Successfully negotiating a personal injury settlement requires patience and the process can be nuanced. While insurance companies may appear to have your best interests at heart, they are really looking for ways to minimize their liability. One of the best things you can do to maximize your settlement is to consult with an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney. However, if you choose to navigate this process alone, consider the following tips for increasing your settlement.
1. Preserve evidence
To successfully recover damages after an injury or accident, you need to establish liability. In other words, to prove the responsible party was at-fault for your injuries you need evidence. For example, if you were injured in a car accident you would want to take photographs at the accident scene, obtain statements and contact information from any witnesses, and document the environmental factors (time of day, temperature, road conditions). Photograph any damage to yourself or your property.
In the case of an auto accident, contact law enforcement immediately. After they complete their investigation and report, you will receive an exchange sheet containing a police report number; this number will help you to access the report and witness information.
2. Seek medical treatment
It is critical for your health that you seek medical treatment immediately. Not only do you need a correct diagnosis to formulate a treatment plan, but you need to have your injuries diagnosed and documented to seek compensation for your injuries.
After being diagnosed, adhere to the treatment plan prescribed by your physician. Follow through on any referrals and attend all appointments. Failure to follow through with recommended treatments may leave the door open for opposing parties to question the severity of your injuries.
3. Be cautious of insurance traps
After an accident, you will be contacted by the insurance company for the adverse party; you will be asked to give a statement about your injuries and the accident. Do not give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster until first consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. The adjuster is looking for any evidence that can be used to deny your claim and shift blame away from their insured.
4. Maintain copies of all medical records, bills or other expenses
At some point, you will need to order a copy of your complete medical records and medical bills. Make sure to include all treating providers, hospitals, clinics, physical therapy, chiropractors, and any other practitioner who rendered care for your injuries. In addition to medical records, maintain copies of all medical expenses. If you are working with an attorney, they will assist you in requesting the relevant records.
5. Consult with an attorney
While it is possible to negotiate and settle your personal injury claim without the assistance of an attorney, you are putting yourself at a significant disadvantage. People represented by an attorney are more likely to settle their claims for a higher amount than an unrepresented person. A skilled personal injury attorney will not fall for the usual adjuster traps and will zealously advocate for the best possible outcome.
Moreover, an attorney can take on the stress and time required to manage your injury claim so you can focus on your health and other priorities in your life. For example, an attorney may handle the following tasks:
- Communicating with the opposing party and its insurer.
- Requesting medical records and bills.
- Drafting a formal demand letter to the opposing party’s insurance company.
- Hire expert witnesses to establish liability (e.g., accident reconstruction).
- Assist in preparing a statement for insurance adjusters.
- Keep track of and advise you on all relevant deadlines for settlement or any lawsuits.
- File a formal lawsuit if necessary.
The personal injury attorneys at Renfro & Renfro offer free consultations. If you are questioning whether to hire an attorney, contact us and we can review the facts of your case.
6. Maintain a log of life changes
After an accident, you may find that you are no longer able to complete certain activities because of your injury. It can be helpful to keep a record of how your life has been impacted.
Are there hobbies or activities you completed prior to your injury that you can no longer participate in? Are you experiencing any disruptions in sleep? Do you have pain or other physical symptoms because of your injury and are you taking any medication? Has your ability to work been affected? Has your injury affected your personal relationships?
It is much easier to keep track of these life changes on a regular basis than try to remember them months later when speaking with any attorney or insurance company. In addition, you will be able to provide a much more complete picture of the effects of your injury to support any claims for compensation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident or through the negligence of another person, reach out to the experienced personal injury attorneys at Renfro & Renfro. We will take the time to review your case and work with you to formulate a plan to recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.