If you were hurt in a car accident and are trying to retrieve payment for medical bills and fair compensation for your suffering, you are involved in a personal injury claim. For many people, being involved in a car accident is the first time they’ve had to deal with a legal dispute, and therefore, are unaware of how to navigate the process. Below are some tips to help get you through your claim.
Do not talk to the insurance company before consulting with an attorney.
It’s important to understand the harm in talking to the insurance company, even if you know you will just state the facts about the accident. The problem is that you may unintentionally provide them with information to use against you. After an accident, your nerves are shaken because car accidents are traumatic events. If you talk to someone from an insurance company, you could inadvertently give too much information or information that is inconsistent.
Giving a statement is sometimes required, especially if your insurance company is the one paying for damages, and you don’t want to be labeled as uncooperative. Speaking with an attorney who knows how to navigate the questioning process is valuable. He or she will make sure the questions are limited and relevant.
Explain all the symptoms you are having to your doctor.
If you have been in an accident, it is important to seek medical attention for any aches and injuries you sustained. Even if you feel that your injuries are minor, you should see a doctor. A minor injury can last for weeks, and if left untreated, it could become more serious. It is better to see a doctor as soon as possible and document your injury than to wait and try to seek compensation at a later time.
It is also likely that anyone involved in an accident could have multiple injuries. However, it is quite common to have one injury that is more severe and painful than the others. It is understandable that this severe injury might overtake any thoughts of other injuries. It is wise, however, to make a conscious effort to think about the rest of your body. You can accomplish this by assessing how you feel from head to toe and asking yourself some questions. Does my neck hurt if I turn my head? Are my shoulders sore? Does my back hurt if I turn my waist? These are just samples of questions you should ask yourself so you can be aware of any injuries that should be assessed.
Your doctor will likely focus on your most severe injury first. The objective, however, is to make sure that all of your injuries are documented. For example, if you are being treated for an injury and after a few weeks or months you mention that your back has been gradually feeling worse since the accident, insurance adjustors will probably argue that your back pain is from an unrelated incident since it was not first documented along with your other injuries. It is best to speak up now in order to avoid aggravation later.
Avoid gaps in your treatment.
Once treatment for your injuries has begun, it is crucial to show up for your appointments. If you routinely miss appointments, the liability insurer will notice this. They may claim that if you were injured, later treatment is no longer necessary.
Check medical payments coverage under your insurance policy.
One of the first things you should do after an accident is to obtain a copy of the declarations page from your insurance policy. The declarations page will show whether you purchased medical payments coverage, which often referred to as Med-Pay.
Med-Pay is insurance that pays for medical bills sustained by you, family members, or anyone riding in one of your insured vehicles. This coverage is paid regardless of who is at fault. Some people may feel that it is unfair for their insurance to pay anything if they were not the ones at fault, so it’s important to understand that Med-Pay is a backup plan.
As an example, let’s say that you were injured in a car accident, and the other driver was at fault. You sustained a neck injury and were transported to the hospital via ambulance, so you now have a hospital bill. Some hospitals will put your bills on hold until your claim is settled, but others will not. There is no way to tell how long it could take to settle your claim and you do not want your bills sent to a collection agency. If you have the coverage, Med-Pay will pay your bill now, and later, when your case is settled against the at-fault party’s insurance company, your insurance company will be reimbursed for any payments made on your behalf.
Lost wages from your job are recoverable.
There must be documentation in your medical record in which your healthcare provider excused you from work or put you under restrictions that did not allow you to perform your job. You must be able to prove this. Your employer may choose to temporarily modify your job duties to allow you to return to work under light duty, and if that’s the case, you have a responsibility to return to work under these new conditions.
You have to be able to prove the wages that you lost. Typically, we give our clients a form for their employers to fill out to document this. There are different methods that can be used to determine the exact amount. If you work a routine schedule and know what hours you would have worked, we keep track of this and simply multiply the hours by your hourly wage. Overtime and bonuses, if they are not speculative, should be included in your lost wage claim. Another approach that can be used is to average your wages from the prior year.
Do not forget to mention if you used your vacation or sick time because of the injury because this is also compensable. This is a benefit you had to use because of the irresponsibility of the defendant.
Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.
This area of law continues to become more complex and difficult to maneuver. Issues often arise regarding monetary disbursements. Some health insurance plans need to be paid back. Health insurance and healthcare providers may have liens on the recovery. If lien holders are not properly paid back out of your settlement, you can face huge liabilities. You may get a settlement offer that seems reasonable to you, accept it, then could potentially end up being sued for not recognizing liens. There are also healthcare providers or insurance companies that may seek more than you are required to pay them. This area alone usually requires legal guidance.
Attorney Ethan Vessels is an experienced and local personal injury attorney in Marietta, Ohio. He is licensed in both Ohio and West Virginia. Call our office today at 740-374-5346 or fill out our contact form and we will get back with you.