When you’re involved in a potential injury claim it is good to know in advance what you can do to increase your personal injury settlement. Below are some tips you can keep in mind if you ever find yourself in such a situation:
1. Establish liability.
Insurance companies are wondering who caused the accident. You want to take care of that as soon as possible. Keep photographs, talk to witnesses, get the police report or insurance information of the other driver ASAP. Keep this information for later on in the litigation. You can also hand it to your personal injury lawyer if you decide to hire one. He or she will find it very useful.
2. Do not give statements to any insurance companies.
That includes statements to either your insurance company or the insurance company of the other driver or at fault party. No information about how the accident happened or your injuries. You don’t want to get tricked to reducing your claim by providing some information to the other side that they don’t need to know.
3. Get diagnosed for any injury you have.
Don’t just assume the insurance company is going to pay you for an injury you think you have. You need a medical doctor to diagnose you with something in order for it to be recognized by the insurance company. You may also need to see an expert medical doctor for this, depending on the circumstances.
4. Follow your doctor’s orders for treatment.
This is sometimes challenging to do if you are injured because you already have a lot on your mind and the pain can get in the way. Make sure you are following up with your family doctor on a regular basis (once every two to three months). Do not miss appointments. Once you see your doctor he or she will make treatment recommendations. It is important that you follow through. The Insurance Act states that you have a duty to mitigate damages which means you need to get treatment and make an honest attempt at getting better. The insurance company will use your lack of effort against you when it comes time to settlement.
5. Get all your medical bills, out of pocket expenses and medical records.
Go to your treatment providers and ask for all your medical records. You also want a list of the money you’ve spent on things like medical devices, treatment, medication, etc. Keep these organized.
6. Hire experts to follow up with outstanding issues in your case.
For example, you may need to get an expert to comment on liability as to how the accident happened and whose fault it is. You may also need to get an expert to comment on whether your injuries are serious and permanent in nature. You may need to get an expert to comment on whether your injuries are from the accident or from some pre-existing issue. There are a variety of reasons why you may need an expert. Keep this in mind if you find yourself in a position where there are gaps in your case.
7. Put the defendant and his or her insurance company on notice.
Ask for the policy limits. Outline some information about the accident and advise that you have suffered injuries. There is no need to go into tremendous detail about this. This will make the insurance company of the at fault party aware of your intentions to start a personal injury lawsuit. This will also start the clock on pre-judgment interest.
8. Be aware of any timelines you have.
Usually the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. There are some exceptions to this but generally you want to start your claim within two years from the date of the accident. Do your research or consult with a personal injury lawyer for more details on the specifics of your case.