Is Filing an Injury Case The Right Thing To Do?
Many times, even if people clearly “have a case,” they often have issues with filing a personal injury claim. Below are some we hear frequently:
I Don’t Want to Make the Other Person’s Life Difficult or Hurt Them.
For starters, keep in mind that this other person made your life difficult by failing to drive carefully and causing you injuries. However, if you still have second thoughts, remember that your lawyers will be dealing with the other person’s insurance company, not the other person directly. All of us are required to buy liability insurance for a reason – that if we do end up causing another person injuries while driving, there will be at least some money through an insurance company to help them out.
While it is true that this other person’s insurance rates may go up, is it really worth not pursuing a claim at all just so someone else who was at fault can avoid paying a little more in insurance premiums each year?
By Filing a Lawsuit, I am Contributing to an “Over-Litigious Society” That Leads to Higher Insurance or Health Costs.
One of the most common misconceptions about a personal injury claim is that they are not “good” for society. Some believe too many people are filing lawsuits, while others believe that in bringing a personal injury claim,
life becomes more expensive for everyone else.
To begin with, there are penalties built into the law for bringing “frivolous” or “groundless” lawsuits. These penalties may include paying the insurance company’s own costs and attorney’s fees. No good lawyer would ever want to bring this type of lawsuit because of the potential consequences both the lawyer and client would face as a result.
Furthermore, even beyond these penalties, the lawyers at Zaner Harden Law do everything they can to avoid having to file a lawsuit. The majority of cases are settled without a lawsuit ever being filed.
Because we have beaten the insurance companies so many times and for such large dollar amounts, insurance companies want to pay our clients top dollar value so we don’t embarrass them in court and increase their exposure. To us, a lawsuit becomes an option if and only if the insurance company refuses to treat our client fairly and present an adequate settlement offer.
Finally, there are those who believe that filing a personal claim raises health and automobile insurance costs for everyone else. This is simply not true. Insurance companies generally know who the riskier drivers are, and will address that risk by charging these individuals more for their insurance. Similarly, after an individual causes an accident, only their rates will go up, not the rates of anyone else. This is similarly true for healthcare providers and insurers. Whenever a hospital or clinic has provided treatment for an individual who has been injured in a crash that was not their fault, the hospital or clinic has a right to get paid back out of that person’s settlement. The legal word for this is “subrogation.” Therefore, the insurer or hospital can “get back” whatever costs it laid out, and costs do not go up for everyone else.
Why File if I Was Not Hurt That Bad?
Your lawyer will want to discuss with you what not being hurt “that bad” means to you. Just because you did not break any bones or spend weeks in the hospital does not mean that your injuries are not significant.
Many clients who “only” experience neck, back, or shoulder pain as the result of a crash still have their lives significantly impacted. Often times these individuals must attend many sessions of PT or receive more intensive medical treatment such as injections. Receiving this treatment comes at the cost of having to spend time away from your family and workplace, and the healing process, even for “minor” injuries, can be long and painful.
Furthermore, a personal injury claim includes a lot more than medical bills. For example, a claim also includes mileage to and from doctor’s offices, lost wages for any time you had to miss from work, as well as a broad category of what are called “non-economic damages.” Most commonly, people are familiar with non-economic damages as “pain and suffering,” but, again, a lot more than that is included. Has your life been inconvenienced as a result of the crash? Have you had to sit out from doing various activities because you are in pain? Has your relationship with your spouse, family, and even friends become strained? Have you had trouble sleeping, sitting for long periods of time, or going to work? These are parts of your claim which is it hard to put an exact dollar figure on but still can be included and are absolutely legitimate.
Finally, you just won’t know how injured you are until you finish treatment. For example, two people could come complaining of the same neck pain. However, one may end up needing a neck fusion (the fusing of vertebrate together) while the other may just need physical therapy.
Why Hire a Law firm if I Can Just Negotiate on my Own and Keep All the Money?
This is a question we get frequently and always answer honestly. If we do not believe your case is the type that requires an attorney, we will be the first to tell you. One of the reasons that we are so highly-reviewed online is because of our commitment to honesty and putting our clients – and prospective clients – before our own interests.
With that said, often a lawyer’s help is required to achieve the kind of result that most clients are looking for. Insurance companies are in the business of evaluating risk. To an insurance company, a person who is not licensed to practice law presents very little risk, as this person is not well-versed in the intricacies of personal injury law and, most importantly, cannot file a lawsuit and try a case before a jury if settlement negotiations fail. Even an individual who takes the time to “learn” personal injury law and advocate on their own behalf, and who may try and use legal terminology with the insurance company, still does not present that much of a risk to a giant corporation like State Farm.
Besides having the leverage of being able to file a lawsuit, which automatically costs the insurance company a lot more money than just settling the claim would, having an experienced lawyer on your side always puts increased pressure on the insurer.
Also, there are many consumer-friendly laws that you will not know about and insurance companies will surely not tell you about. Things like medical payments coverage, the billed v. paid issue (whether you can collect the amount of your bills or the amount your health insurance paid), how much your health insurance is entitled to be reimbursed (subrogation right) if any, etc. Additionally, there are additional categories of damages which may be available beyond those typically included in a personal injury claim based upon the at-fault party’s conduct before, during, and after the crash. Finally, a lawyer has the skills to take depositions, draft and file court documents, and appear in front of a judge or jury that an ordinary person does not have.
