Common Misconceptions About Personal Injury Claims
Interviewer: What are some common misconceptions that people have about personal injury claims?
Insurance Company Settlement Offers
Bill Levinson: First of all, because usually my clients aren’t at fault, they assume that whatever is fair the insurance company is going to offer. That’s never the case. But everyone thinks because they’re honest and they’re fair, that the insurance company is going to be the same way. It’s not.
Interviewer: If an insurance company offers me a settlement should I accept it right away?
Bill Levinson: It’s an excellent question because what typically happens in motor vehicle collisions, the insurance company for the at-fault party will be on the phone immediately to you or to the client. They will offer an amount of money. They do that for two reasons. Number one, folks who don’t know better take it. Number two, the insurance company saves usually quite a bit of money. My instruction to potential clients when they call on the phone or to clients when they come in is that the only people they talk to are the police and me and their own insurance company. The reality is the insurance company for the people that hurt my client – their job is to pay nothing. Whenever my clients do speak to the insurance company, they are very good at eliciting or getting statements from the client that ultimately may hurt them and sometimes does hurt them and creates issues that wouldn’t be there if they didn’t speak with the insurance company. People need to remember that the insurance company of the person that hurt you – their job is to pay you nothing. There’s nothing you can do to help yourself by speaking with them.
Pictures & Evidence
Interviewer: Would it be helpful if I were to take pictures of my injury?
Bill Levinson: There’s no question that pictures of bodily injury are helpful. They’re helpful for a jury to appreciate the significance of what has happened. While we’re on the subject I want to say that one of the greatest things that’s happened to prosecuting a case with pictures has been cell phones. Virtually every one of my clients now will come in with pictures of the vehicles. They can range from being useful to just see the extent of the impact to ultimately being used by an accident reconstructionist if there’s a conflict in the stories as to what happened. But definitely, if you have grievous injuries and it’s possible, definitely take pictures of the injuries.
Recovery Amount After a Personal Injury Claim
Interviewer: For my next question I wanted to know simply what am I entitled to?
Bill Levinson: It breaks down as follows – there are numbers that are set and there’s no negotiating about them: First is your medical bills. Next is your wage loss. Next is the damage to your car, any stuff you have in your car, computers or whatever that are broken. Those are numbers that lend themselves to pretty clear damages.
The most difficult part of damages is what’s called pain and suffering. That depends on several things. First, the nature and extent of the client’s injuries. Next, the duration of care and the duration of discomfort and the duration of substantial impact on a client’s life. If there’s lost income, past lost income is easy to calculate but if there’s going to be future lost income that involves the assistance of a forensic economist. Finally, I think that one of the most important categories is whether or not the client is healed. If there are continuing injuries that substantially affects the recovery.
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