While you have legal rights, the process makes it as difficult as possible for the little person to win. Regardless of whom the responsible party is, either their lawyers or their insurance company and its lawyers will fight to protect their interests.
You are simply an expense to them, even though they should pay you for injuries they caused. Money is a powerful motivator, and it sometimes causes companies to do bad things to save as much of it as they can for themselves.
Your brain controls everything you do, including your ability to process language, move, and speak. Traumatic brain injuries will often cause permanent damage. Even a concussion can cause lingering symptoms that may stay with you for years and impair your function.
The more serious your injury, you are less likely to live a normal life. You may not even work for an extended period—if you can ever earn a living again.
Insurance Companies Do Not Want to Pay Out Large Amounts of Money
When you have suffered a brain injury, the chances are that the monetary value of your claim is high. After all, your life has permanently changed, and you cannot do what you did before the accident. Defendants and their insurance companies will put every possible obstacle before you, knowing that you are already in a difficult position.
Not only are you dealing with your physical injuries, but you are also likely trying to navigate a new financial reality. This reality has lower (or no) income and high medical bills. Insurance companies count on the fact that you may be panicked about your current situation, and they try to take full advantage of it.
Insurance Companies Try to Get You to Take Less
There is a reason why insurance companies specialize in red tape. They know how to calculate your claim’s value and have the staff and resources necessary to pay your claim in a matter of weeks if they want to do it. The problem is that they do not want to pay your claim quickly or in full. They think that they can wear you down into accepting less for your claim or even try to deny your claim in its entirety.
This attitude is where your lawyer comes into the picture. Your lawyer’s job is to look out for you and your legal rights. When you have suffered an accidental brain injury, you have the legal right to full and fair compensation for your injuries if you can prove that someone else was at fault for them. Your lawyer has just one job—to help you recover top dollar for your brain injury.
You first need to know your legal options for obtaining financial compensation and how the process may unfold. You will need to get an attorney’s help as soon as you can find and hire one. Your lawyer will immediately review your case. They will perform a full investigation of the facts to learn who may be responsible for the accident.
A Lawyer Will Gather Evidence and Prove that Someone Else Was Responsible for Your Injuries
In any personal injury case, you must prove that someone else has a legal obligation to pay for your injuries. The legal standard you must meet is that it is more likely than not that they were negligent. A finding of negligence comes from the evidence that you have about what happened.
To receive any financial compensation, you need to prove that someone else harmed you. Then, you can compare the at-fault party’s conduct to what a reasonable person might have done under the same circumstances to argue that the defendant fell short of upholding the required duty of care.
Gathering evidence in any personal injury case takes some effort – even more so when you have suffered a brain injury. Not every piece of evidence is immediately available to you. Even if such evidence were immediately available, it might not remain accessible for long. You, therefore, need to move quickly and authoritatively to obtain evidence.
A lawyer can obtain:
- Statements from witnesses who saw the accident
- Photographs of the scene of the accident
- The opinion of any required or helpful expert witness who can show that the defendant’s conduct may have been responsible for your injuries
- Videotape footage that captured the accident
- Medical records that can show that someone was negligent
Gathering evidence requires a coordinated strategy where you need to pursue multiple avenues simultaneously. Personal injury attorneys do this for every case, and they will know what to do as soon as you hire them. Any delay in hiring an attorney can make your case more difficult.
Your Lawyer Will Work to Value Your Claim
One major difficulty of a brain injury is that you never quite know the full picture of your damages. Your healthcare professional gives you a diagnosis and a prognosis, but how much function you can regain is dependent on many variables.
Brain injuries can present a wide range of possible outcomes.
In addition, there are major challenges in attempting to place a value on the damages from your brain injury because it impacts so many areas of your life.
Your compensation may include:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Not only can you recover compensation for what you lost or suffered in the past, but you can also receive future damages. With a brain injury, each part of these damages can be considerable. There can be a stark difference between what you think you can get and what the insurance company will offer you. An experienced brain injury lawyer can find the appropriate place between those two numbers.
