Posts

Do I Pay A Deductible If I'm Not At Fault

Do I Pay A Deductible If I’m Not At Fault?

If you’re in a car accident in North Carolina, you may have to pay a deductible, even if the accident is not your fault. The primary reason for this is that the other driver’s insurance company will want time to investigate the claim, and you simply want to get your car fixed. Therefore, the quickest option for you is to put in a claim through your insurance company to have the car repaired without waiting. As a result, you pay the deductible associated with your policy.

Getting Reimbursed For Your Deductible

While you may pay a deductible if you’re not at fault, there’s a chance you will be reimbursed. After your insurance company repairs your vehicle and you pay your deductible, you can expect your insurance company to pursue reimbursement. Your insurance company will be reimbursed by the at fault driver’s insurance. Lastly, your insurance company should reimburse your deductible to you when they get paid. It is noteworthy that if you wait until the at fault driver’s insurance completes their investigation, you could be without a vehicle for several weeks. As a result, most drivers choose to move forward with a claim against their own insurance.

Why Does The Claim Need To Be Investigated?

We recently wrote an article about why an insurance company is investigating your claim. First, the insurance company has  duty to their driver to make sure you were not at fault. Second, in North Carolina, Contributory Negligence can prevent recovery.  This means, the insurance company is investigating whether you contributed to the accident. Lastly, the insurance company takes a statement from their driver regarding what happened. If the police report is inconclusive, and if each driver tells a different story, you may be in for a fight. It’s a good time to consider hiring a North Carolina personal injury lawyer.

Is My Personal Injury Claim Handled By My Car Insurance Company?

No. Your personal injury claim is a claim against the other driver. Therefore, their insurance company will be pursued by your injury attorney, if you choose to hire one. Consequently, you can expect an investigation much like the one mentioned above. As a result, you the other driver’s insurance company may want to take your statement. We highly recommend against giving a statement to the insurance company. First, everything you say will be recorded (and used against you). Second, the insurance company will not share their driver’s statement regarding the accident, so why should you give a statement? Lastly, if a lawsuit is filed, both drivers will give testimony by way of a deposition. Until then, negotiations can move forward without statements being given. Additionally, if you’ve been in a slip and fall or a grocery store slip and fall, it’s even more important not to give a statement.

Do I Have To Pay My Personal Injury Lawyer?

Our firm is like most personal injury law firms. We work on your case for free. If we are unable to get a settlement for you, you owe us nothing. Likewise, if we do reach a settlement, you owe us a fee. Our standard fee is one third (33%) of your settlement or jury verdict. If you’d like to discuss working with a personal injury lawyer, please call us at 704.749.7747. You can also simply click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and you will speak with a lawyer today. You can also read more at the car insurance claims FAQ by dmv.org.

What Is The Car Accident Lawyer Process Like?

The car accident lawyer process, or working with a car accident lawyer, should be a painless experience for the injured party. Though, what probably comes as the biggest surprise to clients who hire a personal injury lawyer is the amount of time it takes to settle a claim.

In order to be sure to get maximum value for your personal injury settlement, your personal injury lawyer must put together several different aspects of your claim. Ultimately, these will be compiled and make up your demand package. Your demand package is a combination of the law firm’s theory of liability against the insurance company, supported by claims of damages directly related to the accident.

The Intake Process

The first step in understanding your car accident or slip and fall claim comes from the intake process. Some intake is done during the FREE CASE EVALUATION or phone consultation. During this time, the lawyer begins to understand the basic facts surrounding your accident. This includes a review of the police report, a discussion with you, and potentially a discussion with any witnesses who may have seen the accident.

Establishing The Claim

Once the intake is completed, we will start a claim for bodily injury with the insurance company representing the at-fault party. This serves to stop communication from the insurance company to you directly. It also puts the insurance company on notice that they have a potential lawsuit against them for the acts of one of their drivers.

The typical response from the insurance company is that they are investigating the claim, and they request we send them our theory of liability together with all documentation of injuries.

Confirming You Injuries And Treatment

If you are still treating, we will stay in touch with you periodically to confirm your treatment status. Once you have completed your treatment, we quickly place orders for all medical records and medical treatment you received from all providers. These serve to prove your injuries and establish your medical billing associated with the claim. Some of your billing will constitute medical liens which need to be paid through your settlement per federal or state law.

