What Happens After The Injury Claim Is Filed Up To When Insurance Makes Its Initial Settlement Offer?
In this article, you will discover:
- The typical timeline of events after an accident
- How personal injury settlements are calculated
To be clear, the term “filed” is not what most people think. When I or another attorney at our firm is hired to represent an injured party, we will notify the insurance company in writing about our representation, and we ask an assigned insurance adjuster to acknowledge our representation and direct all communication to our office going forward. So that is how you “open or file” a personal injury claim with the insurance company itself. Now, the timeline will depend again on the client’s treatment schedule, the extent of their injuries, and how quickly they recover. We always advise our clients that they should if after being released from the doctor they reached maximum medical improvement; to wait 60 days before we going to start negotiating a settlement with the insurance company to make sure that nothing that they thought was resolved has come back. Again, having decades of experience has taught me the virtue of advising my clients of having some patience to assure none of their injury symptoms return. Sometimes, our clients are ready to settle and at the end of the day we work for them and after giving them the best advice we will pursue their wishes.
One of my strengths as a representative for injured clients and one our firm is known for is keeping our clients informed of what we have experienced in the past with clients in similar situations they may be dealing with. Again, our experience is extremely valuable. Our firm wants to help them understand that a quick recovery is not always the best recovery. Sometimes clients need a speedy recovery because external factors exist which they have no control over, and we certainly understand that and at days end work on behalf of our clients and their best interests. As long as we feel like our client has all of their options explained to them and understand everything, our firm will pursue the case as quickly or take the time and allow our client to make sure they are where they need to be in the recovery process before we start negotiations with the insurance company. Now, insurance companies can make an offer early on. Still, we are not going to accept an offer unless that’s all the insurance company has to offer from a coverage standpoint, and there are times when my client is still being treated, and our medical bills have already exceeded the insurance limits, and we may have to pursue an underinsured claim as explained earlier.
Having a firm with experienced attorneys with decades of helping injured clients and having seen so many different situations help us guide each client’s case and explain their timeline to getting them the money they deserve for the injuries suffered. I always want our client, their treatment schedule, the extent of their injuries, and their recovery to be the controlling factor, if possible, as to when their claim is going to be resolved. In the end, there are so many factors that go into a client’s timeline from accident to settlement that one size certainly doesn’t fit all; but experienced attorneys are crucial.
How Are Personal Injury Settlement Amounts Calculated?
First, in calculating a settlement, our firm considers the economic damages, which will include the amount charged by your accident-related medical providers for your treatment; any future medical treatment known to needed and the estimated costs of it, any lost wages, and any future lost wages. The medical records and the bills will be used to calculate the damages for the medical treatment. We usually will contact an employer or sometimes our injured client will want to contact them and get them to provide our firm with information confirming our client’s wage loss associated with injuries suffered in the accident.
Sometimes future lost wages are included. For example, say our client was in a career pre accident and injury has caused them a long-term impairment in which they are not going to be able to function physically or mentally in a way that will allow them to return to their old job and make the wages that they were making. They may have to go into a career that makes less money, or they may have a disabling injury in which they’re not going to be able to return to the workforce because of the accident. In those cases, we will hire a vocational expert and/or an economist as an expert, to calculate the future lost wages caused by the injuries suffered in this accident.
Injured clients are also entitled to money for non-economic damages, such as the pain and suffering they endured as a result of the injuries suffered through no fault of their own. Pain and suffering cannot be calculated by using a strict mathematical formula like adding up the total of medical bills or the number of hours not worked against an injured client’s hourly wage associated with economic damages. Instead, the value that assigned to non-economic damages will directly relate to the type of bodily injury they suffered.
For example, if a client suffered a broken bone or suffered a bodily injury that required surgical intervention or sustained an injury that is going to leave scarring or some sort of permanent impairment that is either going to be visible or affect their functioning, then that is going to increase the value that is place on the non-economic or the pain and suffering element of the value of their claim. In the end it comes down to figuring out what value an insurance is willing to pay for the client’s pain and suffering. Normally the value assigned directly relates to the injuries suffered, those injuries that require invasive medical procedures like surgical intervention or are relatable to an average person, such as broken bones, are going to be given a greater value. In the end, having an experienced attorney with knowledge of how local folks who would make up their client’s jury is important as the insurance company is not going to want to pay more for pain and suffering than they believe a jury would require.
In trial, I have personally tried several tactics to get a jury to understand how to provide a value to my client’s pain and suffering. I’ve also successfully used my client’s testimony and explained the timeline that they suffered from. For instance, if my client has dealt with pain and suffering through no fault of your own for 180 days, I may ask a jury to assign the daily value that a person should be entitled to have who dealt with what the symptoms including paid in each of those 180 days and determine a value that way. Sometimes I have given ranges to juries that I feel are reasonable in relation to the injuries suffered, treatments underwent and timeline for recovery. In the end, there is no set formula to produce a non-economic value. That’s why I think you must hire an attorney with experience with injury cases and has experience with local juries where you were injured and understands how people around there think. Northwest Arkansas is known for its conservative jury pool typically. But we also have a jury pool that wants to rectify a wrong and hold somebody responsible for being negligent.
Conservative juries believe in individual responsibility and making the case about people responsible for their individual actions, whether intentional or negligent, is what most cases are. Obviously, sometimes case involve factors like being high or drunk, texting, or doing something that would raise the level of angering a jury that if this person had been following the rules like the rest of us, this would have never happened. Those factors increase the value of our client’s cases at settlement as well as in the courtroom.
Our firm has taken presented some of our clients cases in front of a “mock jury” also called “focus groups” in an effort to flesh out what issues a potential jury may think we should focus on when we expect the case to go to trial. One lawyer in our firm will play the big bad insurance defense attorney, another the white hatted personal injury attorney. We’ll present the facts of the case to this group of people, have them to evaluate it from both sides and give us feedback. Usually, they will agree to allow us to video their discussions and this feedback of their back and forth “jury room” debate can be valuable. Not only does this help us find out a lot but the value of our client’s claim, form similar locals like the potential jury, but a lot of times, it helps identify what the average juror thinks should be the issue or issues that are most important and helps us focus on those if the case were go to trial, and that’s been helpful in our cases where our client’s have more significant injuries helped them get a larger recovery. Sometimes cases are settled through alternative dispute options, such as mediation, and having the results form a “mock jury” can assist during that process as well. In the end, experience with various techniques is important, and over two decades of helping injured clients has taught me that each case is unique, and some techniques work in some cases and are not needed in others. Our firm has experience, and it helps our clients with getting the most money for their injuries.
For more information on the Aftermath Of Filing A Personal Injury Claim, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you seek by calling (866) 253-2226 today.