More than 2 million people are gravely hurt in automobile accidents each year; the injuries of most are significant enough to have a serious and often long standing impact on their professional and personal lives. In fact, many spend the rest of their days dealing with the repercussions of the mishap.
Depending on the type of injuries sustained and the parts of the body that were impacted, patients may never be able to resume their normal lives. Disfigurement, spinal injuries, paralysis, limb loss and traumatic brain injuries are just a few in a long list of health issues that can leave a person debilitated for the remainder of his/her life.
You may not even know just how badly you’ve been hurt!
While the damage is discernible early on in case of a severed limb or paralysis, the ramifications of injuries to the brain and the spine often get unraveled slowly. And, this is where the problem starts if you accept the compensation offer before you even know what the future has in store for you.
Let us take the example of brain injuries; these often manifest later in the form of chronic and unbearable headaches, loss of balance, memory issues, difficulty in focusing, etc. Similarly, the effects of spinal impact may be seen years after the original injury has healed and may include tingling and numbness of the limbs, pain and stiffness. All of these issues will compromise your ability to work and live normally.
The problem with accepting an early claim offer!
If you are only compensated for what seem to be your injuries on the surface and the medical costs linked to them, how will you handle the situation when the long term health ramifications of the mishap make their presence felt? Often, everyday tasks will become agonizing to handle and coworkers and those around you will have to adjust to the physical challenges that you face.
Unfortunately, your burden will be increased if you also have financial limitations which prevent you from seeking the medical help you need. A lot of people are faced with the exacting decision of providing for their family’s needs or choosing the rehabilitative treatment they need. If you do not want to put yourself in this harrowing position, do not accept any claim payouts unless you are sure about the total costs of the damages and injuries sustained.
Insurance companies are not working on your side!
Make no mistake; the adjuster’s job is to convince you to take as little money as possible, he/she is certainly not on your side in this. Sadly, when faced with the enormous medical bills, the loss of wages and depleting financial reserves, most people want a quick way out. So, the very first instinct is to accept whatever is being offered.
Unfortunately, compromising today will lead to an even bigger issue tomorrow. The problem is that before you accept the claim payment, at least you have a bargaining chip in your hands but once you take the money, you will have crossed the point of no return. So, you will be doing yourself a favor by consulting an experienced attorney who is adept at handling accident and injury claims. Also, it would help if you educate yourself on what you are entitled to.
If you are hurt, this is what they owe you!
Medical expenses will undoubtedly be on top of your claims calculation but there are also other aspects that should be factored in. Here is a detailed cost breakdown of the compensation that you deserve to get:
Expenditure for treatment:This covers just about everything from fractures and internal organ damage to minor cuts and bruises, reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation, permanent disability and more. It is highly recommended that you go for a thorough medical checkup right after the injury, so that you have a clear idea of the extent and length of treatment needed.
Medical expenses will include (but are not limited to) ambulance charges, physical and cognitive therapy, doctor’s consultation fees, accessories for recuperation such as crutches, etc and in home service when needed. If you will continue to need prolonged therapy, your lawyer will also be able to include the cost of this in the claim amount.
Pain and suffering: These are damages awarded for physical and mental stress caused due to the injury. The amount will typically depend on the extent and nature of the injury, the seriousness of the patient’s condition and the future prognosis.
Lost income: Your total cost should also include any earnings that have been lost as you recuperate as well as a lump sum to make up for the loss of future earning capability due to the injuries. Any issue or treatment initiative that would cause a hindrance in your normal work life must be included in this category.
Loss of companionship or affection: The injury may also impact your marital life and may prevent you from indulging in intimate activity. Legally, this is termed as the loss of consortium and your spouse can claim damages for it. In case of negligent death, the loved ones of the deceased can claim compensation for loss of companionship.
Insurance companies and their claim payment formula
Once the total medical expenses have been added, and rest assured that they will make plenty of deductions here, the adjuster will take into account the general damages. This would include the compensation to be paid for pain and suffering, emotional distress and permanent disability. Usually, the amount offered for general damages will be a multiple of the compensation for medical expenses.
You could be at the lower or the higher end of the multiplier spectrum!
Several factors come into play to evaluate you claim. Some of the aspects that will be considered are:
- Typically, the more painful and serious the injury, the greater the compensation.
- Similarly, long lasting treatments and invasive procedures will also drive up the claim amount.
- More obvious injuries and those that will evidently result in lasting disability will also put you at the higher end of a settlement.
- A longer recovery period will increase the range of payout just as much.
- Injuries that cause permanent disability and visible scarring and deformity will also lead to higher settlements.
Do not ever settle for a claim unless you know the total costs of the damages and injuries!
If you do not have a clear idea about the prognosis of your injuries and how the condition will impact your need for medical and rehabilitation initiatives, it would be a grave error to settle for an amount that may seem adequate today. For all you know, the lasting impact of your injuries may rear its ugly head months after you have accepted the offer.
You also need to consider how the injuries will compromise your capability to earn money today and in the future. In their quest to get accident victims to settle quickly, adjusters make no attempt to understand the gravity of the victim’s situation. And, this is why you need a lawyer who will handle the negotiations for you. Even if this is your first claim, an experienced lawyer will have handled several such cases and will know about the amount of money that you should rightfully get. So, don’t settle for less because you will be burning down all your bridges once you accept the money.