Establishing Medicare, Medicaid and ERISA Liens

While a medical provider can claim a lien against your settlement proceeds, they must do it by taking affirmative action. Medicare, Medicaid and some health insurance companies (ERISA LIENS) automatically have a lien created in their favor, depending upon whether they treated you for injuries related to the accident. It is your personal injury lawyer’s job to identify these liens and to be sure to address them from your settlement proceeds. A failure to do so can be catastrophic for you, financially. Identifying the liens prior to reaching a settlement ensures that your settlement is high enough to pay the liens and adequately compensate you for your loss.

Establishing And Documenting Lost Wages

If you have lost wages from your accident, your attorney will have your employer sign a Lost Wages Affidavit in conjunction with your demand package. This affidavit will be submitted in support of being reimbursed for lost wages. Quite often, your personal injury lawyer will need to defend the hours you missed, provide proof of income prior to the accident, and show your employer is being honest about the hours you missed and your rate of pay. Your medical records must also support the lost wages affidavit with notes indicating your physician wrote you out for work for the days in question.

Negotiating The Claim To Settlement

Negotiating your claim to settlement is a lengthy process. Insurance companies are notorious for low offers. They make attempts to de-value the medical treatment you received, and argue balances of your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. They attack your personal injury lawyer’s theory of liability and claim Contributory Negligence as a way to offer a lower settlement amount. We are accustomed to these strategies and we will defend against them at every turn.

Negotiating Your Medical Bills

Once we have decided together that you have your top offer, we will ask for your authority to negotiate your medical bills. While not all medical billing providers will reduce their billing, this quite often results in the lowering of your medical billing just prior to settlement. This serves to do one thing—put more money in your pocket. By minimizing the amount of your settlement that must go toward satisfying medical bills, we increase the amount you receive.

Receiving Your Check

The last aspect of your car accident lawyer process is distributing funds. Once you’ve reached settlement and signed a release for the settlement amount, your check typically arrives a week later. Your car accident lawyer process requires your car accident lawyer to deposit the funds into their NC State Bar trust account, and one day later we can disburse the funds to you and your medical providers. We also get paid at this time. You will sign off on a balance sheet or settlement sheet showing you all incoming funds, together with all disbursements. This way you know where every penny of your settlement funds went.

Tax Free Nature Of Settlement Proceeds

Most personal injury settlement proceeds are tax free. Exceptions would be where the settlement is specifically allocated to lost wages. In your typical injury settlement, this is not the case. For Workers’ Compensation claims, you will typically need to pay taxes on all lost and future wages being paid from the claim.

Speak With A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you have questions about what the car accident lawyer process if like, or if you have general questions about a personal injury, call us today. You can call 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will contact you today. When it comes to choosing a personal injury law firm, we know you have options. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

How Much Is My Car Accident Worth?

If you’re wondering “How much is my car accident worth?” the answer is… it depends. Yes, it’s a typical personal injury lawyer answer. But there’s a good reason for it. There are many factors which combine to both increase and decrease the value of your car accident.

For a free case evaluation, call us at 704.749.7747, or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out shortly. The evaluation is free and we’re here to help.

Factors Which Increase The Value Of Your Car Accident Claim

Severity of Injuries—if you have severe injuries, your case is generally worth more. The theory is that juries assign value to a case based in large part on the medical treatment involved with the case. You can imagine a jury considering a case with $1,000.00 of medical treatment (an ER visit and a follow-up), vs. a case with $45,000.00 of medical billing (a broken bone, surgery, and physical therapy).

Consistent Treatment—It’s not enough to have injuries from a car accident. You also have to seek treatment very soon after the accident and follow through with that treatment. The reason is two-fold. First, seeking treatment soon after the accident shows that the accident caused the injury. Second, completing your treatment demonstrates how the injury affected you and also serves to increase your medical billing. Besides, you deserve to be treated and brought back to full health.

Lost Wages—If the accident gives rise to missed hours at work, your personal injury lawyer will include your lost wages in the demand package sent to the insurance adjuster. Your employer will have to sign an affidavit establishing your rate of pay and the amount of work you missed. This Lost Wages Affidavit goes a long way toward increasing the value of your claim. If you take paid time off or (“PTO”) instead of missing work, your injury attorney will calculate that into the figures as well.

Special Damages—Some accidents give rise to what are known as Special Damages. These are losses in addition to the more typical losses described above. For instance, a senior in high school who is the victim of a car accident misses her last year of Track and Field. Or, a car accident on the way to the prom causes the victim to miss the prom. Missed graduations, birthday parties, and vacations can all be included in special damages and presented to the insurance adjuster.

