What you need to know about West Virginia car accident injury claims in this economy

Of course just because the economy is in the tank doesn’t mean that people do not still get injured in car accidents.  And people still have insurance.  As with other states, insurance is required by law in order to operate a motor vehicle.  But things have changed.  I suppose the reason is that the insurance companies are under financial strain.  There may not be less people buying insurance, but insurance companies are also involved in the investment of assets, which cannot be doing very well right now.

They have changed their behavior.  For small injury/damage cases, a few years ago, they were willing to offer a fair settlement up front without much trouble, in almost every case.  Now things have changed.  They are denying a much larger percentage of claims.  The ones that they do make pre-lawsuit offers of settlement on are laughable.  They barely offer enough to pay the outstanding medical bills.

The result is this: we are forced to file lawsuits in almost every case.  This also means that without a personal injury attorney, your chances of recovering a fair settlement are slim, because you do not have the ability to litigate the claim.  It is generally much easier to deal with the attorneys defending the lawsuit than it is to deal with the adjustors.  I have found that, especially lately, the adjustors have become arrogant jerks, who relish in denying and undervaluing claims.  Real scumbags.

Only if we, as personal injury attorneys and injury victims, start filing suit on every claim, which forces the insurance company to incur defense litigation costs, can we help bring the pre-suit settlement values back to their proper level.  For those of you speaking with the adjustors without an attorney representing you, beware of their tactics.  They will lie to you, they will try and trick you.  Their biggest lie is to dissuade you from contacting a personal injury attorney.  They will tell you that you will be paying a share of your settlement to the attorney, and that you will not get any more than what they are currently offering you.  This is a lie.  Almost all personal injury attorneys will speak with you about your situation at no cost.  If the particular attorney you have contacted will not, then call someone else.  In some cases it may not be best to hire an attorney to prosecute the claim, but you certainly should at least talk to one before settling.  Nationwide is not on your side.  State Farm is not a good neighbor (just ask Floridians), and the rest of them are scoundrels too.  Be informed, or represented, before talking with them.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.

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Whiplash injuries are common in auto accidents

Many people who survive a car accident experience whiplash. Unfortunately, there are many challenges with this type of personal injury which prevents many patients from getting the help they need. One of the biggest challenges is that many people falsely assume that whiplash is not a serious or somehow not a “real” injury. Even patients with whiplash sometimes forgo medical treatment, assuming their injury is not serious. Of course, this causes some insurance providers to downplay the seriousness of whiplash as an injury. The truth is that whiplash is a serious injury causing much pain.

The other challenge with whiplash is that the medical community knows very little about this type of injury. Although it is a very type of injury, research has yielded few clues about it. Since research about the injury is scanty, some doctors have a hard time diagnosing the injury and treating it. Whiplash causes a wide range of symptoms and usually does not appear visibly on x-rays, making it hard to quantify and diagnose.

What is known about whiplash is that it affects the neck area and seems to be caused by a sudden trauma to that area. Slip and fall accidents, car accidents, sport injuries, and assault are the most common causes of whiplash, although this injury can occur from a long list of causes. Each person seems to react to whiplash differently and it is even difficult to provide a recovery timetable. Some patients recover quickly while others remain afflicted for an extended period of time. Some patients experience symptoms at once while others develop symptoms gradually. Symptoms can include:

* Neck pain or swelling (can extend to the jaw area)
* Spasms of the neck, back, or other muscles of the body
* Dizziness and nausea
* Stiffness in the neck or difficult moving the neck
* Headaches
* Shooting pain in the neck, head, arm, or shoulder areas
* Tingling or sensations of numbness in the extremities or limbs
* Irritability and Unsteadiness
* Fatigue
* Ringing sensation in the ears
* Pain in the general facial area

Whiplash is hard to quantify and hard to predict. Some patients respond well to pain treatment and a brace for the neck (to prevent further neck trauma). Others require long-term treatment or must turn to alternative treatments – which are not covered by medical insurance – for relief. Most patients must miss at least some work and therefore lose some income.

Choose the right doctor after your southern West Virginia car accident

Choosing well-qualified, caring doctors quickly is important for your health and for your car accident claims. As a West Virginia car accident lawyer, many of my clients have no health insurance; many have no doctor; and, they do not know where they should go for medical care following a car accident. We interact with the best medical doctors in the southern West Virginia area, including Greenbrier County, Mercer County and Raleigh County, West Virginia; and, we can provide critical guidance when it counts.

