Determining The Amount Of Damages
The two fundamental things considered when determining damages are future medical costs and lost wages. If both of these are at play in a case, we typically hire experts to get the most precise sense of the case’s value.
Regarding future medical costs, the expert we hire will generally state what they’ve assessed the victim’s injuries to be, where they believe the victim is at in their recovery, and how much healing they have left to do. They also advise the associated treatment that will be required and the cost for it.
The same is true with future lost wages. The expert we hire will interview the victim to assess and determine what they did in the past, what they’re capable of doing given their injuries, and the impact that a decrease in wages will have throughout the remainder of their career.
Commonly Sought Damages In Auto Accident Cases
Aside from past medical coverage, the most commonly sought damage in personal injury cases is lost wages. This includes being unable to work outright due to a permanent injury or temporarily being out of work. In addition to this, compensation for pain and suffering is commonly sought, as are the expenses associated with ongoing and future medical treatment.
What’s more, if your injury is such that your spouse’s lifestyle is affected, a loss of consortium claim could compensate them for the comfort or support you can no longer provide. Lastly, if you lose the ability to enjoy certain hobbies or pastimes, you can recover compensation under a mental anguish claim.
Offers from insurance companies seeking an early settlement can be common, especially if:
- The limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy are low and they don’t want to spend money defending against your claim.
- Your injuries are significant and the associated costs will clearly exceed the other driver’s policy amount.
If your case does not fit either of these categories, it will typically have to go through discovery before you receive any offers. Of course, there is always a chance that you might get a lowball offer upfront before you go through discovery to see if the insurance company can get rid of it quickly and cheaply.
But in most cases, you and your attorney will have to do the hard work before a settlement comes by diving into the details to advance the case beyond discovery and showing the other side what your case will look like in front of a jury. Generally speaking, this is when you will get a realistic offer.
Tactics Insurance Companies Use To Deny Or Limit Claims
Since insurance companies are ultimately concerned with their bottom line, they use a variety of tactics to deny or limit injury claims. This often includes blaming the victim for the accident and creating narratives that frame the victim as the one at fault – even when they aren’t.
In addition, these companies will often attempt to minimize the severity of your injuries, claiming that you didn’t get the necessary treatment either as quickly or for as long as you should have. They especially employ this tactic after people reach their maximum treatment point, which is the point where things are not likely to get much better.
As an example, you may reach a point where you reduce the frequency at which you go to physical therapy. Perhaps, to only once or twice a month instead of once or twice a week. An insurance company could twist this as “evidence” that you are no longer treating your injury. Then, they might claim that you must be better, or that you were never really that injured at all.
The truth is – the tactics these companies use are disappointing, but not atypical. They will go to such lengths to avoid paying full claim amounts, even going so far as to occasionally surveil the injured person without their knowledge, or conduct a comprehensive search of the victim’s social media activity. Really. It’s not all that uncommon for insurance companies to hire a monitoring service to follow a victim around for an entire day, record them on video, and provide everything they observed in a report.
But as you know, people with injuries have good days and bad days, so video surveillance evidence can be somewhat misleading as it doesn’t provide the entire picture. For example, say you were diagnosed with a permanent back injury and have limitations on the things you can lift, but you are recorded pulling bags out of your trunk after returning home from grocery shopping. The fact that you have to do this out of necessity doesn’t matter to insurance companies. They’ll twist and argue, “Look, you’re not really injured; you’re just saying you are.” This is yet another reason why working with an experienced attorney is critical to protecting your rights in an injury claim.