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​What Is Soft Tissue Injury in an Accident?

In personal injury lawsuits, judges, jurors, and even insurance companies want to hear how the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff to experience noticeable physical injuries. However, not every injury that a person sustains is as noticeable as a traumatic brain injury or an amputated limb. Body parts that are not noticeable to the eye can become seriously injured from different accidents. Victims who endure these types of injuries deserve to receive compensation as well.

However, victims with these soft-tissue injuries will have difficulty convincing others of the severity of their injuries. For this reason alone, you need to consult a personal injury attorney about your injury. An attorney can help you recover compensation from the party responsible for your injury so you can focus on recovery and not how you will pay the bills.

What Are Soft Tissue Injuries?

When a person experiences damage to their muscles, ligaments, and tendons, a healthcare professional will classify these as soft tissue injuries. Such injuries regularly occur in the most sensitive parts of the body, such as the neck, back, or joints. The deterioration in these particular areas can cause a person to endure bruising, pain, and swelling, as well as a loss of motion.

Types of Soft Tissue Injuries

​What Is Soft Tissue Injury in an Accident?Like many injuries, soft tissue injuries can happen suddenly or gradually over time.

Based on these two factors, doctors classify soft tissue injuries into two groups:

  • Acute injuries. When a doctor classifies soft tissue injuries as acute, soft tissue injury happens after enduring sudden trauma. People can suffer from acute injuries when they make a sudden turn and twist or sprain a particular muscle or tendon.
  • Overuse injuries. When a professional classifies soft tissue injuries as overuse injuries, a person has acquired the injury from repeatedly engaging in the same movement or activity many times.

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Personal Injury Accidents That Lead to Soft Tissue Injuries

While soft tissue injuries can happen from any personal injury accident, two of the most common accidents that lead to soft tissue injuries include motor vehicle accidents, premises liability accidents, and workplace accidents.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Victims of motor vehicle accidents are most likely to suffer from soft tissue injuries. One of the most common soft tissue injuries caused by a motor vehicle accident is whiplash. Whiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs when a person’s head moves back and forth suddenly amid a collision. Victims of whiplash experience severe stiffness around the neck area and chronic pain.

Premises Liability Accidents

Premises liability accidents occur when another person suffers a severe injury on another person’s property. Some premises liability accidents that can cause victims to experience soft tissue injuries are slip and fall accidents, animal attacks, amusement park accidents, elevator accidents, and escalator accidents.

Workplace Accidents

Employees who perform specific routine tasks day in and day out or work in high-paced working conditions are at risk of suffering from soft tissue injuries. Employees who use the same muscles, ligaments, and tendons to perform certain tasks at work can suffer from repetitive motion injuries. When employees are short-staffed or working in fast, quick-paced environments, they are also at risk of slipping, falling, or twisting certain parts of their bodies.

Can I Sue For My Soft Tissue Injuries?

If you suffer from a soft tissue injury, you have the right to pursue compensation. Like any injury, soft tissue injuries can cause you to experience severe pain. Even though soft tissue injuries are not always the most covered injuries in a personal injury lawsuit, they have the potential to cause immense pain.

Victims who suffer from soft tissue injuries can experience long-term effects like:

  • Chronic pain
  • Loss of mobility
  • Diminishing muscle strength
  • Disfigurement
  • Chronic numbness
  • Loss of function

Depending on the severity of the injury, it may take months or even years for you to recover. Your soft tissue injury can affect essential factors in your life, such as your ability to perform at your job or take care of your children.

Types of Compensation for Soft Tissue Injuries

Like any injury from a personal injury accident, you can seek compensation for any financial and non-financial damages your accident has cost you.

Depending on the nature of your accident, you can seek compensation for damages such as:

  • Medical expenses. Even soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains require medical expenses. Based on the severity of your soft tissue injury, you may need medical procedures like physical therapy and surgery. You may also need to pay for devices like a brace that can help you recover.
  • Lost income. Your soft tissue injury can cause you to miss out on a few days or weeks from your occupation. Based on the nature of your accident, your soft tissue injury can even result from the type of work that you perform. The severity of your injury can cause you to retire from your occupation and search for another job prematurely.
  • Pain and suffering. While attorneys do not discuss soft tissue injuries as frequently discussed as catastrophic injuries or severe injuries, they can cause you to experience significant pain. Some soft tissue injury symptoms include back pain, sharp neck pain, inflammation around the affected body part, a constant onset of pain, and stiffness around the affected body part.
  • Property damage. If your accident was a motor vehicle accident, you might have damaged your vehicle partially or severely in the accident. You can pursue compensation for future vehicle repairs or a new vehicle if the crash damaged your vehicle beyond repair.

Challenges With Seeking Compensation for Soft Tissue Injuries

Not surprisingly, seeking compensation for soft tissue injuries can be difficult. In many personal injury lawsuits, it is common for insurance companies to try to downplay a plaintiff’s injuries. This issue is no different for soft tissue injuries. It is easier for insurance companies to downplay the significance of soft tissue injuries because some victims do not immediately experience the long-term effects of these injuries.

One of the most common challenges in pursuing compensation for soft tissue injuries is proving the cause of the injury. Many people, in general, do not understand how specific risk factors at the workplace or the impact of a motor vehicle accident can lead to soft tissue injuries.

How Insurance Companies Feel About Soft Tissue Injuries

Insurance companies do not believe that soft tissue injuries are actual injuries. Insurance companies are skeptical when receiving personal injury claims surrounding soft tissue injuries. If insurance companies can deny compensation for soft tissue injuries, they will. However, plaintiffs with soft tissue injuries can pursue fair compensation for their injuries. Unfortunately, when plaintiffs ask for a particular amount of compensation, insurance companies will refuse to settle or offer compensation.

How Insurance Companies Will Downplay Your Soft Tissue Injuries

One of the ways that an insurance company will try to downplay your soft tissue injury is by stating that your injury is the result of aging. Insurance companies will argue that your injury results from normal wear and tear on the body and not from whatever accident caused your injury. Insurance companies will also argue that your soft tissue injury stemmed from a pre-existing condition instead of your accident. Insurance companies may say that your hobbies outside of the accident have caused your injuries.

What to Do When Seeking Compensation for Soft Tissue Injuries

Fortunately, there are some actions that you can take to give yourself a fighting chance at receiving the compensation you deserve. If you want to seek compensation for your soft tissue injuries, the first action you need to take is to seek immediate medical attention.

If insurance companies argue that your injury resulted from a pre-existing condition, this action will benefit you. Seeking immediate medical attention will also help you document the origin of your injury. A medical professional can also explain the extent of your injuries and give expert testimony should your case make it to trial.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

The next beneficial step that you can take is to seek the help of a personal injury lawyer. Even though you can take on the personal injury case by yourself, you will stand a greater chance of winning your lawsuit by reaching out to a personal injury lawyer for help.

A personal injury lawyer knows what factors of your accident can benefit you in your case. A personal injury lawyer can also serve as a great adversary against insurance companies. The deceptive tactics that insurance companies will use against you to deny your rights to compensation will leave you overwhelmed. Having a personal injury lawyer by your side will reduce that overwhelmed feeling.

Using Expert Witness Testimony to Your Advantage

A personal injury lawyer can increase your chances of winning your injury lawsuit by gathering evidence that can speak to the validity of your injuries. A personal injury lawyer knows the different methods that insurance companies will use to downplay your injuries.

A personal injury lawyer can collect the expert witness testimony of medical experts who can better explain the long-term effects of soft tissue injuries on the body to counter these arguments. Your attorney can use medical expertise to explain the severity of your soft tissue injury.

Maximizing All of Your Options for Compensation

Another way that a personal injury lawyer can also help in your injury lawsuit is by evaluating all aspects of your claim. When it comes to certain types of compensation, insurance companies may question whether your injury even warrants those types of compensation. An insurance company may ask whether you deserve to receive compensation for your medical expenses, for example.

A personal injury lawyer can not only justify why you deserve that compensation but can also recommend additional forms of compensation that you might recover.

Counteracting the Deceptive Tactics of Insurance Companies

One of the most crucial benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer is fighting against the tactics of insurance companies. Insurance companies will go to great lengths to deny your just compensation, from stating that you have a pre-existing condition to blaming you for your soft tissue injuries.

A personal injury lawyer can gather the appropriate evidence to refute all of the insurance company’s unfounded claims. Insurance companies treat soft tissue injury victims differently when they discover that an experienced personal injury lawyer represents them.

Proving the Severity of Your Injuries to Jurors

When your injury lawsuit makes it to trial, you will have to justify the validity of your soft tissue injuries to jurors if you have a jury trial. Because jurors are not familiar with the pain that a soft tissue injury can cause, jurors may need substantial evidence to prove this fact.

A personal injury lawyer can present an excellent case for you at trial and provide the correct type of evidence that can prove to jurors how severe a soft tissue injury is.

Proving the Other Party’s Negligence

Another way that a personal injury lawyer can help is by establishing how the other party’s negligence contributed to your soft tissue injury. Insurance companies will attempt to dodge liability for your accident by insinuating that you acted negligently and contributed to your injuries.

A personal injury lawyer can refute these claims by establishing how their client’s negligence directly caused your soft tissue injury. In some cases, the responsible party’s inaction might have led to your soft tissue injury. For example, if they knew of a hazardous condition and failed to fix it before you were injured. This inaction can lead to a claim.

Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one have experienced a soft tissue injury, do not allow insurance companies to bully you out of receiving the compensation you deserve.

A personal injury lawyer can fight on your behalf and force the insurance companies to make the right decision. Reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer who can best fight for the compensation you deserve. Call an experienced and compassionate personal injury attorney today for a free consultation about your case.

​What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

An adage states that you teach people how to treat you. That statement applies to family, friends, colleagues, and associates. When someone’s actions negatively impact you, that person deserves to be held accountable for their actions. That is the entire premise of a personal injury lawsuit.

People and businesses do not have the right to act negligently towards others without repercussions.

Steps to a Personal Injury Lawsuit

​What Are the Steps in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?The Department of Justice reports that between 300,000 and 500,000 personal injury cases are filed each year within the United States. Exceptionally few people may be fortunate to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The road to a personal injury lawsuit starts with some form of an accident. Maybe you were the victim of a severe car accident. Perhaps you discovered that the baby stroller that you place your child in has the potential to seriously harm your child. Maybe your neighbor’s dog, who was supposed to be on a leash, took off across the street and bit you. In any case, you have several options after enduring severe injuries from an accident.

