How to maximize your personal injury settlement
If you have had an accident due to the negligence or fault of someone else, you may be able to obtain monetary damages in a personal injury law suit. This is often best accomplished by retaining an experienced lawyer. If you ever find yourself in this situation, think about these seven tips.
- Preserve Evidence
You, as the plaintiff, have the burden of proof. Therefore, you should begin preserving evidence as soon as possible after the incident happens. Otherwise, information to support your case may get lost or misplaced, witnesses can disappear and memories fade with time. For example:
- Take photographs of the accident scene, defective premises or product as well as your visible injuries such as swelling, cuts and bruises, casts or other devices.
- Record the accident location. If you are unfamiliar with the area write down the street, landmarks or other location information.
- Get witness contact information as well as the contact information for other persons who may know relevant information.
- If you are in an auto accident call the police. If you are injured on someone’s property report the incident to the owner, landlord or tenant.
- Get video surveillance. Nowadays, there are video surveillance cameras in many locations that may have recorded the incident. Look around . . . then request a copy.
- Be aware that defendants will begin building a defense to your claim immediately after an accident. For this reason, you should never admit fault which will be used as evidence against you in court. Also, make sure to report injuries or symptoms even if they seem minor at the time.
- In auto accident cases, insurance companies frequently request that you provide a recorded statement. Never give a recorded statement to an insurance company or defendant without first consulting your own attorney!
- Get Needed Medical Treatment
One of the main factors used to determine the value of a personal injury claim is the medical treatment you receive. You should seek prompt and proper treatment for your injuries. This includes following your doctor’s orders for tests and therapy. If you do not comply with your doctor’s orders, or fail to treat, the defense will likely use this as evidence against you in court.
If you do not seek treatment for your injuries the value of your case can be greatly reduced. The defense will argue, often convincingly, that your injuries were insignificant due to the fact you needed only minimal medical attention.
- Be Honest About the Extent of Your Injuries
Honesty is the best policy holds true for negligence claims. And, indeed, for the entire process. You should not exaggerate your injuries in hopes of being awarded more money. Not only is this fraudulent, it is against the law.
Whether you are making an insurance claim, swearing to the truth of a complaint or testifying in court, you are required to be honest and truthful at all times. In fact, exaggerating your claim is more likely to hurt your case than help it. In many instances, the defense counsel will hire an investigator or search for evidence to verify the truthfulness of your claims. If the defense finds evidence that you have fabricated or exaggerated your claims they will use it to ruin your credibility in front of a jury.
- Stay off Social Media
Social media has destroyed many personal injury cases. When you post comments and photographs on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, they can be found and used by anyone – including the defense! In personal injury cases, defense attorneys will vigorously search the internet for any information that they can use against you in court. Simply put, if you have a personal injury claim or lawsuit stay off social media!!!
You may have had a prior accident or suffered a previous injury. This is usually only a problem if you are not honest about it. Perhaps the old injuries have healed. Other times, a preexisting injury is aggravated or made worse by an accident. In a negligence lawsuit, a plaintiff is entitled to be compensated for the damages caused by the careless acts or omissions of another. This includes compensation for aggravation or exacerbation of a prior injury or preexisting condition.
If you are not honest about your history of prior accidents or injuries it may negatively impact or destroy your claim. A personal injury victim’s credibility is of the utmost importance. If your credibility is compromised, the value of your claim will be diminished or even lost.
- Make a Good Impression
Normally, the first chance the defense lawyer has to interact with you is at the deposition. A deposition, a legal question and answer session, takes place in the part of the legal process known as discovery and is a proceeding where out-of-court oral testimony is taken for possible later use in court.
At your deposition, the defense is entitled to find out information about you and your case. However, they will also use this opportunity to evaluate whether you will make a likable and sympathetic witness. They will look for qualities such as: Are you polite and well spoken? Do you dress appropriately? Are you sincere? Are you knowledgeable about your case?
If you make a good impression at your deposition, there is a greater chance [though no guarantee] that the defense will make a fair settlement offer and your case will be resolved out of court.
- Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Trial Attorney
If you are seriously injured because of an accident, you should carefully select an attorney to represent you. The significance of choosing a skilled trial lawyer – – one who can present your case to a jury – – cannot be overstated. The personal injury attorney you hire can make a huge impact on the verdict in your case. The level of skill and experience varies greatly from attorney to attorney. In addition, the type of cases an attorney regularly handles and the amount of personal attention given to each client will impact your case. Your attorney should, from the beginning, be looking at the trial and jury end of your case.
And are there other issues in your case? Criminal aspects? Estate matters, such as wrongful death? A full service firm, such as J&G, will provide all of the resources that are needed to obtain the best result.
Robert M. Lefland is Senior Counsel and primary attorney in charge of Personal Injury at J&G. He can be reached by calling 866.303.9595 toll free or 845.764.9656 and by email . He is available by appointment on Saturday’s. If you need his immediate attention, you can reach him on cell.