Reason #1: Without the assistance of an experienced attorney, you probably won’t have a clue what your personal injury claim is worth.
Truth be told, if you have been in a car accident, but you have not sustained any significant physical injuries, and the primary damage is simply property damage to your vehicle, you may be able to value your damages pretty easily and resolve your claim without the assistance of an attorney.
Your recoverable property damages can be calculated by obtaining a couple of repair estimates from mechanics or, if a vehicle is totaled, by using the Kelly Blue Book or other reference materials to determine the fair market value of the vehicle at the time of the collision minus the salvage value of the vehicle if sold in its damaged condition.
The value of a bodily injury claim, on the other hand, i.e. the amount you should aim to obtain from an at-fault party’s insurance carrier if you have been injured, is dependent on many factors. Calculating a reasonable recovery on a personal injury claim is more of an art than a science.
An experienced attorney will contact your medical providers and calculate the total amount of your past and expected future medical bills. He or she will also consider the total amount of your past and future lost wages, whether you have had to undergo invasive surgery, the duration of time in which you had to, or are expected to, undergo medical treatment, whether you have any permanent injuries or impairment ratings, whether you have any permanent scarring, how likely it is that you will be able to prove that the other party is at fault for your collision, how much insurance coverage is available, the reputation of the insurance carrier providing coverage, whether your case will be filed in court or resolved through an arbitration proceeding, how likeable you are as a witness, and if the case is to be filed in court, the county in which the case will be filed.
An experienced attorney will research recent verdicts in which other plaintiffs had injuries similar to yours, and he or she may even call other attorneys to see what settlement amounts they have obtained under similar fact patterns.
As you can see, the determination of a reasonable settlement range for a bodily injury claim is complex. Without a firm handle on what your claim is worth, you may be persuaded to settle your claim for too little. Alternatively, without experience evaluating bodily injury claims, your expectations may be too high, and this is likely to cause your negotiations with an insurance adjustor to hit a wall.
Determining the value of your claim is critical to obtaining a fair settlement after an auto accident. It is the first of many reasons why you should hire an experienced attorney to represent you after an auto accident. For more information about the claims process or to obtain a free case consultation, call 919-719-3908.