Questions To Ask Before You Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer
Adding doctors and insurance adjustors to the mix only increases the level of stress.
That is why hiring experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys is so critical.
Having quality representation will make your life easier and help you maximize the value of your claim.
Don’t be afraid to ask your personal injury lawyer questions.
The more information you have about the process, the better you will feel.
Here are four frequently asked questions, along with answers from the attorneys at Shiner Law Group, that will help you become more informed.
Personal Injury Rundown – 4 Common Client Questions & Answers
1. Who pays for my medical bills?
The answer to this question depends, in part, on the type of accident.
For instance, was it an automobile accident, slip and fall, or something else?
A. Automobile Accident
i. Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”)
Every Florida driver is required to carry Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”), which is also known as No Fault Insurance, of $10,000.
If you are injured in an accident, regardless of who was at fault, your PIP coverage will pay 80% of your medical costs up to $10,000 (which is the minimum and maximum amount of PIP coverage allowed in Florida), so long as your injury is considered an emergency medical condition.
Meaning, if you incurred $10,000 in medical bills, your own automobile insurer would pay $8,000 worth of those bills under the PIP coverage.
If you incurred $12,500 of medical bills, PIP would pay $10,000 of those bills ($12,500 x 80% = $10,000).
If you incurred medical bills greater than $12,500, PIP would still only cover $10,000 of those bills (because $10,000 is the most that PIP will cover).
If your injury is not an emergency medical condition, however, you will only be entitled to $2,500 in PIP benefits.
It is also important to note that you must receive medical treatment for your injuries within 14 days of the accident in order to get any PIP benefits.
If you do not receive medical treatment for your injuries within 14 days of the accident, PIP will not pay any of your medical expenses.
ii. Health Insurance or Letter of Protection
If you are fortunate enough to have health insurance, your health insurance will cover the balance of your medical bills.
If you do not have health insurance, you may have to come out of pocket to pay your medical bills, or sometimes, medical providers will render treatment to accident victims under a letter of protection.
A letter of protection (LOP) guarantees that a medical professional will be paid for his or her services should the accident victim recover funds from a pre-suit settlement, lawsuit settlement, or verdict following a trial.
iii. At Fault Party’s Automobile Insurance
If the other driver in the car accident was at fault, and he or she has bodily injury (“BI”) coverage under his or her automobile insurance policy (BI coverage is not mandatory under Florida law, so not all drivers carry it), then you could also seek to recover payment for your medical expenses under that policy.
This is where having a lawyer represent you can make all the difference.
B. Slip and Fall or Other Accident
If you were injured in a slip and fall or other type of accident, then Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage would not apply. Remember, PIP coverage only applies in motor vehicle accidents.
In that case, your medical bills will be paid by your health insurance (if you have health insurance).
Further, if the other party involved in the accident was at fault and has liability insurance (premises liability, commercial liability, or personal liability insurance), you can seek to recover payment for your medical expenses under that policy.
Also, the at-fault party may have Medical Payments coverage (also known as MedPay).
MedPay is usually in the amount of $5,000 or $10,000.
MedPay can be recovered by the injured party to compensate them for their medical costs.
2. Who should contact and communicate with the insurance companies?
Once you hire an attorney to represent you, the attorney or attorney’s office will communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf.
If an insurance company contacts you directly, you should re-direct them to your attorney.
The only time you should be speaking with an insurance company (after you have hired a lawyer) is when it is your own insurance company and your lawyer is also a part of the conversation, or alternatively, to address issues with your own insurance company relating to property damage (for instance, damage to your vehicle) or rental car coverage.
3. How long will my personal injury claim take?
Unfortunately, there is no exact timeline that applies universally to all personal injury claims.
The short answer is, it depends.
The duration of a personal injury claim depends on a number of factors, including:
- The seriousness of your injuries
- The amount of damages involved
- The complexity of the factual and legal issues
- The status of your treatment and recovery.
For example, if you sustained very serious injuries and there are a lot of damages at stake, it could take longer to settle your personal injury claim.
Also, if you are still treating for your injuries and have not yet reached maximum medical improvement (“MMI”), it might be premature to resolve your claim.
The reason being that if you are still treating, you do not yet know what type of recovery you will make from your injuries and how your injuries may continue to affect you in the future.
The length of your personal injury case is also impacted by the particular insurance company on the other side and their willingness to settle.
If you are unable to reach a pre-suit settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company, then you, or your lawyer, will need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
The filing of a lawsuit is sometimes necessary and required to get the most value out of your case, but it can also extend the duration of your case.
4. How much is my personal injury case worth?
Every personal injury case has two main components: liability and damages.
Liability means who is at fault for the accident.
It is not always the case that one party is entirely and 100% at fault.
Oftentimes, there are multiple parties at fault.
When there is shared responsibility for an accident, this is referred to as comparative fault.
Sometimes, even the injured party is partially to blame.
If you are partially to blame for the accident, that will reduce the value of your claim.
The damages component relates to your injuries and the loss you have suffered.
Obviously, the greater the injury, and the more impact it has had on your life, the more your case is worth.
Additionally, the type of medical care needed to treat your injuries affects the value of your case.
For example, if you were required to undergo surgery to treat your injuries, that would increase the value of your claim.
Further, if you were forced to miss time from work as a result of your injuries, and suffered lost income, that too would increase the value of your claim.
In Florida, personal injury claimants can recover damages for their bodily injuries, the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, property loss (for instance, damage to your vehicle), pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment for life, as well as other types of damages.
In sum, the value of your personal injury case is based on where the liability or fault for the accident lies and the amount of damages involved.
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