If you have been injured in a vehicle collision or other accident, you need to make informed decisions about protecting your legal rights. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there, and many people have misconceptions about the process of seeking just compensation for their losses. The following are six common myths about filing a personal injury claim in Alaska (and the truth behind them), as well as some important tips for protecting your claim for just compensation.
Reality: There are several steps you need to try to take as soon as possible.
Many people look at Alaska's two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims and assume that they have plenty of time to assert their legal rights. But, while you do indeed have two years before you lose your rights entirely, waiting any longer than absolutely necessary can jeopardize your claim for financial recovery.
After an accident, there are several steps you need to try to take right away. If possible, you should take photos at the scene of the accident, and you should retain any physical evidence in your possession (such as damaged clothing or personal items). You also need to see a doctor, and you should hire an attorney to investigate the accident and file your claim as soon as possible. If you do not take these steps promptly, not only could it become more difficult (if not impossible) to prove your claim, but the insurance companies will also try to use any unnecessary delays against you.
Reality: When you file an insurance claim, the insurance company's goal is to settle for as little as possible.
Despite what they say on television, the insurance companies are not on your side. Whether you are dealing with your own insurance company or you have a claim against someone else's insurer (i.e. a negligent driver or property owner), the insurance company's only priority is to settle your claim for as little as possible.
In fact, when you have a personal injury claim, there are several facts that the insurance companies do not want you to know. For example, they will not tell you that you are under no obligation to provide a recorded statement. They also will not tell you that your claim is likely worth far more than the cost of your medical care, and they will not tell you that accepting payment may mean waiving your right to additional compensation.
Reality: Jurors often view personal injury claims as frivolous attempts to take advantage of the system that lead to increased insurance premiums and health care costs.
Accident victims often assume that jurors will be sympathetic to their plight. They assume that jurors will view the facts from their point of view and that they will want to stick it to the big corporations in David vs. Goliath litigation. However, the reality is often just the opposite.
Instead of wanting to help accident victims, many jurors focus on the potential effects of the case for themselves. They believe that awarding a large verdict will lead to the insurance companies charging higher monthly premiums and that more access to insurance funds means higher costs for medical care. As a result, they approach the case with an inherent bias against the victim; and, even if liability is clear, they may not be willing to award substantial damages.
Reality: An experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover far more than you could recover on your own.
When you file a personal injury claim, one of the most important questions you need to answer is: “What is my case worth?” Until you know the value of your claim, you cannot know whether it makes sense to settle. From working with medical experts to calculate the cost of your future medical care to placing a dollar value on your pain and suffering, there are several steps involved in this process that require the involvement of an experienced attorney.
As a result, even when you factor in contingency fees, the amount you can recover with legal representation will typically be far more than you could recover on your own. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, your entire personal settlement or verdict is not subject to income taxation.
Reality: Even “minor” injuries can be expensive.
If your injuries from the accident are relatively minor, it may not seem worth the hassle to file a claim. But, the reality is that the financial and non-financial costs of traumatic injuries are often far greater than accident victims realize. As a result, it is important that you at least speak with a Personal injury attorney before you decide not to assert your legal rights.
Reality: Most personal injury cases settle well before trial.
Only a very small percentage of personal injury cases eventually go to trial. If you have a strong enough claim that an attorney is willing to take your case, the likelihood that you will receive a settlement offer prior to trial is probably pretty high. Of course, the decision of whether (and when) to settle your case is ultimately up to you; and, if you receive a settlement offer, you will need to sit down with your attorney to understand exactly how much you can expect to take home.
Were you injured in a vehicle collision, slip-and-fall, or other accident in Anchorage or Soldotna, AK? If so, I strongly encourage you to contact me for a free consultation about your legal rights. To discuss your personal injury claim in confidence, call me, attorney Eric Derleth, at 907-262-9164 now.