Jun 4, 2010

While "quick" and "fast" are terrific concepts when it comes to drive thru food and plane travel, there is nothing good about putting words together like "quick" and "personal injury settlements." When you hear those words said by lawyers, the result will be less than optimal and you could be very sorry.

The short answer is that a good settlement has to take into consideration both the value of the loss and the extent of available financial coverages to pay for the loss. Neither can be accomplished fast. So, if the quickest possible settlement is your goal, your settlement will miss at least one, if not both, of the following components:

1) Value of the Loss:
Assessing the value of the loss includes: the prognosis by a competent physician, the extent of documented permanent physical impairment, the need/cost for future medical care, extent of past wage loss caused by the accident, the extent of vocational work restrictions after the patient has reached maximum therapeutic benefit, the extent of provable future wage loss, and the extent of likely long-term out-of-pocket losses attributable to the injury.

Without assessing all of the above factors, it is impossible to properly evaluate the extent that a person or his family has been devastated by a loss. Were I to simply guess the perceived loss and not ask the right questions of the right professionals, it would be equivalent of playing "guess the value of the loss" and I would not be doing my job.

2) Value of Available Coverages
When I take a case, I make it a point to learn about all the possible coverages that will provide indemnity (pay money) to the at-fault party.

In an auto-related injury claim, Colorado requires, at the very minimum, insurance coverage of $25,000 per person injured and a total payout for any one car crash of $50,000. Even in the most mild of impacts and injuries, these limits are often inadequate to cover losses over the course of the five to ten year minimum time horizon where injury generally affects the victims. It is my job to dig deeper.

There are many questions that must be answered. Did the at-fault driver have any other available insurance coverage? Were they a resident relative of anyone else with auto insurance coverage? Were they working for someone at the time of the crash while on an employment errand? Do they have a house with an umbrella policy? If the driver was drunk, where were they drinking? Does my client have uninsured motorist coverage? Was my client a resident relative of a household that had other coverages of uninsured motorist coverage? Did my client have an umbrella policy that could provide even more coverage?

Lastly, do not be fooled by an older car and assume that the at-fault driver can not have had large coverage limits. We recently discovered, through plain old hard-hitting investigation, that a negligent driver of an early 1990's Honda had a 2 million dollar insurance policy. As it happened, the injured person will need every bit of that coverage. But cutting corners to get a quick settlement would have missed this detail. And believe me, the insurance company never encourages you to slow down so as to not make a mistake. Lawyers need to know better, and the good ones do.

There is nothing wrong with a lawyer moving in an aggressive and proactive fashion for his client. In fact, it should be encouraged. Lawyers need to avoid dragging out the process longer than it needs to be. As professionals, we need to remain ever mindful that families often lose everything after a breadwinner gets injured.

However, aggressively representing your client must be counterbalanced with the temptation to cut corners and settle quickly. In that regard, quick settlements are bad settlements no matter how it might be presented in commercials by our competitors.

At Anderson Hemmat, we understand that justice for victims does not mean a quick settlement. It means thorough investigation, aggressive representation, and complete compensation for our clients who have been injured because of the negligence of others. Call us today to speak with one of our attorneys about your case.


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