Negotiating a settlement for an injury you received in a motor vehicle accident or car wreck seems easy enough on the surface. After all, someone ran a red light and t-boned your car, breaking some of your ribs and causing you severe neck and back pain. All you have to do is call the liable party’s insurance company and demand $50,000, right?
But injury claims are rarely so obvious or insurers so eager to settle. Let’s say the other driver in your case claims you ran the red light, did not have your lights on and you were speeding. After all, there are no witnesses. Or, you felt you could just rest at home without going to see your doctor but a week or so later decided you better get checked out. Now, the insurer is claiming your injuries were either not very serious and were caused by some other event. And, your records show you complained of and received treatment for back and neck injuries a year earlier so your claimed new injuries are not so new. The easy settlement you imagined has just vanished and the insurer now denies your claim entirely or offers a token settlement amount.
This scenario or a similar one happens more frequently than you think. A competent personal injury attorney will have handled many injury claims where liability as well as the nature and extent of your injuries were in dispute. It is also not unusual for a seemingly simple injury claim to have multiple issues that can complicate your case and result in your receiving far less than you were entitled to, or even leave you with no compensation.
Other issues that commonly arise in car accident injury claims include:
A health care provider will not accept your insurance
Your medical insurer is sending you liens demanding reimbursement from your settlement (subrogation)
If multiple vehicles are involved, the various insurers are denying liability by their insureds
You made a statement to an insurance adjuster or investigator that minimized your injuries or placed some fault on your own actions
A city, county or state vehicle was involved-- are you aware of how to properly bring a claim against this entity?
It is possible other parties contributed to the accident and your injuries such as the city for faulty road design or the manufacturers or designers of defective equipment in one of the vehicles such as a car seat or airbag that failed to operate properly
The defendant’s insurer failed to fully investigate your claim, has unreasonably demanded multiple and unnecessary documents or forced you to settle or litigate by giving you a low-ball offer
Multiple issues in an injury claim are common. Retaining a seasoned and experienced accident injury lawyer is essential to resolving your claim to your satisfaction. After all, you want a medical doctor to treat your illness or injury and an accountant to resolve your tax audit. Why would you try to settle your injury claim yourself and likely leave thousands of dollars on the table that a personal injury lawyer could have obtained for you?
Even after the lawyer’s fee, a lawyer’s ability to deal with the twists, turns, complicated liability issues, and finding all the applicable insurance policies means that you come out ahead in the end. Most of the time, way ahead!
Multiple studies have found that injured claimants who retain attorneys receive substantially more in settlements than those who represent themselves, even accounting for legal fees. Do not jeopardize your claim by handling it yourself. At least consult with a personal injury promptly after an accident and certainly before giving a statement about the accident to anyone. Check back later for a blog posts about subrogation (repaying Medicare or Medicaid, your private health insurance, disability insurance, doctor bills, or medpay insurance coverage) and repaying the subrogation interest.
If you’ve been injured in a truck wreck or car wreck, give us a call. At Wolfe, White & Associates we know the law and how to get the maximum settlement or jury verdict for you. Call us at 304-752-7715 for a free consultation.
Steven S. Wolfe