The sad truth is many doctors refuse to see car accident victims, especially those without insurance. Many doctors also work for auto insurance companies, making thousands of dollars examining car accident victims and “discounting” the injuries suffered. If you innocently choose one of these “insurance or defense” doctors, you will have little opportunity to receive full and fair compensation for your injury.  Do not run the risk of going to the wrong place for your medical care.

You should also know that those “car accident & injury clinics” like the TV lawyer advertisers need lots of “clients” to pay for all that advertising. Do you want to go where the focus is on profit or patient care? You should NOT be treated like a number by your doctor or your lawyer. You deserve the best medical care and the best legal representation. While we can not represent everyone that asks us, our goal is to make a huge difference for those who we do represent. Our results, including numerous car accident and personal injury settlements, right here in southern West Virginia, demonstrate that hiring the right lawyer, right from the start, may help you reach your goal to win the highest award you deserve.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney

Tips on Hiring a West Virginia Car Accident Attorney

I recently came across an article on ExpertLaw, regarding tips on hiring a personal injury lawyer, and I think it is great advice for anyone who has been injured and is seeking out a West Virginia personal injury lawyer – or a personal injury lawyer in any other state for that matter. Several questions are discussed:

Why do I need a lawyer?

When you or your loved one suffer an injury as the result of somebody else’s action, perhaps it seems natural that the person would offer to compensate you for your injury, or that their insurance company will do the right thing and offer a fair settlement. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Many people will not take responsibility for their actions, and insurance companies profit from undercompensating injury victims. Insurance companies and their lawyers also know the governing law backwards and forwards, and they know that most non-lawyers have no idea what legal rights and remedies they possess.

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to build your case, how to negotiate your case with an insurance company, and, if necessary, how to take your case to trial. While it is possible to negotiate your claim with an insurance company yourself, insurance companies will typically do everything they can to take advantage of you and to effect the lowest possible settlement, while attempting to elicit statements from you that will damage your position if you ultimately decide to sue.

A lawyer is in a good position to help you obtain a favorable settlement that, even with the attorney fee deducted, significantly exceeds what you can obtain on your own.

How much does a personal injury attorney cost?

Personal injury lawyers almost always accept cases on a contingent fee (or “contingency fee”) basis, meaning that they if they win they receive a percentage of the award as their fee. If they lose, they do not receive an attorney fee. (Please note that attorney fees are different from costs, and you may be responsible for certain costs associated with your case, such as the filing fee for your lawsuit, even if you lose. While this is rarely an issue, as most civil litigation settles short of trial, you may wish to clarify the issue of costs with your lawyer.)

The amount of the contingent fee your lawyer will charge will vary somewhat from state to state. In most states, the attorney fee will be between one third and 40% of a personal injury award. Attorney fees for workers’ compensation cases are more tightly regulated, and are typically lower than for regular personal injury matters. If your case is potentially worth a lot of money, you may be able to negotiate a reduction of the attorney’s contingent fee – however, the best personal injury lawyers are usually not willing to negotiate their fees. They know that they are often able to recover substantially more money for their clients than attorneys with lesser skills, resulting in a greater award to you regardless of the percentage taken by the attorney.

Where Can I Find An Attorney?

You can find the names of attorneys from a variety of sources. You may seek advice from friends, or from your doctor or another health care professional. You may look in the Yellow Pages or an online lawyer directory. You may contact a State Bar lawyer referral service. There are many ways to seek a personal injury lawyer, but there are no magic answers to finding a good lawyer.

Go To An Attorney You Trust, And Seek A Referral

One of the best ways to find personal injury lawyer is to consult an attorney you trust. If you do not know any attorneys, ask your friends for names of attorneys they trust. It is not important that they give you the name of a lawyer who can handle your case – what is important is that the attorney is likely to comprehend the issues of your case, and is well-positioned to know which attorneys in your community have the skills to handle your case. Even if the attorney cannot personally take your case, he will often be able to refer you to a lawyer who can.

You should note within this context that attorneys frequently receive “referral fees” when they send personal injury cases to other lawyers or law firms. The amount of this fee can be significant – it is usually about a quarter to a third of the fee received by the personal injury lawyer who handles your case. This gives the attorney an incentive to refer you to a good personal injury lawyer – but if this possibility makes you at all uncomfortable you shouldn’t hesitate to ask if the attorney referring your case expects a referral fee.

