A number of people do not hire a lawyer and handle personal injury or car accident claims by their own. These are possible when the injuries are comparatively minor. Hiring a lawyer, in such cases, may mean giving away one-third of the settlement.
When to go for self-representation
Before you decide to represent yourself in a car accident case, take into consideration two important factors:
- Were you hurt badly? A quick settlement is a surety if you have slipped and fell hard in a store and have endured a couple of bruises. These cases are quick. However, if you suffered a serious car accident and consequently undergone a lot of medical treatment, lost a major chunk of your income, it makes sense to discuss the case with an injury attorney. You should get fair compensation which will be blocked to you by the defendant- in this case an insurance company.
- Whose fault was this anyway? If it is a surety that the defendant is to be blamed for the accident- corroborated by testifying witnesses, then it will be easier to swing judgement in your favour- and you do not need any representation. However, if there is no clear case for you, then the defendant may even blame you for your injuries. In such cases, you need a lawyer.
Important first steps
This must be done prior to sending demand letter to the insurance company of person at fault.
- Take photographs of property damage, injuries and accident scene.
- Get a copy of police report.
- Get medical treatment as quick as you can.
- Use personal injury protection and pay initial bills. Activate health insurance. Get copies of all bills and records.
- Do not provide recorded statement to the insurance company of the party at fault.
- Ensure you comprehend your claim’s time limits.
- Do not discuss your accident in social media.
Two kinds of damages exist in personal injury cases.
- Those damages which can be exactly calculated. These are termed special damages.
- Damages which cannot be exactly calculated.
The list of special damages includes property damage, lost earnings, medical bills, lost earning capacity and the other financial losses which can be attributed to the accident. These can be exactly calculated as they could be totted up.
The damages that cannot be exactly calculated includes suffering, mental anguish and pain. No guidelines exist for determining the injured person’s settlement value related to suffering and pain. No such chart exists for monetary compensation.
Sending demand letter
The demand letter is the starting point for the serious settlement negotiations. It is only sent after the completion of an investigation and the extent of losses of that injured person has been found. To put it short, it is sent only after a thorough look is done on the impact the injury has made on that person’s life. This is vital as the demand letter will convey details of the defendant or the insurance carrier.
Countering and then accepting settlement
Do note that the concerned insurance adjuster will start from a low amount but you can negotiate. It is better to keep demand on high side- you will have much more room to negotiate. You should first consider a counter offer and then decide. Do remember that you should get what is fair- and not a windfall.