Settling a personal injury claim isn't as easy as submitting your medical bills and waiting for a check. Well, insurance companies might want you to think it's that easy, but only because that method usually results in the claimant receiving less compensation than he or she deserves. The truth is, settling a claim for maximum compensation takes more strategy than you would think, which is why it's essential to have a personal injury attorney assist you with this step in the claims process. Settling without the help of an attorney typically won't do you any favors, and here's why.
Insurance Companies Don't Have Your Best Interests in Mind
Even if you are the policyholder, the insurance company's number one priority is making a profit. To do this, they employ a number of tactics to deny liability, hunt for policy exclusions and find reasons to lower the value of your claim. Insurance companies would not make a profit if they automatically handed over full compensation for every claim. In reality, you have to fight for what you deserve. The adjuster will try to convince you otherwise, but remember that it's their job is to pay out as small a claim as possible to increase their bottom line.
You Might Have to Strong Arm Settlement Negotiations
To receive full compensation for all your losses, you might have to participate in some negotiations. The insurance company might try to dispute your medical expenses, your noneconomic losses, or even liability. Without an attorney, these negotiations rarely fall in the claimant's favor. An experienced personal injury attorney will know what supporting documentation can back up your claims for expenses, assess a fair value for your pain and suffering, and know how to prove liability.
You Could Settle Too Soon
This is perhaps one of the most common mistakes claimants make when trying to settle their claim on their own. Often, claimants are under a lot of financial pressure to pay their medical bills. You could have liens filed against your claim, have to cover exorbitant out of pocket costs, or even see your bills sent to collections, which can harm your credit score. Unfortunately, these are all too common results of failing to involve an attorney. Personal injury attorneys have many resources they can use to help you cover your ongoing expenses while you recover and prior to settling. Your focus should be on healing, but that's nearly impossible to do when expenses are mounting, which is why many claimants settle too soon.
To avoid settling too soon, you should be waiting until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is a concept used frequently in workers' comp claims, but the principle is helpful in personal injury claims, too. Maximum medical improvement is when you've treated your injuries to the extent that you can. Some injuries will never heal completely, but you want to reach MMI before you settle. After you settle your claim and cash the check, you release the insurance company from further liability. This means if you need more medical treatment down the road, those costs are on you. Reaching MMI ensures you either won't need further medical treatment or a physician has informed you of what treatment you might need in the future. For example, some fractures don't heal seamlessly, which can cause ongoing pain or reduced mobility. You might need ongoing physical therapy for many years to deal with these lasting effects. You need to reach MMI, however, to know what to expect going forward so your attorney can include those future estimated costs in your settlement demand. Anything less and you won't be receiving the compensation you deserve.
If you are trying to settle your insurance claim, it's well worth your time to consult with a California personal injury attorney. Even if you think you don't need an attorney, and especially if the insurance company says you don't, an attorney can provide you guidance so you can protect your right to fair compensation for your losses. Making the call to settle on your own could result in you receiving less than the compensation you deserve.
Do you need help receiving fair compensation? Fresno area personal injury attorney Christopher Martens can help you protect your interests and rights while settling your claim. Attorney Christopher Martens has the skills and knowledge needed to help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide knowledgeable personal injury claim guidance. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.