When you are injured in a traffic accident, you may be asking – how much money will I get from insurance in a car accident? You may want to know if punitive damages can be awarded, because of possible aggravating factors, such as a drunk driver or intoxicated driver. What should I do to maximize my insurance compensation? Is the insurance company acting in bad faith? Should I file a personal injury lawsuit? When to file a lawsuit in a traffic accident case? Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company? Should I hire a personal injury lawyer? Often after an accident, a representative of the at-fault party’s insurance company will call you directly and make an offer to settle the claim. Usually, they will offer to pay a small sum of money and your initial medical bills. We encourage every injured person we speak with to avoid this phone call, and refuse to speak with anybody from the at-fault party’s insurance company about your injuries, until you have received the advice of a competent attorney. Even if you do not plan to hire I.S. Law Firm to fight for your rights, we insist that it is always in your best interest to get the advice and help of a great attorney.
Why do we feel this is so important?
You will always be better off working with an experienced personal injury attorney, because the insurance company will rarely offer you the same amount of compensation as you could get with a help of a great lawyer. Most insurance companies have different adjusters handling Pro Se cases (unrepresented by attorneys) than handle cases where the claimant is represented by an attorney. Why is that? Because the bottom line in every personal injury case is the question – “what will happen if a lawsuit is filed?” While the insurance company knows that you can retain an attorney and file a lawsuit, they are not under any pressure to compensate you fairly until you actually hire an attorney to represent you. They know that they can still increase their offer to you, when the time comes that you need to file a lawsuit. In cases where the at-fault party denies liability for your injuries, it is usually necessary to file a lawsuit in State or Federal court in order to receive the compensation you deserve. A great attorney will keep up the pressure on the other side’s adjusters and attorneys throughout the litigation process, and present your case to a judge and jury if necessary to receive fair compensation. Insurance companies know that people without legal representation have a very small chance of success in court, so there is very little incentive for them to make a fair and reasonable settlement offer before an attorney is hired. As a general rule, if the liability is undisputed, you are entitled to the amount of your current medical bills, your lost wages, your reasonable future medical expenses, your reasonable future lost wages, and a compensation for your past and future pain and suffering. Certain injuries – such as concussions, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, scarring, and injuries that cause permanent mobility and lifestyle limitations – deserve compensation that goes well beyond your medical bills, both because of the severe pain experienced by the injured person and the long-term effects that the injured person must endure. I.S. Law Firm will not charge you legal fees, unless we recover a compensation for you. This is called a “contingency fee.” So, if the compensation is $0, then your lawyer gets paid $0 in legal fees.
There are many twists and turns along the way, and the insurance company will try to use every new fact and circumstance to undercut the compensation you deserve. A contingency fee means that you can rest assured that your attorney will fight for you to the very end, and obtain every dollar of compensation possible. Our team of personal injury lawyers will make sure to take the following crucial steps in protecting the client’s interests and maximizing the outcome of the case:
1) Protect the client from insurance questioning seeking to obtain damaging statements.
The minute after a claim is filed or the insurance carrier becomes aware of the accident, the insurance company begins its quest for poking holes in your case, exploring every possible way to minimize or deny the claim. They will trick the injured claimant into believing that, providing a recorded statement to the insurance company will somehow speed up the process or increase the chances of higher compensation. This is a trap! The adjuster will play your friend and try to seem compassionate about your injuries. However, the true intent is to use every possible way to mercilessly deny your claims.
The insurance adjuster will record the telephone conversations and lure you into making damaging statements, misinterpret and misconstrue your every word in light most favorable to his employer – the insurance company. Therefore, to balance the scales, it is important to secure a team of personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. Retaining a law firm like ours activates a team of exceptional lawyers and paralegals, who begin working on your case the minute after you decide to hire us. As the first step, our lawyers ensure that no derogatory information has been given or leaked to the opposing side.
Even if you provided a statement or information, our skilled lawyers will explore the ways to formally retract or nullify the information obtained by the opposing side prior to retaining counsel.
2) Investigate and timely secure the evidence and identify potential witnesses.
In cases involving injuries and damages to the vehicles involved, it is imperative to secure the evidence and identify witnesses as soon as possible. Every minute counts! Insurance companies dream that the claimants fail to timely secure the evidence or identify witnesses supporting their claim. It is important to secure the evidence, take photographs, and obtain statements from all potential witnesses as soon as possible, before their recollections fade.
Our team of professionals takes immediate action to identify witnesses and secure evidence, which may be crucial to prove the liability and the extent of the injuries suffered by our client. Our attorneys and investigative team often visit the sites of the accident to take photographs, search for evidence and question potential witnesses. We send spoliation notices to all parties who may hold anything that can be used as evidence in the case.
For example, it may be imperative to send notices to the EMS and Police Department to preserve 911 call recording as well as any notes or photographs that the officers may have taken at the scene of the accident. It may also be necessary to notify the insurance company and the salvage yard of intent to examine the negligent driver’s vehicle. Although the actual records are obtained through court subpoenas in the course of litigation, it is important to notify the custodians to preserve such records.