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Speaking With a Personal Injury Attorney

If you decide to file a lawsuit against a particular party, you may want to speak to an attorney regarding your accident. Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney can help give you additional clarity about your lawsuit process. The closest that most people get to a personal injury case is the daytime court shows on television. Because most people have not gone through a personal injury lawsuit before, it is best to seek the guidance of someone knowledgeable in that area.

Benefits of Speaking With an Attorney

Some of the benefits of speaking with an attorney include saving time and money, guiding you through the legal process, and evaluating the worth of your claim.

Saving You Time and Money

Little mistakes can cost you time and money that you can’t afford to lose.

A personal injury lawyer can save you so much time and money by laying out how the legal process will proceed, what actions you want to avoid during the process, etc. A personal injury attorney can cut time in half by taking the reins and completing the time-consuming tasks for you.

Guiding You Through the Legal Process

Personal injury attorneys have the necessary experience to handle all accidents, from motor vehicle accidents to medical malpractice accidents. The nature of your accident and the injuries you have sustained may cause you to feel overwhelmed about seeking compensation for your accident. A personal injury attorney can be that beacon of light and guide you through the legal process. Having someone knowledgeable and determined to fight for your best interest can remove stress.

Evaluating the Worth of Your Claim

A personal injury attorney can analyze and discuss the different types of damages that you can list in your claim. Because this is most likely your first time filing a personal injury lawsuit, you may not be aware of the different types of compensation that you can seek from a negligent party. A personal injury attorney can evaluate the actual worth of your claim and break down the multiple forms of compensation that you may not have even thought about pursuing.

Filing a Claim on Your Behalf

After speaking with an attorney, the next step in the personal injury lawsuit process is filing a claim. Although you can file a claim without the help of an attorney, you can benefit from the legal experience of an attorney before filing your claim. In addition to offering their legal knowledge, personal injury attorneys can file a claim on your behalf. This job is another task that a personal injury attorney can take off of your hands.

Assessing the Accident

When filing the claim, a personal injury attorney will ask you about every detail concerning your accident.

Your personal injury attorney will analyze:

  • The cause of your accident
  • A police report
  • Eyewitness statements

These factors play a pivotal role in whether you can seek the compensation you are entitled to recover. The most important aspect of a personal injury case is determining how negligent the other party acted and how the other party’s negligent actions led to your accident.

Measuring Compensation

Another crucial part of your claim that a personal injury lawyer can help with is measuring the amount of compensation you want. After reviewing the facts of your case, it will be easier for a personal injury lawyer to assess how much compensation you deserve.

The types of compensation that you pursue vary based on the facts of your accident. If you have suffered a wrong by one negligent party, you will only have to be concerned with filing one claim.

However, if multiple parties wronged you, you must file a claim against each one. A personal injury lawyer can also review the different forms of compensation open for you to pursue.

Current and future medical expenses, current and future lost income, emotional distress, and pain and suffering are just some of the forms of compensation that a personal injury lawyer may recommend for you to list. If your loved one died due to a personal injury accident, you can seek compensation for your loved one’s funeral expenses and a loss of consortium.

Negotiating for Your Compensation

After filing your claim, the negotiation process is next. This point is the step where the insurance company meets with you and your injury lawyer to resolve your compensation.

During this step, the insurance companies and your injury lawyer will share all of the accident evidence and decide how best to proceed. One of the options that the insurance company will present is a settlement offer. This option usually appears if the other party’s actions were highly negligent.

Another decision is that there is no resolution, and the insurance company does not want to budge on your demands. If the insurance company reacts in this manner, you still have several options that you can exercise. You can continue your fight for your compensation by proceeding to a trial. This option can be beneficial for you in many ways. You can pursue additional types of compensation if you successfully win your lawsuit.

Being Represented at Trial

The next stage after the negotiation step is the trial. During this step, your injury lawyer will have the opportunity to prove the defendant’s negligence by establishing four critical elements.

To prove that the defendant was negligent, here are the four elements that a personal injury lawyer must prove:

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  • The defendant’s careless actions breached the duty of care
  • There is a connection between the defendant’s breach of duty of care and the plaintiff’s injuries
  • The plaintiff suffered damages due to the defendant’s breach of duty of care

Dealing With Any Issues Along the Way

While these are the typical steps of a personal injury lawsuit, the process will transition smoothly in the most ideal of terms. However, as with every process in life, not everything will go according to plan. One of the most challenging aspects of a personal injury lawsuit is collaborating with insurance companies. Even if the defendant has been blatantly negligent, insurance companies will not concede to defeat and reward you with your compensation.

Deceptive Practices by Insurance Companies

Insurance companies will not fight fair when it comes to avoiding a settlement and offering injured parties compensation. These are just some of the deceptive practices you can expect from insurance companies during a personal injury lawsuit.

Accusing you of being the negligent party

Because plaintiffs must prove negligence in personal injury cases, insurance companies will paint you as the negligent party. If the insurance companies can establish you are the negligent party, they won’t need to pay you compensation.

Missing the deadline to file a personal injury claim

Every personal injury victim must file their claim within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the length of time you have to file your claim against the person or party responsible for your injuries. Insurance companies can use the statute of limitations by stating that you filed your injury claim past the statute of limitations.

Accusing you of exaggerating your injuries

Another deceptive tactic that insurance companies use is insinuating that you exaggerate your injuries. Insurance companies might attempt to use this tactic if you did not seek immediate medical attention following your accident. Even if you did seek immediate medical attention, insurance companies might insinuate that your injuries existed before the accident and that you are attempting to seek compensation for a previous medical condition.

Accusing you of having a lack of evidence

Insurance companies do not want to admit that their client was negligent and that their negligence caused an accident. Instead, they will state that the evidence that you have presented is not enough to prove their client’s negligence. If insurance companies request that you provide additional information surrounding your claim, that is a sign that they believe you have a lack of evidence to prove your claim.

Following Your Social Media Accounts

Another deceptive tactic that insurance companies have practiced for decades involves hiring private investigators to follow personal injury victims around. This tactic was (and still is) often used by insurance companies to gather evidence that insinuates that personal injury victims are faking their injuries.

Private investigators take pictures of personal injury victims performing errands, playing sports, and moving easily throughout town. Now, private investigators can use the posts and pictures from victims’ social media accounts to paint victims in a negative light. When filing your injury claim, a personal injury lawyer will advise you on how best to proceed on and off social media.

What Actions Can You Take Against Deceptive Insurance Companies?

If you suspect the insurance company of acting negligently during the lawsuit process, there are actions that you can take to hold the insurance company liable. A personal injury lawyer can help you file another claim against the insurance company for exhibiting bad faith practices during the process.

Bad faith practices are a type of negligence that insurance companies practice. Insurance companies have a legal responsibility to perform their duties fairly and transparently. Insurance companies that fail to operate fairly and transparently can be held liable for bad faith practices.

Some examples of bad faith practices involve:

  • Failing to communicate. Insurance companies must remain in communication with you during the claims process. If insurance companies take a long time to investigate your claim, that is an example of bad faith practice.
  • Unreasonable demands. Insurance companies who request that you provide ridiculous documentation to prove their client’s negligence can be an example of bad faith practice.
  • Failure to properly investigate a claim. Insurance companies have a legal responsibility to investigate your claim promptly. Insurance companies can be held liable for failing to adequately investigate a claim if you discover that they have not even investigated your claim before denying it.

Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or your loved one were in a personal injury accident, you do not need to fear the unknown. A personal injury lawyer can evaluate your claim whether it entailed a motor vehicle crash, an injury suffered on someone else’s property, or any other incident.

Call a personal injury lawyer today for a consultation before you miss the statute of limitations to file a claim.

​Do Personal Injury Lawyers Go to Court?

Many people have an image of their personal injury lawyer standing in front of a jury, arguing their case as to why they deserve money for their injury. They think that every personal injury case involves the courtroom, and their fear can keep them from pursuing their legal rights when someone else has injured them.

Although many personal injury lawsuits may include the court, lawyers do not often end up in courtrooms. Both you and the insurance company have reasons not to let the case go that far.

Personal Injury Trials Are Rare, But Lawsuits May Not Be

​Do Personal Injury Lawyers Go to CourtWhile pivotal court trials happen on occasion, it happens far less than you think. Nonetheless, the court and the prospect of the court will have a significant effect on the legal process.

Your personal injury lawyer can go to the court that presides over your case and force the defendant and their insurance company to be more reasonable. They do not want to be the defendant that might have settled a claim for less, only to have a court hand them a jury verdict for several multiples of what they might have paid in a settlement.

Personal injury lawyers can and do go to court, and they may do it at varying stages of your case. Before they help you decide whether to file a lawsuit, the attorney will learn more about your case and your situation. Then, they will investigate your accident to begin building the necessary proof, regardless of how you choose to seek financial compensation. At that point, you will discuss the path forward and whether you should go to court.

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Your Attorney Will Help You Determine the Best Route to Compensation

First, your attorney will advise you about the best way to obtain financial compensation. You may choose to start at different points of your case. Some accident victims may begin with the insurance company and try to reach a settlement agreement.

Others may go directly to court and start with a lawsuit. Even if you go first to court, it does not rule out the possibility of a settlement. Some cases will even settle on the eve of trial after you have gone through all the pre-trial steps, including a lengthy discovery process. A very small share of cases can even settle after the jury has issued a verdict while an appeal is pending.

Some Claimants Try to Avoid Personal Injury Trials

While many people think going to court means a trial in front of a jury, it does not always work this way. Of course, going to court always starts with filing a legal complaint that begins the lawsuit process. It also means that you are progressing towards a trial, which will happen at some point if the case doesn’t settle then.

However, many personal injury cases will settle before they reach the point of a jury trial. Both you and the insurance company have motivations to settle a case.

From your standpoint, going to a jury trial means:

  • It adds more time to your case
  • You run the risk of getting nothing if the jury does not issue a verdict in your favor
  • Even if you win, the defendant may appeal and add even more time to your case

When you need the money and need it sooner rather than later, you may be running some extra risks. However, never let those risks force you into an unfavorable settlement. Nonetheless, with the help of an attorney, you must always weigh your risks and the timeframe in each case. An experienced attorney can counsel you at all stages of the process and explain what you may be facing.

Insurance Companies Have a Motivation to Settle Claims

The insurance company knows that personal injury victims can make sympathetic plaintiffs in front of a jury. They do not want to risk that a jury will issue a substantial verdict that they might have avoided by settling.

