As a personal injury firm, we've handled just about every type of case involving wrecks, work injuries, and violent crime. But for most clients, this is their first time dealing with a lawyer, so their questions are more or less the same.
Below is a breakdown of the top three most common questions we hear and how we answer them.
How long does the process take?
The short answer is: it depends. As cliché as it sounds, every case is unique because the person, their injuries, financial circumstances, and insurance company affect the time it takes to investigate and process a claim.
Cases may take anywhere from several months to a year and a half or longer. This is normal for any personal injury law firm. How quickly a case progresses depends on the time it takes for:
- A person to recover from their injuries (treatment time is the biggest unknown)
- Medical personnel to gather together a client's medical information and bills and send them to us once treatment is complete (this can take days or weeks)
- The insurance company to review and respond to a client's demand package
No two cases are alike.
At the beginning of a case, we have a legal strategy session with our clients to map out an action plan for their claim. We want to fully inform our clients as to what they can expect at each juncture and everything that we'll be taking care of behind the scenes.
What is my case worth?
Again, it depends. This is the only HONEST answer we can give any client at the beginning of their claim about the value of their case. There are so many factors that can affect the financial outcome of a claim, including:
- The severity of the injuries and the length of time it's taken to recover
- The amount of medical expenses and lost wages incurred by the injured party
- Whether or not the injuries are permanent
- If there is any scarring or disfigurement
- How much insurance is available
- The potential for a lawsuit to be filed
- Determining if the defendant's conduct was egregious enough to the point that it warrants punitive damages
Again, it all depends upon so many factors that apply only to your case. No matter how large or small your claim, we're committed to quality service and outcomes for our clients and the satisfaction of a job well done.
How can I get the medical treatment I need without going into debt?
This question is a whole subject in of itself but we'll stick with the basics for this post and tease it apart into sub-questions.
But before we get into the cost of medical treatment, there are several important things you need to know because each could potentially affect your claim:
- Tell the doctor or nurse about ALL of your injuries, no matter how small or unseen, and take pictures. If you don't tell a medical professional, the injury may never make it into your medical records. Without proof or documentation, the insurance company will not consider the injury when evaluating your case.
- Do not delay seeking medical treatment, even if you aren't sure if you'll hire an attorney. Delaying treatment could exacerbate existing injuries or cause new injuries.
- Keep all medical appointments and comply with your treatment regimen. Insurance adjusters will use missed appointments without a legitimate reason to argue your injuries are not as serious as you claim and penalize your settlement value.
- Keep track of all medical bills, invoices, instructions, and referrals, as well as a list of doctors you've seen. This will be vital in helping our firm gather your treatment information.
Who pays for my medical treatment?
When it comes to medical coverage, you have several options.
Your Insurance Company
If you have Med-Pay Coverage (MPC), your insurance company will pay for reasonable and necessary medical expenses up to the limit of the policy. Med-Pay Coverage not only covers your medical treatment but any passengers who were injured in your car at the time of the wreck.
In general, MPC is usually inexpensive and we highly recommend you add it to your car insurance policy if don't have it already.
If you are involved in a wreck while on the job and your employer has three or more employees, it is likely your medical bills can be covered through workers' compensation insurance provided you treat with authorized doctors. You do not have to be injured at a job site. However, exceptions are sometimes made if you're injured while on lunch break, running a personal injury, or driving to and from home. That said, you should consult with us to review the specific facts of your claim.
If you have health insurance, your healthcare providers will bill your health insurer. Be persistent and follow-up to make sure they have done so. They may tell you your health insurer will not pay your bills. This is false. As long as your doctor accepts your health insurance and you have complied with the terms of the policy, your health insurer cannot reject you because of a car accident.
If there is no other source of insurance or coverage, then we can recommend a doctor who is willing to treat you on a "lien" basis. This means the doctor is willing to treat you now and accept payment later after your case has settled. Most doctors are not willing to treat on a lien basis without an attorney involved in the legal claim.
Creditors are calling me - will delaying payment hurt my credit score?
One thing we advise is that you do not ignore the person or company calling in regards to your medical bills. Call them back, explain your situation and request to either make small payments to stay in good standing or for the bills to be put on hold.
When in Doubt, Talk to an Attorney
Don't leave your health and financial well-being to chance. If you're hurt in a wreck or at work and you're unsure of your rights or insurance coverage details, talk with us right away to discuss your claim.