Referral Services & Membership Organizations

Many state bar organizations offer referral services to help people find attorneys. Usually, any member of the organization can list with its referral service, and you can’t know just from the referral that the lawyer is truly qualified to handle your case.

There are also a number of specialty organizations, such as the American Association For Justice , which offer online directories of their membership. Most lawyers with significant personal injury practices are members of the AAJ. However, most legal organizations are open to all attorneys, and membership means only that the attorney has paid the membership fee.

Internet Lawyer Directories

A number of commercial on-line directories claim to screen their attorneys, or claim to list only highly qualified attorneys. Most are not being completely honest. Regardless of their promises, most on-line directories will list any personal injury lawyer who pays the required fee, and there is absolutely no guarantee that the listed attorneys are qualified to handle your case.

There are also a large number of websites on the Internet which look informational, but in fact are owned by law firms. Be wary of any “injury information” site that lists law firms or offers lawyer referrals, particularly if it does not make obvious the identity of its sponsor.

Advertising

The issue of attorney advertising is addressed in the next two questions:

Should I hire the personal injury law firm with the 1-800 number, and all of the ads on TV?

Generally speaking, television and radio advertisements are a bad way to find an attorney. Many advertisements are paid for by referral agencies, which collect large numbers of calls and then divide them up between member attorneys. Even when the advertisements are paid for by a law firm, often many of the cases are referred out to other firms who share the enormous cost of advertising. Most of the time, the attorney with the big advertising campaign will not have an office near you. Unless your case is worth a lot of money, you may well find that you are quickly referred to a different firm or that you can’t get much attention for your case.

Please note that, when it comes to hiring a personal injury lawyer, many of the best personal injury attorneys do little or no advertising. They get their cases through “referrals” from other attorneys, due to their reputations for doing good work and getting good results.

Should I hire the lawyer with the big “yellow pages” ad?

If you look at the “full page” ads in the yellow pages, you will likely find that there are two types. The first type is an ad for a local attorney, who has chosen to pay for the full page. The second type is an ad for an attorney from outside the area, sometimes from the same attorney who runs the huge television ad campaigns.

Many of the biggest ads will be from personal injury law firms, who anticipate that their large advertisements will bring them large numbers of injury cases. Many of the better personal injury lawyers and firms do pay for full-page ads. However, as was previously noted, some of the best personal injury lawyers do little or no advertising at all. Also, there are many attorneys who buy the largest ad that they can afford in order to make their practices appear better than they really are.

If you look through the yellow pages, you will see that most lawyers claim to specialize in “personal injury” cases. Many of these lawyers have handled very few personal injury cases, and some have never had even a single injury case. The yellow pages can provide some degree of confirmation that a particular law firm is established, but even a big advertisement does not certify that a firm is qualified to handle your case.

Are there special types of personal injury lawyers for different types of cases?

Yes. When you are seeking a personal injury lawyer, you should consider that most personal injury lawyers do not practice medical malpractice law, and many do not handle workers’ compensation cases. Just as you would seek a specialized doctor to provide a special type of medical care, the practice of medical malpractice law is very specialized and in seeking a lawyer it is almost always best to seek out a lawyer or law firm which has significant experience in that area of law. Some lawyers specialize primarily in workers’ compensation law, which is typically handled through a special system of administrative courts.

Further, beyond workers’ compensation and medical malpractice, certain law firms specialize in particular types of injury or cause of action. There are personal injury law firms which focus primarily on burn injuries, or brain and spinal cord injuries. There are personal injury firms which concentrate primarily on car accidents, construction accidents, or litigation over defective products. You will benefit from asking whether a lawyer you consult has experience with your type of injury before you make your hiring decision.

If I meet with an injury lawyer, do I have to hire him?

No. Although personal injury attorneys rarely charge for an initial meeting with a potential client, before your meeting you should ask if there is a fee for an initial consultation. If there is, you will be obligated to pay that fee even if you do not hire the attorney. However, even when the consultation is free, you have every right to take some time to think before you hire a lawyer, and you have every right to decide not to hire the lawyer. Hiring a personal injury lawyer is a big step, and there is nothing wrong with consulting several lawyers to find one who makes you comfortable.

What should I ask the attorney before I hire him?

