More often than not, the real issue in a personal injury case is damages – what you can recover. Many times, the insurance company will concede that it is responsible for whatever injuries were caused by the other driver, but then fail to make the offer you want because it questions the extent of the damages.
A good attorney has to prove not just that you had problems after the accident, but that the accident was significant enough to cause those problems. That the force of impact was so forceful, or that it was applied to your body in such a manner, that most people would expect you to be hurt. He must be able to describe your hardship in terms that other people will understand and accept.
What does this mean? No answer works every time; but some things that can work include:
- Making sure there is a picture of the car taken right after the accident, so the full impact of the accident is shown. Getting pictures of both cars is better.
- Taking pictures of the way you look right after the accident – your bruises, your bandages, your crutches, your hospital room, your splints, braces and cast.
- Finding a witness who can describe the difference between the way you act now and the way you were able to move before the accident.
- Obtaining your medical records, and then digging through them to see how your doctor describes your problem.
- Getting the medical records from the doctor who was treating you before the accident – so the insurance company can’t claim that after the accident, you were only being treated for problems that pre-existed the accident.
- Sometimes, getting an economist to provide a reasonable calculation of the cost of your injury to you and your family in terms of lost wages, lost healthcare and insurance benefits, increased healthcare costs, and other economic considerations.
- Asking your treating doctor to write a letter saying that the accident caused your injuries and specifying a percentage of disability.
- Having a video made of your life after the accident – to put things in real terms.
- Having an accident reconstructionist visit the scene of the accident to determine the speed of the cars at the time of impact, and analyze evidence for a claim for punitive damages.
- Hiring an independent doctor to examine you and provide an opinion on what caused your injuries and their severity.
You can do some of these yourself. I am probably better equipped to handle others. I tell the insurance company about your injuries effectively and with impact. Some of these things are more expensive than others; in that case I will discuss them with you before paying anyone to have them done. Some of these things are unnecessary in most cases; but your attorney should always be ready to consider them.