How Categories of Damages Impact Attorney Evaluations And Negotiation Strategies

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We have all been there, a wrong turn, an inattentive driver, and a subsequent car collision. Accidents are not only a defining event in your client’s life, but they can result in lengthy medical treatment and substantial expense for your client. The path to resolution will often include difficult negotiations with multiple insurance companies and claims adjusters. The end goal for the majority of attorneys representing plaintiffs in motor vehicle accidents is to maximize their client’s recovery and ensure that they are compensated for all of their subsequent damages.

When evaluating a case, it is necessary to consider all aspects of your client’s damages in order to receive the highest value from an insurance company. There are often three unique aspects of a motor vehicle claim. The first aspect involves evaluating your client’s medical payments coverage. It is imperative that attorneys contact their clients’ insurance carriers to determine medical payments coverage and the applicable limits. Attorneys should then assist their clients with the submission of outstanding provider bills to ensure that the medical payments coverage has been exhausted. Should your client need additional treatment that they are unable to afford, attorneys should advise their clients regarding the pros and cons of lien-based treatment with their providers.

The second aspect of a claim is property damage. Although this is usually a claim made separate from your client’s bodily injury claim, clients have the right to be compensated not only for the damage done to their vehicle but also for damage done to any personal property that was in their vehicle at the time of the collision. Common examples of personal property that could have been damaged are laptops, sunglasses, and car seats. Personal property damage is oftentimes overlooked by attorneys when evaluating a client’s claim.

The third aspect of a claim is evaluating damages to be reimbursed through the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage. The three main categories of damages are economic, non-economic, and permanent impairment. Economic damages include your client’s past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and out of pocket expenses. Obtaining future medical care narratives or surgery estimates from providers is often beneficial to building your client’s claim. If a lost wage claim is substantial, retaining a vocational expert may be necessary to prepare your client’s case for the best outcome at trial. Non-economic damages are often subjective in nature. Meeting with your client to include things such as general inconvenience, lost opportunities, and the impact their injuries have had on their mood and daily activities helps you negotiate with insurance adjuster and provide a strong demand package to the insurance carrier. In some cases, a client’s injuries may result in permanent impairment which means that medical treatment will not be able to restore them to the health they were in prior to the collision. If their injuries have resulted in permanent impairment, an attorney may want to consider requesting a report from their treating provider with an impairment rating.

Taking into consideration all of the above referenced aspects is necessary when evaluating a client’s claim and preparing a demand package for the insurance carrier. To ensure that the claim goes as smoothly as possible provide the insurance carrier with documentation to substantiate each category of damages. Documentation can include medical reports, receipts, car repair estimates, photos, and impact statements from your client’s friends and family for non-economic damages. When it comes to negotiating the best possible outcome for your client, more is truly better. Kaylea Waechter

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