As experienced personal injury lawyers, we have represented clients with accident claims since the 1980s. In many ways, personal injury law has not changed much over the years. However, we are noticing other trends emerging with personal injury claims. Whether they involve insurance adjusters spying on victims or a greater attentiveness to mental health, these trends can impact your case in 2024 and beyond. Call Powers & Santola, LLP today to speak with a New York personal injury lawyer.
Increased Surveillance of Accident Victims
The insurance industry sincerely believes that they are defrauded of billions of dollars in false claims each year. We think those estimates are wildly inflated. Still, insurance companies are constantly on the lookout for personal injury victims filing frivolous claims, and they increasingly engage in surveillance of claimants.
For example, sifting through social media profiles is common. Edmunds first reported on this trend back in 2013, and we see no evidence that insurance adjusters have scaled back on social media mining in the intervening decade. They are looking for any evidence to cast a shadow on your claim to be seriously injured. Something as little as a picture of you holding a box could be used to show you are not seriously hurt.
Other insurers will hire an investigator to shadow you if you travel around town to run errands. Some might even park outside your house and record you walking out to get the mail.
New Types of Evidence
The past few years has seen the rise in new types of evidence in personal injury cases, including:
- Dash cams. These cameras are already popular in Europe, and we are seeing more cars in the U.S. with cameras installed. They can record traffic happening in front of the vehicle and might capture an accident.
- Police body cameras. Officers wear body cameras to help with claims they used excessive force. However, we might try to use video evidence in drunk driving accidents or fatigued driving collisions, since the camera could record the driver’s state of mind immediately following a crash.
- “Black box” data. Big rigs like tractor trailers are outfitted with devices which record critical details like speed, braking, and steering. This evidence is enormously helpful when trying to determine why an accident happened. Increasingly, even passenger sedans have data recorders installed, and we anticipate this trend continuing.
- Medical imaging. To obtain compensation, we need to show you are injured. Medical imaging has helped make visible internal injuries like brain damage, spinal column injury, or organ damage. We increasingly rely on imaging tests, which provide solid proof you were really hurt.
More Uninsured Drivers
Inflation has wrecked many people’s budgets. Not only are they paying more in groceries and medical care, but their incomes are not rising as fast. Consequently, they cut expenses.
Emerging evidence shows that many drivers are cutting their insurance. Insurance rates have jumped nearly 20% over the past year, and some budgets are stretched too far. Unfortunately, accident victims might be in for a rude surprise when they find out the at-fault driver who hit them is uninsured.
Helpfully, you can protect yourself by continuing to pay for your own insurance. New York drivers must carry at least $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, which are no-fault and available for a crash. You should also carry uninsured motorist coverage, which can cover an accident caused by a driver lacking coverage. Sadly, there’s no relief in sight to exploding inflation.
More Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution continues to grow in popularity, principally because insurance adjusters want to avoid the expense of litigation, and court dockets are already crammed with cases. It’s in everyone’s best interest to try and get disputes resolved outside of court.
Negotiated settlements have been a staple of personal injury law for more than 50 years. However, other techniques are growing in popularity:
- Mediation. Many judges will send a case straight to mediation, where the parties discuss the dispute with a trained mediator. This process is sometimes helpful for providing a “push” to get on the same page. Although participation might be required, you still can decide whether to agree to a settlement or step away.
- Arbitration. This is like a trial. You present evidence to an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators. They then decide the dispute, much like a judge would. Arbitration offers some streamlined process and is private.
- Online dispute resolution. The COVID pandemic shifted a tremendous amount of court work online, and we have seen more online use of mediation or arbitration. Online dispute resolution cuts down on costs and is convenient.
We expect these trends to accelerate through the remainder of the decade.
Greater Attention to Mental Health
We are happy that insurance adjusters and juries take mental health more seriously today than they did 20 years ago. This greater focus on mental health means that many personal injury victims can request increased compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish. You might even explain missed work by pointing to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. Back in the 1990s, the only valid explanation for missing work was that you felt physical pain. Now, many people fully understand mental health reasons.
We work with clients to fully document mental anguish. There is still skepticism that you are really struggling as much as you claim. We can work with you to document PTSD or another mental condition with medical records, prescription drugs, or witness statements.
We Stay Ahead of the Curve
The lawyers at Powers & Santola, LLP, realize that litigation continues to evolve, and we remain committed to evolving with it. If hired, we will use all available technology to help craft a compelling legal argument in your push to receive fair compensation. Insurance companies and corporate defendants are already using these techniques—we will make sure to leverage this technology to your benefit. Please reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation where you can discuss your accident and injuries.