The subpoenas may take a long time and, unless a spoliation notice is duly provided, there may be no duty on the holder’s part to preserve the evidence that may end up being crucial for the outcome of the case.
3) Determine all available insurance policies and coverage available.
Your insurance policy may include Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UIM / UMI), which can have additional insurance coverage available to you from the third party. If UIM/UMI coverage exceeds the negligent driver’s liability insurance policy, then you have additional insurance coverage available.
In that case, the UIM / UMI carrier steps into the shoes of the uninsured or underinsured party (the negligent driver) and provides you additional coverage. However, it is important to notify the UIM/UMI carrier as soon as possible to avoid denial of excess coverage. A special notification procedure must be followed in a case involving a lawsuit. Determining the amount of UIM / UMI insurance available may get tricky, if you have multiple cars or multiple insured members in your household, of if you were a passenger in another car, which also had UIM / UMI insurance.
Your insurance policy may also contain Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage. This excellent coverage provides additional coverage to you for your medical bills and lost wages. Additionally, if you have a medical insurance, in Virginia, you may legally recover triple amount of your medical bills and retain the 2/3rd of the amount for yourself, in addition to the compensation for your other damages.
Determining the amount of PIP / MedPay available may vary depending on the number of vehicles in the household and other factors. The driver of the vehicle, which caused the accident, may also have an additional excess liability coverage, which is called “Umbrella Policy.” There are certain and often complicated ways to determine the availability of Umbrella Policy. This may involve submitting a statutory demand for disclosure to the insurance company, submitting interrogatories to the defense in litigated cases, or exploring other ways to determine all policies available to the negligent driver.
Furthermore, if the driver of the vehicle, which caused the accident, was driving someone else’s car, that driver may have a policy of his own, with possible umbrella coverage, all of which would stack up on top of the third party liability coverage of the vehicle which caused the accident.
There may be additional sources of recovery, such as an employer’s liability insurance policy, liability based on principal / agent theory, additional coverage for lost wages through Worker’s Compensation Insurance, or policies through third party providers such as credit companies, enrolled programs, sponsoring organizations and so on. Determining all available insurance policies and additional coverage is undisputedly one of the most complicated areas of the personal injury law. Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers thoroughly investigates the availability of all of the above policies and utilize every possible coverage that can maximize the net pay to our clients.
4) Ensure adequate notices to all insurance companies and parties involved.
This step ensures that all insurance companies and coverage providers are duly notified and that they will not be able to deny any available coverage claiming a lack of notice.
This includes timely filing claims, notifying insurance carriers, which can have additional insurance coverage available on behalf of the third party, providing letters of representation and spoliation letters to secure the evidence. If this is not done timely, there is a risk of coverage denial.
5) Communicate and work closely with the client’s treating doctors, physicians, and other medical providers to ensure adequate treatment, medical reports and detailed diagnosis of the client’s injuries.
A substantial part of attorney’s work on a personal injury case involves collaborating and dealing with medical providers, doctors, and their support staff. A competent personal injury lawyer and their paralegals must have excellent communication skills and ability to deal and collaborate with doctors and physicians who treated the injured client.
Personal injury lawyers and paralegals must also have skills in understanding the medical records and radiology reports, identifying the injuries detected by the medical providers, and communicating with the medical staff to obtain further information. Our team of professionals maintains constant contacts with the client’s treating physicians and their staff members, providing letters of protection and lien agreements to ensure that our clients receive treatment even if they do not have medical or health insurance coverage.
6) Collaborate with team of expert witnesses, investigators, and litigation support specialists.
A good personal injury lawyer should have a network of excellent medical experts, which can independently evaluate the injuries, consult the lawyer on all medical aspects, and testify as needed to explain and illustrate the client’s injuries to the opposing side, jury, and judge. A testimony of independent medical experts serves an important role in increasing the amount of jury award or settlement. In handling personal injury cases for our clients, I.S. Law Firm works closely with a team of professional experts, investigators, court reporters, interpreters, skip tracers, and litigation support specialists.
This ensures speediest and maximum monetary compensation to our clients. Our team of attorneys and support staff professionally handles every step described above to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation you deserve. I.S. Law Firm always offers free in-person or telephone consultations for injured people, where you can speak directly to an experienced attorney. If you have been injured in an accident, you owe it to yourself to at least talk to a great attorney, and find out what options you have. Frankly, there are many great lawyers in our area who will offer you similar services. And even if you choose not to hire our team, we believe that all injured people – moreover, our legal system and society as a whole – directly benefit when lawyers fight for their client’s rights with diligence and professionalism. If you have been hurt because of someone else’s negligence, you have the right to file for financial compensation.
Our attorneys are committed to securing the money you deserve for your injuries. We can achieve maximum results if you contact us immediately after your accident.
If you have suffered injury from a car accident, take the first step to protect your legal rights–call I. S. Law Firm today for a free consultation. I.S. Law Firm will represent you on a contingency basis—that means you pay no legal fees until we recover money for you. For a free initial consultation and case evaluation, please contact us: +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].