A personal injury claim involves much more than just getting damages for your injuries. The personal injury settlement negotiations must address three major concerns: compensating you for your injuries, compensating you for related lost property or earnings, and protecting as much as possible the future earnings of a young child.
At first glance, it may appear that arriving at an appropriate settlement of these damages is an impossible task without having a trained professional negotiate on your behalf. However, you can take certain steps to ensure that both parties agree on and understand all aspects of any proposed personal injury settlement agreement:
1) Get an Accurate Estimate Of Economic and Non-Economic Losses
First, you must figure out what your economic losses are. Economic damages include past and future medical bills (present discounted value), past and future lost earnings (lost earning capacity), and property damage. These items should be valued as precisely as possible, using objective data whenever possible. For example, if you were to incur $100,000 in future medical expenses, the best way to prove it would be with documentation of projected costs from an objective source (such as your health insurance company) rather than the word of a stranger who saw you one day after surgery.
2) Take Precise Notes And Document All Meetings With Attorneys And Counselors Of Any Type
To effectively communicate options with defendants or their attorneys, you will need to understand the facts and figures involved accurately. This means taking copious notes and recording all conversations with attorneys, insurance adjusters, and medical personnel. In many cases, a Montgomery, Alabama personal injury attorney can help you get the most from your claim without having to go to court. It is also helpful to have someone else present during these conversations to act as a witness and take their own set of notes.
3) Fully Understand Your Settlement Agreement Before Signing
Once you have arrived at a proposed settlement agreement with the defendant or their insurance company, you must understand every aspect of that agreement before signing. Have your attorney go over the agreement with you in detail, and make sure that you do not agree to anything that you do not understand or agree with.
4) Seek Professional Assistance If Necessary
In some cases involving children, a professional guardian ad litem to protect the child’s interests in any proposed settlement negotiations. In addition, if there is a large disparity between the damages suffered and those offered, it might be best to seek assistance from a counselor or mediator who specializes in personal injury settlements. In such situations, it may make sense to seek assistance from someone who has experience working with insurance companies to get them to increase their offer.
5) Consider All Tax Implications
As you receive settlement offers, it is wise to consult your tax advisor. Since much of the money received in a personal injury case will be taxed at ordinary income rates, it is important to factor this into any settlement decision. This means that you will need to report the settlement amount as income on your tax return. You may also be subject to additional taxes such as state or federal income taxes, social security taxes, and Medicare. Sometimes paying higher taxes upfront (by accepting an offer for less than what you might get in court) can be offset by reduced taxes over the life of the settlement agreement.
6) Be Open To Settlement Offers From The Defendant
When negotiating personal injury cases, defendants or their insurance companies will usually make settlement offers before deciding how to proceed with negotiations. If the first offer made by the defendant does not adequately compensate you for all aspects of your injuries and related damages, do not automatically discount future offers.
When it comes time to settle a personal injury claim, taking the time to understand the process can help ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible for your injuries. Seeking assistance from an experienced attorney can make the process much easier while ensuring that all aspects of the settlement agreement are fully understood. By following these simple steps, you can be assured that your interests are fully protected and that you understand all aspects of any proposed personal injury settlement agreement.