Compensation from a personal injury claim of any kind, generally comes from either a successful lawsuit or from settling the claim outside of court. When you believe you have a personal injury claim, including claims related to a motorcycle accident, you must first decide whether you want to settle or go to court. Most insurance companies are willing to settle, but they usually offer very little money to do so. Luckily, whether you want to settle or file a lawsuit, your personal injury attorney can help you through the process.
Should I try to settle with the insurance company?
Many people believe that, after they have been involved in an accident, hiring an attorney is not necessary because there is insurance coverage. Although you may think that your insurance company is supposed to look out for you, most of the time the insurance company’s interests are not in line with yours. Look at it this way: your objective is to obtain as much compensation for your injuries and losses as possible, but your insurance company’s primary goal is to pay out as little as possible, in order to increase its profit.
Now, there can be specific situations where you may be able to handle a personal injury settlement on your own, but the circumstances are limited. For example, if you live in a “no fault” insurance state, meaning your insurance company compensates you for the cost of minor injuries, regardless of who was at fault in the accident, then the amount you can receive is often set, regardless of any unique aspects of the injury or the individual injured. In that case, settling is not really that difficult, because you already know what you are entitled to receive. However, “no-fault” auto insurance is the exception rather than the rule.
Both Arkansas and Missouri apply fault-based insurance laws, which require all drivers to carry auto insurance. The “fault” element of these laws means that the driver who is responsible for the accident will bear the financial responsibility for the injuries and property damage resulting from the accident. This is where having an attorney becomes a better option.
Other reasons to settle on your own
If you have already received the maximum amount of compensation available under the applicable insurance policies, you may want to consider settlement. Insurance companies will only pay out the applicable policy limits. This is how it works. If the policy limit of the defendant’s insurance policy is $100,000, and you are offered a $100,000 settlement, obtaining anything more would require a lawsuit against the defendant to obtain compensation from him directly. If you know the defendant would not be able to pay any judgment you might obtain, then it may not be worth the time and expense of filing a lawsuit against him. This is a decision your personal injury attorney can help you make.
Compensation for pain and suffering or serious injuries?
If you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress damages, then settling with an insurance company is not the way to go. That type of settlement would not include all those types of damages, which are generally determined by a jury at trial. A personal injury attorney can help you understand all of the different types of damages you may be entitled to, in your situation.
Another consideration is how serious your injuries are, and whether they will likely result in long-term medical treatment, permanent disability, limited earning capacity, or a shortened life expectancy. These are all elements of a damage award that must be considered. However, settlement offers made by insurance companies rarely include that type of compensation.
If you have questions regarding motorcycle accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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