Of course, one of the benefits of having a lawyer is that we do all the fighting for you, taking all the stress off your plate and leaving you time to focus on what matters most: getting the medical treatment you need and
Once you bring Zaner Harden Law in on your case, you will not ever have a frustrating call with the insurance company again. If your case does proceed to litigation, you can rest assured knowing that you have the best advocating for you and walking you through every step along the way, even if that means taking your case all the way to trial.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer?
The sooner the better.
If you think you are injured and need medical care, it is time to call a personal injury attorney. The sooner you do, the sooner you can have peace of mind that your interests are being protected.
We handle the insurance companies so you can focus on getting better. There are a few obligations that you may not know about imposed by your insurance company that if you fail to follow, may void your coverage.
You also may have thousands of dollars available to you through Medical Payments coverage with your own insurance; however, your insurance company doesn’t always tell you about this coverage. There is always a time period to access these benefits, and if you wait too long, you lose that money forever.
Also, it’s important that you don’t tell the at-fault driver’s insurance company anything harmful to your case. They will contact you and try to convince you to sign releases, provide statements, and concede damaging points; all of this is to be avoided.
Finally, it is really important to get you to the right doctors for your injuries as soon as possible. Insurance companies love to argue that an injured client really isn’t that injured if they wait too long to seek out medical attention or go to the wrong kind of doctors.
At Zaner Harden Law we have years of experience working with the best doctors in the state who know how to specifically treat people with injuries from car crashes, motorcycle crashes, slip and falls, insurance disputes, defective products, and dog bites.
What Happens At The Initial Consultation?
The two most important things we decide at a consultation are:
- If you have a case
- If Zaner Harden Law can help you.
What we will not be able to tell you at this time is the value of your case.This is something that can be better discussed at the end of your medical care. Discussing before that would be doing you a disservice.
During the consultation you will generally be asked about what happened, how you were injured, the insurance carriers involved, if there were any witnesses, and if there is a police report.
If it is a car or motorcycle crash it would be helpful to see pictures of the vehicles involved after the crash. If it is a slip and fall, we would like to see pictures of the area where you slipped and the substance (ice, spilled substance, rocks, pothole, etc.) that caused you to fall and injure yourself. If you were bit by a dog, what does the dog look like and how severe are your injuries? Do you know if the dog has bitten other people in the past? Any medical bills would also be appreciated.
For a car or motorcycle crash it would be incredibly helpful for you to bring something called the “declarations page” from your insurance carrier, to see what types of coverages you have available. Additionally, if you live with a family member, please bring in their “declarations page” for any additional policies to see if more coverage might be available to you.
We also want to figure out if you will be a good fit for our firm. We are not a TV law firm and do not handle thousands of cases. We have to be selective with the clients we bring on so that we can provide the top-shelf representation we are known for. We also believe the clients should be selective for the firm they are hiring. This is a very important decision and hopefully the last time you will have to hire a lawyer. So it is critical that you trust your attorneys, believe in their skills, and are confident they can deliver the very best result.
If you decide to have Zaner Harden Law represent you, we immediately get started on your case. We introduce you to “your team.” Typically, your team will consist of a lead attorney and a paralegal. We are all there to help you. Each team member is suited to the task they are best qualified to handle.
What Happens During Discovery?
All different types of evidence will be obtained during discovery. What is asked for will largely depend on your specific case. Generally, both sides will want your medical bills and records from your incident-related treatment, complete copies of insurance policies, police reports, and any witness statements, recordings, social media posts, or videos made that are related to the incident. Sometimes phone records might also be requested if there is a concern a driver might have been distracted while driving at the time of the incident. Typically, personal issues unrelated to the incident are not requested. The goal is to get a better idea of what happened and why; it is not the goal to unnecessarily pry into your personal life.
How Can I Pay Medical Bills While Waiting For My Case to Settle?
Typically, any medical bills not covered by insurance co-pays and deductibles have to be paid as you go. If you have Medical Payments coverage through your auto insurance, we can help you use that coverage to pay these expenses. However, if you can’t pay your co-pay/ deductible, you may be sent to collections. We will do everything we can to talk to the provider and ask them not to send you to collections; however, there is no guarantee that they will hold off. Any lawyer that tells you differently is lying.
If you are not able to pay your medical bills, or you don’t have any health insurance, you may want to have your lawyers look into a medical lien to finance your medical care. With this option, you will not have to pay anything out of pocket as the lien company will handle all your bills on the front end. Then, after your case settles, you will pay them back out of your settlement. This is a good option for folks with no insurance, bad insurance, or high deductibles/co-pays that they can’t afford.
What Happens If Negotiations Fail?
Don’t worry, just because negotiations might initially fail does not mean all is lost. We move forward and discuss with you filing a complaint with the court system. This will get your case into another insurance adjuster’s hands. It will also get an attorney from the insurance company assigned to your case. This changing of hands on the side of the insurance company is good for you. Likely, an attorney on the other side will add more perspective and encourage the insurance company to further negotiate in hopes of settling. If not, the attorneys at Zaner Harden Law will fight for you and move forward with the litigation process. There will then be further opportunities to settle you claim. If a settlement is still not reached, we will advise you on the risks and benefits of proceeding to trial and what we believe is best for you and your specific situation.
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