Insurance companies will usually only let a case go all the way to trial when:

  • They firmly believe that their policyholder was not responsible for the accident
  • They think that you share responsibility for the accident, which means you should get less money
  • They refuse to get in the same ballpark when it comes to the damages in the case

The above considerations do not apply to most cases. Even if they do, an insurance company may still try to settle the case to manage their own risk.

Insurance Companies Know When and How to Settle a Case

Insurance companies and their defense firms usually have an excellent idea about each case that comes from their decades of experience. They know which claims present perils and will do everything possible to manage their risks. Insurance companies are all about risk, and they do not want to have open-ended chances in a jury trial.

There are usually two times in the case when it is more likely to settle:

  • After the defendant has unsuccessfully tried to get the case dismissed
  • Once the discovery process has wrapped up, and the defendant realizes that you have built a strong case against them

Statistics about the number of personal injury cases that go to trial vary, but the general estimate is between 3 and 7 percent. In most cases, plaintiffs do not even go to court. They may settle their case after filing an insurance claim, avoiding the litigation process altogether. Every plaintiff who does not go to a jury trial has a reason for it.

Your Attorney Should Have Courtroom Experience No Matter What

Even though most personal injury cases do not go to court, you must hire an attorney with trial experience if you need to take your case to a jury. Insurance companies know who they are dealing with when they see an attorney on the other side of the table.

They know who has a track record of making them pay in court, and they will respect a tough attorney, even if they do not like them. Insurance companies deal with the same attorneys regularly, and each lawyer develops their reputation over time. Insurance companies know when they are up against a difficult lawyer.

Ask about a personal injury lawyer’s experience before you hire them. You need someone who can make your case to a jury if necessary. While settlements can be reasonable, you do not want an attorney who looks to settle every case because it can cost you money. Often, after an insurance company realizes that you are serious about the court, they get serious about a settlement.

The Prospect of a Lawsuit Can Pressure the Insurance Company

Even if the personal injury lawyer does not go to court in your case, a court verdict must present a credible threat if you choose to deal with an insurance company. An insurance company will hire a defense firm whenever you file a lawsuit.

They usually have agreements with firms that do nothing but insurance defense and pay them for each case. These are not expenses that an insurance company wants to pay. They have their own goals of both trying to pay you as little as possible and wanting to minimize their legal costs.

Each lawyer has different philosophies about whether and when to go to court. They should have no hard-and-fast rules, although some may be more likely to litigate than others. While many attorneys market themselves as being determined and aggressive (and those are helpful traits), they should also be pragmatic.

Not every case requires swinging for the fences right off the bat. There are times when you can work with the insurance company and reach a settlement agreement that suits your needs and pays for your damages. The best type of attorney can mix toughness with common sense and level-headedness to achieve your goals.

Your Attorney Should Be Flexible and Respond to the Circumstances

You do not want an attorney who takes every case to court as a personal rule, nor do you want one who will automatically try to settle everything. What you want is the flexibility to meet your needs. An attorney must provide you with the best representation based on your unique circumstances.

With a jury trial being a remote possibility, some people may question why they will need a lawyer in a personal injury case. The court is only one part of what a lawyer does.

Here is how a personal injury lawyer may help you:

  • Assessing whether you should go to court or continue to deal with the insurance company
  • Putting a dollar value on your case, so you know how much you can get for your damages
  • Working to gather evidence that can prove liability, putting you in a position to receive financial compensation
  • Negotiating with the insurance company to obtain the best possible settlement

The Threat of a Lawsuit Can Secure a Higher Settlement

The ability of a personal injury lawyer to go to court is what will force the insurance company’s hand in a settlement negotiation. Even when your case settles, it is against the backdrop of court. It is the jury who is the ultimate decision-maker in your case.

The insurance company is just an intermediary who defends its policyholder and pays for the damages that it caused. There is nothing that says that you have to settle the case. When you reject the insurance company’s settlement offer, in effect telling them to do better, they know that your next step can be to file a lawsuit. They will need to think carefully, knowing that you can persuade a jury to give you far more.

Besides, when insurance companies see that you do not have an experienced attorney to advise you and protect your legal rights, they will not take you seriously. They will doubt your ability to hold them accountable in court.

Therefore, they will stick to the tactics they invariably use to drive down the amount of your settlement if they even offer you money. The mere prospect of court hanging over their heads forces them to eventually be more reasonable after they tried to catch you unsuspectingly or wear you down.

What a Personal Injury Lawyer Does in Court

When your personal injury lawyer does go to court on your behalf, they will:

  • Investigate your case to establish the facts that they will include in your legal complaint
  • Draft the legal complaint that begins your case and serve it on the other party and file it with the court
  • Respond when the defendant is trying to have your case dismissed
  • Work vigorously for you in the discovery process to obtain all the evidence necessary to prove your case
  • Continue to negotiate a possible settlement while your case is working its way toward trial
  • Present your evidence in court if your case goes to trial and argue your position to the jury

The court can involve difficult and stressful processes for personal injury victims who know that their financial future is on the line. They may have to relive a traumatic experience they want to put behind them. However, a trial is a rare but necessary last resort needed to get the best financial outcome when the insurance company either denies your claim or will not make you a reasonable settlement offer.

If your lawyer advises you that you need to take your case to court, you should expect a longer process, but it may be the best option. Your lawyer’s job is to represent you and advise you on the best course of action.

Why Would an Insurance Company Investigate a Claim?

The prospect of an investigator hired by the insurance company following you around and looking into your life is not a myth, nor is it a scare tactic used by lawyers to get you to hire them. Insurance companies do investigate claimants. Doing or saying the wrong thing really can cost you money. Insurance companies commonly use surveillance. Prepare for them to use it in your case, especially if you allege severe injuries.

Insurance Companies May Hire People to Follow You

Why Would an Insurance Company Investigate a ClaimInsurance companies send investigators to different cases. They can contract with private investigators or hire their own. Regardless of who they use, their goal is the same; to try to catch you in the act of doing something that they can use to reduce your financial recovery.

We have known these companies to do or say anything that they have to pay as little as possible. In some cases, they go after the claimant themselves, either by undercutting their credibility or disputing their damages.

Insurance companies are also concerned about potential insurance fraud. While most personal injury claimants are accident victims who need the money, insurance fraud does take place. Accordingly, insurance companies feel the need to further investigate some claims because they suspect fraud. There can be specific reasons why they have honed in on you.

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Insurance Companies Devote Time and Resources to Surveillance

Insurance companies will spend thousands of dollars to tail claimants for as long as a week. This surveillance can be around-the-clock, just like in the movies. Cars can be parked outside your home out of view or follow you as soon as you leave your home. These investigators are good at what they do, so you will probably not outwit them.

Insurance companies can follow you at any point during your claim. If your case drags on for a year or two, their investigators may watch you at any time. Although they will not follow you the whole time, you should always act as if they are watching you because they can follow you at any time.

Insurance Companies May Use Surveillance in Personal Injury Claims

Most often, insurance companies will order surveillance in disability claims when the basis of your case is that you can no longer work. However, a personal injury claim can pay you for your inability to work. If you are early in your career or have a high-paying job, these damages can be the bulk of your claim.

The insurance company investigators are not amateurs by any means. They are private investigators with experience who know what they are doing. These people have expensive and sophisticated spy gear that they are using on you. Again, it is entirely legal for insurance companies to surveil you. How far they can go depends on state law.

Tactics that Insurance Companies Use to Get Information

Insurance investigators will watch you. They will look through whatever parts of your social media that they can access to get an idea of the life that you are living when you file the claim. They are not beneath hiring someone to physically follow you during your claim to see what you are doing. Their only limit is that they cannot enter or look into your home. Other than that, everything else is fair game.

These investigators will undoubtedly perform a Google search on you. They can see the publicly available information that anyone can view, including news articles and comments that you may leave in chat groups and forums like Reddit.

While there are rules about what these investigators can and cannot do, you should not expect that they will follow them. Some unscrupulous investigators have used shady and dishonest tactics to discredit your claim, seeking to impress their insurance company bosses. No matter how they obtained the information, you can count on the insurance company being more than happy to use it against you if it can save them money.

Even if a state limits insurance company surveillance under anti-stalking laws, there are still plenty of things that investigators can do to find information. Following you is just one of the many things that insurance companies can do.

Insurance Companies Can Use Surveillance to Undercut Your Damages

Once you have proven your entitlement to damages, you will begin trying to negotiate a settlement agreement. When you file a claim, you have also outlined the damages you have suffered in the hopes that you will obtain compensation for them. Before they write you a check, the insurance company wants to ensure that you have suffered these damages. They may be looking for nuggets that they can use against you, especially if your case goes to court.

Insurance companies are more likely to investigate you when you file a large claim. Any large check that they write comes out of their profits. Therefore, they are looking for any way to escape paying for the damages their policyholder caused.

How Insurance Companies Use Information that They Gathered Against You

The insurance company wants to disprove:

Your lost wages depend on showing that you are either unable to work or can do less work than you did in the past. In a hypothetical case, when someone claims that they cannot perform the physical duties of their job, it does not look good when there is evidence of them out riding a bike or doing something physical in public. The insurance company is trying to prove that you can do your job or take another position to pay you some money.

Even if an insurance company does not have enough to physically disprove your claim, they may get something that strengthens their bargaining position. Settlement negotiation is very similar to any other type of negotiation – information is power, and those who have it are in a stronger position. In the insurance company’s estimation, they can scare you by claiming to have some evidence that they can use if your case goes further.

When you seek pain and suffering, you claim that your life has changed for the worse since the accident. One central element of pain and suffering is the loss of enjoyment of life. You seek compensation because you cannot do things you did before the accident. Your pain and suffering claim may also say that you deal with intense physical or emotional pain.

Pain and suffering are often the most significant parts of your damages. The insurance company wants to do anything possible to undercut this part of your claim, trying to find something inconsistent with what you have put on paper. If they can show that you are in better shape than you claim, the insurance company can reduce your damages.

Insurance Companies Take Snippets of Information Out of Context

All it takes is one glimmer or piece of information for the insurance company to cherry-pick for them to reduce your settlement offer. Although they do not have the final say over the amount of money you get, they can present this evidence in court if you file a lawsuit. Inconsistent information can undercut your credibility, and the insurance company will not hesitate to use it as leverage against you.