The questions you should ask will vary with your case. Consider the following list to be a starting point:

What are your areas of specialization?
Have you handled cases like mine before? How many? What was the outcome?
Will you be the only attorney who works on the case? If not, who else will work on it?
How long will it take for this case to be resolved?
Will you take my case on a contingent fee basis?
Are there things I should do to improve my case, or to help you?
How will you keep me informed about the progress of my case?
If I contact your office with questions, how long will you take to return my call?
If you are unavailable or on vacation, who can I speak to about my case?
How often do you go to trial?
If I am not happy with a settlement offer and you want to settle, will you go to court anyway?
If I am happy with the offer but you think we can win more at trial, will you follow my wishes?
Have you ever been disciplined by an ethics committee, or been suspended from the practice of law? If so, why?
What “continuing legal education” courses have you attended during the past few years? Have you taught any?
Please note that, as desirable as references may be, it is usually not possible for personal injury lawyers to give references from past clients due to attorney-client confidentiality. However, you may wish to ask for references from other attorneys.

Should I ask for a written retainer agreement?

Yes. A written retainer agreement is the best way to ensure that your rights are protected, and in many jurisdictions is required for a contingent fee agreement to be valid. Many personal injury lawyers use a relatively short fee agreement, but even if it looks short and simple you should take your time and read the whole agreement before signing. If there is something you don’t understand, ask for clarification before you sign.

What if I hire an injury lawyer, but I don’t like the work he does?

Your lawyer works for you, and you have the right to terminate the attorney-client relationship. Please note, however, that your lawyer is still entitled to compensation for work performed on your case. If the lawyer was representing you on a “contingent fee” basis, the lawyer will often be entitled to a portion of the proceeds of your case once it has been resolved.

Usually, before you fire your lawyer, you will want to first talk to a different attorney. Sometimes the new attorney will tell you to try to work out your problems with your lawyer. If you choose to hire the new attorney, the new attorney should be willing to work out the details relating to any fees you may owe to your prior lawyer.

If I want to appeal my case, does my attorney have to represent me?

Generally not, unless your retainer agreement requires your attorney to take on the appeal. Your lawyer will ordinarily only have to represent you on the matters specified in your retainer agreement. Once a final judgment has been entered, your lawyer ordinarily has no further responsibility to represent you or to appeal your case.

What if a dispute arises?

In the event that a dispute arises between you and your lawyer, many state bars offer dispute resolution services. These services can be of particular benefit in the event of fee disputes. If you feel that your lawyer has acted in an unethical manner, each state has a “grievance” procedure where you can file a complaint against your lawyer and have your complaint investigated.

Source: Expertlaw.

Personal Injury 101 For Clients – Part III

1. What will the insurance company for the person, persons or company who caused my injury do about my claim?

After the insurance company has been notified about the claim, a file is established on you and your case. An insurance clams adjuster is assigned to your file by a claims manager or claims supervisor. The supervisor may assign different adjusters to your case as it progresses.

The insurance claims adjuster responsible for your file will maintain contact with your lawyer. The adjuster will also perform an independent investigation of your claim to ascertain the following:

a. Who is at fault in your case.

b. Whether or not you bear any fault for your own injuries. This is also referred to as comparative negligence or contributory negligence.

c. Potential witnesses in the case.

d. The location of the scene of the accident.

e. The contents of police reports, Department of Motor Vehicle reports, and any other investigative reports that have been filed in the case.

After the initial investigation, the claims adjuster will request medical reports and any other reports dealing with your injuries. The adjuster will also review documents about your time lost from work. Most importantly, the insurance claims adjuster will want to receive accurate records of your medical bills, prescription bills, hospital bills, therapy bills, and any other actual expenses incurred as a result of your injury. That is why it is very important for you to maintain an accurate account of your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses which result from your injury.

2. How does the insurance company put a value on my case?

This question is quite complicated. First, the claims supervisor or claims manager will provide that a certain amount be “set aside” as a potential value of your case. This figure is usually called “reserves.” Such reserves are the outside value that the company has established on your claim. The reserves may change as the case progresses. In serious cases, such reserves may equal what are called policy limits. Policy limits are the outside limit amounts of liability established in the insurance policy of the person or persons who caused your injury.

During the preparation stages of your case, the insurance company will keep track of your medical bills, lost wages, any permanency regarding your injury, and other factors. The company will also take into consideration the quality of evidence against their insured, the quality of your witnesses and their witnesses, extent of liability on your part, and other important considerations such as previous injuries.

