You’ve been in an accident and you’re physically hurting. Chances are you’ve been to the doctor or hospital and your medical costs are mounting. Perhaps you missed work due to your injuries and you are worried about getting behind on your bills.
You are waiting on an insurance settlement so that you can pay your expenses but the insurance agent is arguing with you about the extent and costs of your injuries.
The first thing you must do is realize that the insurance agent is your adversary. No matter how sympathetic he or she may sound on the phone, it’s their job to save as much money for their insurance company as they can – and they are good at it. One tactic they use is to get you to say that your injuries are not as severe as you say they are. They can catch you at a bad moment or wear you down with the waiting game.
The next thing to do is to stop talking with the insurance agent altogether. It’s time to find an experienced advocate who can speak on your behalf. It needs to be someone who has a lot of experience negotiating with insurance companies – someone who has a good track record for getting the largest insurance settlements possible.
Who Will Be Your Best Advocate?
An experienced personal injury attorney is worth his weight in gold. He will not only know what to say to an insurance agent, he has the experience to calculate the true cost of your all your losses. He will be aware what other people in similar circumstances have received, he will be able to calculate what your future medical treatments will costs and so on.
Furthermore, a personal injury attorney is aware of the legal time limits. If you continue without legal help, the insurance company may continue to drag things out until you are faced with a deadline for reaching a settlement. Then you’ll have to take whatever they offer which is certain to be far less than an attorney can get for you.
A personal injury attorney will give you the courtesy of a free initial consultation. You will be able to sit down, face to face, with him and explain your situation. Then he will explain what he can do to help you.
Often, his pay will be a percentage of the settlement he negotiates for you. In other words, you will not be saddled with legal bills on top of your current financial burdens. Furthermore, the bigger the settlement he gets for you, the larger his portion is, too. So you can be sure he will work hard on your behalf. It’s a win-win situation.
Once you have called a personal injury attorney and made an appointment for your free initial consultation, it’s time to prepare for that meeting.
How to Prepare for Your Initial Consultation
If you haven’t done so already, start a journal of every detail you can remember about the accident. Describe the trauma you experienced and whether or not you went to the hospital immediately after the accident. Write down what the medical staff said and did.
Record the types of future treatments your doctor is recommending or prescribing. Is it possible that you will need surgery? Have you lost movement and need physical therapy? Do you have scars that will remain forever?
Document how much work time you have lost already. How much more work will you lose going to physical therapy sessions and doctor’s appointments in the months and years to come? Are there work-related duties that you can no longer perform, such as lifting file boxes or sitting at your desk as long as you did before? Are headaches more frequent and reading a computer screen more painful?
Is there anything at home you can no longer do? If you used to mow the yard, do you have to hire a mowing service to do that now? Did you have to buy a medical brace or device to help you move around? How much out-of-pocket costs have there been for medications associated with the accident?
Don’t hesitate to write about the mental anguish that you’ve had resulting from the accident. Are you afraid to drive now? Are there places you won’t go now that you used to enjoy before the accident? Are there activities that you can no longer participate in? Document any emotional changes you are experiencing. Compare how you felt before the accident and how you feel now.
Step by Step
So until now you have been trying to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company on your own. Now you detect things are not going as well as you hoped. The agent is downplaying your injuries. He may be trying to stretch things out or rush things along. You are not comfortable with the way things are going when you deal with him.
Now you know what to do:
• Immediately stop talking to anyone from the insurance company. The insurance agent is clearly trying to give you less of a monetary settlement than you need.
• Find an experienced personal injury attorney who has a proven performance of negotiating good settlements for his clients.
• Set up an initial consultation with this attorney.
• Gather all your accident-related paperwork into logical order in a notebook.
• Write down everything you can remember about the accident.
• Record your financial losses to date.
• List the expenses you may incur in the future.
• Describe how the accident has affected you emotionally.
Above all, don’t get discouraged. Just because the insurance agent acts as if you’re exaggerating your injuries doesn’t make it so. It’s his job to save money for his company.
Your injuries are real and they matter a great deal. You need an strong advocate who will fight for your rights while you take care of yourself and recover from the accident. Lean on the experience of a personal injury attorney and let him help you.