While insurance investigators are usually more common in other cases (such as long-term disability insurance claims), do not assume that the insurance company will not investigate your claim. In fact, you should act like the insurance company is watching you while your claim or lawsuit is pending, even if they are not. The last thing that you want to do is give them ammunition to deny your claim or try to reduce your damages.

Be Very Careful When You File a Claim

With that in mind:

  • Set all your social media accounts to private to keep those who are not your friends from seeing your posts (if that is possible)
  • Do not post anything about your physical condition.
  • Do not post any pictures that show you performing any physical activity.
  • Be very careful about what you do outside your home.
  • Do not speak to anyone about your accident, especially those who you do not know.

You Can Dispute the Information They are Using Against You

Even if the insurance company obtains the information that can undercut your claim, you still have the right to tell your side of the story to the court. Insurance companies are known for cherry-picking favorable evidence and taking small snippets out of context to make you look bad. You can tell the court the entire story and show why the small slice that the insurance company has played does not accurately capture reality. In addition, you can present medical evidence that reinforces what you have alleged in your personal injury claim.

A jury will decide how much compensation you are due if you cannot agree on a settlement with the insurance company. While the insurance company may present evidence, they do not get the final word over your financial compensation.

Personal injury claimants may have good days and bad days, and the insurance company will try to argue that the good days are your entire life. However, never give the insurance company reason to make your life more difficult when seeking financial compensation from them.

Whenever you deal with an insurance company, exercise a healthy degree of caution, knowing their motivations. You are not being paranoid if you act like an investigator is following you. You are simply being smart. Assuming that everything you have included in your claim is true and correct, you should have nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, do not make your life any harder when filing a claim and seeking compensation.

Always Get Legal Help When You File an Insurance Claim

You should always hire a personal injury lawyer for your claim. They will advise you about what you should and should not do while your claim is pending. If the insurance company is trying to strong-arm you with some information that they claim to have, your attorney will know how to deal with them. While you can try to negotiate with the insurance company on your own, it is always a bad idea. Your attorney has the benefit of experience dealing with the insurance company.

Your lawyer may also challenge the evidence that the insurance company has gathered if your case goes to court when the insurance company’s investigator has gone too far. Some of these investigators break the rules through their overzealousness and their attempts to please the insurance company that pays them. In that case, you can try to have the evidence thrown out if your case goes to court.

In the end, insurance companies chase figurative waterfalls most of the time, as most of their surveillance efforts fail to discover anything that they can use against a claimant.

Many claimants have become aware that an investigator may follow them, and they are cautious while their claim is pending. However, when the insurance company does turn up damaging evidence, it helps them pay for all the surveillance because they can cut financial compensation if they successfully use what they find.

​Did a Lawyer Call You Unsolicited After an Accident?

Before proceeding any further with this post, we must stress that most car accident attorneys work according to the rules and do what is best for their clients. However, one segment of the legal market does not play by the same rules as anyone else.

You have probably heard about lawyers calling up potential clients to pursue their business. If that happens, you must be very careful. Never speak with them, give them any personal information, or sign any agreement. The person who calls you may not have to abide by the same regulations and may not always work in your best interests.

Attorneys Are Jockeying to Get New Cases

Lawyers are always in competition to get new clients. Since they work on a contingency basis, attorneys will not earn a living if they do not have a steady supply of new cases. Many personal injury attorneys will advertise, and others will spend a lot of money to make sure that prospective clients will see their names.

However, other lawyers either do not want to make the investment, or they want to short circuit the system to go directly to the source to get new clients. Often, they are either skirting legal rules or outright breaking them. One questionable tactic is having someone else contact you to sign you up as a client.

To be clear, most attorneys play by the rules. Most personal injury lawyers will market themselves using advertising and word of mouth. These are precisely what lawyers can permissibly do, so long as their advertisements follow professional responsibility rules.

There Are Rules and Laws Prohibiting Cold Calling

​Did a Lawyer Call You Unsolicited After an Accident

In general, lawyers should not be cold-calling prospective clients. Some states have laws against client solicitation that can result in jail time for the lawyer. Therefore, some attorneys have turned to shadowy ways to contact clients, often keeping their fingerprints off the call. These lawyers want to get new clients by any means necessary without putting themselves at risk.

In addition, the American Bar Association Rules of Professional conduct also address solicitation. Lawyers should generally not solicit clients unless the client is an attorney or has a personal or prior professional relationship with the lawyer. In other words, the lawyer can be censured, suspended from practicing law, or even lose their law license entirely.

Further, there is even a chance that lawyer solicitation calls can even violate consumer protection acts that prohibit telemarketing solicitations. If you are on the national Do Not Call Registry, telemarketers cannot contact you through a voice call or text. The only way that an attorney can contact a prospective client is through a mailer or a flyer.

Lawyers Can Use Many Ways to Identify Clients to Target

New technology has allowed lawyers to identify and target potential clients far more quickly than in the past. These technologies are not only unethical, but they may be illegal too. To understand why you should be wary of lawyers who solicit your business, you must know what happens when you sign on with one of these lawyers.

Some lawyers use unscrupulous methods to get potential client information even without new technology. There have been reports that police officers and hospital employees sometimes provide information regarding accident victims to lawyers. Accident victims are even getting calls in the hospital within 24 hours of the accident.

Be Very Careful and Suspicious When People Call You

First, there is a possibility that the person who has called you is not even a lawyer at all. They may just be cold-callers who solicit business for lawyers. With that in mind, the solicitor doesn’t have to follow the same professional rules as a lawyer. They may not have to abide by the ethical requirements that lawyers must follow. As a result, they will put their interests in front of yours.

Even if the person who contacts you is a lawyer, they will still put you in a bad position. The attorney who calls you and solicits your business will often not be the one who represents you. They are contacting you to sign you up and sell your case to another attorney. Then, you will have no say in who handles your case, not even knowing if they are up to the job.

While you can always switch lawyers in the middle of your case, you do not want to do that once you start with a lawyer. You have lost time, and your previous lawyer can have done severe damage to your chances of getting a proper settlement check.

Predatory Attorneys Damage Their Clients’ Legal and Financial Interests

Accident victims often suffer at the hands of predatory attorneys. They are already in a difficult position when they have suffered an injury in a crash. At that point, accident victims may be panicked and stressed, wondering how they will pay their bills. Besides their physical injuries, financial compensation may be at the forefront of their minds.

When predatory attorneys enter the picture, they often make promises to clients that they have no business making. In general, a lawyer cannot guarantee a client a particular result in their case. Nonetheless, when a client hears a lawyer’s expansive and often false promises, they feel a sense of reassurance and are willing to do whatever the lawyer tells them.

An Attorney Who Breaks One Rule Will Break Others

These attorneys know how desperate and worried accident victims are and take full advantage of it. When a lawyer shows a willingness to bend the rules to obtain clients, there is no telling what they can do once they are responsible for the case’s outcome. An attorney who breaks one rule is likely to break many others over time.

Therefore, you should hang up the phone immediately when anyone contacts you about your case and offers you legal services. Nothing good can come from talking to one of these people. You will likely be subject to intense pressure when you are already vulnerable. Never provide these individuals with any personal information.

If you have any conversation, ask who they are and whether they are an attorney. Many cold-callers pretend to be someone else when they first call an accident victim.

Most Attorneys Follow the Rules Carefully

Again, the vast majority of attorneys are not like this at all. An overwhelming share of lawyers will closely follow professional responsibility rules because they are ethical, and they know that their ability to continue practicing law can be at risk if they have broken the rules.

However, some may do business with shadowy operatives who have illegally obtained your information to make a profit. These lawyers buy cases from the solicitors, closing their eyes to how they received the case in the first place. When the lawyer has paid money for your case, they may have an even greater financial interest that may not align with yours.

Do Not Deal with an Attorney Who Solicits You By Phone

Still, you are better off not dealing with anyone who has reached out to you. Ethical attorneys do not do this. Unethical attorneys are likely the ones who will badly handle your case, costing you the opportunity to obtain financial compensation or reduce your check’s size.

These are the same attorneys who will advise you to accept a quick settlement offer, so they can be paid and move on to the next case, knowing full well that it is for far less than you deserve.

If an attorney breaks one rule to get you to sign up as their client, the chances are that they will violate far more regulations when they are working for you. The more the lawyer pressures you, the more suspicious you should become.

You Should Hire Your Own Lawyer

Never forget that you are the one who is in control after your accident. It may not seem like it at the time, but the legal rights belong to you. Every accident victim has the legal right to hire an attorney of their own choosing, and they are not bound to anyone until they sign a representation agreement.

Never sign a contract when you do not know the person you are dealing with. If you have signed a representation agreement with someone who has used shadowy means to sign you up as a client, you should consider switching attorneys.

How to Find the Right Attorney After You Have Suffered an Injury

There are multiple ways to find the right attorney after an accident that does not involve accepting an offer of legal services from someone who should not be making it. Regardless of the actions of a few bad apples, an overwhelming amount of personal injury lawyers are in it to help you. They want to fight for injured clients and their legal rights.

You will learn about these lawyers’ strengths after you contact them and have a conversation, and they will not break professional rules or state laws.

Even though it may seem easy to sign on with someone who calls, you must still do the work to find an experienced attorney who is the right fit for you. If you cannot do the legwork yourself, have a family member make the calls.

Never sign a representation agreement because it is an easy way to get legal help quickly. Your choice of an attorney can make an enormous difference in the success of your case. The option is in your hands, no matter what a telephone solicitor tells you.

First, family and friends can refer an attorney to you. This is a great way to go because, generally speaking, it’s coming from a source that you can trust. They may have had a positive experience dealing with a particular lawyer before who helped them obtain a favorable result after their accident.

Word-of-mouth is a powerful way to connect you with an attorney. Often, the best way to know how an attorney operates is to hear from someone who has already worked with them. The referring person can tell you how the lawyer works and what they did in their case (even though no two personal injury cases are the same).

Second, you should take advantage of the opportunity to schedule a free consultation with an attorney. Each car accident lawyer will offer free consultations to prospective clients. You can hear from the attorney directly how they view your case and what they may do if you hire them. You will also get a sense of the lawyer’s style and whether you have a rapport with them.

Come prepared with a list of questions to learn about the lawyer’s experience and how they will work with you. Accessibility is vital because you want to talk with a lawyer when you need them instead of being handed off to a paralegal or legal assistant.

Finally, you should pay close attention to attorney reviews. Not all attorney reviews are the same. Some lawyers have agreements with other attorneys to mutually review and recommend the attorney. The most helpful reviews are from actual clients who have worked with the attorney. You may find these on Yelp or Google. These clients will tell you how the lawyer did in their case. You may see comments about the client’s result and the service that the lawyer provided.

