This question is one of the most frequently asked questions and is also very difficult to answer in the early stages. It is virtually impossible to predict the value of a case until all of the information has been collected and you have recovered or almost recovered from your injury. There are many factors that determine the value of a case. They include:
The above are just a few of the factors that must be taken into consideration in determining a settlement value. Some factors are more important than others and because insurance companies require specific documentation, it is your responsibility and that of your lawyer to provide the insurance company with as much clear information as possible to support your claim.
It is impossible in the early stages of a personal injury claim to predict when that particular claim will actually settle. Some cases settle in a matter of months after the injury while others can take years to get to settlement or trial. Your lawyer will usually wait until you have completed recovery from your injury or have at least come close to recovery before trying to settle your case. It is important to know the following before your case is settled:
What is the total of all medical bills?
Will any further medical treatment be necessary?
If further medical treatment is necessary, what is the prediction of its cost?
Are any of your injuries permanent?
If any of the injuries are permanent, how do such permanent injuries affect your earning capacity?
What was your total loss of income and what other employment benefits were lost because of the injury?
Is it likely that you will lose any further income as a result of your injury?
There are other factors that must be taken into consideration before settlement. As the case progresses, your lawyer will have some idea as to the approximate time that the case may be appropriate for settlement.
If the case does not settle between you, your lawyer and the insurance company and proceeds to litigation (lawsuit), the insurance carrier will again contact the insured. An attorney hired by the insurance company will be assigned to defend and represent the tortfeasor, whether the tortfeasor is a person, persons or company. The insured will be required to participate in the litigation process and will be required to cooperate with the attorney assigned.
It is important to remember that if a lawsuit becomes necessary, it will be brought against the tortfeasor and not against the insurance carrier, even though the insurance carrier will probably be the one to pay the settlement or verdict.
Again, absolutely not! If you contact the person or persons responsible, you could jeopardize settlement of your case. Remember that any statement you make, even an innocent comment, could be used against you or misinterpreted. It is not appropriate for you to contact the tortfeasor even if the tortfeasor has not told the truth about how the incident occurred.
Absolutely not! Under no circumstances should you contact the insurance company once you have retained an attorney. If you contact the other person’s insurance company, for any reason, you could ruin your entire case with one question or one statement.
Secondly, because you are now represented by a lawyer, the insurance company, in most states, is absolutely prohibited from having any personal contact with you for any reason.
There are usually several reasons why a case does not settle including the following:
After the lawsuit is commenced, your lawyer will contact you about your duties. You will probably have to answer interrogatories and attend a deposition. During litigation it is important for you to do at least the following:
The most important thing for you to do, quite simply, is to recover from your injury. The law requires injured people to “mitigate their damages.” In other words, the law requires you to do that which is necessary to improve your physical condition and recover from your injury.
For you this may mean some, or all, of the following steps:
Your lawyer will discuss the payment of your medical bills in detail with you. In summary, your medical bills may be paid by one of the following methods:
Depending on the nature of your case, your medical bills may be covered by any of the above possibilities. If there is no insurance coverage, your bills will be saved by you and your lawyer, and will be paid at a later date when and if your case settles.
In most cases where there is no immediate method to pay medical bills as they are incurred, many doctors, hospitals, and other medical facilities will wait to be paid for their services when the case is finally resolved by way of settlement or verdict in court. It is important to let medical providers know early in the process if you have no insurance or financial means to pay medical bills as they are incurred.