Most bodily injury claims are settled before a lawsuit is filed, and initial settlement discussions will be with an insurance claims representative. But when injuries are costly enough and the torfeasor’s insurer becomes uncooperative, it is best to employ the services of a competent personal injury lawyer to represent the claimant.
The identity of the claims representative is ordinarily is divulged when counsel first contacts the insurance carrier to advise of claimant’s intent to pursue a claim against the insured. Unless and until suit is filed, this is the person to whom plaintiff’s counsel usually will be directing all communications regarding settlement of the claim.
When claiming from an insurance, there are documents that the claims representative needs in order to evaluate the claim, such as:
- All medical bills relating to the injuries in question.
- All medical reports from claimant’s treating physicians, showing diagnosis, treatment and prognosis regarding the injuries in question.
- Employer’s verification of lost earnings, fringe benefits, and other economic losses suffered because of absence from employment.
- Property damage bills or repair estimates. (Even if property repairs were paid for by claimant’s own insurance carrier—i.e., not collectible from the defendant-insured—the repair bills are relevant evidence of the severity of the impact.)
These documents must be reviewed by a competent lawyer to ensure that they are not in any way damaging to the claimant’s case.
Negotiations may be handled with or without a counsel. But it is more advisable to work with a lawyer who is an expert in personal injury cases, and an expert negotiator as well, to help a claimant in going through the process of dealing with insurance claims.