Following an accident, you may be facing unexpected medical bills, unpaid time off work, a great deal of emotional distress, and other losses. Naturally, you want to seek full and fair compensation from whoever was responsible for the accident. But without a detailed understanding of the law and your rights, you might receive far less than you deserve. Hiring a personal injury lawyer in San Antonio can help ensure you maximize your compensation.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You Maximize Your Compensation After an Accident?
Avoid Making Costly Mistakes
When filing your claim and dealing with insurance companies, you need to be extremely careful. An integral part of any insurer’s business model is to pay out as little as possible. This means the insurance adjuster investigating your case will often try to deny the validity of your claim, accuse you of being partially responsible for the accident, or offer you a very low settlement figure.
Unaware of these insurance company strategies, accident victims without legal counsel frequently make mistakes that weaken or even destroy their claims. One such mistake is accidentally admitting to any degree of fault while communicating with the insurer. Another common mistake is sharing details of your case on social media. And, of course, accepting a settlement offer too quickly without negotiating is also often a grievous error.
Your Attorney Handles the Insurance Company for You
All of these slip-ups, and more, can be avoided when you hire a personal injury attorney at the very start of your case. Your lawyer will communicate directly with the insurer on your behalf. They’ll investigate the accident, establish the value of your damages, file the claim, write the demand letter, gather evidence and witnesses, negotiate with the insurer, and represent you in court if necessary.
Experienced attorneys have dealt with insurance companies hundreds of times before and know well the common pitfalls that accident victims need to steer clear of. Successfully avoiding early mistakes might add tens of thousands to a final settlement figure.
Claim Full Economic Damages
Maximizing compensation also requires knowing exactly how much you can legally claim. But reading the small print of insurance policies can be tiresome, confusing work for many accident victims, and insurers sometimes misrepresent the terms of their policies, making it difficult to trust them on their word. After investigating your accident and studying the insurance plan, a personal injury lawyer can quickly establish exactly how much in economic damages you’re entitled to seek.
Economic damages refer to losses you’ve suffered that have a clear monetary price tag, such as property damage, medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, funeral costs, and lost wages due to missed work. These objective kinds of damages also include the estimated future costs of ongoing medical expenses and lost capacity to work, which can be difficult to calculate and prove without a good lawyer by your side.
Claim Full Non-Economic Damages
Even more tricky for inexperienced claimants to understand and accurately value are the non-economic damages. These damages lack a clear price tag and are more subjective. Non-economic damages often include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, physical impairment, disability, loss of relationships, loss of social support, and reduced quality of life.
The applicability and value of these more subjective damages must be determined on a case-by-case basis. This requires a firm understanding of personal injury law. Without an attorney to calculate your damages, you’re unlikely to know which non-economic damages you can include in your claim or how much they’re really worth. As a result, you might be leaving a great deal of money on the table when you accept compensation.
Potentially Claim Punitive Damages
With most personal injury claims, the at-fault party must be proven to have caused your injuries through negligence. But sometimes, the at-fault party can be shown to have acted with gross negligence, malice, fraud, or any conscious decision to act in a way that puts others at risk. In these less common cases, you may be able to seek punitive damages in addition to your compensatory damages.
Rather than compensating you for your losses, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for their willful wrongdoing and serve as a deterrent to others. These kinds of damages are more common in cases involving larger organizations and companies, such as supplement manufacturers that knowingly release untested products. But individual defendants might also sometimes be made to pay punitive damages, such as drunk or distracted drivers.
Support Your Claim With Strong Evidence
Once you’ve established the value of your damages, now comes the hard part: proving your claim. In many personal injury cases, the insurer will dispute both the liability of the defendant and also the value of the damages. Overcoming these disputes usually takes a good deal of evidence. And this requires the help of an experienced attorney.
Examples of Necessary Evidence
In a car accident case, you’ll often need police reports, eyewitness statements, photos and videos of the crash sight, surveillance camera footage, and more. In product liability cases, the product itself must be carefully preserved to serve as evidence. With slip-and-fall accidents, along with witness testimony and photo and video evidence, you might need to produce property and business records, relevant safety regulations, and transcripts of employee communications.
Medical malpractice cases are often the most complex of all, requiring a mountain of evidence to prove liability. Whatever the case type, you’ll also need to prove the extent of your damages with medical reports, hospital bills, pharmacy receipts, home care invoices, pay stubs, tax reports, statements from your employer, and more.
Your Lawyer Can Retain Expert Witnesses
Another great value a lawyer provides is their database and easy access to expert witnesses. Expert witness testimony is often vital to the success of a claim. An expert witness is a practicing professional with the requisite specialist expertise to explain what happened and demonstrate how the at-fault party caused your injuries.
Engineers or building maintenance experts might be retained in a property liability case. Accident reconstruction experts are common in car accident cases. Medical malpractice cases usually require specialist medical experts to demystify complex fields of medicine. Your lawyer can establish which expert witnesses will best serve your particular case and then retain the most suitable experts.
Pursue Maximum Compensation in a San Antonio Court
While most personal injury claims are settled outside of court, you do sometimes need to file a lawsuit against the defendant. Most commonly, this happens when the insurance company doesn’t agree to a full and fair settlement figure. Threatening to escalate proceedings to be decided before a judge and jury often acts as a powerful negotiating strategy.
While not a strict legal necessity, it’s unwise to go to court without a lawyer. A good lawyer can prepare and present evidence and expert witnesses and persuasively argue your case to the jury. When an accident victim acts alone in court, without the proper legal know-how and experience, they’re much more likely to lose the case or receive a far smaller payout. Even an accidental procedural courthouse error could harm your case or see it thrown out.
If you’ve been injured in an accident in San Antonio or anywhere else in the state, contact Gamez Law Firm today for a free consultation. We’ve been helping our neighboring residents of Alamo City win full and fair compensation for more than 40 years.