This is an intelligent question, one that many people have. There are several advantages that an attorney can offer you if you have been in an accident.
First, you can be set up with medical treatment without any medical insurance, which is very difficult to do without a lawyer.
Second, we understand the intricacies of insurance law, and know the best way to set up your medical care. For example, we can advise you when it makes sense to use your health insurance, your medical payment coverage, or when it is better to simply work with a doctor on a lien.
Third, we can save you time and stress. It is difficult to work with an adjuster, prepare settlement packages, and negotiate when it isn’t your daily business. We have been doing this for many years and know the fair compensation on your case.
Fourth, we are familiar with the laws that may allow you to be compensated twice for the cost of your medical bills, based on premiums you have had to pay. This can increase the amount of your recovery. Additionally, one of the dangers that injury victims face is the smooth-talking insurance adjuster. Insurance adjusters want to settle your claim before you get legal help. The reason for this is simple. It saves the insurance company a lot of money.
The insurance companies have different adjusters who are assigned different tasks. The adjusters who speak with injury victims calling in for the first time, are carefully trained to do the following things:
It is very profitable for the insurance company when an adjuster can talk you into settling your claim without a lawyer. Adjusters will try to persuade you to accept a payment and sign a “Release”. Adjusters will speak with confidence about what your claim is worth. This presents a multitude of dangers to you. There is no way an adjuster can know the value of your claim. A fast settlement does not take into consideration the extent of physical injuries, as well as any lasting effects which may not show up until much later. Remember who the adjusters are working for. They get paid to represent the interests of the insurance company, not you. Who is protecting your interests?
The value of speaking to an attorney is multi-fold:
There is no charge for such a discussion. Learn what your rights are. Give us a call.
A claims adjuster will often want to take a recorded statement from you. Never give any insurance company a recorded statement. Do not even give a recorded statement to your own insurance company. The insurance company will tell you they need to take a recorded statement in order to “process your claim”. This is false. They do not need to record your conversation just to process your claim. Processing the claim requires only basic information relating to the facts of the accident.
The real reason they want to take a recorded statement is to try and get you to say something that they can use later in denying a claim. For example, you may have been running late for an appointment at the time of the collision. That, however, has nothing to do with the fact that you were rear-ended by a delivery van while waiting at a stop sign. However, this gives the insurance company ammunition to use against you, even though it is seemingly irrelevant.
Even your own insurance company can turn against you. Never give a recorded statement to anyone.
Property and injury claims are separate. There are usually two separate claims which arise from a collision. The property damage claim; and the personal injury claim.
What if My Vehicle Is “Totaled”? If the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds its “fair market value”, the insurance company can “total” it.
The guiding authority on “fair market value” is the NADA “Blue Book”. However, the insurance company may calculate the “fair market value” in a way more favorable to them.
If you feel that the value of your vehicle is too low, here are some things you can do.
Incorporate into this any additional arguments, such as the ones listed below:
You are usually entitled to a rental (if there is applicable insurance) in the following situations: Where the vehicle is not drivable, or unsafe to drive or, if the vehicle is in the repair shop.
If you get a rental remember, the insurance company is only obligated to provide you with basic transportation (four wheels and an engine). You may not go out and rent the finest vehicle of your choice. However, you can ask for a rental that is similar to the one damaged.
Courts have sometimes found that insurance companies must provide a car similar to the one damaged, where:
The idea of the rental car is to provide you with transportation while the car is being repaired. Once your car is fixed, any right you may have to a rental car terminates. However, you must not keep the rental past the time which you have been authorized to use it.
Once the insurance company makes an offer to settle the property damage on a “totaled” vehicle, they are no longer obligated to keep you in a rental car. You may try to negotiate a deal with the insurance company where they will keep you in a rental car for three days after the property damage check is received.
If the insurance company offers an unfairly low amount to settle the claim, you can make a choice whether or not to take it. What if you refuse the property settlement on the vehicle, and stay in the rental while trying to get a fairer offer:
If Your Car Is Safe To Drive: Get 2 Estimates. Take your vehicle to two reputable car dealerships and have two separate estimates done.
The reason to get these estimates is to combat the insurance company’s own estimate. The insurance company will make an artificially low estimate. The reason they give you a low estimate is because it makes the force of your collision appear less than it actually was. If they say that you only had $900 of damage to the vehicle, where the damage was actually $1,400, they have just tried to make the violent force of the collision seem less than it was. By having 2 other estimates (or at least one), we can rebut this devious tactic. You must be compensated for the frustration, inconvenience and distress that comes from having your vehicle wrecked. We can help.
In order to make a claim, it is necessary for you or your lawyer to call your insurance company to report the case. This is also a requirement for any PIP or Med-Pay Benefits.
(If you have no insurance, call the insurance company of the vehicle you were in.)
We will be glad to call your insurance company for you. However, if you choose to make this initial call yourself, do the following:
There are only 3 things to tell the insurance company:
Do NOT go into any further detail about your injury. Do NOT give a recorded statement. Do Not Answer Other Questions. They might ask the following questions:
Tell them that your lawyer will give them all of this information.
Do NOT Give A Recorded Statement. If they ask you for a recorded statement, get off the phone. Here is an example of what to say when you call the insurance company to report the claim:
You may be able to get reimbursed for wages you lose as a result of an injury. However, there are strict requirements for being able to successfully get lost wage reimbursement.
Carefully Document Lost Wages. The key to recovering lost wages is being able to supply the correctly formulated documentation necessary to prove the case.
How can a legitimate wage claim hurt your case, just because it is not organized properly?
How To Properly Document Lost Wages. We will show you the exact way that your wage claim should be presented.
By carefully documenting the economic impact that this injury has had upon your life, you empower our efforts in seeking justice for you. Keep Copies and Records of All Your Expenses. We need to know about any expenses that you incur as a result of this accident.
Preserve Evidence in Your Possession. Save any physical objects that relate to your case.
Forward All Bills. At frequent intervals send us all bills relating to your accident or injury. Keep Us Informed. Let us know IMMEDIATELY if any of the following occur:
Talk to an Experienced Attorney