After a serious injury, one big question that may be on your mind is when you should make an injury claim. After all, the insurance company seems reasonable and they might even offer a settlement.
While insurers sound quick to help, do not assume that an insurance company is there to help you or even give you the settlement you deserve. Instead, it is in your best interest to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney and make sure that you are getting the compensation you need to cover all of your losses from an accident.
For most accident victims, the idea of filing an injury claim (or lawsuit) against the other driver is far from their mind. Instead, they are focusing on recovering from their injuries, getting back to work, and just putting the accident behind them.
Eventually, there comes a point where a victim might realize that they do not have any other options except to file a claim. Whether it is an insurer who refuses to cooperate or medical costs spiraling out of control, you might find yourself in a situation where you do need to file a claim – but when is the right time to do so?
Should You Wait until You Have Recovered Fully?
One common question from accident victims is whether they should wait until their medical treatments stop and they have recovered fully. It is a common misconception that you must wait until you heal to file your claim.
Waiting could mean that you become ineligible, and that could mean that you would have to pay for medical costs – not the at-fault party. Most states, including Washington, have limits on how long you have to file. Furthermore, your own insurance company will have restrictions in the policy about how long you have to file the accident claim with them (usually under 30 days). Therefore, you should not wait.
Starting a claim is one thing. You do not have to finalize the claim right away, but you do want to start the process within the statute of limitations so that you do not run into any issues later regarding a claim filed too late.
Your Attorney Will Wait for Maximum Medical Improvement
To make sure that you are fully recovered, or as recovered as you can be, your attorney will wait for the MMI, also known as the maximum medical improvement. Once you reach this point, it means all medical professionals overseeing your care agree that you will not recover any further. Therefore, you have achieved your best recovery status.
Now you can proceed with settlement negotiations because your attorney can better estimate any future medical costs and care needs that you will have. You can start the process before you reach MMI, but your attorney may wait to finalize negotiations until a physician has told you that you are at your best recovery possible.
How Soon Should You Contact an Attorney?
If you were injured in a car accident or other type of incident, you may wonder how long you should wait before contacting an attorney.
Ideally, after you receive medical treatment and report the accident to your insurance company (when applicable), an attorney should be the next professional you call.
Most attorneys offer free, no obligation consultations. That means you can meet with them free of charge, they will review the facts of your case, and then they will decide if you have a claim. They can even start the process so that you make sure to file before the statute of limitations runs out.
Likewise, an attorney working on a personal injury case does not request payment from you upfront if you do hire them. Instead, these professionals work on a contingency basis, which means that they will only receive payment if they win a settlement in your case. Therefore, if your attorney loses, you do not pay for their services.
How Can an Attorney Determine a Settlement If I’m Still Healing?
Yes, you may still be under the care of a physician, and you may require long-term medical care and treatments, but your attorney can always calculate what a fair settlement would be in your case.
Attorneys working in the area of personal injury have been there before. They know how much a typical case like yours is worth, they look at the medical costs you have already accumulated, and they can estimate what your future costs would be based on what your physician’s diagnosis and prognosis are and what an economic expert (hired by your attorney) estimates those costs to be in the future.
Likewise, your attorney will still consider other compensatory items while you recover, such as medical costs already paid by your auto insurance, medical insurance, or what you paid out-of-pocket. He or she will also consider time missed from work while you recovered from your injuries. Additionally, your attorney will consider the pain and suffering associated with your incident.
Take Advantage of Free Consultations to Find out Your Rights
The sooner you meet with an attorney, the better it will be for your case. An injury advocate understands what you are going through, and they have been there before with clients just like you. Furthermore, they can help negotiate with insurance companies, hire experts to prove your case, and gather evidence even if you are still recovering from your accident.
The longer you wait, the harder it is to get the evidence necessary to prove your case. Therefore, contacting an attorney now, rather than waiting months or even a year, could make a difference in the settlement amount you are offered.
To explore your options, contact the attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC. You can book your appointment by calling us or requesting more information online. All consultations are free of charge, and there is no risk for meeting with us to explore your options for compensation.