After suffering injuries in a motor vehicle collision, there are several factors that might significantly influence any car accident settlement or verdict. Some of those factors can be pivotal in determining the amount of any settlement or verdict. Since you certainly want to pursue the maximum value of your claim or lawsuit, keep the following five factors in mind.
Evidence of Fault
Another driver might be held 100 percent at fault for an accident like a rear-end collision while the victim was waiting for a red light to turn green. This type of evidence might consist of the police accident report, traffic, dashcam or surveillance camera footage of the crash, passenger, eyewitness statements, and photos of the vehicles of the respective parties. Sometimes, drivers even admit fault to the investigating police officer. In many states, a plea of guilty to an underlying traffic ticket can significantly influence any car accident settlement or verdict.
The Nature and Extent of Your Injuries
Is your injury temporary or permanent? Nearly all strains or sprains involving muscles, tendons, and ligaments are going to clear up in six to eight weeks. These types of injuries are not as compensable as permanent injuries. Here are a few examples of permanent injuries:
• Severe traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries
• Traumatic amputations
• Burns from fire, explosions or electrocution
• Fractures, especially if surgery was required and hardware was implanted
• Organ damage
• Spinal injuries, like one or more disc herniations
• Severe dental injuries
Victims who suffer one or more of the above types of injuries as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else will require extensive medical care. They are likely to endure protracted or lifelong pain and suffering. The nature and extent of these types of injuries make them more compensable.
Your Medical Records and Bills
Expect the opposing insurance company to examine these in exacting detail. Seek medical assistance immediately after the crash. If you feel any pain or discomfort, tell the 911 operator to send paramedics along with the police. The paramedics will treat you at the scene and transport you to the nearest emergency room. A record will be made of that. After examining and treating you, the emergency room physician will make another record and provide you with instructions. Follow them. Those records from the paramedics and emergency room will begin a long history of the nature and extent of your injuries along with treatment. Never skip an appointment with a doctor or therapist. Your credibility could be attacked, and you can be labeled a malingerer, which may impact car accident settlement or verdict.
It might be alleged that you were partially at fault for the accident. Even if that is proved, you can still recover compensation for your injuries, but any settlement or verdict would take into account any percentage of fault attributable to you. Most states bar any recovery by a person who is determined to be 50 or 51 percent at fault for an accident. For example, if a jury found you to be 15 percent at fault for an accident, a $100,000 verdict would be reduced to $85,000.
The Request for a Statement
You’re likely to be contacted by the opposing insurance company shortly after your accident “just to see if you’re feeling any better.” That’s just a pretext for trying to obtain a recorded statement from you about how your accident happened. Never give an opposing insurance a statement of any kind without an attorney being present on your behalf. The law doesn’t require you to give one. That person who phones you already knows how the accident happened. He or she has a copy of the police report under their nose. If that person says that your claim will be denied and closed for want of a statement, contact a qualified and experienced personal injury lawyer right away. Upon being retained, he or she will get the opposing insurance company’s attention right away. In the interim, don’t mention your accident on social media.
An opposing insurance company will do everything possible to try to devalue your personal injury claim. Until you retain quality and experienced personal injury lawyer, protect your claim or lawsuit by keeping these five factors that could impact your car accident settlement in mind at all times. William John DiPetrillo & Associates, P.A. will advise you further. We have over 25 years of experience in car accident settlements and is a member in good standing of the Florida Bar Association, Broward County Bar Association, and American Bar Association.