5 Factors that Impact the Value of an Auto Accident Personal Injury Claim
If you’ve been in a car accident, you have two important missions:
First, seek immediate medical attention, even if you think your injuries were minor. An examination by a physician will document the full extent of the injuries sustained during your car accident. Sometimes, due to the adrenaline coursing through their system, victims fail to identify medical issues. Lack of medical attention can lead to complications. So, again, it’s key to see a physician immediately following your accident.
Second, if your injuries were the result of someone else’s negligence, you need to speak with a top-rated personal injury attorney. Personal injury laws are designed to protect victims and hold at-fault parties accountable. But, you have to exercise your rights.
When you file your claim, you’ll be assigned a claims adjuster. They’ll offer you a fast cash settlement of your claim. Fast cash might sound appealing, but there’s a catch. You need to ensure that you are covered for all of the potential costs associated with your accident before you sign a waiver of your legal rights.
Here are the things a personal injury attorney will look at when estimating the full-value of your personal injury claim:
1. Facts of the Accident
What actually happened the day you were injured? What was the weather like? Was the other driver under the influence? Were there roadway hazards that created an unsafe driving environment?
Successful personal injury firms have a team of experienced investigators on staff to answer these types of questions. Based on the answers to these, as well as many other questions, a personal injury team will create a fact-based narrative describing the accident.
This will help determine which party is at-fault. If you can prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that someone else caused your accident, the potential value of your personal injury claim may go up.
2. Your Choice of Representation
If you choose to simply file a claim and accept the compensation that the insurance company offers, you’ve probably diminished the value of your claim. Insurance companies make a profit by reducing their payout on claims and maximizing the premiums they collect from their customers. Remember, your claims adjuster is in the position they’re in because they are skilled at minimizing payouts on claims.
If you choose to hire a personal injury attorney to review and then pursue your claim, you’re increasing the likelihood that you’ll receive fair compensation for your claim. You’ll be advised on how personal injury laws in your state impact your claim, and you’ll be counseled on the types of expenses many accident victims fail to account for when accepting a check from the insurance company.
3. Your Actions Leading up to the Accident
In some states, like California, both parties can share responsibility for the accident. Let’s say that it was a rainy night, you were approaching a blind curve on a twisty mountain road and then boom, your car collided with another vehicle. A jury may decide that, in this scenario neither party is more at-fault than the other. So, that’s a 50/50 split.
But, let’s say that it was discovered (through skid-mark analysis, for example) that one driver was speeding, while the other was driving safely considering the conditions. The jury may decide that the speeding driver was “more at-fault”. So, let’s say a 70/30 split.
Any costs resulting from the accident would be shared by both parties, based on their percentage of fault for the accident. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly investigate the accident and determine what transpired immediately before and during the impact.
4. Medical Treatment Required to Treat Injuries
The diagnosis your physician provides will help determine the type of treatment your injuries will require, as well as the impact that it will have on your life. A broken leg is less life-altering than a brain or spinal injury.
Again, and I can’t stress this enough, you need to seek medical attention following your accident. The physician’s documentation will help you secure fair compensation for the injuries you sustained - hopefully covering any long-term medical treatment in-full.
5. Your Ability to Return to Work
Will your injuries keep you from immediately returning to work? Will you ever recover to the point where you can return to your old job? Will your employer allow you to return to work after you’ve recovered?
If your income is impacted by your accident, the value of your claim will probably increase. Calculating this is pretty straight-forward, but there are a number of variables to consider.
The bottom-line is you need to seek the advice of a qualified personal injury attorney in your area. You shouldn’t be making these decisions alone. When you talk to the insurance company on your own, you’re simply out-gunned. They know how to manipulate the situation to reduce payouts. Let an experienced expert take their calls, so you can focus on getting better.