As soon as you are in an accident, you should speak to a car accident attorney. You want to do this to protect your rights and to ensure that the correct procedures are followed. There are many things that can go wrong if you do not consult with a personal injury attorney after a car accident. For example, if you were not at fault in the accident, you will soon receive a call from an adjuster from the at-fault insurance driver. The insurance adjuster will likely offer you a nominal settlement (usually a few thousand dollars) to resolve your case. This is often far below the actual settlement value of your case.
The insurance adjuster does this for one reason only, to minimize the amount of money the insurance company will have to pay. People need money, insurance adjusters know this. The adjuster will do everything that he or she can to get you to sign a release in return for a small amount of money. The adjuster knows that if you hire an attorney, the value of the case will go up. Insurance companies don't make money by paying out fair value of claims. They do so by denying claims or paying out less than the claim is worth. This is why it's important to hire a car accident lawyer. The value of your claim goes up simply by you having an attorney!
Q: What happens after I hire an attorney?
The attorney or paralegal will ask you about your injuries. If you have been to the hospital, it is important the attorney knows so they can begin to get your medical records and billing ledger from the hospital. Hospitals can take a long time to generate reports and billing ledgers so we need to get this information quickly to make sure that your case is not delayed. Additionally, if you have PIP insurance, we need to make sure the hospital has your PIP Insurance information so it can be billed to prevent your bill from going to health insurance or to collections.
In Florida, your personal injury protection carrier pays the first $10,000.00 of medical bills. This means that PIP is primary, and health insurance is secondary. A health insurance carrier will have a right of reimbursement if they pay out benefits for treatment related to injuries you sustain in the accident. PIP does not have rights of reimbursement (subrogation rights). This means more money in your pocket, so it's important that PIP gets billed and not your health insurance.
Second, if you have not been to the hospital, but are injured, you will likely have neck or back injuries. Chiropractic physicians are doctors who treat soft tissue injuries (herniated discs, bulging discs). These health care practitioners are the doctors you need to see to help alleviate the pain you are likely experiencing from any herniated or bulging discs. If your symptoms do not improve, the chiropractor will likely send you to a diagnostic facility for a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This machine is non-invasive and detects soft tissue injuries. The machine can also provide an image showing the severity of these injuries and if you are experiencing any impingement or damage within the disc.
Many times, our clients will complain to us about having radiating pain down the arms or legs. This is likely due to experiencing a herniated disc that impinges on a nerve. If the radiologist who interprets your MRI finds problems with your discs, he or she may refer you to a orthopedist, surgeon or pain management facility for further care. These professionals can provide you with additional relief in the form of epidural injections to a hurt disc or surgery in the form of a fusion or discectomy.
Finally, while you are receiving medical treatment, your attorney will find out the insurance coverage information from the at-fault owner, driver and any potential employer if the driver was working at the time of driving. This is important to maximize the value of your claim by identifying all potential sources of coverage.
Q: How long does this entire process takes?
The lifespan of a personal injury claim generally takes six to twelve months to resolve. However, there are times when claims resolve sooner and times when they resolve within a few years. Each case is different. The length of time necessary for an attorney to resolve a case depends on: the complexity of the case, whether the at-fault insurance carrier is accepting liability, the severity of the client's injuries (whether surgery is needed), and how many insurance carriers are involved. While this process is going on, it is important to stay in contact with your attorney to let them know how treatment is going. You do not want to have gaps in your treatment.
Q: What is my case worth?
How much your case is worth depends on the severity of the accident, the types of injuries (broken bones, herniated discs, etc.), the at-fault insurance carrier's coverage ($10,000.00/$20,0000.00, $25,000.00/$50,000.00, $50,000/$100,000.00, $100,000/$300,000.00, $250,000/$500,000.00, $1 million plus), any available underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage (UM coverage), if there are any preexisting injuries, if you are married, and many other factors. Underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage will protect you in the event that the other driver did not have insurance. This type of coverage is optional, but it is critical to have in South Florida because there are so many uninsured drivers. Uninsured motorist claims are first party claims. This means that we would make a claim through your own insurance. Many people are concerned that their premiums will go up by making a claim. Candidly, this may happen, but you pay for the coverage for one reason only… to use it! Additionally, premium increases are often small in comparison to the amount of money you would be entitled to receive under your own policy.
If you have been injured in a car accident, bus accident, truck accident, bike accident or any other type of accident contact us. We are automobile accident attorneys. For a free consultation please call us at 561-588-2781.