Personal Injury Questions
Most people have happily never experienced what it means to get caught in an insurance dominated world. But once you get injured and begin to work with insurance companies, your world does become much more complicated. Suddenly, you need to be a doctor to figure out what all the tests mean and an attorney to try to figure out how to get them to pay for the best medical treatment or sometimes for any medical treatment at all. Why try to navigate it alone, when Noel H. Benedict & Associates can bring over 33 combined years of legal experience to your case?
Even the relationship with your own insurance company, to whom you have paid a sizeable amount of premiums over the years and with whom you thought you had a pretty good relationship, may change when you get injured. You are suddenly “the unknown quantity” who is trying to collect, and they may not want to pay. They may question every detail about your case and many times try to make you think you don’t have one.
Even worse, your health insurance company may suddenly try to “disown” you and tell you to go pay for your doctors yourself. They may also, after doing nothing to help you, suddenly claim you owe them your settlement money! Your own family doctor may have been told he shouldn’t file with your health insurance to treat you “because it was a car accident.” They may ask you to self pay even though you have medical insurance! Why fight it alone when Noel H. Benedict & Associates has the experience and resources to do it for you?
Yes, you could set up your own claim, and you might get them to pay for your property damages. But would it be a fair amount? And don’t you have enough responsibilities already, just dealing with your injury, pain, and doctor’s appointments? Noel H. Benedict & Associates can make it simpler for you and handle the details. Choosing the right attorney does make a big difference in the end.
Yes. As a passenger, you are in the special position of not being held accountable in terms of liability and therefore having possible access to both insurance companies’ policy benefits.
If the other driver received the traffic ticket and is considered “at fault,” and if the insurance company doesn’t protest the liability, then the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays for your property (car) damage. If there is a dispute about whose fault the accident was, your own car insurer will pay for the repair of your car and then take it up with the other insurer later. In the latter case you would be temporarily responsible for the deductible and must wait for subrogation* to collect it.
The answer here is “yes,” as well. First of all, an attorney may be able to do what is known as “stack” uninsured motorist’s coverage to create an underinsured motorist’s claim. Additionally, sometimes there is more than one liability policy which available to pay out on a claim. Sometimes individuals have umbrella policies or excess insurance coverage with a different carrier than their liability coverage. The automobile liability carrier would not necessarily know about the umbrella or excess coverage and would not disclose it or make any offering related to it. Before you settle any case, consult a knowledgeable attorney and discuss the facts. You may be surprised that the policy limits are not the whole story.
Property damage refers to the damage to your car or possessions. Personal injury refers to the bodily damage (injuries) to you or your passenger.
You do not receive money just by being in an accident, despite what some slick television ads would have you believe. Insurance pay-outs are related to either property damage to the vehicle or damage to the person involved in the accident. If you are very lucky, you walk away with no injuries and have just the inconvenience of having to get your car repaired. Good health is always preferable to a permanent injury. But if you have been injured, and the injury causes you to either miss time from work, or leaves you with a lasting disability, or continued pain, then you are usually entitled to collect money from the insurer. Noel H. Benedict & Associates does not collect any fees from the car damage money the insurer pays you. We collect our fees only after negotiating a settlement of your bodily damage claim.
The good news is that, if we accept your case, we handle the work involved in dealing with the insurance company in resolving damages, both personal injury and car damage. The client’s job during this time is to get appropriate medical treatment and keep all medical appointments until your doctor releases you from his/her care. We do not settle your case until after you tell us you are through with your medical treatment. Once you finish medical treatment, we request your medical records from the doctor(s) and often at this point can negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. At Noel H. Benedict & Associates we work hard to maximize your settlement amount. If the insurer will not negotiate a satisfactory settlement, we may file a lawsuit and take your case before a jury.
After you have finished treating with your physician and he or she has told you that you are as well as you are going to be (what we call “MMI” or “maximum medical improvement”), you should contact us immediately and let us know. At that point we will send for your medical records from the doctor(s) with whom you treated, and we will begin the process of settling your case.
This position, taken by the insurer and doctor, is based on the incorrect notion that the insurance company for the motor vehicle at fault in the accident will pay the medical bills. That is not true in a specific sense. The insurance company for an at-fault party will make one payment to ultimately settle or resolve a case; and to arrive at that amount, all medical treatment bills and lost wages are part of the consideration but not the entire consideration. More importantly, ideally a case is not settled until a patient has concluded his treatment. Therefore, getting timely medical treatment is extremely important to preserve the value of the case. Understandably, doctors want to get paid at the time the services are rendered. The health insurance company must pay the claims in accordance with its health insurance policy. However, in an accident case this unlawful position of the health insurance company is one reason the person involved in an accident needs an attorney.
