When you are injured, you are usually not focused on a personal injury claim. You are focused on receiving medical care and discussing the possibility of permanent impairment with your physicians. However, at some point, your focus will turn to recovering compensation for your injuries, losses, and damages. A California personal injury attorney can evaluate your case to calculate the value of your injury claim and explain your legal rights. An attorney can also help you settle your personal injury claim for a fair amount.
What Needs to Happen Before I Settle My Personal Injury Claim?
Before you settle your case, you need to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the point at which no further medical treatment will improve your condition. For some individuals, MMI is the point of complete recovery. For other individuals, MMI is the point at which the doctor informs the person that he or she sustained a permanent disability, and further treatment will not result in a complete recovery.
Until you reach MMI, you cannot know the full value of your injury claim. If you sustain a permanent disability, the value of your claim may increase because you may be entitled to compensation for future damages. Future damages include ongoing medical expenses, personal care, and loss of income. You can also seek compensation for the impact the disability has on your quality of life. Therefore, you should never settle a personal injury case until your doctor states that you reached MMI.
Negotiating a Settlement for Your Personal Injury Claim
Once you reach MMI, it is time to begin negotiating a settlement of your claim. You must calculate the value of your claim so that you know how much to demand settlement.
Most personal injury claims include two categories of damages: financial damages and noneconomic damages.
Your financial damages are any out-of-pocket expenses related to the case. Common financial damages include:
- Medical bills
- Loss of income
- Travel expenses
- Personal care
- Medical equipment and medications
- Physical therapy
Noneconomic damages or “pain and suffering” damages include physical, emotional, and mental suffering. It also includes compensation for scarring, disability, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life.
In a few cases, a person may be entitled to punitive damages. An award of punitive damages is intended to “punish” the party responsible for causing the injury. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases involving gross negligence or willful, wanton disregard for safety.
It can be difficult to know the value of your claim if you are unfamiliar with California’s personal injury laws. An attorney can help ensure that you are demanding an amount equal to the full value of all damages.
Seeking Help from a California Personal Injury Attorney to Settle Your Injury Claim
It is important to remember that the insurance adjuster will negotiate for the lowest amount to settle the claim. Therefore, you need to be prepared to provide evidence that proves the amount you are demanding for your claim is valid. Documenting your financial damages is essential to ensure that you maximize the value of that portion of your claim. Noneconomic damages are much more difficult to prove because there is not a bill, receipt, or invoice that proves the value of your pain and suffering damages.
Because calculating and documenting damages can be challenging, it can be helpful to retain an experienced California personal injury attorney to handle your injury claim. Contact us today for a free consultation. Once you settle your claim, you cannot request additional money. Hiring an attorney can be the best step you take to protect your right to a fair settlement for your claim.