Personal injuries can happen just about anywhere. Many times, these injuries happen because of the negligence of others. When this is the case, you may be eligible for a personal injury settlement. Whether it's a car accident, a dog bite or medical malpractice, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation in the form of a settlement.
Your first reaction to a personal injury caused by someone else is very important. If you are hurt, you must see a doctor immediately, regardless of how trivial you feel the injury is at the time. If the injury is accident related, you will also need to report the incident to the police. Without medical or legal proof of the injury, you will be unable to prove your case for financial compensation.
Claim vs. Lawsuit
Decide whether to file just a claim or a lawsuit. A claim is something that is taken care of between both involved parties and your insurance company. After the accident, the insurance companies will disperse the amount of money they feel your injury is worth. If you feel that your injuries are worth more, than you will need to file a lawsuit, suing the negligent person for the financial compensation you feel you deserve. However, these cases are hard to win. Do not file a lawsuit unless you have severe health effects such as a broken bone, or have spent at least the first 90 days after your accident disabled because of your injuries.
You are not required to have a lawyer during personal injury settlement proceedings. However, in serious cases, a lawyer can maximize the settlement amount. They in turn will also cost additional funds, so you will need to weigh the financial benefits against the costs.
Once you have all your information in order from the injury, you will need to fill out the appropriate paperwork. This will vary depending on the insurance company, but will almost always include sending in proof of medical expenses, missed workdays, medical records, police reports and anything else that proves the severity of your injuries. The insurance company will use the information to process a claim amount.
You may be able to negotiate a higher payout with the insurance company. A lawyer is helpful in this process, but not necessary. Use a verdict search (see Resources below) to research what others with similar injuries were awarded in your county. This can be priceless information in getting the full amount of compensation you deserve. If the insurance company refuses to match what you feel your injury is worth, and you feel that you can get more (as well as enough to pay for the legal expenses), then file a lawsuit.
After negotiations with the insurance company have left you with a reasonable payout, you can go ahead and settle. You or your lawyer will send a letter of confirmation that you are willing to accept their offer, and the company in turn will send a release form for you to sign. Once the form has been signed, your check will be released. If you used a lawyer, he will first take his costs out of your settlement check and then send you the remaining amount.