Immediately following any car accident with an injury, insurance “Adjusters” (the designated individual from the insurance company who delegates how much money you will be compensated with, if any), investigators, and defense attorneys start to limit the amount of money their insurance companies will give you – the victim. The insurance investigator working on behalf on the offending driver will photograph both of your vehicles to record the damage, even if the accident was not your fault.
Even though you might not be at fault, the insurance company of the other driver may send investigators following the accident. These investigators will take photos both of the accident scene and the damage to both vehicles. Soon after that, the insurance “Adjuster” will start preparing your case. It is the Adjuster’s duty to decrease the price that the insurance company (their employer) pays to you. Insurance companies may sometimes even contact you following the car accident in order to get a recorded statement over the telephone, so that they may minimize your settlement amount. Do NOT give a recorded statement until you have had the chance to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer.
During this process, the insurance adjuster determines how much money you will get. They purposefully make this amount as small as possible for the benefit of their employer, the insurance company. One tactic that insurance adjusters use is to get a verbal statement from you over the phone after the accident. They do this in the hopes that you will say something self-incriminating that will justify them giving you a smaller award than you are entitled to.
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Another tactic insurance companies may often employ is to offer you a minimal amount of cash within 2 days after the accident and talk you into forfeiting all of your legal rights. This 2 day window is critical because, during this time, most accident victims do not feel the full extent of their injuries. In truth, injuries that seem minor in the first 24 to 48 hours after an accident can actually be serious “soft tissue” injuries, the affects of which can stay with you for a lifetime.
At first, it may seem tempting to try to settle your own case. Settling the case yourself may save you cash in the short run because you don’t have to pay a lawyer’s fee, but you’re likely to get a much smaller recovery than you would have with an experienced personal injury lawyer. It is important to know that how you interact with any insurance representative is critical, and the results could impact you and your family for years to come. You must also keep in mind that insurance companies may act friendly, but they are not looking out for your best interests.
The determination of the settlement amount primarily depends on the amount of Medical Bills, Pain and Suffering, Life Care Costs and Employment Damages. A five to seven-plus figure settlement is not uncommon, even with the most straight-forward cases in which permanent impairment occurs.
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Long-term hospitalization, plus the cost of physical and vocational rehabilitation can easily cause medical bills to exceed $100,000. For accident victims and their families, getting these bills paid off is usually the top priority. The offending party’s insurance adjuster will typically reach out to you and offer you a settlement within hours or days following your injury. “Taking care of all of the medical bills” is often included in the settlement packages, making the offer look very tempting. However, this broad provision fails to take into account the life care and vocational training costs which the victim will incur in the months and years to come. Do not sign anything the adjuster offers you before you’ve contacted your own qualified, serious injury lawyer.
It is important to note that serious injury cases are unique from other injury case types. While “three to five times the amount of medical bills” is typically a reasonable amount for most injury cases, it is far from sufficient for serious injury cases. For example, some serious injuries can result in comas. Comatose patients not only rack up medical bills while comatose, but are sure to sustain financial damages in the future in direct proportion to how long they are in a coma. It is important that these future damages are accounted for. If contacted by an insurance adjuster or any other professional who recommends you take “three times the medical bills” for your serious injury case, call Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law immediately.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering calculations are usually grouped with the cost of lost wages and financial damages to the family. The long-term impact on the victim’s life typically determines these damages. Life care costs, employment losses and damage to the victim’s family life must be considered as a whole. The resulting award for pain and suffering often exceeds the amount of all other damages combined. Often, this can be explained by the fact that the victim usually suffers a lower quality of life, the cost of which can exceed the value of any potential future earnings. For example, the forfeiture of $1,000,000 in future lifetime earnings does not compare to the pain and suffering of living in a vegetative state or in constant pain. This remains true if the victim is still able to work, but still suffers from diminished enjoyment of life. The amount of money obtained through employment does not hold the same value as the quality of life the victim enjoyed before the accident.
Life Care Costs
Rehabilitative treatment, in-home care and future medical bills all factor into determining life care costs. Many times, the victim’s family will provide in-home care. Contrary to what an insurance adjuster may have you believe, even the in-home care provided by family members is not “free.” Its cost lies in the fact that it is financially taxing to the family unit due to loss or reduction in family members’ employment. It can be emotionally and physically taxing for the family as well. It is very important to your case that you get the right experts to produce great testimony for your family member during the settlement phase or at trial, should a trial become necessary. When you work with Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law, you can be assured of getting the best life care experts to testify on your family member’s behalf.
An injury case also necessitate the calculation of employment damages. An injury will often disqualify an individual from continuing in the line of work they were doing prior to the accident. While they can pursue a different career, this “secondary” field of employment is often far less lucrative than their primary field. In the worst case scenario, the victim is unable to work at all. Sometimes the victim is a child, and the injury impairs their ability to attend college or to get job training. Calculating these types of losses requires very highly skilled lawyers such as those at Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law.
Some injuries are more discreet and are not readily noticeable. With subtle injuries like these, the victim can lose their current job or fail to get promoted within their company. This is another scenario in which it takes a highly skilled injury or accident lawyer to determine the facts of the case and to accurately calculate the amount of employment losses.
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Even slight physical injuries can cut down a victim’s active working years. It is important to look at a victim’s earning ability both prior to and following the accident in order to calculate employment damages. Their current earnings and the amount of earnings they are expected to lose over the course of their remaining employment lifespan must be examined. It must also be determined whether their working life has been shortened as a result of the injury. An “inflation multiplier” and the job’s market value can help a vocational expert come up with a true number estimate. Be sure to have a properly skilled expert calculate these figures.
There are larger numbers that will be requested in the course of calculating damages, but this one is the most easily understandable and accessible to the layperson. When it is explained to the typical juror that “the accident victim will lose “X” amount of dollars over his lifetime, and his family will never see this money,” they will usually understand. The combination of this figure with existing medical bills and future life care cost will greatly increase the amount of pain and suffering damages awarded. The average juror will typically have no trouble grasping that a victim, who had had their whole life ahead of them and was preparing for a satisfying personal and employment life, will now be faced with the possibility that they must settle for much less. It is the juror’s job to ensure that the victim does not have to settle for less, and most jurors take that responsibility very seriously.
Here at Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law, we take our client’s future seriously. We see to it that the insurance company is aware of this also, and we will diligently work hard at maximizing your loved one’s chances of obtaining the best possible settlement.