If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another person – or a business or government entity, for that matter – and are pursuing a personal injury claim for your damages, then it’s time for you to brush up on your negotiating skills.
A majority of accident victims have a limited understanding of exactly how the legal process works, which is understandable when you consider that most personal injury attorneys have completed about three years of law school to develop their level of legal expertise.
But due to the fact that it may not always be beneficial to hire an attorney for a personal injury claim, you may be considering the idea of attempting to handle your claim on your own first.
First Step: Writing a Demand Letter
The first thing you would need to do is write a demand letter to the insurance company. If multiple insurance companies are involved in the claim, then you will need to send one to each company that you wish to open a claim with. After the insurance adjuster receives and reviews your claim documents, a representative called an “insurance adjuster” will contact you.
The most important thing to understand about pursuing a personal injury claim is that once the claim is resolved – either by settling with the insurance company or by proceeding all the way to a jury trial – there is no going back.
Washington state law prohibits claimants from reopening personal injury claims that have been resolved, which means you only have one chance to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your damages.
Understanding Insurance Companies’ Interests
Insurance companies have a financial interest in your claim, and their goal is to minimize their financial obligation when it comes to compensating you for your damages. This is why it is so important for you to be your own best advocate in the negotiation process, as the insurance companies are ultimately doing everything they can to minimize the overall value of your claim.
The best thing you can do to protect your legal rights is be diligent by keeping track of every individual expense you have encountered as a result of the injuries you suffered. These expenses include – but are not necessarily limited to – lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
When you feel that you have reached a maximum recovery from your injuries, the insurance company will require you to submit your request for compensation. It will ultimately be up to you to decide if the insurance company’s offer for compensation is fair and reasonable. If you do not believe their offer is fair, then it may be time to consult with a lawyer.