15 Things You Should Know About Your Personal Injury Case
1. Insurers’ property damage estimates often call for the use of aftermarket parts. You are entitled to have original equipment manufacturer OEM parts on your car or motorcycle. OEM parts usually fit better and are better quality.
2. You don’t have to let your insurer repair or pay you for your car or motorcycle. Often you own insurer will contact you before the at-fault party’s insurer and offer to handle your property damage. You will have some deductible that you won’t have if you just have the at fault party’s insurer handle the property damage from the start.
3. Regardless of who pays for repairs to your car, you should be paid for the reduction in value of your car after repairs. When you sell or trade your car later, you will get less for it because of the damages done in the wreck. The insurance company doesn’t set this amount. It is determined by getting a professional to look at your car after it is repaired.
4. You don’t have to have your car repaired at the insurer’s “preferred” repair shop. Any repair shop you choose may make repairs caused by the wreck.
5. Insurers who don’t promptly pay what they owe you for your property damage may be liable for a penalty of up to $5000.00 and your attorney’s fees. You should be paid for all personal property (like cell phone, CD’s, tools, etc.) damaged or destroyed in a wreck. This includes anything that was in or on your car or motorcycle or even on you (like glasses and clothes).
6. You do not have a legal obligation to give the at fault party’s insurer a statement when you make a claim. In fact, making a statement to the at-fault party’s insurer may hurt your case.
7. Negotiating with an insurance company does not lengthen the time you have to settle your case or file suit (called the statute of limitations). Handling your case properly takes time. Waiting very long before contacting an attorney may be a mistake.
8. Even if the at-fault party has insurance, you may still have an underinsured motorist (UM) claim. UM coverage is very complicated, even for many attorneys, and settling with the at fault party’s insurer can cause you to forfeit your UM claim.
9. It’s not just your personal UM coverage that provides coverage for you. You are also insured under the UM coverage of the car you are in and under the policy of any resident relative of your household. All of these coverages “stack”, sometimes making a significant difference in your recovery.
10. The at-fault party may be covered under an automobile policy other than the car the at-fault party was driving. We work to uncover all possible insurance coverage.
11. Hiring an attorney doesn’t mean your case won’t be settled. We work hard to prepare your case to be settled, but if the insurance company isn’t willing to fairly compensate you, we will file suit on your behalf. Even when suit is filed, a case may be settled, but if it can’t be, we are there to try your case.
12. Many health insurers now have clauses in their contracts allegedly giving them a right to be repaid for whatever they paid on your behalf from the money you recover. Car insurance companies may tell you that they have to pay the health insurer 100% or even put them on your check. Often health insurers are entitled to nothing. When they are entitled to something, the amounts almost always can be negotiated.
13. Medicare and Medicaid have special rights to reimbursement but even they negotiate the repayment. We check to make sure that what health insurers, Workers’ Compensation or Medicare/Medicaid are seeking to recover are really related to your personal injury claim. We frequently find that amounts claimed are not related.
14. If you were hurt in a car wreck while on the job, your Worker’s Compensation insurer may pay some of your bills or for time out of work. Like health insurers, Worker’s Compensation carriers often claim they are entitled to reimbursement, but they may not be entitled to it.
15. We handle all reimbursement issues — health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and Worker’s Compensation — for you.
By Ann-Margaret Perkins, Attorney at Law
Ann-Margaret Perkins is a personal injury attorney at Perkins Law Firm, LLP, a firm that specializes in helping injured workers and accident victims in Carrollton, Georgia. The author may be contacted at 770-834-2083.
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