First Steps in Handling Your Own Personal Injury Case
Written by greg on January 25, 2016
Hiring a personal injury attorney should be your first step if you are seriously injured after a car wreck. Houston personal injury victims must make a series of choices after an accident and many of those involve dealing with the insurance company. Dealing with an adjuster or an insurance company that is trying to pay as little as it possibly can can be extremely frustrating.
Typically, an adverse adjuster will contact the car crash victim after a serious injury accident. It is important to remember that the adjuster is not on your side and does not have your interest at heart when attempting to settle a claim.
Insurance companies have built huge office buildings by paying out as little as it possibly can on claims and in delaying paying as long as possible. Often consumers are frustrated that the insurance carrier will not call them back or respond to their claims made against the driver of the other vehicle.
The more serious the claim, the more likely it is you will get a call back from the adjuster. One technique used on serious injury and wrongful death cases where the insurance company has substantial exposure is for the adjuster to be extremely personable and friendly. That is because if the insurance company can convince the victim not to hire an attorney the odds on them saving money on the case skyrocket.
However, in less serious cases, frequently the innocent victim has a hard time getting a response from the insurance company. Keep in mind that the longer the claim process drags out the longer the insurance company can keep their money. Sometimes, the insurance companies drag the process out so long that victims find themselves in the statute of limitations quandary.
It is no secret that adjusters are sent to class to be trained in how to handle car accident claims to pay as little as possible to the victim. Accident victims should have the opposite results in mind and be seeking to obtain the maximum compensation available for their injuries. The truth of the matter is that with many injury claims, the insurance company simply does not treat an unrepresented person the same as those with a capable accident attorney.
If you’re committed to handling the claim yourself, you should be prepared to discuss and negotiate the claim with the adjuster. Preparation cannot be overstated and it is critically important that you have all the relevant facts at hand. This would include copies of all of your medical records, a summary of your lost wages, and of course information regarding the defendant and his insurance company. You should also be aware of coverage under your own auto policy that may apply in addition to those paid by the defendant’s policy.
It is helpful to have goals set for your settlement and an idea of which medical bills need to be paid or health insurance companies that need to be reimbursed out of the settlement. Many hospitals file liens in Texas against insurance claims when they treat an accident victim after a car wreck but are not paid by health insurance. Likewise, health insurance companies uniformly have subrogation clauses in their policies that allow them to seek reimbursement for proceeds collected in an automobile settlement. Your goal for your personal injury case should not be the maximum gross amount but the amount that you actually get to keep after paying everything off.
Collecting evidence about the collision can also be helpful. Where there any witnesses that support your side. Did the other driver make admissions at the scene or except fault? Photographs of the damage to your vehicle can also be helpful when it shows a serious impact. Photos can also be helpful in allowing a jury to understand how the crash occurred.
Obviously, with some serious injuries the personal or human or damages are the greatest portion of the claim. Pain-and-suffering and disability should be a big part of a settlement when the injuries are severe. A general rule of thumb is that the more serious your injury, the more likely it is you will need an experienced and capable personal injury attorney to help. When you are discussing the settlement numbers with the adjuster consider asking them to apportion the damages for such things as pain-and-suffering, disability, medical expenses, lost wages and the like.
If the insurance adjuster starts discounting your medical expenses and you don’t like the numbers your hearing for pain-and-suffering or disability, that should be your first clue that you may need to hire an attorney.
There are a substantial number of personal injury attorneys in the greater Houston area offer free consultations for personal injury victims. Anyone that has been seriously injured in an accident should consider taking advantage of such an offer to better understand the claims process and issues that they may face.