If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you probably want compensation from the responsible party for your injuries. As a result, you may decide to file a personal injury claim.
However, filing a personal injury claim doesn’t always involve a lawsuit. Here are the differences between minor and major personal injury claims so that you can decide on the best course of action to seek compensation for your injuries.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim is when a person seeks to recover compensation for bodily injuries (including injuries to a person’s body and mind) that are the result of another party’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing.
Many people believe that a personal injury claim automatically means a lawsuit. However, the overwhelming majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court. Settling out of court saves costs, reduces risk, and – in the end – can put more money in your pocket.
The most common types of personal injury claims are car/motorcycle/bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, accidents on another person’s property or at a business, negligence in providing medical care and treatment, trip and falls, assault and battery claims, and product defect accidents (product liability, where a product malfunctions and causes a person injury).
Minor Personal Injury Claims vs Major Personal Injury Claims
Minor personal injury claims generally include “soft tissue” injuries – injuries to muscles, ligaments, and tendons (e.g. sprains, strains, pulls). Major personal injury claims include accidents that resulted in permanent injury, dismemberment, loss of bodily function or even death. Regardless as to whether the injury is minor or major, if you didn’t cause it, you shouldn’t be forced to bear it!
How Insurance Companies Value Personal Injury Claims
When determining the exact amount of compensation for your claim, the insurance company will use a damages formula, which includes a variety of factors, to determine a dollar figure for your injuries and other perceived losses that you may have experienced. This damages formula includes:
- Liability – Did the insurance company’s insured act negligently or intentionally wrongful?
- Type of injuries (major or minor) and Damages (medical bills, lost wages/lost income, property damage) – How much will it take to compensate the injured person?
- Plaintiff’s character/reputation/criminal history – Can the insurance companies find a way to discredit the injured person?
- Cost to the insurance company – Will it cost the insurance company less money to simply pay the injured person or to pay their lawyers to fight it?
- Plaintiff’s legal counsel – Does the injured party’s lawyer have a good reputation? Is he/she competent? Skilled? Is he/she willing to go to trial?
At the start of the claims negotiations process, the insurance adjuster will determine the total medical expenses related to your injury. Then, the adjuster will use this figure to determine how much you are owed for nonmonetary losses, including pain and suffering.
Finally, any loss of income is added in to determine the final figure. However, this calculation does not produce a final compensation amount. It is simply the amount that will be used to determine where negotiations should begin regarding your claim.
When to Hire a Lawyer
For a major personal injury claim, you should hire an attorney.
Indeed, you should always hire an attorney if you are entitled to pain and suffering and/or emotional distress damages. Although, your injuries must also reach a set threshold to be admitted to a court, a lawyer may still be useful in helping you to settle your claim out of court.
Minor personal injury cases can turn into major cases.
If you are not yet aware of the full extent of your injuries, your medical team may learn that your injuries are actually more extensive than you previously believed. Don’t agree to a settlement before you know exactly how bad your injuries are because you will lose the right to file any and all future claims in regard to your accident.
A lawyer is always useful in a personal injury claim.
A San Diego personal injury lawyer can see the legal aspects to your matter that may ultimately decide whether you get paid or not, regardless as to the other party’s negligence, their wrongdoings, or your injuries. Don’t spin your wheels trying to keep up with the insurance companies or other lawyers, get one yourself and fight for your rights.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, Walker Law can help you review your legal options and may help you to obtain compensation. Contact us today via email or call us at (619) 839-9978 to schedule your free consultation.