Some of your biggest worries after suffering an injury or being involved in an accident are likely going to be financial in nature. The Santa Barbara personal injury attorneys at Lessem & Newstat offer six tips for maximizing your injury settlement.
1. Retain an Attorney
Our first tip is that you retain an attorney. Statistically, insurance companies pay 3.5x more money to victims when they have attorney representation versus representing themselves.
2. Avoid Admitting Fault
Even a simple "I'm sorry" can be used against you when it comes to determining fault and the value of your settlement. Immediately following the accident as well as throughout the process, avoid saying anything that could be used to place the blame for the accident/injury on you.
3. Don't Talk to Insurance
In our experience, victims who go directly to their insurance company are more likely to accept a quick settlement, and quick settlement offers are typically low settlement offers. Once you accept a settlement you cannot ask for more money, so talk to a trusted attorney before going to insurance.
4. Communication is Key
Thorough communication with your attorney is key, and that goes both ways. Just as your attorney needs to communicate with you about the details of your case throughout the process, you also need to communicate with your attorney. Tell them everything you believe is relevant to your case.
5. Be Honest
If insurance/the defendant finds out that you have been lying about the accident or the extent of your injuries, they will not be inclined to offer you a settlement, let alone a large one. If you were injured, be honest about the type and extent of those injuries.
6. Don't Back Down
You should never accept a settlement that you believe is lower than what you deserve, within reason. Your settlement should include enough money to cover the cost of medical expenses, property damage (if applicable), and could also include other forms of compensation such as pain & suffering and lost wages. If your attorney is advising you to settle, but you don't believe it is enough, you can always consult with another attorney for a second opinion. Good attorneys will even take your case to trial if necessary so a judge will decide what to award you for your injuries.