Do not feel pressured to do anything in your case. Only do what makes sense for you at your own pace. While you should hire a lawyer quickly after your accident, you should never rush, especially when it increases the chances that you will hire the wrong lawyer. Most importantly, never let someone rush you and pressure you into doing something against your interests.

What Should I Not Tell an Insurance Company After an Accident?

What Not To Tell Your Insurance Company

After a car accident, your own words are critical. There is not much you can say that can win your case or get you more money. However, you can say things that can lose your case for you or reduce the money you receive. Knowing what you should not say to an insurance adjuster is critical.

In reality, you should not even be at the point of worrying about what not to say because you should have an experienced personal injury lawyer attorney speaking with the insurance company on your behalf. However, if you have not hired an attorney yet, you may be pushed by the insurance company to say something. Here, you can make a significant mistake that you cannot undo.

Never Ever Admit Fault

The most important thing never to do when speaking with an insurance company after an accident is to admit any fault for the accident. The minute you do that, you can assume that your chances of obtaining financial compensation for the accident are gone. You cannot take it back once you say that you did something to cause the accident.

Admitting fault goes beyond just saying that you were to blame for the accident. This possibility can include apologizing for what happened or saying that you did not see another driver. There are indirect ways of admitting fault that can equal saying the same thing.

The Insurance Adjuster Is Not on Your Side

You may think you have spoken innocent words after a crash that do not mean much of anything. The insurance company hears them in an entirely different fashion. They hear that they may not have to pay money out of their account for your damages. Given that money is their primary motivating purpose and the reason for their existence, any chance that they get to save money will be a nugget that they will firmly grasp.

Remember that the insurance adjuster sent to investigate the crash is not on your side. They are on the side of the company that employs them, and the other driver’s insurance company expects the adjuster to find ways to save money when possible. Your own words can give them the ammunition they need to make your life harder and take money away from you that you otherwise deserved.

6 Mistakes When Talking To Insurance Companies

Below we have compiled some of the most common ways insurance companies try to bait you into getting less compensation for your claim.

1. Do Not Ever Give a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company

If you do speak with the insurance adjuster for the responsible driver, you should never go on the record with any statement. You will be the only one who pays the price for anything that goes wrong during a recorded statement. If you have a personal injury lawyer, they will strongly urge you not to do this. There are virtually no reasons why you should try this. It almost always ends badly for the person who trusts the insurance adjuster.

When the insurance company has your voice and your words recorded, they will get a powerful tool. Like any self-interested party, they can take snippets or pieces of your statement and take them out of context.

They can and will ask you detailed questions to trip you up and get you to make one wrong statement. Any slight misstep when giving a recorded statement can cost you a lot of money. It can even cost you your claim entirely. Once the words come out of your mouth and become part of a recording, you cannot take them back, and they are permanently on the record for use against you.

You are under no legal obligation whatsoever to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company. They want to get a statement from you, but you do not have to provide one. If asked, you can and should politely decline and refer them to your attorney (who they should have gone through in the first place). The problem is when you do not have a lawyer and do not even know that this is something completely optional (and discouraged).

2. Do Not Try to Make It Seem Like You Are Fine

In addition, you should never downplay your injuries to an insurance company or even talk about your condition at all. An insurance adjuster may make a big deal out of expressing concern and sympathy for you in the wake of your injuries. A comment as simple as “I’ll be ok” is enough to cause damage to your claim.

In similar regard, you should not say anything to an adjuster that does not directly relate to your case. Even pleasantries can cost you money. For example, they may ask you what you did last weekend, and it seems that they are making conversation. They are probing whether your claims of being too injured to work are consistent with the rest of your life.

If you try to play down your injury to an insurance adjuster, they will try to use it against you when it comes time to make a settlement offer and negotiate compensation. They will remember that you may have admitted that you are not as badly hurt as your claim says on paper, even if that is not what you meant to say.

3. Don’t Guess About What Injuries You Did or Did Not Acquire

The truth is that you may not even know the full extent of your injuries the first time that you speak with an insurance adjuster.

You can suffer injuries from your car accident that are slow to develop, such as:

When you speak with the insurance adjuster, you may not have a complete diagnosis of your injuries or have not experienced other symptoms yet.

Telling an insurance adjuster that you are fine may close off the possibility that you can get total compensation in the future if you develop an injury that results from a car accident. You may speak with an insurance adjuster right after the crash. At that point, you may not yet know the complete picture of your physical condition. Never speculate when you do not know about your health. Even if you do know, do not discuss your physical condition with the insurance adjuster.

4. Do Not Describe Your Injuries to the Insurance Company

You should avoid downplaying your injuries, but you should not try to describe your injuries at all. Your doctor’s diagnosis and your medical records should speak for themselves. If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, but you describe your injury as a slight headache, the insurance company may force you to backtrack later on if you can even do so.

Adjusters may also look for an excuse to characterize your condition as preexisting, for which they do not need to pay. Saying anything that describes your injuries to them gives you no upside. If the insurance adjuster does not get what they are looking for, they will ignore it. If they do get something helpful to their cause, they will certainly use it against you.

5. Do Not Speculate About Your Accident

Offering editorial commentary about your accident is also something you should try not to do. Stick just to the facts of what happened, without speculating about what the other drivers did or tried to do. You never quite know when editorializing about the accident can lead you to say something that gives the insurance company an opening to challenge your claim.

You should carefully avoid any statement prefaced with the words “I think.” In addition, never try to come up with a justification for what other drivers were doing because it can give the insurance company the grounds to challenge you. Always err on the side of saying that you do not recall something instead of giving a statement that can stray from what really happened just because you want to have something to say.

In reality, the best thing is not to speak with an insurance company after an accident. They certainly want to talk to you early and often, and they will try everything they can to have a conversation with you and get you on the record. They will resort to various tricks, from not fully identifying themselves when they call or calling as if they are trying to help you. The company that is your adversary calls and tries to act as a friendly and helpful insurance company.

In the meantime, the insurance company can and will use anything that you say against you. Once they get you on the record, you can count on hearing your words taken out of context, played back, and repeated. The insurance company will do anything that they can to save themselves money. If you have told them that you are doing fine, they may use your words to dispute your damages.

6. Do Not Speak With the Insurance Company When They Call You

If the insurance company tries to speak with you, the best thing to do is politely decline their attempt to talk. This is one place where you are more protected if you have an attorney. Your lawyer will handle communications with the insurance company. They will need to go through your lawyer to talk to you, and your lawyer will keep them at bay.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will almost always advise their client that there is no upside in talking with an insurance company. If there was a reason to speak with them, your attorney will be present during the conversation and will extensively prepare you for it.

Call a Lawyer so You Do Not Have to Deal With the Insurance Company

The most crucial step you can take is reaching out to an experienced lawyer right after your car accident. Your attorney will assume responsibility for your legal process and claim, relieving you of the pitfalls of dealing with an insurance company and trying to avoid conversations with them when possible.

Hiring a lawyer can keep you from saying things that can cost you money and harm the viability of your claim. An attorney knows how to communicate with the insurance company when necessary, keeping you from trying to freelance.

Sometimes, trying to be a friendly and nice person in a simple conversation can backfire when the person you are talking to is taking notes to use everything against you to cost you money.

The Insurance Company Has a Built-in Advantage Over You

Dave Abels Lawyer
Dave Abels, Personal Injury Lawyer

Recognize that the insurance company will have an advantage over you if you are trying to handle them on your own. There is no such thing as being more intelligent than an insurance company because each adjuster has seen thousands of claims just like yours. They have an established way of doing things, and you simply cannot talk an adjuster into giving you the money you deserve. In fact, the more you talk, the worse off your legal situation may become.

There is an art to dealing with the insurance company that an experienced lawyer knows based on their practice. The crucial element is not to deal with a company with an entire infrastructure designed to take money out of your pocket. The best call you can make is to a lawyer who knows how to stand up for your legal rights. This help will keep you from making a critical mistake that people make when they do not see what is coming for them until it is too late.

By hiring a lawyer, you even the playing field against the insurance company. You will not have to worry whether you said – or might say – something that can jeopardize your claim and limit your financial recovery. A lawyer might speed up the process by limiting claim complications and knows how to fight for the full compensation you need to cover your losses.

Is a Settlement Considered Income?

Does a Settlement Impact My Taxes?

Typically No, Many factors come into play when negotiating a personal injury settlement or seeking compensation in a lawsuit. One of your primary considerations is how much of the money will be there for you in the future when you need it. Numerous things may take a bite out of your personal injury compensation. For example, inflation in health care costs can devalue your settlement.

You do not have to worry as much about the effect of taxes on your personal injury compensation. For the most part, these are not subject to taxation. However, this is not an airtight rule for every aspect of your personal injury compensation. Get specific tax advice before you agree to a settlement so you understand the effect of federal and state income tax laws on your financial situation. Speaking with your personal injury lawyer can also provide insight on all the financial aspects of your settlement.

The Internal Revenue Code Taxes Income

The usual IRS rule regarding taxes comes from the United States Code. 26 USC § 61 states that “all income is taxable from whatever source derived unless exempted by another section of the Code.” The statute then lists several taxable things, including compensation for services and gross income from services for a business.

You know that the money you receive in a personal injury settlement is “compensation” because every lawyer tells you that you may be eligible for financial compensation after your accident. However, IRS law goes a little deeper than this. The first thing to do when you are wondering whether something is taxable as income is to see whether it fits either the definition of “compensation” in the Internal Revenue Code or an exception to the definition of income in the IRC.

Personal Injury Compensation Excepted from the Definition of Income

personal injury settlement taxable illinoisThe good news for personal injury victims is that compensation for accidents falls into the latter category. 26 USC § 104 lays out an exception to the definition of income. This section is titled “Compensation for Injuries or Sickness.”

According to the law,

Except in the case of amounts attributable to (and not in excess of) deductions allowed under section 213 (relating to medical, etc., expenses) for any prior taxable year, gross income does not include…the amount of any damages (other than punitive damages) received (whether by suit or agreement and whether as lump sums or as periodic payments) on account of personal physical injuries or physical sickness.

This section is the legal way of saying that your personal injury compensation is not taxable, whether you receive it in a settlement or from the jury. Note how broad the statutory language is here. The statute explicitly says “any damages.” The very broad definition means that federal income tax exempts anything you receive in a settlement agreement, no matter what it is for.

