Without looking at all of your records you do not want a "quickie opinion" that will undercut you. I’ve handled many personal injury cases over two decades and truly, no two are the same. No fair evaluation can be approximated without reviewing all facts regarding the damages, including all medical records. There is a general formula that is based on a number of variables. I evaluate personal injury claims every day and have published an article on the topic. Having tried many cases both to juries and to judges in “bench trials” I have seen what works and what doesn’t. Among the factors that must be evaluated prior to determining the final settlement range are:
Total dollar amount of all medical bills.
Amount of medical bills that are outstanding or must be paid through liens.
Percentage of bills for treatment versus diagnostic tests.
Length and extent of any total and/or partial disability.
Residual loss of function/disability.
Age of injured person.
Activities of daily living of individual, pre and post injury.
Permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Potential need for future treatment.
Diagnosis of all injuries.
Lost wages/lost earnings capacity. (Documented, not speculative. “Under the table” earnings do not count.)
Each factor must be clearly documented, with medical support for each factor, stating that it was caused by the accident.
The existence of prior injuries of any type and previous insurance claims adds a wrinkle to any case, but can be dealt with. The personal injury attorney must know about this from the outset and not learn about such factors only after the insurance adjuster slaps us in the face with it. I can deal with almost anything with a forthright client.
Finally, the insurance industry's own publications acknowledge that once an attorney becomes involved in a bodily injury claim the value at least doubles. Nearly all personal injury attorneys give a free consultation. Therefore, anyone serious about optimizing their personal injury settlement retains an experienced personal injury attorney in their jurisdiction.
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This answer is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided in an office consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, with experience in the area of law in which your concern lies.
Attorney Meyers very comprehensive answer buried the most important piece of advice at the end. No not, repeat do not, attempt to negotiate this claim without a lawyer. Insurance companies try to take advantage of unrepresented claimants every single time. A negotiation is about information and leverage. They have the advantage over an unrepresented claimant in information because they handle these claims all the time. And, an unrepresented claimant has much less leverage than one with a lawyer with a known track record who can sue if the offer is inadequate. Hang up the phone on the insurance company and find yourself a good personal injury attorney in your area. Ask around your circle of friends and try to find a lawyer with satisfied clients. If you can't find a good lawyer that way, check Avvo and the internet.
When they make you an offer, it will be low. Insurance companies like dealing with people who don't have attorneys because it saves them a lot of money. Hire a personal injury attorney - someone with a lot of experience negotiating with insurers - to help you with this. I'm licensed in Illinois, but I can refer you to an attorney in your area if you need help getting started. Feel free to give me a call. 1-800-807-9530. Good luck.
The above answers are all correct. In our firm, our lead Personal Injury lawyer used to work for insurance companies. So he can tell you. You need a lawyer. I've seen insurance companies offer a few thousand dollars to an uninsured person when the claim is in the tens of thousands of dollars. I can virtually guarantee you that if you get a lawyer, even after you pay the contingency fee, you will be much better off than if you take the insurance company's offer.
Like all personal injury law firms, we offer free consultations. So you really have little to lose by talking, in person, to a lawyer.
There is one possible scenario where it would make sense to hire an attorney on an hourly basis. If the policy limits are low. Like $25,000, and the insurance company offers you policy limits, then you should consider hiring a good personal injury lawyer on an hourly basis to review the case and see if there is an other way to get more money from some other source. And to make sure that you've fully utilized the available insurance coverage to take care of all medical expenses, time lost wages, and any other possible expenses. BUT, it is very unlikely an insurance company will offer you policy limits. I've seen it happen one time in 25 years.
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