Hiring a lawyer to help you with your personal injury claim typically will not speed up the process and lead to a faster settlement. However, retaining an attorney for your case does help to ensure that the claim moves at the speed necessary to recover maximum damages, so that you are compensated for your injuries to the fullest extent.
When a claim is settled quickly, it is likely being undervalued by the insurance company. In order to recover maximum damages, it is important that the claim not be rushed and that it is handled in a thorough manner. Contrary to popular belief, fast settlements are typically bad settlements. Successful personal injury claims follow a process, and that process takes time.
Victims of car accidents often want their compensation immediately, and understandably so. However, it is likely in your best interest to give the process the time needed to fully develop. By settling too soon, you essentially limit what damages you are entitled to. You only have one so-called “bite at the apple” when settling your claim; therefore, it is imperative that you complete as much of your treatment as possible in order to ensure that you have included all medical treatment in your potential bodily injury claim.
Handling your claim is similar to baking a cake. You do not want to remove the cake from the oven before it is finished baking. Rushing to get the cake out of the oven before it is fully cooked will drastically impact the final product. Think of your personal injury claim as baking the cake. Don’t rush it and settle before it has finished “cooking.”
A lawyer will most likely want to take a step back and evaluate your claim by considering the law and the facts. They will collect all pertinent documents, meet with you and examine the case so it can be represented to the insurance company. This reevaluation is done to make sure the claim is valued appropriately and to make sure everything has been included for the purposes of damages. Most injury victims do not know what they need to present to the insurance company in order receive fair settlement offers.
What Typically Delays Personal Injury Claims?
Several different steps within the process can delay your personal injury claim. There are typically three components of the claim process that cause delay in the resolution of your claim and take the longest to complete before moving forward. The first of these components is the collection of medical records and medical bills. Your attorney will use what is called a HIPAA release to request your medical bills and records. While a HIPPA release should typically be filed within 30 days from the time of receipt, medical providers typically take much longer to send all medical records. For more information on HIPAA authorizations, check out our article on Requesting Bills and Records.
The second component that causes delays in personal injury claims is the treatment plan. Before submitting your records and bills, you want to reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). Essentially, you have reached MMI once you have been released or discharged from your doctors and have healed to the condition you were in before the collision. It could take months or years for your injuries to heal or become manageable.
It is only after you know the full extent of your injury and treatment that you want to collect medical bills and records. If you are not completely healed, you will want to demonstrate to the insurance company that your injury is permanent and what treatment and costs you are facing in the future. Therefore, it is important that you get as close as possible to reaching MMI before you move forward with your claim so that most, if not all, of your medical bills are included.
The third component that may delay your personal injury claim is the time it takes for an insurance adjuster to review the claim that has been submitted. The insurance adjuster will make a thorough review of your personal injury claim. This review includes examining your medical bills and records, interviewing their insured and any witnesses, and investigating the facts and circumstances of the accident. Remember that the insurance company’s goal is to pay as little as possible on every claim; therefore, an insurance adjuster will try to find anything in their investigation that will help limit their liability.
In sum, if your goal is to reach a speedy settlement, you are likely to undervalue your claim. Hiring a lawyer can help ensure that your claim moves forward in a manner that will maximize your damages.