It’s rough trying to get compensated for injuries after a car accident in a no-fault state. The law limits who can file a personal injury lawsuit and not all injuries qualify. That means if your injuries don’t qualify, you’re at the mercy of an insurance company who happens to have one goal: to pay you as little as possible.
Here’s how to get the maximum compensation you’re legally entitled to:
1. Hire a lawyer
Unlike insurance companies, a lawyer wants you to get the highest settlement possible and will fight for every dollar. Don’t even consider talking to an insurance company before lawyering up.
2. Pursue a personal injury lawsuit if possible
In a no-fault state, you can’t pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the driver at fault unless your injuries are considered severe. Each no-fault state specifically defines a severe injury, but generally speaking, it’s an injury that results in:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury
- Scarring or disfigurement
If you can pursue a personal injury claim, you should. The reason you should pursue a claim is because you can collect damages for non-economic losses like pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. The insurance company won’t compensate you for those losses.
Many people who don’t pursue personal injury lawsuits regret it later on when their medical bills pile up from ongoing treatment they didn’t realize they needed.
2. Be bold and ask for all compensation that applies to you
If the previous applies to your situation and you’ve been seriously injured, pursue every possible claim for compensation. Each case is unique, but according to Englander Peebles, there are four main types of potential compensation:
- Medical bills and the cost of ongoing treatment. Covering your emergency room visit and initial hospital stay is only the first part of your goal. If you need ongoing treatment, including physical therapy, you’ll want to recover as much of that as possible.
- Time lost from work and lost future wages. How long will you be out of work without a paycheck? Some people are only out of work temporarily. Others can be out for months or even years. Some people can never return to work. You deserve to be compensated for lost income in every capacity.
- Pain and suffering including loss of enjoyment of life. This type of damage is broad, but the general idea is that the emotional impact of a car accident can impact your ability to engage in everyday life. You might end up with PTSD, anxiety, or depression.
- Property damage. If you had to rent a car, for example, you shouldn’t’ have to pay for that expense out of pocket.
Don’t feel bad about pursuing non-economic damages. For instance, if you end up being unable to work for a long period of time, you’ll be glad you pursued lost wages.
3. File a property damage claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance
Your PIP protection policy won’t cover property damage. Don’t forget to file a claim for any damage to your vehicle with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This is why it’s critical to exchange insurance information even if you don’t think any damage has been done. If you don’t get the other driver’s information immediately following the accident, you’ll be stuck paying for surprise repairs.
If you were at fault for the accident, you can file a damage claim through your own collision coverage policy if you have one.
4. Expect the insurance company to argue against your injuries
The insurance company is going to argue that your injuries aren’t severe. They’re going to argue that your injuries aren’t as bad as they seem. It doesn’t matter how many pictures you send or how many stories you tell, their job is to downplay the circumstances of your accident so they can pay as little as possible.
Insurance adjusters are working for a paycheck. They don’t know you, so don’t take anything they say personally. Just stay focused on the goal and let your lawyer handle the negotiations.
Always take your lawyer’s advice
In the game of compensation, the deck is stacked against you as an individual. However, with a lawyer, you’ll have a better chance at getting the compensation you deserve. Make sure to listen to your lawyer and heed his or her advice at all times. Don’t refuse a settlement offer when your lawyer advises that you accept it. Your lawyer knows much compensation is fair for your case, and they’ll know when they’ve reached the end of negotiations.