If you had a previous injury in the same area of your body, the insurance carrier will want to see medical records pertaining to that injury. During the course of your claim, your attorney will be notified by the insurance company about the important factors that are being considered in your particular case.

3. Should I communicate with or contact the insurance company for the person who caused my injuries?

Absolutely not! Under no circumstances should you contact the insurance company once you have retained an attorney. If you contact the other person’s insurance company, for any reason, you could ruin your entire case with one question or one statement.

Secondly, because you are now represented by a lawyer, the insurance company, in most states, is absolutely prohibited from having any personal contact with you for any reason.

4. Can I contact my own insurance company?

If you have health insurance, medical payments insurance, automobile uninsurance or underinsurance coverage, there may be occasions when it is appropriate for you to contact your own company. However, you should always ask your lawyer whether or not such contact is appropriate. Never contact an insurance company without first obtaining approval from your attorney.

5. Will the insurance company for the person who caused my injuries dispute my claim?

If liability and responsibility are well-established in your case — that is, if fault clearly rests with the insurance company’s insured (the person or persons who caused your injury), they will try very hard to settle your claim. Insurance companies usually dispute the following types of claims:

a. Claim in which the fault rests with someone other than their insured. This could mean you or someone else involved in the incident who may have caused your injuries rather than the person who is insured by the insurance company.

b. Claims in which the insurance company and its representatives do not believe that you are injured, or that you were injured as badly as you claim. For this reason, documentation of medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses are extremely important to establish credibility and the existence of your injury.

c. Cases in which you or your witnesses have lied, exaggerated, or fabricated the nature and extent of your injury or how the incident occurred.

6. What can I do to convince the insurance company that my claim is valid?

As stated above, the most important thing you can do is to recover as quickly as possible from your injury. Insurance company personnel tend to believe those people who actively try to recover from their injuries. That is why you must cooperate with your doctor, physical therapist and other personnel who are trying to help you improve from your injury.

Secondly, insurance companies believe those people who can document their injuries through medical bills, credible medical reports and accurate lost wage information that is neither exaggerated nor subject to dispute and interpretation.

Thirdly, insurance companies usually settle cases easier with those clients who have been in active contact and cooperation with their attorney.

In summary, it is important for you to try to get better, keep an accurate record of your expenses, and cooperate with your lawyer and his or her staff.


Personal Injury 101 For Clients – Part II

1. How will my lawyer handle my case?

After initial meetings with you, your lawyer will investigate your claim. This usually requires a review of some or all of the following:

a. Witness statements.

b. Police reports.

c. A possible visit to the scene of the incident.

d. A review of appropriate statutory law (laws enacted by your legislature).

e. A review of appropriate case law (laws made by judges who interpret statutory law).

f. A review of all medical reports.

g. A review of all medical bills.

h. The possible hiring of an investigator to investigate the details of the incident.

Your lawyer will also contact the insurance company for the person, persons, or company who caused your injuries. After the initial investigation and contact with the insurance company, your lawyer will maintain contact with you to make sure of the following:

a. That you are following the advice of your physicians and other medical practitioners.

b. That you are doing your best to improve from your injury.

c. That you are providing your lawyer with copies of all medical bills and other expenses related to the incident.

d. That you are providing records of loss of income from your job.

e. That you are keeping track of potential witnesses in your case.

Medical records will be obtained through the use of authorization forms as discussed below. Your lawyer will review those medical reports as they come in from your doctor and will keep abreast of the applicable law relating to your case.

2. How can I help my lawyer with my case?

The most important thing for you to do is to provide documentation of your medical bills, expenses and loss of income from your employment. The following is a list of things that will also help your lawyer with your claim.

a. Return all phone calls promptly to your lawyer.

b. Read all correspondence from your lawyer.

c. Keep all appointments with medical facilities.

d. Maintain a file and record of medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses associated with the injury.

e. Keep a list of witnesses who may testify about your injuries or about the incident.

f. Take photographs as instructed by your attorney and maintain copies and negatives of such pictures.

g. Notify your attorney immediately of any change of address, telephone numbers, marital status, change of employment or drastic change in your physical condition.

h. Answer all questions posed by your attorney truthfully and candidly.

i. Sign all forms requested by your attorney.

