When you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence, it’s a smart move to file a personal injury lawsuit. You may not be able to cover your expenses without one. If you were injured on the job, worker’s compensation might cover your expenses, but sometimes you still need to file a lawsuit.
No matter how or where you were injured, here are six tips for handling your personal injury case:
- Be agreeable with your lawyer
Lawyers are human beings and should be treated with respect. Being agreeable doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything your lawyer says – there will be disagreements. However, it’s important to understand that sometimes your disagreement might be rooted in a lack of understanding of the law. Be willing to accept that your lawyer knows more than you, and trust they’re acting in your best interest.
For instance, you may want your case to go to trial while your lawyer wants to work toward a settlement. It’s common for people to believe they have a better shot with a trial, but lawyers have the experience necessary to know when a settlement is the best option. Settlements are especially common in personal injury cases.
- Spend your settlement money wisely
When you receive your settlement money, it may come as a lump sum or several payments. Make sure you pay your medical expenses first. This seems obvious, but it can be tempting to spend it in other ways.
If your electricity is about to get shut off, it won’t hurt to use some of your settlement money to pay your bill. Just remember to be reasonable if you use settlement money for something unrelated to your injury. Obviously, things like food and electricity are personal necessities for daily living. Buying a new car is not.
- Set aside money for any taxes due
Most settlements are considered taxable. If you can make payments on your medical bills rather than paying in one chunk, this will help you set aside the right amount for taxes.
Talk to your tax advisor to find out how much you’ll end up owing on your settlement, and set aside that amount as soon as possible.
- If your case goes to court, be prepared
Although most lawyers want to settle personal injury cases out of court, it’s possible that your case might go to court. If that happens to you, be prepared to answer questions as clearly as possible in front of a jury or judge.
Ask your lawyer what questions you’ll be asked. Practice your answers in front of a mirror, not to be a robot, but to give yourself the advantage of knowing what you’re going to say.
- Communicate with your health insurance provider
It’s a drag waiting for a settlement to come in, so you can pay your medical bills, and your insurance company might be able to help. When you’re waiting for a settlement to pay overdue bills, call your medical provider and explain your situation. They may be willing to contact collection agencies to put a hold on collections if you promise to pay your bills when you receive your settlement.
- Avoid taking out an injury settlement loan at all costs
There are loans for everything these days, including loans for personal injury settlements. If your settlement isn’t arriving fast enough, you may be considering the idea of a settlement loan. Proceed with extreme caution, because these loans aren’t your typical loans.
Settlement loans are known for their sky-high interest rates of up to 60% per year. If your settlement is for $30,000 and it takes you two years to receive it, you could end up owing your lender the original $30,000 plus $21,600 in interest. If your loan terms include compounded interest, you’ll owe even more.
These loans are relatively new and have yet to be regulated by the Federal government. It’s better to get behind on payments and have your account in collections than it is to take out one of these loans.