Personal Injury & Motor Vehicle Accidents: What to Do
1. Bodily Injury Claims: Our office handles bodily injury claims for personal injuries on a contingency fee basis. You will be eligible for a bodily injury claim when you have reached Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) in medical expenses or have suffered a broken bone or permanent disfigurement. This is an adversarial claim against the person who was at fault and their insurance company. Do not discuss any aspect of your case with anyone outside of your family or this office. If you are contacted by any insurance company representatives (even your own), notify this office before providing them with any information.
2. Notice Requirements: Notify your insurance carrier immediately and request a PIP form if you have been injured or have seen a doctor. Your insurance company will assign a claim number to your case and also an adjuster for property damage and usually a separate adjuster for your bodily injury claim. Please contact this office with the claim number and the names and telephone numbers of both adjusters who will be handling your claim.
3. PIP Benefits: PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection benefits which are paid regardless of fault. These are reimbursements for medical bills and wage losses. These are paid by your insurance company (or the insurer of the car you were driving in if you were a passenger.) These include:
a. Wages and Earnings Lost: Please keep an accurate record of all days lost from work because of your injuries. You have up to $8,000.00 in combined wage loss and medical benefits. Report to this office all days you have lost from work as a result of your injury.
b. Medical Bills: Obtain and keep duplicate copies of all medical, hospital and prescription bills and records. Also keep records of any other expenses you may have in connection with your accident, such as the transportation to and from the doctor’s office for cabs, buses, etc. When you receive any medical bills, please forward them to our office so that we can submit them to the insurance company for payment.
You have $2,000.00 in No-Fault medical benefits. If you also have a health insurance policy, they will pick up the bills after the first $2,000.00. Health carriers usually require payback to them when you settle your bodily injury claim. If your health insurance denies payment for any medical bill or medical expenses (crutches, braces, etc.) please let us know and most of the time, the PIP carrier will pay for expenses denied by the health insurance carrier but only up to the unused portion of the $8,000.00 limit. If you do not have health insurance, the No-Fault benefit for medical rises to $8,000.00.
In order to receive these benefits you must complete a PIP form which is usually a long form on yellow paper. If you need assistance with this form, please contact our office.
4. Doctor’s Appointment: You should return to each of your doctors as often as necessary and should always tell him about all of your complaints. Please cooperate fully with each of your doctors. Advise this office whenever you have an appointment with a doctor, and when you will be admitted to the hospital or are scheduled for any test.
5. Medical Bills: Send to this office every bill that you receive (including Blue Cross/Blue Shield statements and pharmacy receipts), and indicate whether you have paid any of the bills. If you incur additional expenses as a result of your injury, submit a list of such expenses (wheelchair rentals, purchase of crutches, hiring private nurses or people to help you in your home, etc.). Use your medical insurance or Medicaid whenever possible.
6. Car Repair: If you have Collision coverage: Have your insurance carrier repair your car, if repairable. You must make your own arrangements for towing, storage, repair and car rental.
If you do not have Collision Coverage: the insurance carrier for the person who caused the accident must be notified immediately about the property damage claim. They will ordinarily settle promptly. Tell them the location and condition of the car.
7. Car Rental: You may be required to pay the rental bill when picking up the rental car. Most car rental companies require a credit card guarantee in order for you to get a car. Others, will take your insurance information and bill the insurance company themselves. If you have car rental insurance on your insurance policy your insurance carrier will be entitled to be reimbursed by the person who caused your accident if they have car rental coverage, but that may take months. Cars may be rented for reasonable amounts of time usually until an offer is made to you for your property damage claim. Then the insurance company will no longer pay for the car rental. The insurance company will only pay up to a certain amount per day for a rental vehicle, so please double check with your insurance company prior to renting a vehicle to find out the amount they will pay per day.
Do not assume that because another person caused the accident it will be automatic to obtain reimbursement for the car rental charges. Even if you have collision coverage with your own insurance company, you may have to get rental reimbursement from the company of the person who hit you.
8. Towing and Storage: Unless the other person’s insurance company or yours agrees to pay, you are liable for these charges so you should not allow these to accumulate. Be sure that you, the insurance company and the garage are on the same page regarding storage fees.
9. Accident Reports: Submit a copy of any and all accident reports to the police after you have completed them. You ordinarily should not fill out accident reports requested by the adverse party’s insurance company. Call us if you receive any paperwork from the adverse party’s insurance company or if you have any questions on this.
10. Your Insurance Policy: Please immediately find your policy (Coverage Selections Page) and fax or mail a copy to us as soon as you can so we can review it. You may have important benefits waiting for you such as additional medical payments and underinsurance coverage.
11. Photographs: You should take pictures of your damaged vehicle and your personal injuries. This is important evidence and you should take the pictures as soon as possible after the accident. Send any photographs that have been taken of the scene of your accident, damages or anything else pertaining to your injury to our office. Make certain that photographs are taken of the vehicles involved before they are repaired or the insurance company takes possession of the totaled vehicle.
12. Witnesses: Provide this office with the names and addresses of any witnesses of whom you are aware.
13. Keeping a Record: Please keep a personal record of your experiences that result from this injury, including pain you have suffered and how this injury has affected you.
14. Talk to No One: Talk only to your own insurance company. If they want a recorded statement, please call our office and we will schedule it so that your attorney will be with you when they take the statement. Do not give a statement to the adverse party’s insurance company. If they call you to schedule a recorded statement, have them contact our office.
If you have a dispute over a claim involving medical bills or property damage with your own insurance company, we are available to handle them for you.