After a severe injury, many of us wonder if our next step should be to file a claim or a lawsuit. In some instances, many of the ramifications associated with a personal injury can be addressed without filing a lawsuit, especially if we are dealing with a reasonable insurance company. However, what happens when we are injured and are not able to obtain the compensation that we deserve?
Personal Injuries in the United States
In the United States, many thousands of people are injured on an annual basis. A large number of victims slipped and fell while working. Others are involved in terrible automobile accidents. Regardless of the situation, victims injured because of somebody else’s negligence should be financially compensated for their injury.
All too often the accident victim may not be able to work for a long period of time. They may experience a great deal of pain and suffering. In extreme cases, they may experience permanent damage to their bodies that will impact their career and personal life.
Filing a Claim
In most circumstances, the personal injury victim can file a claim with the responsible insurance company. The insurance company will then evaluate the claim and accept or reject it. Throughout the process, there may be a series of negotiations that may occur.
Understand that the insurance company is looking out for their best interests, not necessarily yours. In many instances, they may try and settle because it is less expensive for them than a lawsuit. If you receive a settlement offer, take it to your personal injury attorney for an opinion on whether or not the amount is fair. If your attorney determines the amount is far below what it should be, he or she may be able to negotiate a higher amount. If that’s not possible, your best bet may be to file a lawsuit.
Lawsuits can last for months. A qualified attorney will make every effort to build a strong case and prepare for court, even during the settlement negotiations. In this way, he or she may convince the at-fault insurance company that if they do not settle, they face a long and expensive court case. That is a common tactic used by successful attorneys to bring the insurance company back to the negotiating table. In the event that they refuse to offer a fair settlement, your attorney will already have a solid case in advance of heading to the courtroom.
Consulting an Attorney
If the at-fault insurance company is unwilling to offer adequate compensation, if you do not already have a car accident lawyer Milwaukee WI trusts, get one. During the initial consultation, the lawyer will likely ask a series of questions including:
- How did the accident and personal injury occur?
- Do you have medical records available from before and after the injury?
- What have been your out-of-pocket accident-related expenses?
- How has this personal injury affected your life?
- What is your desired compensation for your accident damages?
Documentation to Collect for Your Attorney
Whether you file a lawsuit or work toward a settlement, it is important to share all your accident related documentation with your attorney, including:
- Hospital records and treatment notes from your doctor.
- Police reports.
- Personal statements from yourself and witnesses regarding how the accident occurred that injured you.
After the conclusion of the case review, the attorney will decide whether or not to represent you. If the attorney does not share their opinion as to the likely outcome of the case, do not be shy about asking. Also inquire about what they charge and if there may be additional expenses such as court costs and other fees. Many reputable attorneys waive their fees for a percentage of the lawsuit judgment or settlement. Before signing a contract with an attorney, make sure to understand the payment structure.
In a personal injury case, the victim often has more than one option to recover their damages. It is important to weigh the pros and cons before making the important decision of whether to file an injury claim or file a lawsuit. Almost without fail, it is in the personal injury accident victim’s best interests to consult the legal opinion of a reputable lawyer.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim SC for their insight into the difference between a claim or lawsuit.