Personal Injury Claims Q & A

If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by someone else's negligence, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO LOOK TO THAT PERSON'S INSURANCE COMPANY FOR COMPENSATION. The following are answers to some of the questions people commonly have about Personal Injury Claims.

What Should I Do First?
- If you have any reason to believe that you may have suffered an injury, go to the Emergency Room or to a Doctor as soon as possible after the accident. If you are dealing with an adjuster in regard to property damage, the adjuster also may want to talk about injuries. Until you are certain you were not injured, you should not make any statement concerning injuries. Injuries and property damage are separate matters and, by law, insurance companies have to deal with them separately.

What If I am just a little sore?
- Go to a Doctor. Being just a little sore can indicate whiplash or other soft tissue injury. These types of injuries often get worse before they get better, and, if left untreated, can linger for an extended period of time. Going to a Doctor not only gets the healing process started, it provides medical documentation of your injuries. Toughing it out only benefits the insurance company, and the longer you wait, the more opportunity you give them to claim that something other than the accident caused the injuries.

Do I Need To Go To A Medical Doctor?
- You should go to whomever you feel can best deal with your injuries. Going to a medical doctor is NOT REQUIRED in order to pursue a personal injury claim. If you choose to go to a chiropractor or other health care professional, you are still entitled to compensation.

What Am I Entitled To Be Compensated For?
-You are entitled to be reimbursed for the costs of treatment , and for any costs associated with treatment, such as transportation to and from the Doctor or prescriptions. You are also entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering . In addition, if you have suffered a permanent injury you are entitled to be compensated for that and for the costs of future treatment.

If you suffer a loss of income as a result of your injuries, you are entitled to recover your lost wages. This is true even if you use sick leave or vacation in order to avoid an actual decrease in pay. If your injuries cause you to miss overtime work, you are entitled to be compensated at your overtime rate.

Depending on your particular situation, there may be other items for which you are entitled to be compensated. The primary criteria is whether or not the loss or expense was caused by or resulted from your injuries.

Can I Use My Health Insurance To Pay For Treatment?
-Yes, using your own health insurance does not affect your right to be reimbursed by the other driver's insurance. Depending on your particular health plan, you may be required to reimburse the health plan for all or part of the costs from your settlement.

If The Accident Occurred While I Was Working, Can I File For Worker's Comp? - Yes. As with health insurance, the fact that Worker's Comp pays for treatment does not affect your right to be reimbursed by the other driver's insurance, but the worker's comp carrier will be entitled to some reimbursement from the settlement. In addition, medical payments coverage may be available under one or more automobile policies to pay towards your medical bills. Here too, your right to reimbursement from the liability carrier is not affected, but, in most cases, reimbursement is not required.

When Can My Claim Be Settled?
-Settlements, like diamonds, are forever, so you do not want to settle until you have finished treatment and are released by the Doctor. Until then you don't know how much treatment you will need, how much it will end up costing or if you are going to get 100% better. If you settle too soon, you may end up paying for treatment out of your own pocket. However, you must either settle or file suit before the Statute of Limitations period expires.

What If The Other Person Had No Insurance?- If this is the case, you can use your own uninsured motorist coverage in order to be compensated. Unless you rejected it in writing, this coverage is included in your own automobile insurance policy. You may also be covered under a family member's uninsured motorist coverage.

If the other driver is insured but your damages exceed the policy limits, underinsured motorist coverage can provide additional compensation for your injuries.

DEALING WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY

Settling your Personal Injury Claim will require dealing with the adjuster assigned by the other driver's insurance company. The adjuster is an insurance professional whose job is to protect his employer's interests. Unless you do something about it, you will be the only one looking out for your interests.

Personal injury claims involve a number of factors, some of which are not easy to evaluate. The amount the insurance company offers is determined by the adjuster, and if you do not think the offer is high enough, the only way to try to get more is to take the matter to court. The adjuster's assessment of your ability to do that may well affect the amount of the offer. Obtaining professional representation lets the adjuster know that you are serious about getting the compensation you are entitled to receive.