When you’re involved in a car accident or slip and fall, claimants often times make a number of mistakes that reduce the value of their personal injury case. The following are some helpful tips to those that are thinking about bringing a personal injury lawsuit.
1. Don’t Take an Adjusters Word at Face-Value
One of the first things that can kill the value of your personal injury case is to believe what the adjuster tells you at face-value. They will try to tell you your case is worth little to nothing. DO not listen to them. The adjuster’s duty is to the at-fault party and the insurance company. Just because he or she tells you your case is worth a minimal amount does not necessarily mean it’s true. The adjuster is looking out for the insurance company and is trying to save them money.
2. Understand the Value of your Personal Injury Case
Another common scenario occurs when the claimant makes a low demand. If you start out at a low number then the insurance company knows that you will not be making more than that specific amount. If a personal injury case is actually worth, for example, $800,000.00 and you make an initial offer of only $400,000.00 then you are signalling to the insurance company that you do not know what the case is actually worth. The insurance company will know to set their reserves at a lower amount. This often happens when victims of car accidents do not have a lawyer.
3. Know that the Insurance Company is probably not on your Side
The third mistake I often see is if the insurance company tells you that their insured has done nothing wrong. This may convince you not to pursue your personal injury case and potentially lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars. Do not listen to the insurance company when they tell you your case is worthless or that their insured did nothing wrong. This is not exactly true. You can consult with a personal injury lawyer to get proper advice. This often happens in slip and fall cases where you, for example, fall at a grocery store. You could potentially suffer a variety of injuries. The insurance company adjuster might tell you that you should have been watching where you were going before taking that fall. If you walk away from the claim you could be missing out of a lot of money. Perhaps the grocery store didn’t have any signs. Perhaps they did not have a good system in place for inspecting their store for potential slip or trip hazards. There are many factors to consider before deciding to simply walk away from a claim. Consult with a lawyer about this.
4. Explore all Possible Insurance Policies Available
Another big mistake that people often make is to not look for all the potential insurance coverages available after an accident. For example, if you suffer a serious brain injury after a car accident, the policy of the at fault driver might only be $1,000,000.00. This might not be enough if it’s a serious injury with a significant income loss claim. There may be, however, an OPCF-44 coverage possible which could provide for an extra million dollars. (depending on the policy). There may be claims available against the municipality or other drivers that were involved in the accident. Make sure you explore all possible insurance policies available so that you do not miss out on potential dollars for settlement purposes.
5. Bring in an Expert
The last common personal injury case mistake we see occurs when a claimant does not get an expert where necessary. Sometimes experts are required to comment on a liability issue. Other times you need to hire an expert to comment on the seriousness of your injury in order to make sure you are compensated properly. There are a variety of different scenarios that one can face that may require an expert. Experts are expensive, however, they can increase the value of your case significantly if used at the correct time.
These are just some of the common personal injury case mistakes that we see litigants make. It is important that all options are explored before settlement. The last thing we want to see if claimants leaving money on the table before they settle.