So, my client this week was rear ended in her car. She was sitting still at a stoplight and another car hit her pretty hard from behind. She got some whiplash and what’s been a real bummer about the situation is that she’s had concussion symptoms now for the last three months. This means she can’t look at screens and that’s what she does for a living. Something that’s associated with a screen, so she hasn’t been able to go to work very well. She’s not the type of person to take advantage of a situation. We’re old friends and I know that she is just going through it.
And so her husband and her have been communicating with me about the process and the other person’s insurance company, which is a big-name insurance company that you see commercials about all the time, has been real distant about helping her. They’re not telling her what they’re going to cover. They’re not telling her how the process works. Obviously, she has me and so I told her like I will tell you, exactly how this process does work.
What you need to understand is that this is a liability situation. The definition of the word liability is bad things that happen to other people because of you. The person who rear ended my client is it’s their fault. In the state of Indiana where we live, it’s an at-fault state so the person who’s fault the accident is, they’re insurance company handles paying out any damage or suffering associated by that other person. So, there’s a liability claim here right? Something bad happened to someone else because of the person who rear ended them.
But in a liability situation, the number one rule to understand is that nothing gets paid out until the entire situation is resolved. I’m going to say that again because it’s so important. Nothing gets paid out by the insurance company until they write the final check at the end of the process. That can be a real tough experience for almost anybody who’s going through things. They’re starting to accumulate medical bills, and all this kind of stuff and they’re like well wait, the process isn’t over yet though. And so, you just must know that going in.
Now some okay things about that are that hospitals and folks like that know that this is the way it works so a lot of times they will wait to get paid until the final payout but especially things that extend for long periods of time. It’s just a real bummer the way it’s set up. I’m not sure I agree with that, that it’s set up to only pay out at the end but what the insurance company is trying to do is come to a final number, write that check, get you to sign off that you’re not going to file a lawsuit for any more money or anything like that and be done with the situation.
So you have to compile all those bills. You must compile all the lost wages, or letters from your employer that show that you weren’t at work and you must compile some information about the pain and suffering that you have. If you don’t have a personal injury attorney, you’re doing that all on your own and for most situations, that’s going to be perfectly fine if it’s not a super serious situation or if you have an insurance company that’s cooperating with you. The adjuster from the insurance company is communicating with you often, is not putting you on the defensive or making you feel like they’re trying to not pay the claim. The insurance company adjuster should absolutely be communicating with you, should be asking how things are going, should be getting updates and should be talking you through the process. If that’s happening, in my opinion, you don’t need a personal injury attorney.
Because a personal injury attorney in the end is going to take a certain cut of whatever you get, so they tend to take about 20% of a payout in that situation. Now, you’re going to have to pay the medical bills that you have, right? That’s not money that you have to work with. If you get some money for missing work, that’s great and everything, but a lot of times what happens when you get a personal injury attorney is they take any of the extra money for like pain and suffering and you kind of lose that and you hand it off to the attorney. So, three things going on in any type of injury claim where the other persons at fault, a liability claim, the medical expenses, the lost wages and pain and suffering.
If you hire an attorney, that attorney is going to help you walk through those things. That attorney is going to push the insurance company to make payment property. That attorney could file a lawsuit if they feel that the insurance company is not paying out the way they should. The attorney can make all those decisions and do it professionally. So, there certainly are times when that attorney can help.
The person I’m talking to right now, the other insurance company is not taking care of them, is not answering any questions, seems very evasive an is trying to see if this person is trying to get them or something like that. There may be a point where my client needs to hire a personal injury to help. And that’s a perfectly good time to hire an attorney. One last thing about attorneys that’s good to know, as you go through the process of experiencing this claim, you can hire a personal injury attorney at any time up to the point where you sign off on that final payout.
If you sign off on that final payout and then you say, oh well I don’t think I got enough or whatever, an attorney probably isn’t’ going to take the job at that point because you’ve already accepted the settlement. But any time before that, whether it’s at the very beginning or all the way up to the very end before you sign off on the settlement, you could hire a personal injury attorney. In my opinion, it’s not a good idea to start at the very beginning and just get an attorney unless you’re seeing that the insurance company is just not doing what you want from the very start.
It’s going to work out a lot better if you see where the insurance company is coming from. If the insurance company is taking good care of you, is communicating well, is talking you through the process and is making a fair settlement in the end with you and explaining how they came to the numbers that they came to, then there is no reason for a personal injury attorney. All you’re going to be doing is handing off some of the money that comes out of that situation to somebody else.
Now there’s lots of attorneys out there and all the commercials and everything, they want you to think that they’ll get you tons more money than you could have gotten on your own. But the fact is, the insurance company, if it’s a good insurance company, is going to take care of you in a reasonable way for those three things. The medical expenses, for the lost wages, and lost work time and for pain and suffering and beyond that, no attorney can get more money than is reasonably going to come to you.
You’re not going to get some wild amount of money for pain and suffering if you didn’t have significant pain and suffering. So, you can’t watch the commercials, you can’t listen to the commercials. You want to make sure that your insurance company is taking good care of you. If the insurance company is not taking good care of you, I would push them. I would ask my insurance agent to help push them. I do that for people all the time.
If you just simply can’t get what you want, it may be time to hire a personal injury attorney.
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