Working With A Personal Injury Attorney—In our experience, working with a personal injury attorney is typically going to increase the value of your case. There are multiple reasons for this. First, the attorney understands how to establish the value of your case or claim. Second, the attorney can defend your case against an insurance adjuster who is arguing a lower value of the case. Third, an attorney means the threat of a lawsuit. Insurance companies are interested in avoiding lawsuits especially if their driver was at fault in the car accident. The cost of the avoided lawsuit can help to increase the value of your claim. Lastly, your personal injury attorney will typically be able to negotiate some of your medical billing for you. While this may not increase the settlement value, it should help to put more of the settlement in your pocket.

Factors Which Decrease The Value Of Your Car Accident Claim

A History Of Claims—If you have a history of personal injury claims, it will be used against you. Insurance companies share information with one another. Even if you have legitimate injuries from this car accident, the fact that you have 4 prior claims will be used to insinuate that your claim may be fraudulent.

Contributing Factors—If the police report from the car accident states that you contributed in some way to the car accident, you may be barred from recovery due to North Carolina’s Contributory Negligence rule. The essence of this rule is that if you are found to be 1% responsible for the accident, a jury will be instructed to award you nothing. Personal injury attorneys encounter this defense every day, and can typically negotiate a successful settlement despite it. However, it must be taken into account.

Gaps In Treatment—If you fail to seek treatment soon after the accident, or if there are large gaps in between treatment, the insurance adjuster will argue that your injury was not severe. In the alternative, the adjuster may argue that you were possibly injured in some other manner and are blaming the accident for your injury. This generally results in a discounted settlement as it relates to paying your medical bills. It’s important to see your doctor as instructed. If your doctor can’t help with spinal or soft tissue injuries, consider treating with a Charlotte Chiropractor.

Statements Made To Insurance Companies—It’s OK to give a statement to an insurance company after the car accident. However, it’s important to be very careful when discussing the facts of the car accident. You can trust that the conversation will be recorded (NC is a “One Party” state). Additionally, the insurance company does not need to tell you they are recording the conversation. If you say anything which can be used against you, we can guarantee it will be.

Settling Your Claim Without An Attorney—There are certainly some claims which do not warrant the use of a personal injury attorney. When we speak with clients about those claims, we try to give them guidance and assistance to enable them to settle the case on their own. The large majority of car accident claims are well worthy of working with a personal injury lawyer. Your rights will be protected, your attorney will help to maximize the value of your claim, and you can let someone else do the work and the worrying for you.

Further Reading

We hope this article helped answer the question “How much is my car accident worth?” You can get more questions answered by reading over 100 articles we have written in our Personal Injury Blog on this site. We have articles covering everything from Medical Payments Coverage to determining a Fair Settlement amount.

Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you’ve been in a car accident and you’re wondering “How much is my car accident worth?”, get a case evaluation today by calling 704.749.7747 or clicking for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will reach out to you. There’s no obligation to hire us, and we’re here to help. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

Does Bankruptcy Include Car Loans

How Much Do You Get For Pain And Suffering?

If you’re wondering how much do you get for pain and suffering in a personal injury settlement, you’re not alone. This is one of the most important concerns of all new personal injury clients. While pain and suffering can be difficult to estimate in a personal injury claim, There is a rather basic way to determine what you received for pain and suffering. This article will help to try to answer the question “How much do you get for pain and suffering?” If you’d like to speak with a personal injury lawyer about pain and suffering, you can call 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE PERSONAL INJURY CONSULTATION and we will reach out to you shortly.

What Is Pain And Suffering Worth?

Placing a value on pain and suffering is challenging. Most clients agree that there is no amount of money which would make them happy with the accident. In other words, what they really wish is that the car accident never happened. That being the case, the second best option is to receive an amount of money which you feel fairly compensates you for what you’ve been through. Unfortunately, at the time of settlement, most clients are still hurting from their car accident, or concerned about lingering pain and suffering they might experience after settlement.

