How to get the full value when settling your personal injury case?
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you may find yourself questioning how you are going to pay your bills. You may be getting ongoing medical treatment and missing time from work. Medical bills are expensive enough, but those costs add insult to injury when you aren’t able to work and still have to pay your living expenses.
If you find yourself in this situation, you might wonder whether you will ever get enough in a settlement to keep you out of financial ruin. Many times, accident victims call our office with an offer of settlement already on the table that is LOWER than their medical bills and lost wages combined. If you accept such an offer, you may find yourself stuck paying medical bills and catching up on your other bills on your own. Once your case is settled, the insurance company is not going to give you more money regardless of your expenses.
5 things you need to know about insurance companies
To prevent this from happening to you, there are some important facts about insurance companies and personal injury settlements that you need to know:
1. Insurance companies will rarely make a reasonable offer to settle a small personal injury case
These companies know that injured people who don’t have a lawyer representing them will frequently give in to the insurance company’s “take it or leave it” settlement tactics. Many times, injured victims believe or are forced to believe that they must accept what the insurance adjuster says is the “final offer.” Insurance adjusters know that there are few accident victims who are willing to make the time and effort to take their cases to trial.
2. Insurance companies have no fear of being sued for a small personal injury case
To the insurance company, it makes more sense to take a case to trial (or at least to the courthouse steps) than to give the impression to anyone that they will settle to avoid going to trial. Such action gives an impression of inferiority and powerlessness. In fact, insurance companies will often spend more money taking a case to trial than what that case could have been settled for. This is all an effort to make certain they don’t appear weak.
3. Insurance adjusters must always justify the settlements they are paying to their supervisors
This means that they must provide substantial documentation for why the settle cases, even for the smallest of personal injury claims. Because their settlements are often questioned by their supervisors afterwards, an adjuster always takes the review of their settlements into account when they are making an offer. The adjuster will not risk losing his or her job to avoid going to trial or to do “what’s right.”
4. If your injuries involve primarily soft tissue injuries, such as muscular strain/sprain
You may have difficulty convincing the insurance company to compensate you for pain and suffering. With these types of cases, you can expect the adjuster to question every medical visit and bill and question whether the visits were necessary.
5. Insurance companies are often more impressed with facts and figures than pain and suffering
Their offers are frequently based on a formula which uses your total medical bills and lost wages. Unless you have substantial documentation (or a skilled personal injury lawyer) on your side, it is difficult to build a case for pain and suffering. Substantial documentation often involves keeping a daily pain diary, having witnesses provide written or deposition testimony about how the accident has impacted you, having photographs of injuries, etc. Even with such documentation, insurance companies like to revert to using their formula for hard numbers. In many cases, a claim will need to be taken to trial (or to just before trial) to get the full value.
To read more about this topic, see our article “Dealing with the insurance adjuster after a Virginia car accident.”
MORAL OF THE STORY: SETTLING YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CASE
The moral of this story is that injured people who are unrepresented frequently settle their cases for less than they are worth. In fact, many injury victims who are represented by an attorney who is not experienced in trying or litigating personal injury cases often settle their cases for less than they are worth. This is because the insurance company usually will not be willing to give the full value of the case until trial or just before.
Are you getting a settling attorney or a trial attorney?
Before you hire any lawyer to handle your case, you should ask how many trials he or she has been involved with. You want to know whether this attorney is a trial attorney or settling attorney. Will this lawyer be willing to put in the effort to interview witnesses and medical experts? Will this attorney be willing to take depositions in your case? How many times has this lawyer appeared in court before a jury?
Jury trials require experience and expertise that many practicing lawyers do not possess. The team of personal injury lawyers at the Ritchie Law Firm has decades of experience litigating personal injury case. We recognize that many cases do not get full value unless a trial is pursued. We are certified trial specialists through the National Board of Trial Advocacy and continue to pursue additional trial training. As a result, we are not afraid to take your case to trial and get full value. Be careful when you choose your lawyer that you aren’t hiring a settling attorney. Your choice could mean the difference between winning and losing your case.
If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a car accident in Virginia, Ritchie Law Firm is here to help. The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm have helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.
Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.
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