When injured in a crash, it is sometimes difficult to decide whether to retain a lawyer. Not all cases require a lawyer, but when in doubt, I urge you to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney. Dealing with an insurance adjuster can be confusing and frustrating. Will you be better off without a lawyer? Injuries that seem minor often end up causing significant permanent disability. A good lawyer will take the necessary steps to protect you. For example, a lawyer can sometimes uncover sources of insurance that you might not know existed. Besides, a free consultation costs you nothing.
Before you make a statement, it is usually best to talk to a lawyer first. Many of my clients, fresh out of the hospital and on pain medication, are in no condition to provide a detailed statement to an insurance company. The company wants to gather information to justify a denial or reduction of your claim. The insurance adjuster’s job is to help the insurance company—not you. If you think you are in over your head, you probably are.
Crash victims are usually not in a great financial position to pay a lawyer at an hourly rate. The law allows the client to retain the lawyer on a “contingency” basis: the lawyer’s fee is dependent on a successful outcome for the client. The lawyer receives a portion of the recovery—usually one-third. If there is no recovery, the attorney does not get paid.
Prior injuries do not prevent a claim. We all have pre-existing conditions. Almost all adults have degenerative spine disease of some degree. When our prior bad necks or backs are exacerbated by a negligent driver, the courthouse door is not slammed shut. Besides, an older person with a bad neck or back is more vulnerable to injury. About 75% of my clients have had previous injuries of some sort.
When another driver hurts us, we are often angry and expect the at-fault insurance company to pay our bills right away. They won’t. But don’t despair. Check your auto policy: for coverage called "Medical Payments" or "Personal Injury Protection." If you have this coverage, your treatment costs should initially be paid by your own auto insurance. It is the primary insurance responsible to pay your medical bills. Once it is exhausted, your bills should go to your health insurance carrier. When your case settles you may have to pay them back for the medical expenses they covered—this is called subrogation. However, the primary insurance will allow you to gain access to the treatment immediate you need.
No. You can discuss your case with me confidentially without charge. The attorney-client relationship, however, can only be formed through a written agreement.
Crashes can deprive us of our transportation. Unfortunately, our cars are often worth more to us than the insurance company. It is important, if your vehicle is damaged, to gather comparable vehicle quotes to prove the fair market value of your destroyed vehicle. If it can be fixed, get your own quote that does not cut corners. You may also have a diminution in value claim—even when your car is fixed properly. I help my clients resolve property loss without a fee. The contingency fee arrangement only applies to the bodily injury aspect of your crash.
Children react to crash trauma differently. As parents we have an obligation to get them proper medical care. Even if the collision was your fault—or the fault of your spouse—your child may have a claim. Settlements for children require court approval, but this is a fairly simple procedure.
If you are in pain from a crash, it’s usually best to get it checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible. Insurance companies have only one mechanism by which to measure pain: medical records. Without treatment records, the insurance company will conclude there is no pain or disability. When I started helping families in car crash cases twenty-five years ago, insurance companies balked at paying for chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists. As the success of these modalities have been proven over time, patients have been empowered to choose their own path to rehabilitation. To an insurance company, the absence of medical treatment means an absence of pain. I can help brainstorm ways for you to access necessary medical care.
Most cases settle. The best way for me to maximize the settlement is to prepare the case as if it will go to trial. The insurance company’s offer is dependent upon assembling all of the necessary information to show that the insured driver negligently caused the crash—and that the injuries are real. Preparing claims this way results in more and better settlements, not more trials.
Besides car crashes, I handle a variety of injury cases including bicycle and motorcycle crashes, pedestrian injuries, wrongful death, trucking accidents, dog bites and more. The common thread is that someone’s negligence injures an innocent person. I represent people, not insurance companies. All cases are different and I’d be happy to discuss yours.