When you've been injured by someone else's negligence, that person is responsible to you. Usually this means dealing with the person's insurance company. Sometimes the person's not insured, or doesn't have enough insurance to pay you. Then you may expect your insurance company to pay some or all of your damages.
Either way, dealing with an insurance adjuster can be frustrating and complicated. An adjuster is the person who decides what your claim is worth. It's important to get the most money for your claim. That's why it's a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you talk with the insurance company.
Your lawyer tells the people responsible you've been hurt. She lets them know you'll be filing a claim for your damages.
Your lawyer investigates the facts of your injury. You can help your lawyer by providing copies of the:
- Police report
- Traffic tickets given to the other person
- Photos of the scene of the accident
- Names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses and what they saw
- Medical records and bills
- Photos of your injuries
- Wage stubs proving how much you made at the time of the accident and how much work time you missed due to your injury
You'll also want to provide your lawyer with any other papers you may have showing how your injury has negatively affected your life.
Your lawyer won't want to begin serious negotiation with the insurance company right away. She must wait until your injuries have stabilized enough to know what the permanent effects are. This can sometimes take months or even years. Don't pressure your lawyer into negotiating too soon with the insurance company. It's a mistake to settle your claim before you know the full extent of your injuries.
After collecting all the information about your injury, your lawyer writes what's called a demand letter to the insurance company. This letter explains:
- Why the other person is responsible for your injuries
- The extent of your injuries and how you're likely to be affected by them in the future
- What type of medical treatment you've had and need to have in the future and how much it will cost
- Current and future income losses
- Any other damages you've suffered as a result of the accident.
The settlement package sent to the adjuster includes all the documentation you've given your lawyer to support your claim.