Any civil lawyer experienced with going to trial will tell you not to accept a first offer from an insurance company. Ideally, you will not even be negotiating with an insurance adjuster before talking with a competent attorney. Insurance companies often act like they’re on your side when you’ve been in an accident, but they are beholden to their bottom line.
What Happens When You Make a Claim
If you’ve been injured in an accident, your insurance company will want to act fast. That’s because they know that if you speak to a personal injury lawyer, they will likely have to pay out a higher amount. In many cases, the insurance company will send an adjuster to the scene of the accident or the hospital and offer to cut you a check right there. They may even itemize your expenses for you, but their list will be much different from the list a professional personal injury attorney would create. Additionally, they’ll require you to sign a waiver of liability in exchange for the payout, which means you won’t be able to ask for additional compensation.
Damages in Personal Injury Cases
It’s helpful to examine the damages that you should be compensated for after an accident.
These include any expense that has a measurable dollar value. Examples of economic damages include hospital bills, doctor visits, prescription medicine, physical therapy, property damage, and lost wages. Many low-ball insurance settlement offers exclude or downplay one or more of these categories.
No one wants to be in an accident, but if you are, having all of your items replaced and your medical bills paid for doesn’t make up for the fact that you’ve been tremendously inconvenienced, maybe in pain. The category “pain and suffering” covers things like physical pain, loss of faculties, diminished abilities, and loss of enjoyment of life.
What to do with a Low-Ball Offer
Before accepting any offer from your insurance company, you should schedule an appointment with a personal injury lawyer that handles your type of case. Because Atlanta personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis, you have nothing to lose by talking to one or more.
If you commit to a personal injury lawyer, they will review evidence, pull medical records, depose witnesses, and review discovery evidence. Once they thoroughly understand your case, they can make a counter-offer to the insurance company. If the insurance company doesn’t want to negotiate, your attorney can proceed with litigation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Insurance Settlements
How long do I have to file my claim?
For most personal injury lawsuits in the state of Georgia, there is a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the accident. You should, however, file your claim as soon as possible. Delays can affect the viability of your case.
How much does an attorney cost?
While there are no out-of-pocket costs for hiring a personal injury lawyer, they do collect fees from your settlement or jury award. This is usually justified by the increased amount. Attorneys can collect 33% to 45% of the gross amount.
Is there a cap on pain and suffering in Georgia?
In 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that damage caps were unconstitutional, so you will not be limited by an arbitrary amount.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact an attorney immediately.