Getting the Most from Your Personal Injury Settlement
This article addresses the best way to help your personal injury attorney. There are many things that a plaintiff in a personal injury action can do to assist their attorney. There are also many things that a plaintiff can do to ruin their lawsuit.
Never Cooperate with the Insurance Company
Many individuals involved in personal injury accidents want to speak to the insurance company. It is understandable to want to do so but this act will ultimately jeopardize your claim. The job of an adjuster is to provide you with as little monetary compensation as possible. When you make certain statements to them, the insurance company will attach much more meaning to that innocent statement than it normally should.
A perfect example is when a party mentions to the insurance company that they suffered whiplash. This is an immediate red flag for an adjuster. Many insurance companies believe that a party making this statement is doing so fraudulently; studies have been conducted by these same insurance companies supporting their theory. After an insurance company believes that a party is making a fraudulent claim, it is nearly impossible to settle any sort of lawsuit. This is why it is so important to not discuss your matter with a representative from the insurance company.
Provide your Attorney with as Much Evidence and Documentation as Possible
An attorney can only prove what he or she has evidence to prove. While most claims for compensatory damages are genuine, in order to prove their genuineness your personal injury attorney must have documentation to provide to the insurance company or defense counsel.
A wage claim is a recoverable compensable damage if you are unable to work as the result of an accident. However, your word alone is not enough to support that claim. You must have a letter of disability to show your claim. You must also have wage statements to prove what you earn, as well as further supporting documentation from your employer.
Claims for emotional distress
Many plaintiffs want to make a claim for emotional distress. This too is a recoverable damage but not an easy one to prove. While many parties do suffer a component of emotional distress as a result of an accident, it is important that the party making such a claim has evidence to support the claim. This is generally done the same way neck or back sprain is supported by evidence - by seeking medical attention, including counseling.
This is not necessary if the party is only making a claim for emotional distress that can be expected as the result of an accident. However, if you are instructing your attorney that you are now afraid to drive and only do so out of necessity, then you must help him prove that claim. Seek the proper medical attention.
Helping your Attorney Prove Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is a very abstract damage and one that many people just expect to receive. There is no hard and fast formula for calculating your damages for pain and suffering. Many believe that pain and suffering is figured at a rate of 1 to 6 times your medical bills. That is not the case.
I have read many mediation and arbitration briefs and demand letters that read the exact the same. It is as if one attorney wrote a paragraph regarding pain and suffering and every attorney since that date has copied the same sentences.
It is not just what you cannot do or the pain you experience because of the accident that matters. Provide your attorney with "whens," "whats," "hows" and "whys." It is more powerful to say when, why and how often you had problems sleeping than just simply that you could not sleep.
Evidence Used in Pain and Suffering Claim
If the accident has impacted you in such a way that you can no longer engage in certain hobbies or sports, provide that information to your attorney. One of the best examples of this is a case I handled where my client used to golf constantly. He ended up getting a bone chip on his palm and he could no longer grip his club in the same manner. When he was successful in hitting a ball, the pain was excruciating. He provided me with documentation for how often he used to golf. This documentation consisted primarily of his old score cards. We collected a declaration from one of the managers of a golf course where he used to play. The statement essentially just said that he did not see my client any longer since the date of the accident. This helped in negotiations and settlement of his claim.
These are only some of the ways that you can help your attorney maximize your recovery.