You've been seriously injured by another person, through no fault of your own. Whether it was a slip and fall, car accident, dog bite, or other traumatic experience, you now face a seemingly daunting challenge: win a settlement with the other party's insurance company. You are entitled to compensation for your hospitalization, medical bills, and ongoing expenses such as physical therapy. You may also be eligible for pain and suffering or mental anguish. Want to know how to win your case? Here are seven ways to prevail with your personal injury case.
1. Retain an experienced attorney
Most attorneys provide a free consultation to discuss your case and determine whether it has legal merit. Make at least three appointments and then choose the lawyer who has the most experience winning personal injury awards. You will probably pay your attorney a certain percentage of any award he wins for you. The insurance company with which you are dealing will be represented by a lawyer, so you should be as well. Otherwise, it is highly unlikely you will be victorious.
2. Be organized
Presenting all aspects of a personal injury case so as to obtain an award requires that you be very organized. Maintain all documentation regarding your injury in easily retrievable files. This way you can give your attorney everything needed to prove the extent of your injuries and the fault of the other party.
3. Be patient
Personal injury negotiations take time. It is possible that a settlement could be two years away...or more. The best advice here is to settle in for the long haul and allow your attorney to do what he or she does best: handle the case for you. Concentrate on healing from your injuries and adjusting to life post-accident.
4. Be honest
Being dishonest regarding the details of your accident or the extent of your injuries will ultimately count against you. It is possible that if the other party's insurance company can prove that you are lying about any aspect of the case, the case will be dropped. Tell the truth and trust the negotiation process.
5. Be timely
This is a simple courtesy, but it goes a long way: be on time for your appointments during this negotiation process. You will likely have to attend private meetings with your lawyer as well as meetings with the insurance company's representatives. Doctor's appointments and other business meetings to do with your injuries will be a fixture of your life as well. While your case won't necessarily be decided on your timeliness or tardiness, being punctual goes a long way towards presenting yourself as attentive to and involved in the process.
6. Be flexible
The negotiation process may not go as you expect; in fact, it probably won't. Be willing to consider a settlement lower than that for which you wished, with different contingencies than you expected.
7. Be watchful
Along with being patient, be prepared for the possibility that the insurance company will hit you blindside. Remember, they make their money by not paying significant settlements. Don't be surprised if the other party's lawyer accuses you of faking your injuries, denies that their party had any responsibility, or refuses to pay on the basis of any pre-existing injury of yours. Take a deep breath and let your lawyer handle the situation.
Winding your way through a personal injury case can feel a bit like walking through a minefield. Each day can bring a surprise twist that sends you scurrying to make phone calls or collect yet more documentation. However, only about five percent of personal injury cases in the United States go to court; most are settled between attorneys. Rest assured that your attorney will likely be able to procure a favorable award on your behalf.