney has won or lost (though some may provide them!), but you can at least judge an attorney’s reputation based on if they have been recommended by people you trust from the local area. Winning attorneys tend to build strong notoriety with the community, and the word gets out about how talented they are before long. Look for those winning workhorses to hire for your own case.
Do Not Assume You Don’t Have A Case
Sometimes people talk themselves into the idea that they do not have a personal injury case at all. There is a perception in the culture that all lawsuits are somehow scams or fraudulent. This is dangerous thinking that prevents people from obtaining the justice that they deserve. Instead, you should always consider asking a professional attorney any questions you may have regarding a potential claim. The worst that can happen is that the attorney gently lets you know that they don’t believe that there is enough material to move forward with your case. However, you may be pleasantly surprised and find out that the attorney does think that there is something there. In other words, you could have money coming to you that you didn’t even realize was coming your way.
A case will ultimately fail if there is insufficient evidence to prove the claim. Thus, all plaintiffs have a vested interest in documenting anything that could conceivably help provide evidence in favor of your claims. A few of the types of records that all plaintiffs need to have prepared for the court are as follows:
- Police Reports
- Medical Records
- Medical Bills
- Witness Statements
- Policies And Regulations (If The Claim Involves A Workplace Injury)
This is a lot of paperwork, and a talented attorney can certainly assist in obtaining some or all of these files for you. The point is, it is incumbent upon those seeking monetary compensation to come prepared with plenty of supporting documentation.
Settlements Take Time, Do Not Cash In Too Early
Defendants in personal injury lawsuits tend to know that the opposing party is likely strapped for cash and may be willing to accept a less than ideal settlement for their injury. They will tend to offer a “low-ball” amount as their first settlement offer after they have been informed that the plaintiff intends to file a lawsuit seeking these damages. The offer will come either directly from the defendant or from the defendant’s insurance company depending on the nature of the personal injury claim.
Insurance companies deal with these types of cases constantly. They are unlikely to know many of the specific details related to your case in particular. They will simply determine their offer based on a formula of what they think they can get you to accept. This is why patience is absolutely essential in these negotiations. Those who can hold out for a better offer tend to receive more money as a part of their settlement (assuming they have a strong case to begin with). If you have asked yourself “how do I maximize my personal injury settlement?”, this is part of the way to make that happen.
Do Not Attempt to Deal With Insurance Yourself
Insurance companies are clever with how they handle these cases. They will do anything within their legal power to attempt to settle a case with you personally one-on-one. If you take down any insurance settlement accident tips at all, you should make sure you understand never to deal with insurance directly. These insurance companies do not have your best interest in mind, and they are simply looking for you to settle the case rapidly with them for as little money as possible. If an insurance company gets in touch with you at all, refuse to speak to them, and tell them to send all communications to your personal injury lawyer. You should never speak to the insurance company until after you have spoken with an attorney first. The only other exception would be if you are absolutely positive that you are not injured as a result of an accident.
Every piece of advice here can get someone closer to both winning their personal injury lawsuit and to maximizing the settlement that they receive for it. This is the ultimate goal for anyone who finds themselves injured through no fault of their own.
For additional tips and ideas for how to maximize a settlement, please contact us to discuss this.