Written by: Michael O. Wells
There you are, minding your own business, behind the wheel of your car, waiting for the red light to change to green. Suddenly, you are hit from behind by another driver. Your rear bumper is scraped and dented, and your neck is burning, and you are getting a headache. You deal with exchanging insurance information, giving statement to the police who investigated the collision, and now you have to deal with getting your car repaired. The police officer asks if you need to be taken to the emergency room. You decide to go to get checked out, just to be safe.
You now have some medical bills that you would not have taken on if someone else hadn’t slammed into your car. You have a voicemail message from a nice lady who says she is from the other driver’s insurance company, and she wants to take your recorded statement. You are wondering if you should call a lawyer, or just call the insurance lady back and give a statement and hope that you can get your medical bills paid.
My advice would be to call an experience personal injury lawyer FIRST. Don’t give a recorded statement, at least, not yet! Remember that the insurance adjuster has a job to do: that job is to settle your claim for a little money as possible. That’s how insurance companies make a profit. Nothing wrong with that, but they are not working in your best interest. An attorney can help protect your interests in getting your bills covered and getting some adequate compensation for your pain, inconvenience and trouble. In most auto collisions, the issue of liability (who is a fault) is not usually going to be disputed, especially in a rear-end collision such as the one described in this post. But, if liability is in anyway contested, you are absolutely going to need a lawyer with litigation experience, as the case will likely need to go to a jury trial to have liability determined. But even in cases where the fault is not disputed, the adjuster is going to minimize your injuries and dispute the medical necessity of some or all of your treatment. You will likely be offered a small settlement and told “take it or leave it!” The nice lady from the insurance company doesn’t seem as nice as when she first called you.
Then there is the issue of what are called “sources of coverage”. What insurance coverage is available to settle your case? You would expect that as long as the other driver has insurance you are set; but what if your injuries are significant, and the other driver has only the minimum coverage of $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per incident? Suppose there are multiple claimants from the same collision? Who gets paid and who doesn’t? Is there other coverage to might protect you, such as what is called uninsured/under-insured coverage? If you have coverage that is greater than the minimum, then your insurance company may have to be involved to contribute to your settlement. This is why you should always inform your insurance company of the collision. If you don’t let them know, you might be risking that additional coverage. You may also have medical payments coverage that will help reimburse you for you medical bills. These are the kinds of issues that a competent personal injury attorney can help you with and make sure that you are compensated properly for your injury.