Personal Injury Compensation Pays You Back for What You Lost

Theoretically, a personal injury settlement pays you back for what you have already lost because of the accident. You have lost your health, property, and ability to work. In addition, you may have lost your emotional well-being and mental health because of your injuries. When you receive money for your damages, it makes you whole for your accident injuries. It is not a windfall for you that should be considered income.

This provision has been in the federal tax code for over 100 years. Although Congress has narrowed the tax-free status of some settlements and awards over the years, the exemption for physical injuries remains. While it is unclear why Congress included this in the Internal Revenue Code over 100 years ago, courts have completed some of the rationales.

Personal Injury Settlements Are Not Windfalls for You

According to the Supreme Court, a personal injury victim is not better off by receiving a settlement. The cost of an injury is human capital, for which an injury victim needs compensation.

In Commissioner of Internal Revenue v Glenshaw Glass Company, the Supreme Court characterized income as an accession to wealth. The law will not consider a personal injury settlement an accession to wealth because the person is no better off than before the accident. They are just being made whole by the damages.

There are some advantages to a personal injury settlement. Typically, when you earn wages from your job, they are taxed as ordinary income. According to the IRS, you do not have to pay income taxes on the money you receive as lost wages in a personal injury settlement. The only way that lost wages are taxable in a settlement is if they come from an employment-based lawsuit. If your cause of action is for personal injury, they are not taxable.

Logically, you might think that anything related to income will be taxable. However, personal injury victims get a break on taxes associated with lost wages, as they are something that stems from your personal injury and meets the exception contained in the Internal Revenue Code.

Most States Will Not Tax Your Personal Injury Compensation

There is further good news for personal injury victims who receive a settlement or jury award. While each state may have its own rules about income taxes, most of them will not tax your personal injury award. States will predominantly use the same income tax rules as the IRS. If your award is not taxable by the federal government, it is also not taxable by the state.

What Damages Are Taxable?

Punitive Damages are the one exception to the rule that personal injury damages are not taxable. If you receive punitive damages in your case, you must pay income taxes on this money. According to IRS Publication 4345, you must report punitive damages on your tax return as other income. Since they are income on your federal tax return, they will also be income for the state, and you will need to pay both federal and state income tax on punitive damages.

In theory, punitive damages are not part of your physical injury. Instead, they are connected solely with the defendant’s actions. The jury wants to punish them for what they did because it was shockingly bad. In this case, punitive damages may be a windfall for you, and they are taxed.

However, punitive damages are very rare in a personal injury case. The courts only award them when the jury wants to send a strong message to a defendant who has done something seriously wrong. Punitive damages cover egregious acts of carelessness or recklessness that a jury wants to punish – hence the name punitive damages. You will not receive punitive damages in a settlement. In fact, the prospect of paying punitive damages is a primary reason insurance companies want to settle some cases before they reach a jury.

You May Need to Pay Some Tax for Lost Business Profits

Different tax considerations may apply when your personal injury compensation comes from lost profits from a business you run. Some personal injury victims are self-employed. In these cases, their settlements will include lost business profits for the time when they cannot run their business. This concept is similar to lost wages for an accident victim employed by someone else.

According to the IRS, there is a different tax treatment for lost business profits. Although you will not need to pay income tax on this part of your settlement, you will still need to pay self-employment tax. This payment is a significant expense that you need to be aware of when negotiating a personal injury settlement because you are responsible for a tax rate of over 12 percent. However, a portion of that returns to you as a tax credit.

In addition, you should also be aware of the tax treatment of emotional distress and mental anguish. Usually, these are a part of the personal injury damages you suffer. They deemed non-economic damages. In an ordinary personal injury case, emotional distress is, for tax purposes, the same as pain and suffering.

However, if the subject of your personal injury claim was emotional distress (and that was your personal injury), there will be a different tax treatment. If your personal injury was emotional distress, then the personal injury settlement you receive will be taxable.

You Must Pay the Government Back if You Took a Deduction for Medical Expenses

Another special tax rule for personal injury settlements is that you must pay any deduction for medical expenses back to the federal government if you receive a personal injury settlement.

If your medical percentages exceed a certain percentage of your income, you are entitled to an above-the-line deduction on your income taxes. However, if you then obtain a settlement, you will get a windfall because those medical expenses that you already paid are given to you by the defendant.

Therefore, you must reimburse the government for the tax break you received. However, since your health insurance has likely covered the bulk of your medical expenses thus far, this may be rare. However, between co-pays and your share of prescriptions, there is a chance that you may have exceeded the percentage that allows you to take a tax deduction.

There May Be Taxes for Some Workplace Injury Compensation

Further, some lost wages awards from workplace injuries may be taxable. For example, in a recent decision, the United States Supreme Court held that damages paid for an on-the-job injury are taxable under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act.

The Supreme Court’s decision looked at the definition of compensation that appeared in the RRTA instead of the one in the Internal Revenue Code. Therefore, car accident compensation will continue not to be taxable.

Nonetheless, you should know the source of your compensation if you suffered an injury on the job and need to know whether special tax rules may apply. An experienced lawyer will point out these considerations to you.

Make Sure to Consult a Tax Attorney, Accountant, or Financial Adviser

Even though personal injury settlements are usually tax-free, you should still seek financial advice if you expect to receive a large sum of money. Consult a financial adviser and an accountant so you know how to handle the influx of money. Your personal injury settlement includes money you will need in the future that you do not want to spend unwisely today. In addition, you do not want to get any unwelcome tax surprises in the future.

You should also consult a tax attorney. This post does not constitute tax advice, and an experienced tax attorney can determine whether the government will tax any part of your personal injury settlement.

If you expect tax issues with a personal injury settlement, see an attorney before agreeing to the deal. An attorney may structure the deal to make less of it taxable. Unfortunately, the IRS may look beyond the settlement agreement’s language and form its own opinion about what it may tax. However, getting tax advice ahead of time can help you avoid pitfalls that may result in an unexpected IRS bill.

Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer

Dave Abels Lawyer
Dave Abels, Personal Injury Lawyer

Get an experienced personal injury lawyer before you agree to any settlement offer. An attorney can help you negotiate a favorable settlement, and they can also point out any legal issues that you may face in connection with your compensation. The personal injury process is complex enough that you should never handle these things yourself. It can only cost you money because you may make a mistake or be taken advantage of by the insurance company.

Too many people end up with far less than they need or deserve because they did not seek legal advice before accepting an injury settlement. Never risk leaving money out there that you need to cover your losses – now and into the future. Instead, seek legal help right away.

Do Lawyers Lie About Settlements?

Can Lawyers Lie About Your Settlement?

Insurance defense lawyers have every reason to want you to try to deal with the insurance company independently. In many respects, your lawyer holds them accountable.

Having an experienced attorney on your side keeps them from getting away with things like arbitrarily denying your claim and trying to grossly underpay your total damages. Their tactics make you mistrust lawyers and the entire legal system.

The more insurance companies scare you away from having a lawyer, the more you should know that it is in your best interests to have one.

Insurance Companies Have a Conflict

Can My Attorney Lie About A SettlementInsurance companies cannot be trusted when they try to give you warnings about others or so-called truthful advice. An insurance company has a natural conflict when it handles your claim. The more money they give you, the less money they make. When an adjuster says they are trying to “look out for you,” they are looking out for the insurance company and no one else.

One common scare tactic that insurance companies use is to convince you that your lawyer is just a settlement factory that will seek to dispose of your case as fast as possible by reaching a quick agreement. Of course, this cuts against everything that a lawyer tells you when they promise to fight for you when the insurance company is trying to underpay you.

One value that a lawyer adds to your case is that they advise you when an insurance company is offering you less than you deserve. They will then advise you to reject the settlement offer and counter with a demand letter stating what you deserve and why. If a settlement is in your best interests and covers your losses, your lawyer should advise you of this instead of encouraging you to keep fighting for more when it is a waste of time.

Lawyers Cost Themselves Money, Too, if Your Case Settles for Less

Your lawyer is working for you on a contingency basis. Even if it were not legally and ethically wrong to settle your claim for too little, they cost themselves money by rushing an early settlement. In reality, the lawyer has a legal obligation to put your interests ahead of theirs. They must give you legal advice and representation based on what works in your particular circumstances.

A lawyer who lies to their client will likely face disciplinary action sooner than later. They may not even be a lawyer for too much longer if they lied to their clients.

Clients Get Unhappy With Lawyers When Settlement Money Runs Out

At the same time, lawyers also work based on referrals and recommendations. The best thing for a lawyer’s business is to have a long track record of successfully helping clients achieve results. Satisfied clients help them get other new clients. That is how the entire personal injury law system works.

Clients will know when they have settled a case for less than they deserved. The money they need will begin to run low at some point. They will remember that the lawyer gave them the advice to accept the settlement offer.

They can either:

  • Leave the lawyer a bad public review
  • Not recommend the lawyer to any of their friends or family
  • File a disciplinary complaint if they think that the lawyer lied to them

If a lawyer functions like an assembly line for quick and rushed settlement agreements, they will not maintain a business for long.

Insurance Companies Scare You About Lawyers Rushing When They Want You to Rush

In reality, you can see the disingenuousness in this insurance company scare tactic. They claim that a lawyer will rush your case and settle it quickly for less than you deserve when that is precisely what the insurance company wants to do to you. They want you to be defenseless, so they can take advantage of you in the manner that they are accusing someone else.

One common tactic that insurance companies and their defense lawyers use to sow doubt in your mind is to convince you that your lawyer is lying to you about a settlement in many regards. Insurance lawyers like to claim that lawyers persuade people they can receive a large personal injury settlement if only they call a lawyer first. Then those same people end up disappointed and paying their lawyer a large share of anything they receive.

To unpack this myth a little more, you should know that lawyers cannot promise you a result in your case. This type of promise will violate the rules that lawyers must follow. Lawyers can promise you that they will do everything in their power to maximize your personal injury claim. In fact, this is precisely why you hire a lawyer. When an insurance company faults lawyers for promising large settlements, they are deliberately confusing you on the role of an attorney.

Lawyers Work for You to Keep the Insurance Company Accountable

What the lawyer is promising is to work on your behalf. They will help prepare your claim to present to the insurance company (or your lawsuit complaint to file in court). Then, if the insurance company makes you a settlement offer, your lawyer will review it to see if it adequately compensates you for your injuries.

