If you have been hurt on the job, in a car accident or the result of someone else’s negligence, you should receive all financial loss plus pain and suffering. If your loss is severe and has caused you financial hardship, such as loss of earnings, medical bills, and physical and mental anguish, you might consider hiring an attorney. If you consider this, make your decision early. The earlier you get an attorney on your side, the easier it will be to get a reasonable settlement.
The most important course of action you can take is to get the medical help you need immediately. Make sure you get itemized statements from every provider. The term provider includes doctors, anesthesiologists, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and any other provider of services you need to treat your injury. You will need to submit a claim. Most likely, the injury you are claiming is due to negligence. You will need to get in touch the insurance company that insures the negligent party. The adjuster will ask for a statement. You should give an honest account of the event, but do NOT agree to a recorded statement. Often recorded statements are used later to indicate that you were also negligent. Some state laws allow for comparable negligence, which means that you will only get the percentage of your claim based on the insurance adjuster’s assertion that you were partially at fault. A recorded statement can help an adjuster make that claim against you. If you have an attorney, the attorney should be made aware before you give the statement. An insurance adjuster cannot speak to you directly without permission from your attorney, but you have to let the adjuster know that you have an attorney.
Keep all of your receipts and provider statements pertaining to this injury. Often, your attorney will be able to get all of your bills from medical providers in the area to present in an organized manner to the insurance company. Do not try to submit old receipts or bills from other injuries or other medical needs. This will not only heighten awareness that you are trying to claim unrelated bills, it will also give the insurance adjuster more information about your health than you should be willing to give. Keep it simple and honest.
After you are finished treating the injury, you will begin discussing a settlement with the adjuster. If you have an attorney, you should not discuss any of your personal injury settlement directly with an adjuster. All of the negotiations must go through your attorney. You will get your medical bills paid. These are referred to as “specials.” It is short for special damages. You should also get another amount referred to as general damages, or pain and suffering. If you decided against hiring an attorney, you will negotiate the settlement yourself. Do not take anything less than the total amount of your medical bills. They should be paid under specials. The adjuster will try to lower your bills. Do not take the bait. He will regard the ambulance bill as unreasonable. It is not. He will say that the doctor was charging too much for consultation, or medical services. It is not true. The insurance company is obligated to make you whole after an injury. If they do not want to pay your entire medical bills, you need to reject the offer. Once you negotiate that, you must ask for pain and suffering. Sometimes, they will try to lump it all together and give you a large number that barely covers your medical expenses. When an adjuster evaluates a claim, they evaluate it in a range. For example, if your meds cost $7000, sometimes the adjuster will evaluate that in the following range- $5000-$10000, including general damages (pain and suffering). Don’t take the first offer. Make sure they pay you for all the bills, any future treatments you might need, and pain and suffering. It is all negotiable. If you begin to get anxious and confused, reject the offer and hang up the phone. Stay calm, and wait a day. You can call the adjuster back or wait for them to call you. They want to settle with you and close the claim. That is their goal to close as many claims as they can, so often, they will pay the top of their range. Be reasonable. This is not a get rich quick type situation, but you should be paid for your injury. If an adjuster is unreasonable, or if your claim is higher than the policy allows, getting an attorney is a sound option.