Medical payment coverage is very important. When you are injured, it is the medical coverage that will (if you are adequately covered) pay for you to see a doctor and begin important and timely medical treatment. Insurance companies do not haggle over medical payment coverage (or MPC) like they do with other money issues. MPC is the insurance that will allow you to see a doctor immediately to establish the extent of your injuries. If you don’t see a doctor, the insurance company reasons, you must not have been hurt. That, of course, can be wrong, but it is the way insurers evaluate claims. So you should always see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident if there is any chance you have been injured and need to file a claim. This is called establishing a causal relationship. If you wait for a long period of time and just try to tough it out, the insurance company will probably tell you that they don’t believe you were hurt in the accident. And why make them guess? Just go and get checked out. Then you will know.
It is different because you do not have to prove who was “at fault” in order to have your medical treatment paid by the insurer. This MPC amount is immediately available to pay your injury related medical bills up to the MPC policy limit, regardless of who caused the accident. Check your own auto insurance policy today and see if you have this coverage, especially if you do not have separate medical insurance which would cover you in the case of injury.
Not necessarily. Most people who are in wrecks and who experience what is called “soft tissue injuries” often don’t feel they are injured while at the scene of the accident. Most everyone in the legal and insurance industries is aware of that phenomena. You were operating out of good faith, assuming you were not injured. But if you do wake up the next morning, and you do feel muscle spasms or cramps or bruised, go get it checked. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to prove your claim. If you see a doctor within a day or so, you should still be in good standing. But the longer you wait, the harder it is for any attorney to prove a relationship. Don’t make it harder than it is. Going to the doctor gives legitimacy to your claim when you really have been hurt.
We can’t give medical advice, but look at it this way. If an x-ray alone could diagnose all the kinds of injuries, why would they have had to create MRI’s and CT scans? X-rays mostly show broken bones and not other types of injuries. If you are not feeling better within a week of your initial doctor’s visit, let the doctor know and ask him or her what your medical options are. Ask him/her how he determined your diagnosis and ask him/her to investigate further. Be a squeaky wheel, as they say. Don’t be passive in your own treatment. If you don’t tell your medical professional that you still hurt, he won’t know. And if he doesn’t know, he won’t write it in his notes. And if it isn’t in the doctor’s notes, you have no proof of injuries.
A good attorney earns his/her fee, whether by stacking insurance policy coverage, knowing the case law, maximizing your medical summary analysis, getting the case past summary judgment, or simply engaging in strong negotiations. With a strong attorney presence like Noel H. Benedict & Associates on a file, people receive larger settlements, even after the attorney’s fees have been subtracted, than they would have received without an attorney. Most people do not have the experience to represent themselves well to an insurer. Insurance adjusters and claims handlers are not your friend. It is their job to limit the payments they make on each claim as best they can. They are not required to know the law and cannot give legal advice. It is not in their company’s best interest and not part of their job description to tell you what you are entitled to receive. Do yourself a favor and consult an attorney to know your legal rights. Often, we have people call us and ask us for advice in a free phone consultation. They may call us more than once. Initially, they believe they can handle their own cases, but eventually most of them decide it just isn’t worth the effort to “go it alone” without any real idea of what they should settle for. Instead, they want the assurance that someone with experience and expertise is advocating for them. That is what we do at Noel H. Benedict & Associates.
One size does not fit all. The internet is a useful tool, and so is the Kelly Blue Book, but prices for cars, especially used ones, varies depending on current market conditions, where you live, the condition of the car, and a host of other variables, including wear and tear and mileage. Also, custom tires and other “added extras” may not be included in the reimbursement price. You may also be what we call “upside down” on the worth of your car, meaning that you owe more than the actual value of the car. Noel H. Benedict & Associates has over 33 combined years of experience working with car wrecks and auto damage. We can give you expert guidance on your legal rights. Remember, what is fair and what the insurer is required by the law to do may not be the same. Don’t risk losing money because you did not know your legal rights. Call us for a free consultation today.
The short answer is “not really,” because of some of the same reasons as mentioned above in the questions on internet car values. Internet statistics are extremely misleading in valuing a personal injury case. First, there is a wide variation in types of injuries. Secondly, assigning a monetary value to an injury looks at factors such as the age of the person injured, their occupation, their family status, and other factors. And then, even more difficult, is looking at potential venue of a lawsuit to evaluate a claim. For example, in general, a plaintiff’s personal injury case is worth more if the venue is in urban counties such as Fulton, DeKalb, Athens-Clarke, Richmond, or Bibb County. It is generally worth less if venue is in Gwinnett, Hall, or Columbia County. There are simply far more factors that an experienced attorney can take into account in evaluating a case than an inexperienced person utilizing internet research would be able to assess.