If the offer is not enough, your lawyer will advise you to reject it. They may keep wrangling back-and-forth with the insurance company until they have made an offer that is enough to pay you for what you have lost. Nowhere in there is a lie about the size of the settlement.

An attorney can tell you that they get results for clients because that is true. They can say that they will work tirelessly on your behalf. They cannot promise you a specific amount or make representations about the size of a settlement.

True, there have been some horror stories of lawyers who negotiate settlements behind their client’s back or lie about reaching settlements when they have not. Those practices are against all legal ethics and norms. The instances in which these practices happen are few and far between. They will be considered a significant departure from the norm.

Nobody can promise that every person in a profession follows all the rules. There is practically no profession around where there is nobody who has intentionally broken the law.

Do Not Let Stories of Bad Lawyers Scare You Off

The law has mechanisms to weed out and punish bad actors who commit these acts. An attorney who violates ethical rules can face censure, suspension, or disbarment. Still, these lawyers are few and far between.

Most attorneys follow the rules and work hard for their clients every day. If there are some rule-breaking lawyers, it should not be used as a broad-based fear tactic to keep people from hiring attorneys. An equivalent of the insurance company’s argument is a person not seeing a doctor when they have a life-threatening illness because some doctors commit medical malpractice.

Your Attorneys Will Work Hard for You

The vast majority of personal injury attorneys care deeply about their clients’ legal rights and will do everything to fight for the people they represent to receive more money. They come to work every day to work as hard as possible for you and your family.

Lawyers earn a living from their work, but that living comes when they put their clients in a position to succeed. However, they cannot put their own financial interests first, no matter what scare tactics insurance companies use.

The Insurance Company Wants You Mistrusting Lawyers

There should be nothing stopping you from contacting an experienced attorney as soon as possible after your accident. You should certainly not trust the insurance company that will be legally responsible for paying you the damages their policyholder caused you through their negligence.

They want to drive a wedge between you and a prospective attorney because they want you to come to them independently. When that happens, they know exactly what to do to you. They have no interest in doing anything for you, and they want you to be as defenseless as possible because it can save them money.

Insurance companies have every possible interest in the narrative that lawyers are evil, and you can only trust them (the good lawyers). When a company with as poor a track record as insurance companies tell you that something is evil, you should think just the opposite.

Your Lawyer Is Here to Help You Through the Legal Process

In any personal injury case, your lawyer will be your guide to the legal process and your biggest advocate. Your involvement with them begins with the initial consultation. They will listen to your story and ask you questions about your case. They will also answer your questions and explain the legal process to you.

The attorney may also outline your options for how you can obtain financial compensation. At that point, both you and the lawyer will decide whether you want to work with each other.

Then, an attorney will investigate the facts and gather evidence to prove that someone else was responsible for your injuries. If you can demonstrate liability, you will be in a position to receive financial compensation. This work is just the beginning of the legal process for many accident victims.

In some cases, the insurance company may concede liability early in your case. However, they reserve the bulk of their efforts for negotiating the actual compensation. It is there where they think that they can win.

Your Lawyer Works for You to Get Full Compensation

Gary Annes Lawyer
Gary Annes, Personal Injury Lawyer

Often, your lawyer’s value comes when they get the insurance company to raise your settlement offer dramatically. The initial settlement offer can be pennies on the dollar because the insurance company wants to see what you will accept.

One of the reasons why insurance companies try to scare people away from hiring lawyers is that an attorney will let you know when a settlement offer is too low. They provide you with valuable information about what your claim is worth. You may be entirely in the dark about how much money you can get for your damages without an attorney.

Attorneys Will Let You Know Exactly What the Insurance Company Is Doing to You

Insurance companies want you to be uninformed. Then, they can play the role of the “generous” insurance company doling out money a little bit at a time. They think they can shortchange you, and then you will thank them. Hiring an attorney will shatter this illusion. Therefore, insurance companies will spread misconceptions about personal injury lawyers.

Fear is a powerful motivator, and insurance companies are scared of an aggressive personal injury lawyer. As a result, they want to scare you away from working with an attorney. Do not believe what insurance companies are selling. If you believe it, you will end up with a serious case of caveat emptor.

There is a struggle between the insurance company and the attorney in many personal injury cases. They are on two completely different sides of the coin. The insurance industry likes to demonize personal injury attorneys because they know a lawyer’s value for their clients.

At the same time, attorneys let you know what the insurance company is really like. Stand on the side of the person whose job depends on getting you more money instead of the one whose existence is to keep you from receiving full payment for your injuries.

While many people want to believe insurance adjusters, believe an experienced insurance dispute lawyer instead. Seek a free case evaluation today.

Do Insurance Companies Pay for Pain and Suffering?

Recover Compensation For Pain & Suffering

Pain and suffering damages are not the same as punitive damages. They are part and parcel of your personal injury settlement. They are not considered unusual or reserved for situations when someone has done something seriously wrong. Pain and suffering accompany your physical injuries. If you have gone through any ordeal after your accident, you can receive pain and suffering damages. Read on to learn more about pain and suffering damages and compensation from our experienced personal injury lawyers.

Pain and Suffering Is One of the More Misunderstood Personal Injury Damages

These types of damages are often not well understood by the average person. People know that they can get paid for their medical bills and even for the time that they miss from work. However, they may not understand that they can get compensation for other things they have endured.

Pain and suffering belong to the category of non-economic damages. In any personal injury case, there are two types of damages. The first is economic damages that represent the direct costs of the injury. This category includes money that comes out of your pocket or should come into your pocket that does not.

Economic damages can represent:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damages

Insurance Companies Even Undervalue Economic Damages

Theoretically, economic damages are easier to calculate because there is a known dollar figure on them. After all, you know how much you pay in medical bills and how much property damage you have sustained.

In practice, the insurance company even makes economic damages challenging to negotiate because they have different values that they put on things. An insurance company will do anything to save money at your expense. There is no effort that they will spare to pay you less. That’s why you shouldn’t talk to an adjuster without an attorney.

Subjective Damages Are Difficult to Value

Calculating Pain and SufferingYou can imagine how difficult things may be when dealing with a type of damage that does not have a tangible dollar value attached. That is precisely what non-economic damages are. They are not any less of a loss than economic damages. When you get paid for a tangible economic loss, the compensation relates to something that you have physically lost. For non-economic damages, you have still suffered a loss, even though you cannot point at a physical something.

Non-economic damages stem from subjective non-monetary losses. Instead of paid bills, they relate to your ordeal and experience since the accident. Each accident victim endures their own unique experience. Our law firm covers how to calculate pain and suffering in our personal injury blog, but scheduling an appointment to discuss your specific case is always recommended.

Different People Respond Differently to Injuries

For example, a severe back injury will impact people in different ways. If one person was an active athlete, they might lose out on an essential part of their life that they cannot ever do again. Another person may have already had some disc or vertebrae damage, and a back injury will affect them far more. Some personal injury victims may have fragile emotional health and can suffer from severe anxiety and depression from their accident.

However the accident has impacted you, the insurance company has a legal obligation to compensate you for pain and suffering. Money is what they use to place a value on what you have gone through since the time that their policyholder was negligent. Pain and suffering are the same things as any other loss you have suffered, even if it is not tangible. They are part of your damages, and you must receive compensation for them.

What Does Pain and Suffering Include?

Pain and suffering belong to a broader category of damages. You can receive compensation for loss of enjoyment of life and emotional distress.

Specifically, pain and suffering may include:

Many Things Accompany Physical Injuries

These are things that practically anyone may go through after an accident. First, physical injuries can be painful. Someone will rarely suffer a physical injury and not feel any discomfort. Beyond that, physical injuries can cause many other effects that impact people differently.

You may feel upset and depressed because you can no longer do what you did. The inconvenience of your physical injuries can cause you continuous aggravation. Practically every single bodily injury has something that goes along with it.

Your injuries have caused you to miss good times. The time that you might have otherwise put to use for pleasure you spend dealing with the effects of your injuries. The pain and suffering impacted your time, which means you have lost something that the defendant should pay in full.

Insurance Companies Never Want to Pay You in Full

The main issue with pain and suffering is quantifying how much you legally deserve for your damages. By definition, pain and suffering are subjective. In other words, they focus on what you are dealing with personally. Further, you have every right to be paid for your own specific experience because it is your loss.

Like any element of your personal injury damages, the main obstacle in receiving total damages for your pain and suffering is that the insurance company does not want to pay fully for your damages. Any insurance adjuster is intelligent and experienced enough to see what you are likely going through based on your medical records. They know enough to understand that you are dealing with a challenging experience when you have suffered a severe injury.

Insurance Companies Do Not Want to Hear Your Experience

However, when it comes time to value your claim, the insurance company tries to throw you personally out the window in favor of a formula that they can manipulate to save themselves money. An insurance company’s mission is to toss subjective overboard in favor of something that they claim is objective. The reality is that their calculations objectively favor themselves. It will be similar to allowing a player to referee their own game. They will always come up with something that benefits their chances of victory.

How Insurance Companies Calculate Pain and Suffering

Insurance companies may try to use two primary types of calculations in your case:

  • Multiplier – The insurance company will take your economic damages (primarily your medical bills) and assign a multiplier to them based on the severity of your injury. More severe injuries will have a higher multiplier.
  • Per diem – When your injury has a more set duration, the insurance company will assign a specific dollar value for each day you are dealing with your injuries. The insurance company usually uses the per diem method for less severe injuries.

The multiplier method may not accurately calculate your damages for a severe injury. You might suffer from serious mental health issues even from a more moderate injury. For example, being off your feet for months from a broken leg can cause depression in someone who likes to go out and be active.

You can feel confident that the insurance company will choose as low of a multiplier as possible that does not reflect your reality. They may also underestimate the amount of future medical care that you need to dial down your pain and suffering damages.

Look out, because the number you see on paper with your settlement offer is not necessarily correct and untouchable. The insurance company will load many tricks and pitfalls into that number to cost you money.

You Will Have Challenges Explaining Your Pain and Suffering Damages

Many issues come with valuing pain and suffering damages. You have already experienced pain and suffering, but you will also endure it in the future. Your compensation must include both past and future pain and suffering. The insurance company may dispute whether your damages are permanent and what your life may be like in the future.

Further, the insurance company may not believe you when you explain what you are going through. The insurance company will take advantage of any opportunity to challenge your story. They want to turn you from a human being into a number that results in you being underpaid.

How to Effectively Tell Your Own Story After an Accident

You have multiple opportunities to tell your story when trying to get paid for your injuries. Your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company for a higher multiple or per diem payment for your pain and suffering. This higher payment can either come from what appears in your medical records or your own story.

