How to damage your personal injury case?

How to damage your personal injury case

Personal Injury Case
How to damage your personal injury case

We’ve unfortunately seen a few accident victims who could teach a course on “how to damage your personal injury case.” To avoid damaging your case, contact our office for a free consultation today at 312-848-9783. Or read below for a few of the common ways that accident victims damage their case.

Dishonesty

The first lesson in how to damage your personal injury case is by lying to the insurance adjuster. The truth is going to come out. The facts will be verified by the parties, an independent witness, an expert witness, or the physical evidence/property damage. As such, it’s better to be honest up front with your attorney or the insurance adjuster. It avoids being called to the carpet later.

Also, in Illinois and many other states, you can recover for your damages even if you are partially responsible for the accident under the theory of comparative negligence. It’s much better to accept 20 (or whatever) percent responsibility for the accident up front than have the insurance deny your claim entirely because you were dishonest.

Medical Treatment

Another way how to damage your personal injury case involves your medical treatment. First, often accident victims don’t immediately seek medical treatment – this is a mistake. If you didn’t get medical treatment right after the accident, it is very difficult to tie subsequent ailments to your accident.

Many people will get medical treatment after an accident but then won’t get any additional treatment (like physical therapy) for weeks or months thereafter. That results in a “gap in treatment.” Gaps in treatment are something that insurance companies utilize to diminish claims. Their argument is that something else could have caused your injuries during the gap (slip and fall/another accident/work injury). As such, it’s important to engage in a continual course of treatment after an accident.

Some people don’t follow their doctor’s instructions regarding medical treatment. The doctor instructs them to undergo physical therapy or use crutches, but they refuse. As a result, they are “non-compliant” with a doctor’s instructions. This is something that an astute insurance adjuster will point out to diminish your claim. You have a duty to take steps to minimize your injuries and failure to do so will be used against you.

Don’t “tough it out.” When you’re at your doctor’s office, tell the doctor/RN/NP about all your injuries. Do not diminish the pain you are going through. As we discussed in another blog article on documenting your injuries, if your injury is not documented in the medical records, it doesn’t exist to the insurance company. Don’t tough it out, tell them about everything you’re going through.

Social Media

Posting on Facebook or any other social media about your accident can hurt your case. I’ve discussed a situation before where I observed a client engaging in vigorous activity at a time when he was recovering from an injury. If we saw it online, so did the insurance adjuster. As such, be cautious about what you post on social media.

As an aside, whenever we sign up a new client, we check the defendants’ social media as well for information we can use against them. So social media can be a double-edged sword.

Recorded Statements/Sign Documents

Another “how to damage your personal injury case” is to give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster and/or to sign any of the insurance company’s documents without consulting with an attorney first.

The insurance adjuster is not on your side. They want to delay, deny and diminish your claim. As such, they will use the recorded statement against you later to call into your question your credibility. Few people can tell a story the exact same way two or three times.

Also, insurance adjusters will often get you to sign a release as soon as they can. If any additional medical issues arise after you sign, you are out of luck. Also, they will get you to sign a medical release which gives them the authorization to obtain all your medical records. You should control what they see, not them.

For more information about to avoid damaging your personal injury case, contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

How long does a personal injury claim take to settle?

Were you involved in a personal injury accident? If so, your first question may be – how long does a personal injury claim take to settle? To Personal Injury Claimdiscuss this and/or any other issues regarding your accident, contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

How long does a personal injury claim take to settle?

If you’ve dealt with personal injury attorneys before, you’ll understand that it’s hard to get a definite answer out of them. That’s because there are many factors that go into a personal injury case. Anyone of them could delay your case. For that reason, the only honest answer to the question of how long does a personal injury claim take to settle is – “It Depends”.

Factors that affect how long it takes to settle your case

There are many factors that affect this answer. The most important being the severity of your injury. Instead of starting there, however, we will address this question by looking at the normal pattern a personal injury case takes.

Finding the defendant/insurance

Many times our clients were taken from the scene of an accident in an ambulance. If that’s the case, chances are you didn’t have a chance to get the defendant’s contact information let alone his/her auto insurance information. As such, you may have to wait until the police report is ready to identify the defendant or his insurance. That can take weeks in big cities like Chicago. The easiest way in Chicago to obtain a police report is on the CPD website. You can also obtain reports from the Illinois State Police, your local Sheriff’s department and/or your local city.

Liability

Once you find the defendant, you or your attorney will file a claim with their insurance company. Most insurance companies have websites with instructions or a phone number to file a claim, like this one from State Farm insurance.

Just because you filed a claim, however, does not mean that State Farm etc. will immediately compensate you for your damages. Normally the insurance company will investigate the matter first. This could include ordering the police report, interviewing their insured about the facts of the accident, interviewing witnesses, inspecting the scene of the accident and so forth. Then, they will either accept “liability,” meaning responsibility for the accident, or they can deny liability, or they might split responsibility between their insured and you the victim.

This can take a long time, especially if a serious injury or a death is involved. In the meantime, your car is damaged and you’re in pain. You may get frustrated and for good reason. However, aside from filing a lawsuit, there is little you can do to speed the insurance company’s investigation up. That’s one of the reasons why we recommend filing a claim with your own insurance company as well.

This is the quickest way to get your property damaged resolved. Yes you will have to pay your deductible in order to get your vehicle fixed, but you should get that money back shortly.

Severity of Injury

The one factor that most affects the question of how long does a personal injury claim take to settle, is the severity of your injuries. Why? Because this will (in many situations) dictate how long you obtain medical treatment for.

