Although modern medical science can do a lot to diagnose, treat, and stabilize your condition, an injury can still worsen over time. In some cases, treatment is not successful, or perhaps you developed an infection requiring additional care. These complications can quickly add to your medical expenses, and they might cost more than the settlement offer you agreed on as compensation for your injuries.
If you’re in this situation and are unsure what to do, contact the Indianapolis personal injury lawyers at Wagner Reese to find out what options you have.
Experienced lawyers will generally advise someone not to accept the initial insurance settlement offer right away, as this is only the start of a round of negotiations, not a final offer.
However, once negotiations begin in earnest, verbally agreeing to a settlement may mean you need to honor the settlement terms, even if you did not sign the final document yet. Indiana courts enforce oral contracts unless there is evidence that you were coerced into agreeing to the settlement.
Your attorney will typically advise against agreeing to terms or signing settlement documents until all information regarding your injury and related medical costs has been assessed. This advice is commonly given because virtually all settlement offers come with a release of liability.
This release effectively prevents you from seeking compensation again for the same injury, even if it worsens later. The at-fault party’s insurance company’s objective is to get you to sign for the lowest amount possible, and initial offers are rarely fair compensation.
If you haven’t signed the release of liability in a settlement offer yet, then you have not agreed to anything from a legal perspective, and you may still have recourse. However, if your signature is on a release of liability, you’ll have no legal means to renegotiate your settlement.
It is critical to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer before signing any legally binding contract. Their expertise and legal knowledge allow them to assess the full extent of your damages to determine their value, including any ongoing or recurring medical expenses.
Keep all medical records regarding your injury, and give copies to your attorney. Your attorney may also contact your doctor for more information about your treatment and rehabilitation plan to accurately determine the extent of your medical costs.
Speak honestly and truthfully with your doctors, and be fully open about your injuries’ physical and emotional impact. Not all injuries are physical, and your doctor may refer you to mental health professionals for additional diagnosis, assessment, and treatment.
For example, car accident survivors are at an increased risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder, with potentially lifelong consequences if untreated and uncompensated. A mental health professional may also suggest you write a mental health journal to document how your injuries are making you feel emotionally and physically.
Most importantly, avoid communication with the at-fault party’s insurance company yourself. Communication should only occur via your lawyer. Never agree to anything the insurance company offers without your lawyer’s input. An insurance company’s goal is for you to sign the lowest-value settlement offer possible, so they will typically give you a low-ball offer in the beginning.
Even seemingly clear-cut situations may hide additional details your lawyers can uncover. For example, they may discover that more than one party may be responsible for your injuries, allowing you to file a claim against all at-fault parties involved to demand compensation.
One of the most common causes of car crashes in Indiana is drunk driving. According to the 2019 Indiana Crash Facts, 13.3% of all car crash fatalities that year involved alcohol-impaired drivers.
Under the Indiana Dram Shop Act (Indiana Code Title 7.1-5-10-15.5), the business or drinking establishment that serves the alcohol may be legally responsible for the incident, allowing a personal injury victim to file a civil lawsuit against the venue.
Another potential cause is a product defect in one of the vehicles involved in the incident. If your vehicle was defective, you might also be able to sue the manufacturer for damages. Multiple kinds of product defects can affect the value of your claims, such as a design defect making the vehicle unsafe to drive.
Injuries can heal or worsen in unpredictable ways over the months that follow an incident, regardless of the severity, significantly impacting your medical expenses.
Wagner Reese has a team of experienced personal injury lawyers who can navigate the specifics of Indiana law and help ensure you are compensated for your injuries.
Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss the merits of your claim and your legal options.