Whether it’s a car crash, a slip and fall, or some other kind of mishap, if you’re injured in an accident and you decide to make a claim against the at-fault party, you’re likely to find yourself in unfamiliar territory. How long will the injury claim process take? Should you talk to the other side’s insurance company? When is it time to turn your claim over to a lawyer? What kind of outcome can you reasonably expect?
We surveyed readers who recently made a personal injury claim, and we asked how satisfied they were with the outcome of their case. The results show that injury claimants are more likely to walk away from the process with negative feelings than with contentment.
Just over 40% of our survey respondents said they were either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with how their personal injury claim turned out. Only 31% of respondents characterized themselves as being either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their outcomes.
So, what factors play the biggest part in this kind of case dissatisfaction? And what can future personal injury claimants learn? Let’s dive a little deeper into the data, and the stories behind the numbers.
The Early Bird Gets the Fair Settlement?
The importance of getting help early on in the claim process was stressed by many of our personal injury survey respondents. Many of those who fell into the “dissatisfied” camp mentioned that if they could start the claim process over, they’d make sure they reached out for help quicker. This do-over desire for earlier assistance is two-fold: Some respondents wish they had hired a lawyer sooner, and others regret waiting too long after their accident before they received proper medical attention.
When to Hire a Lawyer
When it comes to hiring a lawyer, there’s seemingly no substitute for getting representation as soon as possible after your accident. Here’s what some of our respondents had to say:
Not surprisingly, those who hired personal injury lawyers were 50% more satisfied with their case outcomes. Only 26% of these folks reported being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their case outcomes, while 52% of those without a lawyer characterized their outcomes as either dissatisfying or very dissatisfying.
When to Go to the Doctor
The second part of this advice on early action relates to getting medical attention, and it’s a good illustration of how the injury claim process may be unfamiliar territory for many people. Most personal injury lawyers will tell you that if you are involved in an accident and you wait more than a day or two to see a doctor, be ready to hear the other side argue that you couldn’t have been hurt all that badly. But don’t take our word for it, listen to some of our survey respondents:
Patience and Perseverance
Another takeaway from our survey is that if you’re making a personal injury claim and you think the at-fault party’s insurance company is going to offer you the best settlement right off the bat, you may want to think again.
Our respondents expressed a fairly common wish that they had known more at the outset about how long the injury claim process can take (the average amount of time for our readers was about a year). As for advice, some offered rough timelines (“It will take a year or longer”) and others did some venting (“It will take forever”). A number of survey respondents shared a belief that perseverance can pay off: “My advice is to not give up on getting compensation.” Here’s more from our respondents:
"Anything You Say Can Be Used Against You"
When asked what single piece of advice they wish they were armed with at the outset of the claims process, our survey respondents’ wish list ranged from the specific (“That you can remain silent even in an accident case”) to the general (“Knowing how to deal with the insurance company).”
Responses like these frame the unique nature of the injury claim process, and can serve as navigation tools through that process, whether it’s building your best case through record-keeping (“Document everything”) or making sure you know your rights (“Do not talk to the adjuster;” “Do not speak to anyone representing the person who caused the accident”).