See a DoctorBefore 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 LawyerOne 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
Document Your DamagesNot 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
- 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
Prepare and File Your ClaimPreparing 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 ActionsIn 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 LawsuitAfter 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
Practice the Art of PatienceGetting 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. 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 LawyerThe 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