3 Often Misunderstood Aspects of an Auto Accident Claim
Most personal injury clients have very limited experience with civil law and the legal system in general. As a result, they often make assumptions about their case and how it will likely be resolved.
Common misconceptions that auto accident plaintiffs sometimes have include:
The Person Who Caused the Accident Will Pay All My Bills Up Front
When someone else is clearly at fault for something bad that happened to you, it is human nature to assume that that person will be required to pay for your expenses immediately. After all, but for his or her negligence, you wouldn’t have those medical bills and that property damage, right? Unfortunately, no matter how much to blame a party is, that person will not be required to pay any of your bills or expenses until a court orders him/her to do so, or he/she agrees to pay them as part of a final settlement.
Obviously, this throws a wrench into the lives of a lot of injured people, especially if they cannot work because of their accident-related injuries and the bills start to pile up. To counteract this, most automobile insurance policies contain Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Pay Coverage (Med Pay) that will take care of medical bills and in the case of PIP, some of your lost wages while you recover from your injuries. If you don’t have PIP or Med Pay coverage, your own health insurance may pay your medical expenses.
Once My Claim Settles and My Attorney Gets Paid, I Get to Keep the Rest
The auto insurance company that paid accident-related benefits (your company) will get paid back if you recover any money from a third party later. This may seem strange since you paid for this coverage in the first place, but if you read your policy, it is likely that a provision is included regarding their right to repayment, or subrogation, relating to any financial compensation you get from the person who hurt you (or from their insurance company). But fortunately, if you hired a lawyer to help you recover from the at-fault party, your insurance company will be required to pay a share of your attorney’s fees.
The Insurance Company Knows That My Case Is Worth a Lot of Money, Right?
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, you likely suffered trauma, damage, or complete destruction of your vehicle, lost wages, and physical injuries that can take weeks or months to heal, or you may never fully recover. So when the liability insurance company offers a paltry $1,000 or less to settle your case, it can be a real slap in the face.
In Colorado, if you suffer a personal injury, you’re entitled to be compensated for economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages and property damage; non-economic damages including pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life; and permanent impairments like disfigurement and the inability to work.
But what if the insurance company isn’t willing to compensate you for those damages? That’s where a personal injury attorney comes in. Many damages are difficult to quantify, but a skilled accident attorney will negotiate with the insurance company to obtain the maximum compensation for you, not just take the first — and often meager — offer of settlement.
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