The following is an excerpt from Gary Martin Hays's best-selling book The Authority On Personal Injury Claims in Georgia. If you are injured in a car crash and have questions about your rights, give us a call at 770-934-8000.
So you've been hurt in a car wreck and it was not your fault. The insurance company reluctantly agreed to pay to have your car repaired. You have been going to your doctor for medical treatment and your health insurance company has been paying the bills.
Surely this is a claim that you can handle on your own against the insurance company and their lawyers, right? To quote the great college football coach turned commentator, Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friend!"
There are more landmines in this claim than you might realize. Here are just a few concerns:
- Are you getting a fair settlement?
- Will you have to repay your health insurance for any amount that they paid to your health care providers? If so, how much?
- Does the settlement leave open the possibility that their insured could come after you for any damages or injuries sustained in the wreck?
- Do you know if you have to send an "ante litem" notice to the Defendant before you can proceed with your claim? Do you even know what an "ante litem" notice is or whether or not it applies to your case?
- What statutes of limitation apply to your claim?
- Do you really have a full understanding of what the future may hold for you medically? And did you get a report from your treating physician(s) to include in your demand package?
- If the claim does not settle, have you irreparably damaged your claim to a point where no lawyer wants to step in and handle it for you?
- Will you know what to do if the insurance company is taking their time getting back with you, or worse yet, completely ignores you?
- Do you have the time to collect, decode, and understand all of your medical records from all of your health care providers?
- Are you available at all times during the work day to make calls and wait for return phone calls from the insurance company or your doctors?
- Will you know how to secure eyewitness statements? What if you can't locate that witness? Do you have the ability, time or resources, to locate him/her?
- Are you comfortable talking with your employer or HR department to get the lost wage information - in a form that the insurance company will understand and not question?
- Do you know what documentation the insurance company needs to FAIRLY evaluate your claim?
- What if the insurance company's adjuster is out of state?
- What if they ask you to sign a medical authorization that allows them access to your entire medical history?
- Do you give them a recorded statement?
- What if you have no health insurance?
- What if the at-fault driver had no insurance or not enough?
- What if you are asked to go to a medical appointment to meet with one of the insurance company doctors?
- What if you had a pre-existing medical condition that was aggravated in the wreck?
- Do you have the time, the temperament, the patience, the knowledge to handle this claim on your own?
I'll give you the same advice I would give anyone calling my office about a potential personal injury claim:
Talk with an EXPERIENCED personal injury attorney about the facts of your claim. If they feel you have a potential claim, then hire that attorney.
If it is a claim that I am willing to handle at my law firm, I tell the client: if you don't hire us, hire someone - but please hire someone that is a specialist in personal injury claims. You have absolutely nothing to lose by hiring us, but think about all you could lose if you don't!