Once you sign a release from the insurance company accepting compensation for your damages, you waive away your right to recover anything else from the defendant/his insurance in the future. It doesn’t matter what happens. We just received a call from a woman who signed a release from an insurance company six months ago. She was just recently diagnosed with bulging discs in her neck and wanted to go back to the insurance cover to obtain additional compensation. We had to tell her that once she signed the release her case was over. There was no going back for more money. Consequently, you want to make sure your medical treatment is completely finished before you sign on the dotted line.

Ironically, the severity of your injuries may also mean that the amount of time it takes to settle your case is very short. For example, we had a case recently where our insured (a pedestrian) suffered a severe leg fracture when she was hit by a car while crossing the street. She underwent open reduction internal fixation surgery on her leg.

This is a severe injury for which she could have recovered significantly for. However, the driver of the car that hit her only had $50,000 in insurance and our client did not have any auto insurance. As such, she was limited in her recovery to $50,000. The insurance company offered the $50,000 within weeks of the accident occurring. Theoretically, we could have settled her case right then but for the time it took to negotiate her medical bills.

We will discuss that and other issues that effect how long it takes to settle a personal injury claim in part two of this blog article, which we will post next week. If you want a free consultation to discuss the question – how long does a personal injury claim take to settle? Contact our office at 312-848-9783.

Reasons People Don’t File Suit in a Personal Injury Case

Need to speak to a Morton Grove personal injury lawyer? Call our office today at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation about whether you Personal Injury Caseshould file a lawsuit in a personal injury case.

You Need to File a Lawsuit When….

There are times when you have no choice but to file a lawsuit for injuries suffered in a personal injury accident. The main reason being when the police report (if there was one filed) does not contain the auto (or other) insurance information of the party who caused the accident and the defendant refuses to reveal what insurance he or she has. Feel free contact a Morton Grove personal injury lawyer to determine whether you should file suit. But frequently there are situations when people choose not to file suit

When Personal Injury Victims Do NOT File Suit

There are situations when filing a lawsuit does not make sense. The main reason is when the person who caused the accident has no insurance or has the minimum insurance limits – $25,000.00 in Illinois.

As I’ve mentioned many times on this site, if there are no insurance proceeds to go after the likelihood of recovering against the defendant personally is small. I had a call this week with the victim of an accident and had to tell him we couldn’t help him because there likely were no insurance proceeds to go after. I hate those calls. The only way to protect yourself is to have adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist protection.

Another reason people don’t file suit is when the numbers do not “make sense”. What does this mean? As a Morton Grove personal injury lawyer, we are experienced in crunching the numbers to determine the potential difference in recovery by an accident victim who accepts an insurance company’s offer or who files a lawsuit.

For example, we have an auto accident case we recently worked on. The insurance company offered approximately $50,000.00 to settle the case. We estimated that at trial the case could be worth up to $70,000.00 – though a jury could always award more or less. If we went to trial, our client’s attorneys’ fees would increase from 33.3% to 40.0% and costs would increase from approximately $250.00 to approximately $10,000.00. To understand how much money more our client would have recovered in litigation, check out the numbers below.

Settle pre-litigation:

$50,000.00
$16,333.33 attorneys’ fees (33.3%)
$ 250.00 costs
$33,083.33 Total recovery

Jury Verdict of $70,000.00:

$70,000.00
$28,000.00 attorneys’ fees (40.0%)
$10,000.00 costs
$38,000.00 Total recovery

As you can see, assuming we won a $70,000.00 jury verdict, our client would have recovered less than $5,000.00 more by going to trial (not taking into account paying back medical bills and liens). And, she would have had to wait approximately 18 to 24 months to have the jury trial in the first place. Most people do not want to wait 18 months to get another $5,000.00.

This is not accurate in all situations. There are many times when insurance companies low ball accident victims. As such, a trial is the only way to get a fair and just recovery. The example above is to point out those situations when filing suit would not make sense.

Other Reasons People Do Not File Suit

Time, Aggravation, Money

We have handled a couple of cases in the past six months where our clients, one a female bicyclist and an another a female auto driver, were affluent and suffered moderate injuries. For these two ladies, the issue wasn’t so much the amount of the compensation but to see justice done. Neither party wanted to file a lawsuit and get involved in litigation that would have required them to undergo a deposition, respond to discovery and possibly spend time in a courtroom. So, we settled both cases on their behalf for a little less than they might have been worth at trial. In addition to the case not being about money, neither of our clients wanted to spend the time required in litigation and/or to deal with the aggravation of litigation.

Fear of the System

Some people don’t file lawsuits because of fear of the system. I’ve heard this from some people recently who might not have the residency status that many of us enjoy. Not making a value judgment here, just pointing out that some people are scared to go to court because they fear being deported.

Others are just afraid of the legal system in general regardless of their citizenship status. They don’t know the system works, they are distrustful of attorneys (sometimes for good reason) and they don’t want to get caught in something they know nothing about. And these people often think they will owe their personal injury attorney money that they cannot afford or that it will cost them money (they aren’t aware that p.i. attorneys work on a contingency fee basis – no recovery, no fee).

Severity of Injury

Finally, as a Morton Grove personal injury lawyer, it’s our duty to advise people when it is and when it is not a good idea to file suit. Often, a person’s injuries will dictate whether they should or should not file a lawsuit.

If you were involved in an auto accident and suffered a back or neck sprain or strain, it is not likely that a jury is going to compensate you very much for your injuries. This is not to diminish the pain or discomfort you are going through. Simply pointing out that those are not the kind of injuries that juries compensate victims for. I think jurors feel that these types of cases should have been resolved out of court. Most judges would agree with that as well.

Our firm is located in Northbrook, Illinois but we practice all over Chicagoland and throughout the state of Illinois. As such, if you are seeking a Morton Grove personal injury lawyer, or you want to confer with an attorney about whether you should file a lawsuit, call our office today at 312-848-9783 for a free consultation.