One of the most common questions our clients ask is how to increase settlement value. While there is no average settlement amount in a car accident or other personal injury case, providing sufficient evidence and hiring a lawyer are just a couple of examples of how to get more money for your case. We breakdown the top 10 ways to get the compensation you deserve.
Proner & Proner is dedicated to pursuing the maximum recovery available for individuals injured because of the carelessness of others. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have served the NYC-area including Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx as well as Long Island and Connecticut for over 30 years. We accomplish this through detailed investigation into your accident, a thorough medical review, and the skill of our attorneys. As a client, you can help us build the strongest case possible by following the steps below.
1. Report the accident as soon as possible.
Reporting your injury immediately after it occurs ensures you have a record of the injury and that you start receiving medical care as soon as possible. Waiting to report the injury can give the insurance company cause to argue that you were injured by other means or that you were not injured at all.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, report the accident as follows:
- Call for an ambulance.
- If you were injured in an automobile accident, report it to the police.
- If you are injured at work, report the injury to your employer.
2. Preserve evidence.
The liable party and the insurance company will refute the facts of your case in order to avoid paying the compensation you need and deserve. They may attempt to blame you for the accident, minimize your injuries, or dispute your economic and non-economic damages.
The only reliable way you can overcome these claims is with evidence. The following evidence will help your attorney build the strongest case possible:
- Detailed photos of the accident and surrounding scene
- The names and contact information of witnesses
- Documentation showing the location of the incident
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- The police report
- Pay stubs
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3. Get medical attention immediately.
The full extent of your injuries may not be immediately apparent at the time of your incident, but a prompt medical evaluation can ensure all your injuries are documented and treated.
When seeking treatment:
- Inform medical personnel of every part of your body that hurts.
- Be up front about prior injuries or conditions.
- Follow through with the discharge plan.
You may need imaging tests, including a CT scan, X-rays, or an MRI. Our clients have asked if an MRI increases settlements. It could if it detects a medical condition that requires treatment or explains pain and suffering.
4. Don’t speak to insurance companies without a lawyer.
Insurance companies use their extensive experience and knowledge to take advantage of injury victims who may be dealing with an insurance claim for the first time in their lives.
Insurance companies employ adjusters to establish relationships with injured claimants and create a false impression that the adjuster is a friend. This tactic may be used to persuade you to make statements the insurance company can use against you.
The insurance company may also employ the following tactics against you:
- Hire investigators to spy on you
- Monitor your social media
- Offer an early lowball settlement
When all else fails, the insurance company employs stall tactics, hoping to buy themselves time to cause you to harm your case or run out the statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit.
Despite their experience, insurance companies hire attorneys. You also need an attorney with skills and experience that can effectively advocate for you. Once you have hired an attorney, the insurance company cannot contact you directly.
If you retain an attorney immediately after your accident, your attorney can report the accident to your insurance carrier for you, so you never have to deal with the insurance company on your own.
If you are dealing with an insurance company, the following tips will help protect your case:
- If the insurance company contacts you, refer the representative to your attorney without further comment.
- Do not provide a recorded statement unless it is absolutely necessary and your attorney has prepared you in advance.
- If an investigator shows up at the hospital or your home, request their contact information but do not answer any questions. Notify your attorney.
- Never agree to a settlement or sign any documents without your attorney present.
5. Follow up with your doctors.
Following through with your treatment plan is crucial for proving your injuries are severe enough to warrant ongoing treatment while documenting their financial costs. Your attorney can use this documentation to increase your settlement.
If you do not complete medical treatment, the insurance company will use this as evidence that your injuries are not severe, resulting in a reduced settlement offer. Always inform your attorney if you cease medical treatment or deviate from your treatment plan.
Does physical therapy increase settlements?
The cost of physical therapy will factor into your settlement, and the longer and more extensive the therapy, the more value is added. However, from an insurance standpoint, injections are more valuable than physical therapy, and surgery is more valuable than injections.
