two car accident on street webster law

We see this question asked online a lot and we talk to a lot of people who are searching for answers on when they should be getting an attorney. It’s not an easy answer, but I think I can give you some guidelines to use which can help you make an informed decision.

Property Damage

First, if all you have is property damage, you should be able to reach an agreement for repair/value for your loss (there’s usually not much dispute on cost of repair or replacement, but for repair, diminishment of value of your car may be an issue the insurer is difficult about).

Medical Care

Second, if you have physical injuries you need to understand what you have the right to be compensated for before you can get an idea on whether you need an attorney or not. One big question you can look at is the amount of medical care you have had, or are still having. The reason for this is that medical care is expensive and the more you have the more likely it becomes that you will need an attorney to navigate the complexities of medical care and subrogation (see my blog on this issue here). Additionally, the more time you have to spend healing from your injuries and seeking medical care, the more varied and complex your damages overall become.

How to Handle it on Your Own

If you are getting medical care, then the next question is the extent of your medical care. Did you have a hospital visit, a doctor’s visit and some PT with full recovery? If the answer is yes, then you can probably handle it on your own and here are some things you can do to figure out how much to ask for:

Step 1

Once you have completed treatment and gotten released from care by your doctor, get a complete copy of your medical records from each provider (such as hospital, doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor to name a few).

Step 2

Get your medical bills from all of the providers when getting medical records (doctors’ offices/hospitals).

Step 3

Assuming you used health insurance, you need to find out from your insurer how much you need to pay back. YOU WANT TO USE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE. Again, see my blog on subrogation here.

Step 4

See my blog on the types of damages that you are entitled to here (please note, if you have permanent physical impairment, you should be talking to an attorney) so that you know what you can reasonably ask for. With this in mind, gather all other documentation to support your claimed losses (remember, insurers want proof, not just your word). The exception here is your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of quality of life and inconvenience. Clearly those are areas of human experience that have to be compensated by money, so the question for you is what do you feel is fair for what you went through?

Step 5

Write a letter to the insurance adjuster summarizing what you had to go through, the treatment you received and how it impacted your life while you were recovering as well as providing all of the bills you got from your doctors. You do not provide any information you received from your health insurer because their insured does not get to take advantage of the fact that you had the foresight to have such insurance, ie, they don’t get to take advantage of the fact that you have paid premiums, etc., to the insurer. While the bills are going to be more than what the health insurer paid, you are entitled to what we call “billed amounts” of care so don’t buy that they just want to pay back what your health insurer paid. Then provide the adjuster with a monetary amount that you would be willing to accept which includes all of your categories of damages.

Step 6

In regard to 5, above, remember that insurance adjusters are not going to offer you what you demand. They are going to want to negotiate down and meet you somewhere in the middle. Think of it like the negotiations that go on when buying a new or used car (at least before single pricing became a thing). That is the way negotiations will go with the adjuster.

I hope this is helpful, but if you read this and still aren’t sure what direction you should go, just give our office a call at 719-633-6620 and we can help.