3. Why do I have to sign so many forms?

Doctors, hospitals, employers, and other establishments will not release personal information about you without signed written authorizations. It is against the law, in most instances, to release information about a person, to anyone, including your lawyer, without formal documentation. Therefore, your lawyer will ask you to sign such authorization forms which will allow him or her to retrieve important information about you.

4. How will my lawyer be paid and what is a contingent fee agreement?

In almost all personal injury cases, your attorney will be paid by keeping a percentage or portion of the final settlement or court award resulting from your injury. The percentage will be discussed with you and will be the subject of what is called a contingent fee agreement. The law requires, for your protection and that of your lawyer, a written contract which specifies the fee he or she will charge so there will be no misunderstanding about how much your case will cost. Most contingent fee agreements provide that you do not have to pay your lawyer for his or her services unless, and until, the case is settled or is resolved by a court verdict in your favor. The agreement will provide that your lawyer will work diligently on your case in exchange for the percentage or portion outlined in the agreement. As discussed below, however, you will be responsible for actual out-of-pocket costs, in addition to the attorneys’ fees, even if the case is not settled or won.

5. What other costs will there be in addition to the attorneys’ fees?

The fee for your attorney is based upon his or her work, time, effort and expertise. The lawyer’s fee also encompasses certain office overhead such as secretarial time, rent, files, and other built-in costs. However, there are also additional out-of-pocket expenses which are incurred specifically as a result of your case. Some of these expenses include the following:

a. Fees that doctors and hospitals charge for medical reports. Such reports may cost anywhere from a few dollars for simple copies to $100 or more for reports that have to be written or prepared specifically by your doctor.

b. Photocopy charges. Insurance companies require significant numbers of copies of medical bills, medical reports, police reports, witness statements, and lost income information. Your law firm has to pay for these photocopies and you will usually be charged a certain amount for each page of copy.

c. Long distance telephone calls. If long distance telephone calls are required, you will probably have to reimburse your attorney for the actual cost of each call.

d. Costs of photographs. Photographs are extremely important in personal injury cases and if your attorney incurs expense in having photos obtained or enlarged, you will be responsible for such costs.

e. Reports of experts. Reports from experts other than physicians may be required in your case and, if so, you will have to pay the costs that such experts charge for their reports.

f. Litigation costs. If your case has to proceed to suit or litigation, there will be costs incurred as a result of the filing of such a lawsuit.

6. Are the attorneys’ disbursements and costs also contingent and if not, do they have to be paid in advance?

The costs and disbursements outlined above in question 5 are your responsibility even if there is no recovery in your case. In other words, although your attorney’s fee is contingent upon a settlement or successful court award, the actual out-of-pocket costs are not contingent upon successful recovery. Your attorney may require you to assist in such costs as they are incurred. Therefore, you may be requested to pay some of the out-of-pocket costs in advance of settlement as the case progresses. The reason for this is that it is not economically feasible for law firms to “finance” personal injury cases. For this reason, the law provides that out-of-pocket expenses are the responsibility of the client even if the case does not settle.


Personal Injury 101 For Clients – Part I

 

1. What is the most important thing for me to do after my injury?

 

The most important thing for you to do, quite simply, is to recover from your injury. The law requires injured people to “mitigate their damages.” In other words, the law requires you to do that which is necessary to improve your physical condition and recover from your injury.

 

For you this may mean some, or all, of the following steps:

 

a. Do not miss appointments with your doctor. Stay in touch with your doctor and be certain to maintain your appointments. If you have to cancel, notify the doctor with as much notice as possible. The words “no show” on a doctor’s record sheet can be used against you at the time of settlement or trial.

 

b. Attend physical therapy sessions as prescribed. Your physician or hospital may prescribe therapy to facilitate recovery from your injury. Such a procedure is often helpful in many types of injuries including strains, sprains and other so-called “soft tissue” injuries. If physical therapy is prescribed, be sure to keep your appointments and participate actively in the process. Again, if you have to cancel an appointment, be sure to call, but try to avoid cancellation as much as possible.

 

c. Do what your doctor tells you to do. If your physician prescribes certain medications, therapy exercises, or limitations on activities, be sure to follow your doctor’s orders. Failure to follow your doctor’s advice can be used against you when it comes time to settle your case, or can be used against you in court if your claim proceeds to litigation.