While this is how cases are evaluated by insurance companies, this should not dictate your treatment. Your physical health and well-being are your top priority.
6. Provide your lawyer with all the information you have.
While you should be very careful about what you say to an insurance company, it is imperative that you hold nothing back when communicating with your personal injury lawyer:
- Inform your attorney if you have had a prior claim.
- Provide your attorney with your list of witnesses, photos, or medical bills.
- If you have a subsequent accident, let your lawyer know.
Your personal injury attorney needs all the information that is relevant to your case, including information that could work against you. Providing this information up front allows your attorney to avoid surprises that could do further harm later.
7. What you do in your free time can hurt your case.
The insurance company and the at-fault party may be watching you every time you leave your home and even while you are in your home if you spend time on social media.
Your Insurance Company May Be Spying on You
When you are injured, you may have good days and bad days. Your insurance company’s investigators strive to catch you on a good day performing activities you usually cannot perform so it can refute the extent of the disability caused by your injuries.
If you provide updates on social media about your accident, the insurance company may use this against you. Your safest bet is to avoid posting on social media while your case is pending.
Your Friends Can Help Your Case
Your friends may be the strongest witnesses who can testify to the differences in your lifestyle and capabilities before and after your accident.
Your closest friends may be willing to go to bat for you, and even acquaintances such as people you know from work or the gym can testify to the changes in your lifestyle, capabilities, opportunities, and mental status before and after the accident.
8. Don’t lose patience but don’t wait to file your case.
Timing is crucial to your case. Medical treatment takes time, and you may not know what your condition will be after you have reached your maximum recovery level.
This creates a fine line. If you settle your case too early, you lose your rights to file a claim for complications that present afterward. If you wait too long to file your lawsuit, you could forever lose your right to recover compensation for the following reasons:
- The statute of limitations could expire.
- Your lawyer could drop your case, and you may be unable to find another attorney to represent you.
9. Don’t forget future damages.
In addition to damages that have already occurred, you may be eligible for damages that will occur in the future. However, you will need evidence to support future damages. This is how personal injury settlements work.
The future damages for which you may be eligible include the following:
- Medical costs
- Lost earnings
- Non-economic damages
How to Prove Future Damages
You can prove future damages through the testimony of qualified professionals.
A doctor who is involved with your treatment can verify that you will need ongoing medical care. An economist can establish the increases in medical costs throughout your lifetime.
A doctor can verify that you are no longer capable of working. A vocational expert can also verify that there are no available jobs that you could perform with your disabilities. If you are only capable of performing lower-paying work than that which you performed previously, you may be entitled to the difference in earnings.
If your quality of life is altered for any period of time in the future or permanently, your doctor, a life care planner, and others involved in your care can verify these damages, which may include the following:
- Permanent disability
- Loss of bodily functions
- Loss of society
- Loss of ability to enjoy life
- Pain and suffering
10. Hire the right lawyer.
The lawyer you select is one of the most important factors in determining how much compensation you recover. When choosing a lawyer, look for an attorney that meets the following criteria:
A willingness to go to trial when the case warrants it, as opposed to a lawyer that always settles
Accessibility throughout your case, as opposed to a lawyer that requires you to only speak with a paralegal
Experience and respect in the legal community
Proner & Proner was established in 1958 by A. Stanley Proner with a vision to provide compassionate, client-centered service to the community. His son Mitchell Proner has carried on his legacy of extraordinary client service and results.
Mitchell Proner is a respected attorney in Manhattan who has been rated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the American Trial Lawyers Association since 2009. Having been severely injured himself in a motorcycle accident in 1990, Mitchell Proner understands what personal injury victims experience.
He has represented clients on five continents in more than 30 jurisdictions and lectures to bar associations and attorney groups throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. He is regularly invited to comment as a legal analyst on national and international news networks.
If you have been injured in an accident, don’t wait to contact an attorney. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.