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There are 2 factors that determine whether you have an injury case: 1) fault and 2) damages. You can’t have one without the other. If you were in an accident that was not your fault but you have no damages, you have no case. If you were in an accident in which you were injured but it was all your fault, you have no case. If, however, you were in an accident that was not all your fault (Kentucky is a pure comparative negligence state) and have been seriously injured, you may very well have a case.
You can either go to the headquarters of whatever law enforcement agency took the report, which can take several days before it becomes available, or you can go to www.buycrash.com and get a copy online, usually much quicker. You will need to provide your last name, the accident date, the name of the investigation agency, and either your driver’s license number (if you were driving, or whomever was driving), report number, or the officer’s badge number. The cost is $10. However, if you wish to schedule a consultation at our office about your case, we will gladly obtain a copy of the police report for you, if available, at no charge.
A police report contains valuable information about an accident and is generally the first thing that any lawyer or adjuster looks at in assessing fault and potential injuries. It is not necessarily the final word, although it usually is in more cases than not. The police report should also indicate whether any official photos were taken at the accident scene.
You don’t need an attorney if you don’t have a case. You may need an attorney if you do have a case. Personal injury cases can be very complicated.
In a typical car accident case, the first thing an attorney can do for you is to try to get the other driver’s insurance company to accept liability for your property damage and provide a rental vehicle. An attorney will also notify the insurance companies involved of his or her representation in order for all available benefits to be paid. Beyond that, an attorney will monitor the progress of your treatment for your injuries and accumulate the information necessary to try to settle your liability case at the appropriate time, usually when treatment is complete. Plus, an attorney should make sure that you are protected from or have satisfied any and all liens at the time of settlement.
Not necessarily. If your property damage has been covered and your medical bills are getting paid, it may not be necessary to get an attorney involved right away.
The value that an attorney brings to a personal injury case is that he or she will accumulate all of the necessary information to provide to the liability insurance company to try to settle your case. The liability insurance companies want to see everything. Getting these records is not that easy. Different hospitals require different authorizations. They don’t necessary provide their billing records along with their treatment records. So it can be an overwhelming task for individuals unfamiliar with the legal system.
Then, there is the matter of knowing what to do with this information once you get it. Few people besides experienced injury attorneys have any idea of what the settlement value of their cases should be. Plus, you must also bear in mind that when you are dealing with an insurance company, they are professionals at negotiating settlements. Attempting to negotiate with them on your own is usually a mismatch.
If you were involved in an automobile accident in this area, and have an injury case, you should seek an attorney in this area. Any attorney who does not practice in this area should be the first to tell you that you need local counsel in the state where the accident happened because only local counsel knows the lay of the land and the laws that apply. Plus, because you are from out-of-state, you most likely have an auto insurance policy that was not issued in Kentucky, and it is important to seek an attorney who knows how your out-of-state coverages will be affected by Kentucky law. We have represented many out-of-state clients in both plaintiff and defense cases, and have also served as local counsel in many cases for out-of-state attorneys. If you are equipped with any of the basics of modern technology (cellphone, fax, e-mail, computer, scanner, Skype, etc.), distance normally presents no obstacle to effective representation.
Yes, if you believe you have been injured you should seek treatment as soon as possible. Don’t assume the pain will go away in a few days, it may not. If you don’t seek treatment right away, an insurance company reviewing your case for settlement may very likely construe this against you, as in, you must not have been hurt very badly or else you would have sought treatment more promptly.
Generally speaking, we advise our clients that they should follow up with their primary care physician and follow that physician’s advice. We do not seek to refer our clients to “accident clinics” or the like of our own choosing.
If liability is clear, then often (but not always) the liability insurer for the person at fault will agree to accept liability for the repair or replacement of your damaged vehicle. This is usually to your advantage because it will save you your deductible if you have your own collision insurance, although sometimes, if it’s a total loss, your own insurer may be willing to pay you more even after the deductible than the liability insurer’s appraisal. However, if you don’t have collision insurance, getting the liability insurer to accept responsibility for your property damage is, obviously, your only option.
If the liability insurer for the party at fault will agree to accept liability for your property damage, it will normally provide a rental vehicle for a limited amount of time as well. If you need more time, it may allow an extension. If you have rental coverage under your own auto policy, it should provide rental coverage for a certain number of days, if needed, in addition to what the liability insurer is willing to pay.
We advise our clients to attempt to utilize their health insurance, if they have any, and save their “no-fault” coverage under their own auto policy to cover lost wages, co-pays, etc. This is easier said than done. Most medical providers in this area will insist on billing your no-fault insurance and will not submit your bills to health insurance unless your no-fault coverage is exhausted. This is because health insurance typically compensates the medical providers at a much cheaper discount than “no-fault” insurance. On the other hand, if you have no health insurance, then your own no-fault coverage will cover your medical bills up to the policy limit. The minimum coverage is $10,000, less any deductible, although higher limits can be purchased. Your auto policy should be reviewed to determine if you have also purchased “added” no-fault benefits.
You will need an employer’s statement as to your weekly wage and a doctor’s statement that you were being kept off work for a certain period of time because of your injuries in an accident in order to submit any lost wages claims to your auto insurer for reimbursement. Under the basic coverage, you are entitled to be reimbursed for up to $200 per week, by statute
I was injured in an accident and the insurance company has made me a settlement offer. How do I know whether I should take it?
Normally it costs nothing for an attorney to review your case and advise you as to whether he believes the offer is reasonable or not. If the attorney believes he can do better, and you are wondering whether you should hire him, he or she should be willing to include in the fee agreement that you will recover at least as much from any settlement he obtains, after payment of his fee and expenses, as you would have if you had accepted the insurance company’s last settlement offer before you hired him.
Why would an insurance company offer me a higher settlement if I’m represented by an attorney than if I’m not?
Because the insurance companies know that unrepresented individuals almost never have any realistic idea about what their case is worth and they will take advantage of the situation to attempt to settle for the lowest amount possible. If an individual is represented by an attorney, however, the insurance company must deal with the attorney’s knowledge and experience as to what your case is truly worth. Typically, an individual’s net recovery is substantially more if represented by an attorney than if not.
Hopefully not. Normally an attorney will attempt to settle your case at the appropriate time without having to file a lawsuit. However, if the insurance company is unwilling to be reasonable, filing a lawsuit may be your only option in order to recover fair and reasonable compensation.
The term “go to court,” as most people understand it, means that it has become necessary to file a lawsuit in order to obtain full and fair compensation. It involves filing a document, called a Complaint, with the clerk’s office, obtaining service upon the named defendants, and proceeding under the Rules of Court. Just because you file a lawsuit, however, does not mean you will likely end up having to sit through a trial before a jury. Most lawsuits that are filed end up being settled before trial.
Typically a plaintiff in a personal injury case may expect to have to do three things in the litigation process: 1) answer written discovery; 2) testify in a deposition; and 3) attend a mediation to try to get the case settled. If the case does not ultimately settle, then the plaintiff may also expect to have to attend a jury trial, testify, and let a jury decide the case.
Typically your lawyer will agree to advance all costs, which will be reimbursed (in addition to the lawyer’s fee) from any settlement recovery.