When you’re injured in an accident, you only get one chance to receive compensation from the responsible party. It’s important to understand how to secure the maximum settlement, since the complications from your injuries could extend far beyond your medical bills. There are six key steps you should take in order to maximize your personal injury settlement.
Begin gathering evidence as soon as the accident occurs. Remember that in a personal injury case the burden of proof always lies with the claimant/plaintiff. Take photos at the scene of the accident. If it was a car accident, take photos of the damage to all vehicles involved, debris that is in the road, and include both close-ups and distance shots. Photos should be taken to document damage to property and/or bodily injuries (including bruises, cuts, or swollen areas). Continue to document injuries with pictures as they progressively get better. Carefully document the event and injuries in writing as well.
It is vital to obtain contact information from witnesses and anyone else who may have information relevant to your case. Record information about where the accident occurred, including cross streets and landmarks. If you are injured on someone’s property, contact the landowner; if it was a car accident, contact the police immediately and ask that they prepare a police report. If they will not write a report, go to the police station and make a counter report while the details are still clear in your mind. Don’t forget to determine if there is any video surveillance footage of the incident from surrounding businesses or other cameras and request a copy of the footage.
Do not provide the defendant with evidence. Never admit fault in the incident, because the information may be filed in reports by the defendant (an internal incident report, for example) and could be used against you. Never give any type of recorded statement — even to the insurance company — without speaking with your attorney first. There are many types of evidence that may be involved in your case, and that evidence must be preserved. Keep all information and documentation organized in a place where it will not be lost.
Seek Medical TreatmentOne of the key ways to maximize your personal injury settlement is to seek and receive medical treatment. If you are not treated for your injuries, it will severely weaken your claim. The defense will argue that your injuries could not have been as severe as indicated if you didn’t receive treatment for them.
Medical treatment includes more than just going to the ER or seeing your doctor; you also must cooperate with your doctor by following up on recommended tests (especially MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans), therapy, and treatments. Carefully take your medication as prescribed. Keep all appointments related to your injury. Failure to diligently follow through with treatment could lead to accusations of fraud if the defense claims that you were not even injured in the first place.
Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
You obviously need a good lawyer, and more specifically a trusted personal injury attorney to maximize your personal injury settlement. Do your due diligence: find out how much courtroom experience your potential attorney has, and whether he or she has handled your type of case before. Look into past settlements & verdicts the firm has won. It is also important to hire a lawyer who has previously handled personal injury cases in the venue your case will be tried in.
A good personal injury lawyer is willing to take your case to court if necessary to see to it that you receive the settlement you deserve. Also keep in mind that large law firms may assign your case to a junior associate, so before you sign a retainer, make sure you are comfortable with everyone who will be handling your case.
Stay Off Social Media to Maximize Your Personal Injury Settlement
Be aware that comments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites can quickly derail your case and destroy any chances you have of a fair settlement. Remember that the defense attorney will be clever enough to check your social media accounts and use them against you during a trial. It is in your best interest not to comment about the case or your condition on social media until the case has been settled.
Make a Good Impression
The first time the defense will meet you is at the deposition. They will be looking carefully at various aspects of your appearance and behavior to determine if you are going to make a good witness for the defense. They may even decide to settle based on the impression you make at the deposition. To make the correct impression on the defense, be aware that they are looking for these qualities:
- Are you respectful and polite?
- Do you express yourself well?
- Are you sincere?
- Are you knowledgeable about your own case?
- Are you dressed appropriately?
- Are you likable?
- Is the jury likely to be sympathetic with you?
If the case does go to court, the jury and judge will be impressed by the very same characteristics.
Be Honest About Injuries and Accidents
Honesty is the best policy in a personal injury case. You should be completely truthful about all aspects of your case, including the extent of your injuries and the damages you suffered. Do not embellish or exaggerate. Be aware that the defense has most likely hired an investigator to carefully confirm your claims, and if you do not tell the truth, it will be revealed during the course of the trial, weakening your claim and rendering you unreliable.
Personal Injury Lawyers Who Have Won Numerous Settlements & Verdicts
No one wants to be injured in an accident, but if you are a victim of someone’s negligence, remember the following:
- Gather evidence;
- Get medical treatment;
- Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer;
- Stay off social media;
- Make a good impression; and
- Be honest about previous injuries and accidents.
These simple steps will help you to maximize your personal injury settlement. If you or a family member has been injured in an accident, contact Donaghue & Labrum right away. As personal injury and car accident lawyers, we have the combination of skill, twenty-five years of experience in personal injury law, decades of experience representing both defendants and plaintiffs, and proven success to help you get the settlement that you deserve. From car accidents to dog bites, we fight for the rights of our clients. Call us today for a free consultation.