If you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence, you’re almost certainly experiencing a lot of confusing emotions and concerns, but one of the most basic may be panic. You’re watching your medical bills mount while your paychecks may be dwindling, and your physical and emotional pain and suffering does not make matters any easier. If the insurance company comes through with an early settlement offer, it may feel like they’re throwing you a lifeline that you can’t afford to pass up, but resisting the urge to immediately sign on the bottom line is always well advised. The truth of the matter is that initial settlement offers are often bids to finalize claims before claimants recognize the full extent of their damages, and the best course of action is consulting with an experienced Austin personal injury lawyer who is well acquainted with your claim before accepting an initial settlement offer – or any settlement offer.
What’s In This Guide
- Common Types of Personal Injury Claims
- Your Complete Damages
- The Insurance Company’s Initial Offer
- Protecting Your Claim
Common Types of Personal Injury Claims
While no two personal injury claims are ever identical, there are certain types of these claims that are most common, including:
- Traffic accidents of every kind, including car, truck, motorcycle, bike, and pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents, dog bites, and other kinds of premises liability claims
- Accidents that lead to catastrophic injuries
- Wrongful death claims, which are very similar to personal injury claims
Your Complete Damages
In order to reach your most complete recovery, your complete damages must be well represented in your personal injury claim. These can be broken down into three basic categories of loss (or legal damages).
The medical costs that are associated with a serious accident are often extensive and can include not only current expenses but also ongoing healthcare costs. Consider the following common examples:
- Emergency care at the accident scene and emergency transportation from the accident scene
- Surgery and follow-up care
- Treatment and care from doctors, specialists, and other medical professionals
- Medical procedures, treatments, and tests
- Pain management
- Physical therapy and/or occupational therapy
- Chiropractic care and other more holistic approaches to health care
- Home health care
- Adaptive physical devices
- Prescription medications
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If you’ve been seriously injured, you’re very likely to need time off work to tend to your recovery, and with this comes a decrease in earnings. Things become that much more difficult if your earning potential is affected. If your overall ability to do your job is hindered, your career trajectory can also take a hit, which can lead to emotional hardship in addition to the financial consequences. Many of us invest a good deal of our sense of self in our careers, and watching the hard work you’ve poured into your career development be dashed by someone else’s negligence can be particularly painful.
Your Physical and Emotional Pain and Suffering
In addition to your economic damages, it’s important to focus on your emotional losses. The pain and suffering that accompanies being harmed by someone else’s negligence can be exceptionally challenging and shouldn’t be lost sight of in your personal injury claim.
Initial settlement offers often fail to address a claimant’s complete damages, which is the primary reason why you shouldn’t accept the insurance company’s initial offer without further investigation.
The Insurance Company’s Initial Offer
You recognize that the insurance company involved is responsible for covering the losses you suffer as a result of their policyholder’s negligence, and you may be confused about why you need to be so suspicious of any initial settlement offers. Your confusion is natural – we expect businesses to fulfill their obligations. What you may not realize about the insurance company handling your claim, however, is that it is motivated – first and foremost – by profits. If it can get away with settling your claim for less, it will do so, and one method it employs is offering lowball initial settlement offers that some claimants are financially desperate enough to accept (even if the amount ultimately fails to cover their full range of damages).
This, however, isn’t the only money-making scheme that insurance companies employ. Consider the following:
- Insurance companies sometimes attempt to shift fault toward claimants (and away from their policyholders).
- Insurance companies have been known to artificially prolong and complicate the claims process, which is lengthy and complicated enough to begin with.
- Insurance companies sometimes cast doubt on the extent of claimants’ losses.
- Insurance companies are on the lookout for reasons to deny or diminish accident claims, and they keep their eyes peeled for anything that can be used to tarnish claims.
In other words, the insurance company is not on your side, which is important to keep in mind throughout the claims process.
Protecting Your Claim
Your personal injury claim will be unique to you, but there are some basic steps that every claimant can employ to help protect his or her claim throughout the legal process, including:
- Work closely with an experienced personal injury attorney from the outset.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding your accident-related injuries carefully.
- Direct the insurance representative to your personal injury attorney when asked to provide a statement. You’re under no obligation to make a statement, and it’s a good idea to decline the offer.
- Refrain from posting about the accident on your social media accounts, and if you take a social media vacation until your claim is finalized, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. Insurance companies are good at what they do, and a lot of what they do is twisting the statements and posts of claimants to their own advantage.
It’s Time to Consult with an Experienced Austin Personal Injury Attorney
The practiced Austin personal injury attorneys at The Patel Firm dedicate their impressive practice to guiding claims like yours toward advantageous outcomes that uphold our clients’ rights and best interests. We’re here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 361-400-2036 for more information today.