A personal injury claims after an accident relies on sufficient evidence proving negligence. A successful claim can help to pay most or all of your medical costs, lost earnings as well as a component for what are termed non-economic damages.
These may be amounts for the pain and suffering experienced; loss of enjoyment of life and punitive damages in some cases. The “hard costs”, also called economic damages, are easier to quantify and are less subject to objection by a defendant’s insurer. Here are some tips to help you negotiate these hard costs.
Tip#1: Make a List of All The Hard Costs You Have Had to Pay or are Paying Now
The first step involves making a complete list of everything that you have had to pay out or expect to pay out which is due to the injuries you have received. Insurance adjusters are experienced and will soon spot something which doesn’t seem to fit in. The list should include:
- all medical costs;
- transport to and from doctors, medical centers or hospitals;
- the cost of equipment you might have to use, e.g. a wheelchair;
- the estimated loss of earnings because you could not go back to work, or back to work as usual;
- the cost of towing your vehicle away and repairing it;
- the cost of repairing or replacing any other property damaged in the accident.
Tip#2: Ensure You Have Documentary Evidence of All These Hard Costs
Insurance adjusters will not accept your word on any hard costs. Every item you include in your claim must be supported by a receipt or an invoice or bill (if it has not been paid yet). Make sure that you have original documents as well as multiple copies of every document.
Tip#3: Ensure That All Bills and Receipts are Dated
Adjusters will ignore receipts and bills that are not dated or appear to be unrelated to your injuries. If there is any possibility of denying a particular document, make sure it is annotated and signed by someone who was responsible for issuing it, e.g. a doctor, pharmacist or someone at work in charge of the payroll.
Tip#4: Make Sure That You Have Accounted For All Future Hard Costs
Every accident is unique and it is quite possible that you have not fully recovered by the time you make your claim and negotiate with the defendant’s insurer. Some serious injuries may take months, years, or may never really heal.
It is absolutely essential that you get an authoritative estimate of all future costs if this applies to you and this is documented before handing it to the adjuster. Your personal injury attorney can advise you and help to ensure that this is calculated carefully.
Tip#5: Use a Personal Injury Attorney to Help You Negotiate a Satisfactory Claim
If you have had a serious accident and face severe financial hardship unless you can successfully win a satisfactory compensation settlement, it would not be sensible to try and negotiate the claim all by yourself.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help assess your claim and advise you on calculating and presenting documentary evidence for all your hard costs.