As a victim of personal injury accident, you will suffer property damage and bodily injuries from Scratches, bruises and contusions to more serious injuries like spine injuries, fractures, burn injuries, head injury and even brain injury. In worst case scenarios, victims can ever suffer fatal injuries resulting in wrongful death.
Damages You Can Claim
In Los Angeles, as well as in other cities and counties in California, it is the norm that personal injury victims have the right to seek damages against the party at fault. These claims are not limited to the following:
- Property damage relating to the repair or replacement of your vehicle, including reasonable amount for rental and storage fees;
- Actual medical costs for your examinations, evaluations and treatments, including surgeries and post-operative care;
- Future medical care for recommended treatments post-discharge;
- Lost earnings due to absence from or inability to do work, which includes future or prospective loss of income;
- Pain and suffering, which includes emotional pain and psychological trauma; and
- Punitive damages when it is proven that the negligent party acted with recklessness or in complete disregard of your welfare.
Steps in Negotiating Your Claims
1. Gather Your Evidence
In every claim, you need to make sure that you are equipped with evidence to support your demands for damages. If you are seeking medical costs, you need to have medical records and bills to prove your claim. If you seek loss of earnings, you need to show employer’s certificate showing your hourly and daily rate as well as the days you were absent because of the accident. In case of property damage, you need to show actual billings or at least estimate of costs from a reputable body shop or car repair shop. Furthermore, aside from pictures and CCTV footage of the accident, you need to show police report and witness declarations corroborating your claim that the other party is at fault for your accident.
2. Send Demand Letter
After you have all your evidence in place, you can now send a demand letter to the insurance company of the party at fault. The insurance adjuster assigned to the case will reply and send a letter to you through your lawyers with the case number included as reference. Included in the demand letter are the following: (1)Narration of how the accident happened, (2)Status of your vehicle after the accident and (3)Your medical treatments to include the medical records and bills as proof. Also included are possible Jury Verdicts of similar cases to show that your demand is but reasonable as compared to the verdicts handed down in said similar cases, if and when the case goes to trial.
3. Negotiations Proper
After the adjuster received and responds to the demand letter, the negotiations proper will now start. There will definitely be a counter offer unless the adjuster denies your claims outright by saying that their insured was not at fault. If they will admit liability or part liability for the accident, it will now boil down to a numbers game, meaning how much your claim is worth. This will depend largely on the evidence at hand as well as the expertise of your personal injury lawyer in negotiating personal injury claims. Therefore, it is of high importance that you only hire top personal injury lawyers with years of experience in dealing with personal injury claims.
4. Informed Decision
The conclusion of negotiations always end up in the question of whether you will accept the counter offer or not. Whether you should accept the offer or go to trial is actually up to your lawyer. Your lawyer will let you know if the offer is reasonable or even if not, he should be able to explain to you the litigation process and help you weigh the pros and cons of going through with litigating your case or not. The foregoing considered, you now know that seeking legal help is the most vital decision in negotiating your personal injury claims.