For lack of a better way to calculate pain and suffering, in most cases your pain and suffering will be some multiplier of the cost of your medical treatment. Your personal injury attorney will argue the total value of your treatment should be used in that equation, and the insurance adjuster will argue the actual end cost of the treatment should be used. This often results in very different proposed settlement amounts. Below, is an example:

Example 1:

Original Medical Bills: $100,000
Payments By Health Insurance: $8,000
Adjustments (write-offs): $92,000
End Balance: $0

In the above example, your personal injury attorney will argue that the medical billing being considered should be the $100,000, because this is the amount of the bill. The insurance adjuster will argue the $8,000 paid by health insurance is that amount that should be used. Their explanation will be that the medical treatment, in the end, only cost $8,000. If the parties are multiplying the medical billing by 2, you can see that the end numbers will come out very differently.

How Will I Know What I Received For Pain And Suffering?

In the end, the amount of money remaining after all medical bills are paid, and after lost wages are reimbursed, represents your pain and suffering. Simply put, this is the amount of money above and beyond expenses, which you are receiving from the settlement. One thing you will notice in the demand package your personal injury attorney sends out, is that typically we do not ask for a specific amount for pain and suffering. Using our example above, whatever amount we ask for above and beyond your medical bills and lost wages usually represents our theory surrounding the value of the pain and suffering you’ve experienced. If you have Medical Payments coverage on your own policy, this could also dramatically changes things in your favor.

What About Future Pain And Suffering?

Once you reach a settlement with an insurance company, that settlement is final. Therefore, you and your personal injury attorney should take into account the lingering effects of the car accident or slip and fall, when settling on your demand request. But don’t worry, your personal injury attorney will walk you through this step by step, and explain each part of the process along the way.

Speak With A Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you have questions remaining about “How much do you get for pain and suffering?” you should speak with a personal injury lawyer today. The call is free and you deserve answers. We would love to hear from you. You can call us at 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE PERSONAL INJURY CONSULTATION and we will reach out to you shortly. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

Loans Against Personal Injury Claims

We talk with injured individuals every day who ask about Uninsured Motorist Coverage. If you’re injured in an automobile accident and the other driver does not have insurance, you may think you can’t be compensated for your injuries. Generally, this is not true. This holds true for as well for individuals insured as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle accident victims.

In North Carolina, motorists are required to carry minimum insurance coverage. That coverage requires $30,000 for bodily injury, $60,000 for total bodily injury for all persons in an accident, and $25,000 for property damage. Lastly, they are also required to carry Uninsured Motorist Coverage and underinsured motorist coverage of $25,000.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured Motorist Coverage is exactly what it sounds like. If someone without insurance injures you in an auto accident, your Uninsured Motorist Coverage will pay for your property damage and bodily injury. Placing a claim with your insurance company in this manner will not affect your insurance rates. If you’re hit by a hit and run driver, you should also be able to access your Uninsured Motorist Coverage—be ready though, your insurance company will want to know plenty of details about the accident and the hit and run driver, before they will provide coverage. The reason is that insurance companies are fearful that drivers make up hit and run stories as a way to create fraudulent claims.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Underinsured Motorist Coverage plays a different role than Uninsured Motorist Coverage. If your injuries cost more than the coverage the other driver has, you can access your Underinsured Motorist Coverage. However, there’s a catch—your Underinsured Motorist Coverage must be more than the coverage the driver who hit you. Essentially, your policy will get a ‘credit’ for whatever has been paid. Take for example, a situation where the at-fault driver has a policy of $30,000 and you have a policy of $50,000. If you reach a settlement for $30,000 with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you potentially have access to an additional $20,000 from your carrier ($50,000-$30,000).

Stacking Your Coverage

North Carolina has an anti-stacking statute. In states that allow stacking, the purchased coverage can be multiplied by the number of vehicles in the insurance plan. In an insurance plan that has $30,000 in Underinsured Motorist Coverage, if there are 3 vehicles in the plan, you would have access to $90,000 in Underinsured Motorist Coverage. North Carolina does not allow this mechanism for determining the amount of Underinsured Motorist Coverage available to you.

Separate Insurance Policies

If you have two separate insurance policies in your household, you may have the ability to ‘stack’ your Underinsured Motorist Coverage and your Uninsured Motorist Coverage. Where your damages exceed the coverage of the at-fault party, you can access one or both of your auto insurance plans in order to be fairly compensated for your injuries and lost wages.

Call A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

As you can see, insurance issues are complex. Having a law firm with the experience to understand the coverage available to you and your family is critical. If you would like to speak with a personal injury lawyer about a car accident, call us today at 704.749.7747. Or, click here for a FREE PERSONAL INJURY CONSULTATION and we’ll reach out to you quickly. We know you have options. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.