Your first thought when you are injured by another person may be to take them to court for a personal injury lawsuit. You may not be aware that most personal injury cases never actually go to court. Only about 5% of personal injury cases end up going to the court, with the rest being settled in mediation. You have more control over how much compensation you will receive during mediation because you are able to accept and reject offers from the other party until you come to an agreed upon amount. Even though you have control over what settlement amount you accept, there are still mistakes that could end up lowering how much you are offered to settle for.
Making Statements to Insurance Adjusters
An insurance adjuster from the other party can reach out to you for an official statement about the injury. The insurance adjuster may even claim that they will not be able to move forward with your case until you make a statement. You need to avoid making any official statements to an insurance adjuster if requested.
The purpose of asking for a statement is to catch you off guard and hope you make a mistake. You can accidentally say something that is inaccurate or give the insurance provider a statement that can be picked apart and cross-examined. Anything you recall about the injury in your statement will be considered as fact, even if you cannot correctly recall what happened. Consult with a lawyer before making any statements to avoid making a mistake.
While giving a statement could speed up the mediation process, it has a chance of doing harm. You will eventually have an opportunity to make your statement during your deposition. Ideally, you should only make one official statement to eliminate the chance of any small differences with previous statements.
Accepting Final Offers
The other person's insurance company may approach you with an offer that they claim is the final offer. Know that this is a technique used to pressure you to accept an offer, and it is most likely not the last offer you will receive.
The mediation process involves plenty of discussion between both parties. Offers can be rejected and countered, and if an agreement cannot be reached, the case will go to court. Your lawyer should be involved with reviewing, rejections, countering, and accepting all offers to help ensure you get a fair deal.
Requesting the Incorrect Settlement Amount
It will be difficult to increase your requested settlement amount after the initial request, so you want to get it right the first time. Requesting too little can cause problems when the extent of your injury is not known, but requesting too much can have adverse effects, as well.
To avoid making a request that is too low, you'll need to consider your entire recovery process. Doctor visits, medical goods, lost wages from work, and physical therapy should all make up that final settlement amount. If you end up having a slow recovery, treatment could go on longer than you anticipate, and you'll end up paying for it.
Mediation is the time to seek additional compensation for pain and suffering, but requesting too much could cause the defendant to give you a low counter offer. It is in the defendant's best interest to settle in mediation, because a jury could award punitive damages during a trial as a way to punish the defendant for their actions.
Thankfully, the best way to avoid any of these mistakes is to work with a lawyer that specializes in personal injuries. The Law Office of Adebimpe Jafojo, P.C. can help you get the best settlement possible.