As a Kansas City personal injury attorney, one of the most common questions I hear from clients is how they can obtain the largest possible personal injury settlement or verdict in their Kansas City injury case.
There are many factors that determine the value of a personal injury case in Kansas City. The largest personal injury settlements and verdicts generally only result in cases where someone has experienced serious accidents, injuries or even death. As a result, you should not want to have to seek a large personal injury recovery because, in doing so, you will have suffered more than any person would ever want.
Below are the top ten ways to maximize the value of your personal injury claim if you were injured in Missouri or Kansas.
1. If you suffered injuries at the accident scene, call 911 and request ambulance. You should also request that the police come to the accident scene and create a police report. As detailed in our blog, police serve two important purposes. First, they ensure the safety of those involved in the crash and who are using the roadway. Second, they will create a police report that documents what happened and who was involved in the accident. This report will be important in your legal case.
2. Document the accident as much as possible. You should not rely on the police report to contain all the important information regarding the crash. Unfortunately, many police reports can be incomplete or inaccurate. As a result, you should write down the names of persons involved in the crash, their contact information, their insurance information, and license plate numbers and vehicle types. You should identify and take down the statements of any witnesses to the accident. You should also take pictures of the accident scene, vehicles involved, and of any injuries. Pictures will be very valuable later in proving your claim.
3. Get prompt medical treatment. If you delay your medical treatment for any reason, the insurance company for the at-fault party will likely argue that you were not badly injured. The insurance company for the at-fault party is not your friend and is looking for any way to pay you as little as possible. The best way to support your injuries is with documentation from your medical providers that both describes your injuries completely and shows that you sought treatment promptly after the accident. In most cases, it is best to go directly to the emergency room and not wait until your primary care physician is available. After you are released from the emergency room, if you were not hospitalized overnight for serious injuries, you should follow up with your regular primary care physician.
4. Identify all symptoms to your doctors and continue treating until you reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is just as important as treating promptly. You must follow your doctors’ instructions and make sure that your doctors are fully treating all of symptoms and medical issues. Many times, doctors will prioritize symptoms by treating the worst or most problematic conditions first. This can result in your medical records and treatment being incomplete, and the insurance company to refuse to pay for an unreported injury, even if it was caused by the accident.
As a result, you must insist that each an of your symptoms be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible after a vehicle or other personal injury accident. You must speak up to your doctors and let them know about every sort of pain you are experiencing, whether numbness, tingling, headaches, dizziness, lacerations, bruises, or burns. You also need to mention every symptom in every visit, not just at the first one. The failure to follow this step closely will result in a lower value to your personal injury case and a smaller recovery to you.
5. Avoid treating your pain solely with pain pills. This may seem obvious, particularly given health and addiction issues associated with pain prescriptions and opioids. However, in addition to the obvious health risks and side effects, treating solely on pain pills for your injuries is also not good for your personal injury case value. Juries and insurance companies tend to discount the value of your injuries and your case if you were treating only with pain pills. They will assume that your pain must not be that bad. A better approach is to seek treatments such as physical therapy, injections or surgery. Of course, you should only get treatment that is necessary to treat your injuries and follow the advice of your medical providers as stated above.
6. Keep working at your job, if possible. Injuries in accidents can affect your ability to do your job. While you seek to recover lost wages in your injury case, there are several reasons why you should continue working or get back to work as soon as you are able.
First, you have a legal duty to mitigate your damages. This means that you are not legally entitled to recover wages after the accident if you were able to work in some capacity so you should keep working if you can.
Second, you will likely need income and benefits to cover your medical bills as you continue medical treatment for your injuries. Any payment of lost wages caused by the accident will likely not be paid as you incur them. Instead, the insurance company for the at-fault party will only pay for such lost wages when your case is settled.
Third, juries often favor those who are trying the best they can to continue work. Of course, depending on the severity of your injuries, you may not be able to work at all. If you cannot work to your injuries, it is important to have your medical providers document any work restrictions or how your injuries are affecting the performance of your job duties. In addition, you should document all days of missed work and lost wages that resulted.
7. Avoid social media but stay in touch with families and friends. If you have a pending injury claim, insurance companies and their lawyers can and likely will access all your social media profiles. Once a case is filed, they often will get this information, even if your social media settings are private. A post may seem innocent to you, but insurance companies and their lawyers will find a way to use it against you. On the other hand, you should stay in touch with families and friends who can be witnesses regarding your pain or disability. If your case goes to trial, family and friends will be important witnesses who can explain the difference between your life before and after the accident.
8. Never give a recorded statement to the insurance company unless your attorney is present. The insurance company’s goal is to develop evidence against you and pay you the least amount possible. You cannot know all the ways they will trick you but they will try to get you to make admissions to hurt your case. Speaking with an insurance company is often not necessary. You should only do so after first consulting with an experienced Kansas City personal injury attorney.
9. Be open and honest with your attorney. It goes without saying that you need to be open and honest your attorney regarding all aspects of your case. Your attorney will be able to only help you if you share with him or her all information so they can respond accordingly. You also should timely respond all calls or requests from your attorney’s office. Your attorney cannot prepare your case without information and records that you control. So, it is very important that you provide your attorney with everything he or she requests so that they have all the evidence they need.
10. Hire an experienced Kansas City personal injury attorney who will prepare your case for trial. There are many benefits to hiring a personal injury attorney, and given the issues we outlined above, this should be done as soon as possible. While most personal injury cases settle before trial, a critical factor to obtaining the highest possible settlement is having an attorney who will give you good legal advice and thoroughly prepare your case for trial. Insurance companies sometimes will only respond with a fair offer when a lawsuit is pending and a trial date looming. The process for pursuing a personal injury case in Kansas and Missouri courts can be long and complex.
Personal injury attorneys perform many critical tasks important your case, including collecting and preserving evidence, interviewing witnesses, communicating with insurance companies, and guiding you through the legal process while you are continuing medical treatment. By hiring an experienced Kansas City personal injury attorney and following the steps above, you can maximize settlement value of your personal injury case, whether it was caused by a accident involving a car, truck, motorcycle, or bike, a slip and fall, or any other cause of serious injury.
Still have questions about how to get the largest settlement for your accident claim in Kansas City? For more information, please download a free copy of my book, Crash Course, which includes the 9 mistakes that can wreck your injury claim. You can also contact our firm in Kansas City by calling (816) 203-0143 or by filling out a form below. Contacting us is FREE and confidential, and there is no obligation to hire us to represent you. We would be happy to hear any concerns and try to assist you.