When you’re seriously injured in a car accident, you may find you have a lot of time to think about your experience. You may dwell on your injuries, your pain, and the physical limitations that control your life. As you begin to heal, your thoughts may transition to thinking about all the things you’ve been unable to do. If someone’s negligence caused your injuries, naturally, you’ll be considering settling your claim.
In the aftermath of an accident, injured victims are faced with an increasingly unmanageable pile of medical bills, rehabilitation costs, income losses, and other expenses. Injury expenses and other obligations often create a financial burden that is often difficult to overcome. It makes sense to wonder about recovering the compensation you may be entitled to, so you can move forward with your life.
Never try to handle your own car accident claim—injured victims typically fare much better when they have legal representation. Contact an experienced Virginia auto accident attorney immediately to learn about your legal options.
Your Accident Settlement is Personal to You
When you and another person sustain identical injuries, the settlement values could ultimately be completely different. When evaluating the value of a personal injury claim, the severity and extent of injuries are taken into account among many other determinants. Each factor is related to the injured individual personally.
After being injured in an accident, the damaged party is the only one who knows the extent of the impact of those injuries on a personal level. Only the victim can accurately describe how their pain disables them. Only those who are injured can understand whether there are residual psychological and emotional issues stemming from their losses. They know about the scarring, the limitations, and whether or not accident-related problems prevent them from performing their job.
While injured victims have a well-developed understanding of the impacts of their injuries, for their claim to be successful, they must convince others to understand your injuries from your point of view.
Insurers, attorneys, and juries will confirm an injured victims’ diagnosis with medical reports, bills, and doctor’s notes. It’s up to victims to document their pain, suffering, and other objective damages so that everyone understands.
A victim should begin documenting the impacts of their injuries immediately after the accident.
- Keep track of medical appointments. If you don’t keep your doctor’s appointments, your medical records will reflect it. No matter the reason, if you fail to show up for an appointment, the responsible party may try to discredit the extent and severity of your injuries.
- Fill all prescriptions. A doctor prescribes medication or topical treatments to ease your pain. If you don’t get your prescriptions filled, you may have a difficult time convincing others that you were experiencing pain.
- Keep an injury journal. Document your pain and suffering, impairments, missed family events, and other problems caused by your injury. As time passes, your journal notes will make it easier to remember the details of your pain and inconvenience. A journal can be beneficial in helping you describe how your injuries affected you.
- Don’t push yourself. If your doctor tells you to take it easy and you decide to return to work anyway, your actions could potentially diminish your claim’s value.
- Stay away from social media. Investigators monitor social media accounts for signs that injured victims are exaggerating their disabilities.
What Are Your Personal Characteristics?
When an insurance company, attorney, or jury evaluates your injury claim for settlement purposes, they do not only consider the injury. Rather, they must consider an injured victim’s personal characteristics.
- Age. When you’re young, you may heal faster, but, on the other hand, you may have to live with any permanent impairments for many more years than an older person. For older individuals, a similar injury to a young person will affect them in different ways. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that seniors age 75 and older are more vulnerable to serious injury during an auto crash. Simple accidents may often lead to chronic conditions, serious impairments, and a shortened life expectancy in aging individuals.
- Lifestyle. If you’re single and live a sedentary life, your claim has a lesser value than an active person with a family. Injuries will likely prevent you from supporting and interacting with your family. If you play golf, hang-glide, or participate in other sports, your injuries restrict your life more profoundly. Forced lifestyle changes can increase the value of a claim.
- Employment. If you are a CEO, your job responsibilities and income may make your claim worth more than a part-time office worker.
Who Caused the Accident?
When insurers have questions about liability, they investigate car accidents to determine whether their client is responsible. They may obtain formal reports, inspect and photograph the accident scene, and get statements from all involved parties. If an investigation determines that you contributed to your own injuries, the insurance company may deny liability for the claim and refuse to offer a settlement.
Insurance Company Injury Evaluations May Vary
When an insurance company resolves the liability issues in an injured victim’s favor, they owe them 100 percent of costs associated with accident-related damages. How much should you expect for your settlement? Because every claim is unique, every settlement amount is also unique. Quantifiable economic damages are the only consistent element in claim evaluations from company to company.
Each insurer reaches a settlement figure based on their own evaluation policies, traditions, and standards.
- Evaluation formulas: Some insurers still rely on formulas they implemented decades ago. They add up an injured person’s out-of-pocket expenses and multiply the total by 3 or 4. Although, the figures are inherently random, sometimes the calculation fairly values the claim.
- Evaluation software: Some companies utilize claims investigators to document injury information and input it into a database. Software such as DXC’s Colossus uses the input data to generate a settlement figure.
- Jury results: Some insurers task their attorneys to research recent trials for judgment information. Subsequently, they use other settlements as a guide for evaluating their cases.
- Experience: Claim handlers with long-term experience often settle injury claims based on their own gut-reactions. Through decades of seeing the same injuries, adjusters develop, what they believe, is a gut instinct as to what a claim is worth.
Ultimately, It’s up to You
When it’s time to negotiate your car accident settlement, you are the only person who can say how much is enough. If you conduct your own negotiations, you must consider all of the facts. You must also remember that an insurance company will try to settle a claim for the least possible amount. No matter how horrific your injuries, insurance negotiators try to pay less than your claim is ultimately worth. If an insurance company’s final offer is far less than your claim is worth, they will never reveal that information to you.
Do You Need an Attorney to Settle Your Injury Claim?
Experienced car accident attorneys regularly fight for the rights of injured victims to seek the compensation they deserve. When appropriate, an attorney may evaluate evidence and damages and assess liability issues. Attorneys may deal with insurers on their client’s behalf and handle claim negotiations and mediations. When necessary, they file lawsuits and present their client’s evidence in court.
When you consult a car accident attorney, the initial meeting is usually complimentary. You have no obligation to file a claim or a suit. You simply share information and learn about your legal options.