With insurance companies stubbornly resisting to pay out fair compensation to the injured, there are certain damages that are often overlooked when submitting a demand in an injury claim. This article will address the claims that should be included in a settlement demand.
To simplify matters, we will apply these damages to an auto accident case; however, most of these damages apply to other injury matters as well.
In auto accidents, years ago, one could estimate the final settlement amount to be the equivalent of three times the medical specials (medical bills). For example, if the injured party had a total medical/chiropractor/ambulance bill of $4,000.00, settlement could be expected to top out in the range of $12,000.00.
However, this is no longer the case. Injured parties are more frequently finding that insurance companies are maxing their offers out at two times the medical specials. Utilizing the above example, this would mean that the settlement amount would be in the range of $8,000.00 (a $4,000.00 decrease).
And why is it that insurance companies believe they can get away with lower payouts in injury claims? The most prevalant answer would be that there is a strong likelihood that the attorney would not be willing to risk the expense and time of filing a lawsuit and litigating the matter before a jury. And although there is expense and time involved in litigating an injury matter, it would be wise to retain an attorney willing to do just that, if the need arose. Insurance companies are also aware of attorneys willing to take the case to trial and those who are not willing to litigate an injury case. This alone can make a difference in the settlement of the claim.
With that said, here are several damages that should be considered and/or included when making a demand for settlement:
- Photographs - By nature, people are "visual". You have probably heard personal injurythe saying that "a picture speaks 1000 words". Accordingly, if you are in an auto accident (or injured in some other way), if there is strong visual evidence to support your claim, capture it on camera! Insurance adjusters frequently make an argument that there was "little damage" to the automobile and attempt to equate that to "little injury" (although there are many case studies that argue otherwise). Thus, if there is serious injuriesvehicle damage or visible scars, by all means, capture it on camera. And most cellular phones are now equipped with a camera, so that should not be a problem.
- Medical bills - Include all of the bills associated with your claim....bills for treatment, examinations, prescriptions, rental vehicle, taxi transportation, the cost of the baby sitter while you were at treatment, etc. If you were out of work for 30 days, include that along with your statement of wages and employment.
- Days out of work - Document the number of days, weeks or months out of work due to the accident. Have your employer complete a Statement of Wages and Employment which will document the time missed from work as a result of the accident. But this should also be spelled out in the demand.
- Period of Treatment - Instead of simply indicating that treatment lasted over a set period, it is more valuable to actually address the number of visits to the doctor for treatment. This is more compelling. And it is very important that you don't miss your scheduled treatments. Medical records which indictate that your treatment was sporadic is a clear indication, in the eyes of the claims adjuster, that your injuries were minimal.
- Deprivation of Right To Enjoy Life - When addressing this issue, it is vital that you maintain a "journal" in which you document (daily) your injury, loss of sleep, and ANY activities that you would normally engage in prior to the accident, but that you have been unable to do so as a result of the accident. Examples would inlcude: mowing the lawn, doing laundry, jogging, working out at the gym, driving, doing other house or yard work, playing tennis, etc. The journal is vital because you will not be able to remember specific details some 90 days after the accident.
- Loss of Consortium - If you are married, a loss of your sexual relations with your spouse (whether psychological or physical) may be compensable.
- Psychological Injures - It is not unusual for someone involved in a serious accident to suffer enhanced stress, anxiety, fear of riding in an automobile, or fear of being hit while driving, fear of walking, fear of going certain places (phobias), suffer nightmares, and irritability.
- Future pain and suffering - Merely by being released from treatment does not guarantee that you will not suffer pain in the future. In fact, with many injuries it is not uncommon to for pain to recur some years after the accident...long after the case has settled.
- Age - The age of the injured party may be a factor in determining the likelihood of reaching a full recovery, if ever. This factor should be explored and addressed in the demand.
- Prescription pills - Instead of merely stating what prescription pills were prescribed, a detailed description of the number and frequency of pills taken (and for what purpose) should be detailed in the demand.
- Witnesses - Witnesses can include anyone who saw the accident occur, as well as, co-workers and family members who can testify about your living conditions both prior to and after the accident. Co-workers can testify of the difficulty you had in trying to perform your work, standing for prolonged periods, being seated for prolonged periods, headaches you suffered, etc.
As you can see, the above list is fairly comprehensive and if properly supported by documentation, the claims adjuster will be in a position to justify a higher settlement offer, and will also realize that you are well organized and prepared should your case go to trial.
Anthony Overton Van Johnson & Associates, P.C. represents clients who have been seriously injured due to the negligence of another. Should you have questions or would like to schedule a free consultation, call attorney Anthony Overton Van Johnson today to discuss your case. (678) 882-7355.