Q: Is there anything that can be done if an uninsured motorist hits my car?
A: There are several options available to you. For starters, many drivers that initially appear to be uninsured do have insurance that covers them – through the owner of the vehicle, a resident relative, employer or some other source that they were not aware of. It may also be that the person has insurance, even if they did not have proof of it with them at the time of the accident.
Failing that, you may be able to make a property damage claim against your own company, depending on the insurance you purchased. This may include rental car and towing expenses. There may also be uninsured motorist benefits available through the Victims Compensation Fund.
Q: If the accident was not my fault, can the insurance company raise my rates?
A: So long as you are not at fault, the insurance company cannot raise your rates, refuse to renew your coverage, or otherwise hold the accident against you – even though you have made claims for no-fault benefits, collision or comprehensive claims or claims for an uninsured motorist. The premiums you pay to the insurance company protect you against these types of losses.
Q: What can I do?
A: It is important that you attend your scheduled appointments with doctors, physical therapists and others involved in your medical care. Be sure to follow your treatment plan. It is equally important that you tell your doctor how you feel – accurately and completely. You may want to make notes to help you remember what you want to say to, or ask your doctor.
Q: Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
A: Depending on the factors involved in your case, you may be able to resolve issues without a lawyer. For example, if you have a car accident with damages only to your vehicle, the process is pretty clear. However, if any accident, automobile or otherwise, results in a personal injury or loss of life, a personal injury attorney is good to have on your side.
That’s because every situation is different, so there are no hard-and-fast rules for evaluating the claim. In addition, it often pits an individual or family against the vast resources of an insurance company, which is typically looking after its own interests – not yours.
Because most reputable personal injury attorneys provide an initial free personal injury case consultation at no charge to you, it is certainly worth a small investment of your time to find out.
Q: How quickly will my claim be resolved?
A: While a property damage claim can be resolved in as little as ten days, those involving bodily injury usually take much longer to properly conclude. Depending on the injury, this can take as little as two months or as long as two years.
Q: What if my vehicle has been damaged?
A: Most insurance companies will pay you for the repairs necessary to return your vehicle to the condition it was in immediately before the accident. While your car is being repaired, the insurance company will usually provide you with a rental vehicle for a “reasonable length of time,” typically a week. However, you will most likely be required to pay for the daily insurance on the rental vehicle. Check to see if your auto insurance policy has rental insurance.
Q: What if my vehicle is totaled?
A: If your vehicle is totaled, you will need to begin looking for a comparable replacement vehicle right away. This means one that is about the same age, with similar mileage, accessories, and condition. In this case, the insurance company will usually provide you with a rental car for about a week while you look.
Q: What if I am injured in an accident?
A: Even after the property damage issues have been resolved, your claim may not be completed until you have recovered from any injury you may have suffered. Once you and your doctor decide that you have reached a plateau in your recovery, we will acquire a final medical report concerning your medical condition, care, treatment, and any physical impairment. Together, we will determine if your case is ready for settlement. You will also be advised of any offer made and have the opportunity to approve or refuse it.
Q: What if my claim cannot be settled?
A: If the offer made by the insurance company is inadequate, then a lawsuit may be filed. This litigation process takes about a year. During this time, we will do everything possible to keep your lawsuit moving as quickly as possible. However, the process of preparing a case for trial takes time, and court caseloads cannot be avoided. For this reason, the ultimate decision to go to trial is yours.
Q: What are the costs and fees associated with pursuing my case?
A: There are two types of costs associated with any case – the attorney’s fee and related costs. The attorney’s fee is contingent upon the amount you recover. You do not pay any fees during the course of your claim. Upon receipt of your recovery, you will be asked to pay one-third of the total recovery.
In addition, our office will pay certain costs of preparing your case on your behalf. These costs are typically associated with the collection of medical records, written reports from doctors and fees charged to us for depositions, experts and court filing fees. An itemization of these costs is provided to you when your claim is concluded and need to be paid by you out of your portion of the recovery.
We do not get paid a fee unless you recover from the negligent party. What is more, our fee arrangement is set in writing the first day you decide to hire us and you will always know exactly what the fee arrangement is – no trick, no fine print. We are happy to answer your questions and concerns about fees, costs, and the risks of making a claim. You deserve to have straight answers.
Q: What about medical bills?
A: Do not let the issue of paying medical bills prevent you from seeking the treatment you need to recover. You may use your health insurance benefits. In addition, you may have a benefit on your auto insurance policy called “medical payments coverage.” You may also be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. If none of these options exists, please contact us to explore other options available to you.
Out-of-pocket expenses you incur will be reimbursed when settling your claim. In addition, any payments made by your insurance companies on your behalf may also need to be reimbursed out of any recovery you make. Any unpaid medical bills will also need to be paid out of your recovery.
Q: What if the insurance company contacts me?
A: Please do not give information regarding your claim to insurance adjusters from your carrier or the liability carrier. Do not give a written or recorded statement or sign any document or check pertaining to your claim without contacting our office first. You may inform the insurance adjuster that you have hired an attorney and request the adjuster contact your attorney directly.