Brain Injuries Can Be Difficult to Value
It takes knowledge and experience to put a number on your damages. Your damage calculations must be backed up and supported by the evidence to have weight. Your challenge is to determine the number and support you may need years or decades in the future.
An experienced lawyer will work with you to value your case. Your lawyer can work with various experts to determine a number for your total damages. It is not a calculation that they will take likely because the amount of money you receive in a settlement needs to last for the rest of your life.
If you do not know how much your case is worth, the insurance company will not hesitate to take advantage of your ignorance. Once you accept a settlement and sign a release form, you cannot return for more money.
A Lawyer Will Work to Get the Maximum Recovery for You
Then, your attorney will devise a strategy for dealing with the insurance company. Not every claim unfolds the same way. An insurance company may settle one claim quickly while delaying another as much as possible. An attorney who understands how insurance companies operate is essential.
Treating the average traumatic brain injury can cost nearly half a million dollars to treat, and this is before you even include things like lost wages or pain and suffering. When dealing with a brain injury, your damages can reach policy limits. In other words, the damages you deserve can exceed the available insurance coverage. Your lawyer can file lawsuits against multiple defendants if they may have played a role in causing your injuries.
Then, you need an attorney to figure out other strategies to get the money you need to pay your damages. A lawyer can determine whether other potentially liable parties have insurance against which you can file a claim. They might file a claim against your own insurance if your injuries came from a car accident. Finally, they can see if they can file a third-party lawsuit against someone else to have an additional source of funds.
A Lawyer Will Handle Negotiations for a Possible Settlement
You may be hard-pressed to negotiate with an insurance company on your own. They have ways of doing things that an attorney understands and knows how to handle. When an insurance company makes you an initial settlement offer, that offer is far from their best and final offer. They have room to raise it in subsequent offers, and they often will when you say no.
Your attorney evaluates the offer when you receive it, figuring out how low it is. Then, your attorney counters with your demand. The attorney’s skilled eye spots a lowball settlement offer, and the attorney knows how to get the insurance company to raise it. Eventually, most claims do settle.
Along the way, you need updates on how the negotiation is going and whether it makes sense to keep proceeding. There is an appropriate strategy for every case. A lawyer may even advise you to file a lawsuit immediately and then negotiate as you develop your case in court. It all depends on the type of case, and the experienced attorney can read the situation to devise your strategy. When dealing with a valuable claim, there is no one set playbook to follow. It all depends on the situation, the insurance company, and your attorney’s skill.
If You Go to Court, You Need an Attorney
There comes the point in many settlement negotiations where you must decide whether to keep going or take your case to court. If you do not have an attorney, filing a lawsuit will seem like an empty threat to the insurance company.
They will take you far more seriously when a lawyer represents you because they know they have the power to act in your case. Your case has an even greater chance of success when you have a lawyer with a track record of holding insurance companies accountable when they try to play games.
If your case does go to court, not only do you need a lawyer, but you need one with trial experience. In court, there is a risk that you can end up with nothing if you can’t prove liability.
Handling your case in front of a judge and in the face of tough opposition from the defendant is not something the average person can do—particularly after a brain injury. If your case does go to trial, there are high stakes at risk, and the defendants will do everything they can to avoid being on the receiving end of a large jury verdict. An insurance company knows this, and they offer far less money to people trying to negotiate and settle their own claims.
There is no requirement that you have a lawyer in court, but imagine trying to go up against experienced attorneys and cross-examine defense witnesses on your own, especially when dealing with the effects of a brain injury. Never do this.
The legal process presents challenges and causes injured accident victims and their families much stress. Even worse, angst will arise if you try to do everything on your own without an experienced lawyer’s help.
Hiring a Brain Injury Lawyer Is Risk-Free
The good news is that, while the system is not necessarily designed in your favor, you can hire an attorney without money coming out of your pocket. Lawyers want to help you, and they will not ask you for money upfront, nor will they send you bills while your case is pending.
If they do not win your case, they will not bill you. You only need to pay a lawyer if you get a settlement or an award from the jury. There is no risk to you in working with a determined and experienced attorney who will take on the defendant and their insurance company on your behalf.
Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602