A personal injury incident can happen at any time. No two accidents are exactly alike. The circumstances can vary wildly from case to case, but the road to trial or settlement is generally the same.
They all start with the same unfortunate beginning: an individual gets hurt. Moreover, the individual believes another person or company directly caused the injury. These cases can result from car accidents, defective products, or slips and falls. What happens next involves a series of actions that ultimately lead to the individual being compensated for the incident. That series of actions include:
Submit An Insurance Claim
This can be a claim submitted to your own health or auto insurance, but ideally, it is submitted to the guilty party’s insurance. This is why individuals in car accidents immediately trade insurance information. The first step is to notify the other person’s insurance company of an upcoming claim. Once more information is gathered about your injuries, you then submit a formal claim seeking compensation. Hiring an attorney at this juncture can be extremely helpful in streamlining the process.
Meet With The Insurance Adjuster
The first thing the insurance company will do is assign an adjuster to investigate your case. They will seek out all available evidence about the accident to determine if their client was at fault and how much your injuries will cost. They do this by looking through the police reports, pictures or videos of the incident, and your medical records. You will want to provide them with as much information as you have that proves your claim. That said, your lawyer can help you determine what is and is not prudent to their investigation.
Have Your Attorney Conduct Their Own Investigation
The responsible party’s insurance company has a motive. They are attempting to prove their client is not at fault or, failing that, that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. The adjuster’s job is to save his company money by presenting the evidence in a way that requires the least amount of payout. Combat this by hiring an attorney to do the same thing for you. Your attorney may find evidence that the adjuster overlooked, or he may look at the same evidence in a new way. It is extremely beneficial to have an investigator fighting on your side.
Don’t Automatically Accept The First Offer
If the insurance company concludes that your injury case is worthy of compensation, their first offer will be low. Again, it is an insurance company’s business model to pay out as little as possible. Their first offer may even come before the extent of your injuries is fully known. This is because they want you to accept the offer before further complications are found or lengthy physical therapy is prescribed. Your lawyer’s job will be to volley back and forth with the insurance company until he finds an amount that works best for your situation.
Decide If You Will Settle Out Of Court Or Go To Trial
There are alternative ways to be compensated for your personal injury. For instance, a big company or wealthy individual may wish to settle without the insurance payout. This can be a way for them to keep the incident out of the public eye while still paying for their initial wrongdoing. In cases like this, mediation and/or arbitration might be utilized to come to a decision that everyone is happy with. This is referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Mediation & Arbitration
There are a few different types of ADR, but the most common are mediation and arbitration. In mediation, an informal meeting is conducted with both disputing parties and their attorneys. They all meet with a mediator, who is a trained negotiator specializing in agreements between opposing parties. The mediator is a neutral party who can often give helpful insights into the likelihood of each party’s desired outcome. Mediation is not legally binding, however, and both parties are welcome to accept or reject the mediator’s suggestions. Arbitration, on the other hand, is very similar to traditional court proceedings. It has official rules regarding what types of evidence are permitted. Furthermore, both parties agree beforehand to accept the resulting decision as binding. In this way, arbitration is settled in a legally satisfying way while remaining confidential.
If you have been in an accident or injured by the actions of another person or corporation, it is important to discuss the details with an attorney right away. The personal injury experts at Garretson & Holcomb, LLC can ensure you are represented and compensated as quickly as possible. Call today at (513) 863-6600.