An average of 40 million people suffer injuries every year in the U.S. Half involve vehicle accidents. Victims and their families open tens of thousands of injury insurance claims every year but not everyone will win. This could be because the claim isn’t legitimate, there’s sloppy evidence, or you don’t have a local injury claims lawyer in your corner.
There are a few steps you need to take before winning an auto claim or injury insurance claim. This is just an overview, however, as every case is different based on circumstance, the state you’re in, and precedents.
It’s your lawyer’s job to…
- Prove that the defendant had a legal duty to the plaintiff, such as “John was legally supposed to stop at a red light but failed to do so.”
- The prosecution will then prove how that duty was breached, like our driver John not stopping at the stoplight.
- Next, causation is determining if the defendant breached his legal duty by not stopping at a stoplight and causing the injury.
- Finally, the plaintiff proves that the breach in legal duty caused damages (monetary or otherwise) to the injured party.
Do keep in mind that there is “winning” an insurance claim and “winning” a claim. A lot of insurance companies will settle at a low, what you may think is a “reasonable” number. That’s one of the first mistakes people who’ve suffered injuries do: They settle too soon. With the right legal counsel and a firm that knows how to push back against large insurers and defendants, here are a few steps for winning insurance claims:
1. Contact a Lawyer
This may seem like an obvious step, but it’s one of the most important. Lawyers know the system, how the claims process works, and can help you win the maximum amount of compensation (lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, etc. Contact a reputable firm as soon as possible. Most offer contingency payments, which helps you deal with other finances while receiving free representation.
2. Gather Information
Whether you’re negotiating a claim or starting a lawsuit, every piece of information related to the injury is paramount to winning your claim. Here’s a brief overview of what you’ll need to get started:
- Document everything. If you’re able to, write down and document everything that happened and you can remember leading up to and after the accident. This is key for when you need evidence proving the defendant was being negligent.
- Especially for car accidents, gather witness testimonials if you can. The police will, but they may be just as shocked as you are at the time. Request contact information so you and your lawyer can locate witnesses if necessary.
- Photograph everything. Pictures speak 1,000 words and that’s no different here. You’ll want pictures of the scene, your injuries before (if possible), after, scarring, burns, and whatever else is relevant. If there’s a car accident and you’re in the hospital, have a family member or friend to go take pictures. Take pictures from a variety of angles and at the same time of day the accident occurred.
- Go see a doctor, even if you don’t think you have to. Medical reports are powerful in injury claims and can establish “causation.” You’re also going to want medical records and expenses. Make sure you follow the medical professional’s treatment plan, too. You don’t want a defendant to say you, the plaintiff, aggravated your injuries by not following doctor’s orders.
- You may also want to keep a diary. While this may seem odd or unnecessary, it’s important to track any changes in your lifestyle that may have been a result of an injury. Did your sex life go down? Are you having trouble sleeping? Is your energy level lower than it used to be? All of these are considered compensatory damages.
3. Demand Settlement:
Typically, an injured victim will send off a letter to the responsible party demanding a settlement for “XYZ” reasons (XYZ being medical bills, lost wages, and the other information you’ve gathered that proves damages). The defense can settle there or reject the demand. If it’s rejected, we come to step 4:
4. File a Lawsuit
If the demand wasn’t met or the negligent party tries to negotiate too aggressively, it’s time to file a lawsuit. There’s is where it’s helpful to contact a local injury attorney who can help you settle your insurance claim. Your legal representative will know how to file lawsuits and try to win you the highest amount of compensation in the shortest amount of time.
Similar to the information and documentation phase, discovery is when the plaintiff and defendant’s counsel gathers information as evidence. If you did a thorough job earlier in the process, you have a better shot at winning the case and proving negligence and fault.
Most cases don’t even go to trial. Usually, if one side knows that going to trial will be more costly in the long run, they will offer mediation as an alternative. In mediation, both sides’ legal teams will try to come to a reasonable settlement number based on the gathered evidence and damages.
7. Trial and Appeal
If your case needs to go to trial, you may be looking at several months of work that could’ve been settled in mediation or by a well-written demand letter. The losing side of a trial is able to appeal the case, of course. An experienced personal injury lawyer can take you through the process and, hopefully, to a victory.
Want to Win an Insurance Injury Claim?
The best piece of advice is this: Document everything, find a reputable personal injury attorney, and be patient. Some claims are settled in a matter of weeks while others can take years. You can contact the Dixon Injury Firm to learn more about this process and how we can help.