One way to put yourself in a position to get more money for pain and suffering is to document what you are dealing with after your accident. If you have evidence from the time that you are experiencing it, you may be more persuasive.

The best thing is to keep a log and get witness testimony. In addition, you can use testimony from a mental health provider or your prescription history to show what you are going through.

For example, if you can prove that your injuries require continuous painkillers or that your anxiety requires mental health treatment, it can show your experience after your accident.

Proving pain and suffering is another reason you need to tend to your injuries. If you do not get the help you need, the insurance company or a jury can find that you failed to mitigate your damages. Seeing a doctor may help you get some relief, but it can also create a paper trail that shows your injuries’ effect on you.

An Attorney Can Help You Prove Pain and Suffering

Dave Abels Lawyer
Dave Abels, Personal Injury Lawyer

In addition, you should have an attorney who knows the amount of money that you are due in pain and suffering damages. Too many people accept whatever money the insurance company puts in front of them without knowing that the insurance company has far more room to raise any offer that they make you.

The average person will not even know how to value their pain and suffering damages or justify and explain the amount they are seeking. An attorney will tell your story and show how and why you have been affected by the injury.

Pain and suffering awards are all over the spectrum in any personal injury case. There is a wide range of outcomes between how your attorney and the insurance company value your claim. Not every claimant or plaintiff has the expertise on their side to both properly value and fight for the pain and suffering award that they deserve.

You Can Negotiate for Higher Compensation

Any personal injury claim requires negotiating with the insurance company to get what you deserve. If the insurance company is not even offering pain and suffering damages, your negotiation will make a counter demand that seeks this money. If the multiplier or per diem number that the insurance company uses is too low, you can respond with a settlement offer that more accurately reflects your experience and damages.

If the insurance company does not give you the pain and suffering damages you deserve, you can always take your case to the jury. Never underestimate the capacity of a jury to understand you as a person. They see your side of the story, they don’t look at you as a number. Insurance companies know this, so they almost always settle cases before they reach a jury. They know what a jury may do, and they want to avoid that risk.

Your Personal Injury Lawyer Is On Your Side

In any personal injury case, you are not powerless. Your power comes in part from having an aggressive and dedicated attorney fighting by your side when the insurance company tries to take money from you.

When the insurance company makes a lowball offer – especially for pain and suffering – you can feel demoralized. With the right legal representation, however, you should not feel unnecessary stress due to insurance company tactics. Your personal injury attorney will handle every communication for you, so you do not have to experience the adjuster’s attempts at minimizing your pain and suffering. Your lawyer will fight behind the scenes for the full settlement you deserve.


​How to Claim Bodily Injury from an Accident

Trying to claim bodily injury after an accident is not as simple as saying you are hurt. You need to take steps before you are in a position to file a claim. You have a lot at stake because financial compensation for your damages is on the line. What you do between the time of the accident and when you file your claim can determine whether you receive financial compensation and how much you can get.

Before you file a claim, you must be intentional, meticulous, and thorough, leaving nothing to chance. The best step that you can take is to contact an experienced attorney who knows how to file personal injury claims. The more responsibility and details you can give to an attorney, the less likely you will make a critical mistake that can cost you serious money. Here are some tips for claiming bodily injury after an accident.

See a Doctor

Before you can file a demand with the insurance company or even a lawsuit, you must know the full scope of your damages. After all, your claim is for the injuries that you have suffered. In practice, you must prove you deserve damages by showing that someone else caused the accident and then proving your injuries.

Getting your injuries diagnosed furthers your physical health and is the first step of the claims process. Your doctor will perform the medical tests necessary to learn about your condition. Even if you received treatment right after the accident, you need a comprehensive diagnosis. You must make your condition and the improvement you might make apparent when you file a claim or lawsuit.

Never delay seeing a doctor. It will harm your health and allow the insurance company to contest your injuries and damages. For instance, if you suffered a back injury in a car accident but waited months to get it diagnosed and treated, the insurance company may claim that your injuries were not from your accident. They may also argue that your inactivity made your injuries worse.

Either way, you should see a doctor for an evaluation if you even think that there was a remote possibility that you suffered an injury in the accident. It is always better safe than sorry.

Get a Lawyer

One of the most important steps that you will take for a bodily injury is to hire an experienced lawyer who knows how to handle personal injury claims. Filing a claim is not easy or accessible for accident victims. On the contrary, insurance companies want to make it as hard as possible for you to get the money that you legally deserve.

There are numerous things that the average person does not know when filing a claim that place them at a large disadvantage when dealing with an insurance company. That lack of knowledge can place their entire claim in jeopardy. Certainly, it will result in less money.

Hiring an attorney will level the playing field when dealing with an insurance company with an established infrastructure aimed at paying you less. One experienced and dedicated lawyer can take on a big company and its entire apparatus.

In addition, your lawyer will act as your guide to the legal process and your advocate. They will explain the most effective way to obtain financial compensation and fight for your right to be paid for your injuries. Before discussing damages, you must prove that someone else caused your injuries.

Without an attorney, that becomes even more challenging. An attorney will help prove your help by marshaling the evidence necessary to show what happened in your accident.

In any personal injury case, the following can be helpful to prove that someone else caused the accident:

  • Witness statements from people who saw what happened
  • Video or traffic camera footage
  • Police report (helpful in an insurance claim but not in a court case)
  • Pictures from the scene of the accident
  • The damage to your vehicle

Gathering this evidence before it disappears is not always easy. An attorney will get to work right after you hire them to compile everything available to you to prove liability. Otherwise, there is a chance that this evidence can be lost to you forever, costing you the ability to prove your case.

Document Your Damages

Not only do you have the burden of proof to show what happened in your accident, but you must also prove your damages.

In any accident case, you may recover damages for:

  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical bills
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress

To receive your damages, they must be apparent and backed up by evidence, including:

  • Pay data that shows what you earn (or can make in the future)
  • Medical bills
  • Receipts for expenses
  • Documentation of your ordeal after the accident

Before you file your claim, you should gather all the documentation that can show how you have suffered an injury. Some elements of your damages are more subjective. For example, pain and suffering damages are based on your own experience, no matter how much the insurance company tries to take you out of the picture.

The evidence and description of your damages are as important as the proof of liability. These will form the basis of the insurance company’s offer to you. An attorney can tell your story and push back when an insurance company tries to downplay and minimize your injuries.

Prepare and File Your Claim

Preparing your claim requires attention and effort. If there is anything wrong with it, or if you are missing documentation, the insurance company can deny it outright or come back asking for more information. Mistakes in your claim can make it harder to get your money.

At the same time, an insurance company will only look at what is on paper in front of them when they review your claim. They will not give you the benefit of the doubt because it costs them money. Therefore, you should have an experienced attorney working to prepare your claim.

Take the time you need to get it right when filing a claim. You may read some advice telling you to rush and hurry your claim because you may miss the statute of limitations.

While you should know the deadlines for filing your claim, pay the most attention to detail. Getting it right is more important than filing the claim quickly. Before you file, gather all of the evidence that proves what happened and a detailed statement of your damages. Speed is essential for getting started, but you should take time to file your claim right. A lawyer can do this for you.

Defend Your Actions

In some cases, the other driver’s insurance company knows that they can avoid paying part or all of your bodily injury claim if they can find a way to blame you for the accident. They can reduce their payment by the percentage of your fault. Even if liability appears clear, you may still need to defend your actions that led to your injuries.

The insurance company does not always accept liability, no matter what happened in the accident. Even in something as seemingly straightforward as a rear-end accident, the insurance company may claim that you stopped short in front of the car that hit you. This is an easy way for them to save some money around the margins, but it reduces your financial recovery that you need to pay for your damages.

You will need to be clear about your actions and what you did when the accident happened. If the insurance company is wrongly trying to blame you, in part or whole, fight back against them. You can either defend what you did or file a lawsuit, knowing that a jury may not see things the same way as the insurance company.

Negotiate a Settlement or File a Lawsuit

After you have filed your claim and demand:

  • The insurance company will deny your claim
  • The insurance company will make you an offer to settle your claim

If the former happens, you can go straight to filing a lawsuit because you have nothing to discuss with the insurance company. In most cases, the latter will happen. However, just because you have received a settlement offer does not always mean that it is good news.

The initial settlement offer will likely be nowhere near enough to compensate for your damages. To get to the right number, you will need to negotiate with the insurance company. They expect negotiations, so they make a lower initial offer to start them. An insurance company has room to raise its offer significantly from the one it initially made.

Your attorney will review any settlement offer to determine whether it fairly compensates you for your damages. If the offer falls short, you may reject it and make a counteroffer. You need not accept a bad insurance company settlement offer.

If you cannot reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company, you can file a lawsuit against the defendant, and a jury will decide the matter. Juries will not have the same self-interested view that an insurance company does. They will review the facts and provide you with damages that you can prove, not the smallest check that an insurance company will write you.

There is no requirement in the first place to file an insurance claim. You can always file a lawsuit. However, going down the insurance company claims route can provide you with a quicker way to get your money. However, as we will describe below, quicker does not always mean fast.

Practice the Art of Patience

Getting your money after claiming bodily injury can involve hitting many bumps in the road. Your claim can take time to get your settlement or jury award. There may be stops and starts in the process, and you are not always in control of what happens.

To maximize your check for your damages, you need to be patient. Do not jump at a settlement offer just because the insurance company made it. Also, know that there may be some frustration when the insurance company is dragging things out or making things tougher on you than they should. Your lawyer will help you cut through the red tape, but that also takes time.

Dave Abels
Personal Injury Lawyer, Dave Abels

We understand that it is difficult to remain patient in the face of tactics meant to delay and make things harder on you. However, that is the exact way to beat the insurance company at their own game. They want you to get anxious and panic. Being patient and fighting for what you deserve is not something that an insurance company wants.

It will not cost you anything upfront to get legal help for your claim. In any personal injury case, you only pay if you are successful. You do not pay anything to speak to a lawyer in an initial consultation, and you do not pay hourly bills during your claim. If you do not win your case, you will not see a bill for your lawyer’s time. However, not hiring a lawyer can certainly contribute to losing your case or severely decreasing what you recover.

Trust Your Lawyer

The one thing to remember is an experienced injury lawyer knows what they are doing. Once you hire someone, trust them to handle your claim. You can then focus on your medical treatment and physical recovery with greater peace of mind.

Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575