 

d. Follow your doctor’s advice with respect to work and leisure activities. If your physician advises you to rest, stay home from work, or avoid certain activities, it is important that you follow such advice. If you resist your doctor’s advice and do activities that have been limited, it will not only prevent a speedy recovery, but could also affect the legal aspects of your case. Even though staying out of work may have an impact financially, it is important that you follow such advice so that your recovery will be enhanced. Your attorney will attempt to recover lost earnings.

 

2. How do I pay my medical bills?

 

Your lawyer will discuss the payment of your medical bills in detail with you. In summary, your medical bills may be paid by one of the following methods:

 

a. Your own health insurance from your employment benefits package.

b. Your own health insurance that you may have paid for personally.

c. Health insurance obtained by your spouse for your benefit or by your parents if you are under age and living with such parents.

d. Medical payments insurance coverage from your own automobile policy if you were driving your automobile and were involved in an automobile collision.

e. Medical payments insurance coverage from the person you were riding with if you were a passenger in an automobile that has automobile insurance coverage.

f. Your own personal funds if you were not insured and are able to pay medical bills as they are incurred.

g. Workers’ compensation insurance if your injury occurred while you were working on the job and the injury occurred as a result of your employment.

h. The liability insurance coverage for the person, persons or company who caused your injuries. Such insurance coverage will most likely be paid at the time of settlement rather than during the period that you incur such medical bills.

i. Other possible sources.

 

Depending on the nature of your case, your medical bills may be covered by any of the above possibilities. If there is no insurance coverage, your bills will be saved by you and your lawyer, and will be paid at a later date when and if your case settles.

 

3. Will the doctors, hospitals and other medical facilities wait for payment if I am unable to pay my bills as they are incurred?

 

In most cases where there is no immediate method to pay medical bills as they are incurred, many doctors, hospitals, and other medical facilities will wait to be paid for their services when the case is finally resolved by way of settlement or verdict in court. It is important to let medical providers know early in the process if you have no insurance or financial means to pay medical bills as they are incurred.

 

4. How does my lawyer make sure that the doctors and medical facilities will got paid?

 

Most lawyers have a policy of withholding money from the settlement or court verdict to pay doctors and medical facilities. Many doctors and medical facilities require that the patient/client sign a form (usually called a subrogation or lien form) which allows the attorney to withhold enough money to pay medical bills directly from the insurance settlement proceeds.

 

5. Why won’t the insurance company for the person or company who caused my injuries automatically pay my medical bills as they occur?

 

Most insurance companies for the tortfeasor (the person, persons or company who caused your injuries) will not automatically pay medical bills as they occur. There are many reasons for this. One reason is that they do not want to spend a substantial amount of money for medical bills and then be faced with an unreasonable or excessive demand at the time of final settlement. In other words, they do not want to expend a substantial sum of money on medical bills and then be faced with the chance of defending a lawsuit. Secondly, most insurance companies want to conclude or settle the claim with one sum of money. Therefore, most liability insurance companies will wait for the letter of demand from your attorney and then try to conclude the case all at once with one payment.

 

6. How do I keep track of all my bills?

 

One of the most important things for you to do is to keep an accurate record of your medical bills. This is how you do it:

 

a. Ask for a medical bill each time you see a doctor or facility.

 

Maintain a record of your visits and make sure that you obtain a medical bill for each visit to your doctor, hospital, physical therapist or medical facility.

 

b. Save all prescription bills.

 

Be sure to save copies of your prescriptions and drugstore charges for medicine that you purchase as a result of your injury.

 

c. Keep a separate chart with dates, amounts of medical bills, and purchases of medication.

 

Maintain a separate record which has the date of the medical service or purchase of medication, the amount charged, and how the bill was paid (by insurance, your own personal funds, etc.). This requirement is very important because it will be your actual record of medical bills incurred as a result of your injury.

 

d. Be sure that your lawyer receives a copy of each medical bill, prescription bill, or other bill related to your injury.

 

It is important for your lawyer to receive copies of all your medical bills as well as a copy of your medical bill summary when your case is ready for settlement. Even though your lawyer may receive copies of bills directly from the medical facilities, a double-check process will assure that your claim settles for the maximum value. If your lawyer does not have a record of all your medical bills, your case may be settled for much less than its actual value.

 

e. Keep a record of medical bills even if they are processed through a health insurance carrier.

 

Even if your medical bills are paid by a health insurance company or your employer, you must still maintain copies for yourself and be sure to get copies to your lawyer.