When you’re injured in a car accident, a slip and fall accident (premises liability), or any other type of personal injury case, you have the right to sue for compensation for your injuries and losses. That said, most personal injury claims result in a private settlement outside of court.
Personal Injury Settlements
Why would either party want to settle? Let’s start with the insurance company. When you file your claim with the insurance company, they will perform their due diligence to determine whether or not their client (the responsible party) was at fault.
If it looks like their client is responsible enough for a judge or jury to award damages, the insurance company knows they’re on the hook. In that case, it’s better to avoid a costly (and public) trial and settle the damages privately.
In other words, if the insurance company knows they’re liable for up to $1 million in damages, they might as well just pay the damages now. They could risk spending $100,000 or more in legal fees to fight the case, but when they lose the case they’re out $1.1 million instead of just $1 million.
On the client’s side, a settlement is more valuable in terms of saving time versus money. After all, most personal injury attorneys are compensated through a portion of the final judgement or settlement, so the client isn’t directly footing the bill.
The true value of a settlement from the client’s perspective is how much faster you receive compensation for your injuries and losses. Instead of enduring months or years of depositions, hearings, appeals, and other court-related processes, you can walk away with the money you need to pay your bills much sooner.
You can file a personal injury claim with an insurance company and personally negotiate a settlement on your own, but it’s always best to work with an experienced attorney. A good attorney should be able to negotiate for a better settlement, and they may be able to speed up the process. More importantly, when the insurance company pushes back (and they certainly will), an experienced attorney will make sure your rights are respected and you walk away with every penny you deserve.
Personal Injury Claim Damages
One of the first questions a personal injury attorney fields from a client usually involves how much to expect from their car accident. The answer, as with anything in the legal world, depends on the situation.
Generally speaking, there are two types of compensation a victim may receive in a personal injury case: special damages and general damages. Special damages are often called economic damages, while general damages are often referred to as non-economic damages.
Special or economic damages are pretty easy to quantify in a personal injury case. They’re usually tied to bills and lost income resulting from the accident. Examples include hospital bills, doctors bills, rehabilitation, medication, counseling, therapy, lost wages, and lost income opportunities. General damages also cover property damage (i.e. replacing your totaled vehicle).
In personal injury cases that involve long-term disability or limitation, economic damages may also include compensation for future bills and lost income. These figures are more challenging to calculate, so your attorney may hire an expert to assess the situation and provide a reliable figure.
General, non-economic damages are even more challenging to quantify. Such damages are involve harm and losses that are directly related to the accident, but don’t necessarily come with a bill. Examples include pain and suffering, lost companionship, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, or other related harms caused by the accident and subsequent medical treatment.
Average Time to Settle a Personal Injury Case
It’s impossible to put a number on how long it usually takes to settle a personal injury case. Some cases are settled in as little as a month, while others may take years to settle. It always depends on the unique details of your case.
Generally speaking, the severity of your injuries is the greatest indicator of how long a case may take. For minor injuries that are quickly treated, your case may settle in a few months. For serious injuries that involve major surgeries, consulting with specialists, disability, or future complications, expect a longer settlement process.
In these cases, it’s not necessarily that the insurance company is dragging their feet (though they often do). Rather, most attorneys advise holding off on accepting a settlement agreement until you understand the future implications of your injuries.
That may mean waiting two months until you can see a specialist, or waiting six months after a major surgery to monitor your progress and determine if future surgeries are necessary.
At the end of the day, the value of your potential settlement will also play a major role in the timeline. An insurance company may not bat an eye at a $100,000 settlement, but it’s a different story when you add another zero to the end.
In these cases, it’s unfortunately a common tactic for the insurance company to delay settling as long as possible in order to exhaust your patience and personal resources.
The Role of an Insurance Adjuster in a Personal Injury Case
When you’re negotiating a settlement with an insurance company, you’ll be negotiating with an insurance adjuster, claims specialist, or claims representative.
Most insurance adjusters are employees of the insurance company, but it’s not uncommon to work with an independent claims adjuster. This usually occurs when an accident takes place in an area where the insurance company doesn’t have a local office, and needs to hire a local team to handle the case for them.
In some cases, you may find yourself negotiating with an attorney. This tends to be more common with public entities (e.g. when you’re suing the city or state), but it can happen from time to time with insurance companies.
When this happens, the attorney should function exactly the same as the insurance adjuster — being a licensed attorney doesn’t give them any additional powers or privileges in the negotiations.
In any case, the role of the insurance adjuster is simple: to settle your case as quickly and efficiently (i.e. using the least amount of company funds) as possible. These professionals usually have a quota of how many cases they’re expected to clear each month, and the company monitors how much in company funds they distribute in settlement agreements.
Generally speaking, an insurance adjuster will have a set dollar limit that they can approve for a settlement. Anything above that requires supervisor approval, which they’re going to be reluctant to do.
At a certain point, claims that are particularly costly are passed along to the company’s attorneys. That’s why minor claims under $20,000 tend to settle much faster than larger claims.
Receive Help Settling a Personal Injury Claim With an Insurance Company in Arizona
It is guaranteed that if you try to open a personal injury claim against an insurance company on your own, you will walk away with a portion of what you deserve, if anything at all.
Car insurance companies have countless amounts of adjusters and resources at their disposal, not to mention that major insurance companies will handle several thousand personal injury claims a year.
This is why you will want the best personal injury representation possible, it’s the best way to avoid being taken advantage of, as well as your best change to receive compensation. A personal injury attorney will make sure that all facts are covered and be prepared for any threats to your claim from an adjuster.
Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.