Rule No. 1: Hire an Attorney
Rule No. 2: Document Your Claim
Rule No. 3: Follow Medical Advice
How to make the jury system work for you
Understanding the legal process
A New Mexico personal injury case starts with an act by negligence, regardless whether the injury is the fault of another motorist, a doctor, hospital, trucking company or construction contractor. But that's only the beginning. Once an injury occurs, a series of events is triggered. A person who has been injured needs to know what's coming.
The Purpose of Personal Injury Law
The purpose of personal injury law is not for the injured person to make a profit, even though the insurance industry has spent millions of dollars fueling a propaganda machine dedicated to combating “frivolous lawsuits” and “jackpot justice” – terms the insurance industry manufactured to minimize the damages inflicted on potential plaintiffs. Under our system of laws, people who have been injured because of someone else's fault are entitled to fair compensation. Under the law, they are owed a debt and are entitled to be paid all of the debt, not merely part of it.
An insurance company won't settle a case if they feel the claim of injury is being exaggerated. They know that if they take an inflated claim to trial, the jury will punish the injured person for being dishonest. That's why it's important for a personal injury attorney to document every aspect of a claim, starting in the very early stages of the case, and get opinions from unbiased experts and doctors to attest to the severity of the injuries.
Have an Attorney on Your Side
A top personal injury attorney can improve a settlement amount by two, three, or even more times. The more serious the injuries are, the more this is true. The reputation of your attorney plays a big role in determining how an insurer responds to a notice of claim.
People who hire personal injury attorneys on average receive significantly higher settlements after paying costs and attorneys fees than people who attempt to resolve their cases themselves. That's why insurance companies often enlist a “friendly” employee to try to persuade a claimant to settle without a lawyer. An injured person should expect to be contacted by such a “friendly” person from the insurance company who will want to take a recorded statement and settle the case quickly.
Negotiate from a Position of Power
So, remember, the law governing the adjudication of personal injury claims is designed to make the injured party whole again, or as much as possible, not to make that person rich. Don’t exaggerate the extent of injuries.
As early as possible after the incident that caused your injury, have an attorney at your side with the reputation to get action from the other side and improve your negotiating position in the event of a possible offer of settlement.
Document your injury claim. It is essential that you tell your doctors everything about your injuries and complaints as soon as possible, and to leave out no details.
It is vitally important that you follow up on all treatment recommendations by medical professionals. Documenting the truth about your injuries is one of the keys to getting fair compensation, either in a settlement or at trial.