Insurers are normally skeptical about the nature and extent of any injuries that you have suffered and the impact that those injuries have had upon you. This is because, in many cases, there is no independent or objective medical evidence of the pain and discomfort that you are experiencing. The insurer’s representatives cannot see the pain. Furthermore, the x-rays, CT scans or MRIs may not show anything, yet you are in considerable pain as a result of the soft tissue musculoligamentous injuries that you have suffered.
One way of maximising your personal injury settlement is to ensure that you obtain as much supporting evidence as possible.
The sort of “supporting evidence” that insurers (and judges) find persuasive, in terms of accepting that your injury is potentially impacting on you in the way you allege, includes the following:
- Photographs of the accident scene and the vehicles involved, for instance, to show the severity of the impact;
- Photographs of your injuries, pins and plates, scarring and the like, as well as photographs of you recovering in hospital or at home;
- Proof of you having regular attendances upon your doctor and/or other treating practitioners (physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc);
- Comments within your treating practitioner’s records that note you as reporting ongoing pain, difficulties and/or restrictions OR ongoing anxiety and depression (in the case of psychological injuries);
- Proof that you are taking regular analgesic/painkilling medication and/or antidepressant medication (whether that be in the form of receipts or pharmacy lists of medication purchased);
- Proof (receipts showing) that you are seeking out alternative pain relief measures, such as massage therapy or even (in extreme cases) attendance upon pain specialists and/or pain clinics;
- Proof (receipts showing) that you have had to pay others (like a gardener, cleaner, pool man or carwasher) as a result of your injuries to assist you with things that you previously did yourself prior to the accident;
- Statements from your spouse / partner, friends and family regarding the impact that the accident has had upon you – how you were prior to the accident compared to how you now are;
- Statements from your spouse / partner, friends and family regarding the care and assistance that they have had to provide to you as a result of your injuries – these statements should be as detailed and accurate as possible, as a detailed outline of all care and assistance provided by whom, on what dates and how much time was spent on each task on each day is far more persuasive than someone simply estimating that they provided “about 10 hours assistance per week for the first 6 months and then about 6 hours assistance per week after that”;
- An Impact Statement from you setting out how your injuries have impacted on you physically, psychologically, at home, at work, sporting wise, socially and recreationally. Specific examples of times where you experienced significant pain or were severely restricted are very compelling to insurers and judges, particularly if they can be confirmed by any friends or family members. A focus on how your career has been potentially affected is very important. This is one of your only chances to really explain to the insurance company how your injuries have impacted upon your life.
This evidence should be provided to the insurance company at the earliest possible opportunity, to allow them time to consider all of the relevant material and then properly assess the amount of compensation that you should be paid.