Filing a personal injury claim in Arizona could result in financial compensation being awarded for various losses associated with your injury. Once you accept a settlement offered by an insurance company, however, you cannot reopen your case – even if you later discover that the offer was unfair. It is critical to take steps to maximize your financial compensation in a personal injury claim before accepting a settlement or signing a release of liability waiver.
Do Not Admit Fault for Your Accident or Injury
Do not apologize for the accident that injured you or admit fault to any degree. This includes when talking to the other parties involved, the police and an insurance company. Avoid posting on social media, as well. Arizona is a comparative negligence state, meaning your compensatory award could be reduced by your percentage of fault if any is allocated to you. If you confess to having caused or contributed to your injury, this could reduce your financial award. If 33 percent of fault is given to you, for example, you would lose one-third of a settlement or judgment award.
Get Immediate Medical Care
Do not delay in getting medical care after an accident, even if you are not experiencing pain or other symptoms of an injury. It is common for adrenaline caused by an accident to mask injury symptoms. Waiting to see a doctor can give an insurance company a reason to reduce your payout or reject your claim due to a “failure to mitigate” your losses. The insurance company may argue that your delay in treatment exacerbated your injuries.
Preserve Evidence From the Beginning
While preserving and gathering evidence are tasks that a personal injury attorney can perform for you, you can strengthen your case as a victim by collecting evidence yourself from the very beginning – as early as the day of the accident. Do your best to gather evidence that will support your claim, such as photographs of the accident, eyewitness statements and information, copies of accident reports, your medical records, and your wage documents. Preparing adequately for a personal injury case can increase its strength and your odds of success.
Do Not Underestimate the Value of Your Claim
A critical mistake that many injured accident victims make is underestimating the value of their claims. Many victims do not accurately estimate their future foreseeable expenses, for example, such as months or years of necessary medical care and lost earning potential due to a serious injury. Do not devalue your claim; consult with an attorney to understand the potential value of your case before engaging in settlement negotiations. You may need assistance from financial experts to estimate your future damages.
Resist Accepting the First Settlement Offer
Another common mistake that claimants make is jumping at the first settlement that is offered by an insurance company. While it is normal to be eager to resolve your claim, accepting the first settlement means a high likelihood of settling for less financial compensation than you deserve. The initial settlement offer is often low, as the insurance company is counting on the fact that claimants do not realize they can – and should – negotiate for a higher amount.
Hire an Attorney to Negotiate for You
Before saying yes to an insurance settlement offer or signing anything, contact a personal injury lawyer for advice. Statistically, claimants receive higher payouts with attorneys than without them. You can trust your lawyer to give you an accurate estimate of how much your case is worth, as well as take over negotiations with an insurance claims adjuster to aggressively fight for the case results that you need. Finally, an attorney will have the ability to take your injury case to trial in Arizona, if necessary, for maximum financial compensation.