When you're injured in an accident, such as falling because of a slick spot in a grocery store, you could have substantial medical bills. What seems like a simple fall could cause a neck, back, or head injury that requires long-term medical care. The store's insurance company may offer you a settlement for your injuries, but you probably have no idea if it's a fair offer. The safest course of action is to hire an experienced injury lawyer who can help you decide how much compensation you should receive. Here are some things to know.
Compensation Amounts Follow A Formula
The insurance company and your attorney use basic formulas to estimate the compensation amount for your injury. The formula takes different factors into account. They can even calculate ambiguous costs such as for pain and suffering, which is why it isn't an exact science and negotiations must still take place to reach a settlement. Your attorney factors in costs associated with your medical bills, ongoing care requirements, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.
This creates a general figure for starting negotiations and determining if the insurance company offer is enough money to consider. A benefit of working with an experienced injury lawyer is that he or she has been through the settlement process many times and has a feel for the amount a claim is worth.
State Laws May Cap Compensation
The state where you file your claim might have laws that place caps on the amount of money you can receive for certain types of claims. The caps might be waived in the case of a serious injury, so working with an attorney who understands personal injury law will help you get the best outcome. Plus, once you understand the law, you'll know in advance what the maximum amount of your compensation can be if a cap applies to you.
Thorough Documentation Is Important
Insurance companies want to control costs as much as possible, so they'll want proof of your claims of pain and proof of the cost of your care. This is done by looking at your medical records. When you've been injured, you want to be honest with your doctor about how you feel and the amount of pain you have as a consequence. If you're the type of person who pushes through pain and doesn't complain, that might hurt your case if you don't tell your doctor the true extent of the effects of your injury.
Your doctor makes notes during each visit that are read by the insurance company and presented in court if your case goes to trial. You'll have difficulty proving your ongoing pain if it isn't reflected in the doctor's notes. In addition, you'll want detailed accounts of all the money spent on your medical care even if you didn't pay for it out of your own pocket. You'll also want documentation of loss of wages so all your claims are accurate and backed up with the proof.
The legal system is usually confusing to the average person, and insurance companies can be intimidating. You have to deal with all that at a time when you may be in pain and under stress. Hiring an experienced injury lawyer is a good way to make sure your best interests are protected and you get the compensation that's needed to pay for your recovery.