Obtaining Compensation After a Catastrophic Injury
The average economic cost of a catastrophic (life-threatening) injury is over $150,000. Medical bills and lost wages make up the bulk of this amount. This figure doesn’t include noneconomic losses, such as emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life, and pain and suffering. This figure also doesn’t include lost future earning potential.
As outlined below, the compensation process following a catastrophic injury is long and complex. Attorneys and clients alike often lose heart during this long process. Clients are anxious to move on with their lives and many lawyers look for quick settlements. A Columbia personal injury lawyer must be part legal advocate and part cheerleader. Attorneys must build solid cases and use proven methods during the litigation process. Furthermore, they must encourage clients to persevere and obtain maximum compensation, instead of settling for less.
Meaningful settlement negotiations cannot begin until medical treatment is at least substantially complete, especially in a catastrophic injury claim. Before then, the amount of damages is too uncertain.
Catastrophic injuries usually require future medical care. If a settlement doesn’t account for these costs, the victim is usually financially responsible for them. Other future losses, such as future lots warning potential, are also difficult to pinpoint early in a case.
To clarify these areas, a Columbia personal injury lawyer often partners with outside professionals, such as doctors and accountants. Attorneys then include the results of their reports in settlement demands.
We haven’t even discussed liability, or legal responsibility for injury. Insurance companies often use legal loopholes, such as the comparative fault doctrine, as an excuse to make a low-ball offer or drag their feet during negotiations.
Because of these concerns, and others as well, early settlements in catastrophic injury cases are rare and probably not in the victim’s best financial interests.
Filing Legal Paperwork
This maneuver often jumpstarts stalled settlement negotiations. Insurance companies know victims are serious when they make this kind of commitment.
This filing might also be necessary for legal reasons. Catastrophic injury medical treatment and subsequent physical therapy could take a year, at the minimum. So, by the time it’s substantially complete, the two-year statute of limitations deadline in an injury case might be approaching.
An attorney could throw together a legal claim the day before the SOL expires. But these disorganized claims often don’t hold up in court. A well-prepared claim has a much better chance of surviving pretrial motions that call for its immediate dismissal.
Attorneys also file legal claims because, in most jurisdictions, this filing triggers a mandatory mediation requirement.
Formal mediation talks usually succeed even if informal talks have produced almost nothing. A professional mediator builds on any progress the two sides made during informal talks and brings them together on a final figure. Additionally, during mediation, both sides have a duty to negotiate in good faith. Therefore, the aforementioned low-ball offers are illegal.
In the unlikely event mediation doesn’t work, most personal injury trials take place before a judge only or a judge and jury.
Work With a Diligent Richland County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.