November 15, 2011,
V.C. asks from Plano, TX on November 14, 2011
Insurance Settlement (Sorry Long)
In May, I was rear-ended while sitting at a red light. I have a very small car and the other vehicle was a large SUV. The impact did about $1500 to my car. Admittedly, I was not hit hard, but I was recovering from a major surgery. I was not able to stand up straight when I got out of the car. (I had just left my chiropractor's office and was pain free for the first time in weeks!) I had painful spasms in my back. My chiro would not treat me until I was cleared by a doctor. At first, I did not want to get the x-ray because I just had my 3rd CT Scan in 5 months. But the back doctor would not do an MRI until I had the x ray. So I did it the MRI, which just showed inflammation.
I could have had the medical bills paid through my auto insurance. But that did not seem right for me to have to file a claim on my own insurance. So I paid them through my health insurance which is supposed to get the money back through subrugation. I sent my out of pocket expenses to the other insurance company over two months ago.
The first time I contacted the agent he just right off the bat offered me $250 plus repairing my car. I said no, because I had not idea what would be involved. When I called him back, he was very inappropriate and implied I was faking an injury and said I could not have been hurt by the impact. I was livid. First of all he was practicing medicine without a license and saying I had no integrity. I called his supervisor and told her exactly what I thought of him. I also plan to report him to the insurance board.
My out of pocket has been around $300. I assume they will not be able to deny reimbursing my insurance company. If the guy had not insulted me, just paying my expenses would have been fine with me. But should I ask for more, especially since he has not contacted me since I sent him my receipts?
D.B. answers from Charlotte on November 14, 2011
Please get an attorney to represent you for this. They do this on purpose to frighten and cowl people. You don't have to put up with it. I promise you that you deserve more than $300 and your medical bills paid.
You don't have to finish this up now, you know. You have time. What you don't want to do is settle too early - what if all of a sudden you have pain that starts up again? Injuries like this can come back to haunt you.
Please don't put yourself through this. A lawyer can handle this whole matter and you won't have to listen to any of these people harass you on the phone.
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A.S. answers from Spokane on November 14, 2011
First let me say you most definitely deserve more than they are offering you and I would fight it. Insurance companies can be downright cruel. But it can be a long hard fight with an attorney as well. I work for one so let me just tell you what to be prepared for. It won't be fast. Two and three years down the road before settlement is certainly not unheard of. Also, it's true that it will be on a contingency basis, but that doesn't meant that you don't still accrue a lot of costs. You will need a retainer, most likely, and you will still pay for basic costs. (copies, postage, anything the firm pays up front you will pay) A typical fee is 30% of the settlement, but it can be more like 40% of the settlement if it goes to mediation or arbitration.
I wish you the best of luck and I'm so sorry you have to go through this!
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M.P. answers from Portland on November 14, 2011
I urge you to talk with your representative in your insurance company to learn about how these sort of claims proceed. I've been through this after accidents and know there is a procedure followed by all insurance companies. If you try to do this your way you will have difficulty. Let your representative talk with the other company.
I'm surprised that your representative (I'm not sure that's the correct title) didn't tell you not to talk with the other company. I've settled several claims, both when I was at fault and when I wasn't and my insurance company always told me to not talk with the other company. And I didn't. It's best to let those who know the procedure to handle it.
As to whether or not you should ask for more, depends on whether or not you're going to have difficulty in the future as a result of the accident. Sounds like you injured your back and that can result in back pain later in life if the pain is gone now.
I was rear ended in a car accident 40 years ago and still suffer neck pain off and on. I settled for $10,000 in addition to expenses and wish I'd ask for more. I've lost time from work and difficulty in general.
Your insurance company can steer you in the right direction.
I eventually hired an attorney on a contingency basis which meant he took a percentage of what I received. Eventually we settled out of court. I learned that insurance companies stall and frequently do not settle until a couple of years later. It was only after I hired an attorney that we closed.
You can consult with an attorney for no or very little fee before you decide whether or not you want to hire him.
Above all talk with your insurance company and do as they suggest! It is to their advantage to have the other company pay. They are on your side.
Do not expect to hear from the other company even tho you've sent them receipts. It will take time to settle. Do not settle until you are completely satisfied. The other company will put pressure on you to settle and not responding to your receipts is one way to do that.
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M.L. answers from San Antonio on November 14, 2011
I would report just as you described.
I had to get a lawyer against my own insurance company. You may have to as well. it is better to pay hourly plus expenses than 1/3 or whatever of the settlement.
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B.M. answers from Los Angeles on November 14, 2011
Hire a personal injury attorney. You can retain someone on contingency fee basis, meaning they don't get paid unless you get paid. You are entitled to your actual damages, as well as lost earnings, and the usual pain and suffering. Don't let this insurance company representative scare you off. You are what is called an "eggshell plaintiff." You had existing injuries which were exacerbated by this accident. Before you even approach a settlement, you need to complete any medical treatment. Good luck.
I just want to add in response to the person who said you would have to pay a contingency fee to get an attorney. It could be different in different states, but the whole reason behind contingencies is to avoid retainers. It's unheard of for a lawyer in California to require a retainer in a contingency fee case. It is true that any lawsuit will take time, and that a lawyer's fee will be 33% to 40%, you should not have to pay any expenses in advance. Again, unheard of in California.
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A.V. answers from Washington DC on November 15, 2011
Insurance agents and those that work for them are there FOR their customers and to save the company money. I argued for about a year with a company that wanted to only give me $300 for my totaled car because of their pricing criteria. I was fresh out of college. Where was I going to buy a car for $300? I got $800 in the end but that was still crappy.
If you have full coverage, you might do best to just let your insurance handle it. What they will do is take care of you, THEIR customer, and then go after the other insurance on their own.
I hope you did not send original receipts and have copies. I'd follow up with them until you get paid.
If you want to take it further, consult a lawyer, but my xstepfather ended up paying almost half to the lawyer when all was done. It can be a big chunk to take it to court.
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S.B. answers from Dallas on November 15, 2011
It might have been easier not to intermix your medical bills from your surgery and your exam and care post accident. However, many medical offices will not become involved with accident or worker's comp cases because of the time required for paperwork and testifying in court or by deposition in the case. Your insurance company will file for claims against the other party's insurance first and then your auto insurance secondly if the claims are not paid. You should also submit your out of pocket expenses to the other insurance company. How long has it been sine the accident? Are you having any ongoing medical issues? If everything is fine, I would expect them to pay for car repairs, medical expenses relating to the accident, a rental car to use while your car is being repaired, and lost wages if you missed any days at work for medical tests that you were not compensated for. I would hate to have my integrity questioned--it would make me angry so I understand your feelings. However, a lot of people do try to "game the system" and create small accidents and "big injuries" to get settlements. You just got an agent with a poor attitude and training.
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C.B. answers from San Francisco on November 15, 2011
What you are entitled to is reimbursement for your out-of-pocket expenses, costs of medical treatment and wage loss if you're employed. Then you can ask for a sum of pain and suffering which is usually about 3 times the medical costs. I think I would ask for it all especially since they've not treated you well. As for Hannah J's question about why you didn't go through your own insurance, I can say that when I had an accident that wasn't my fault, I couldn't go through my own insurance to have my car fixed because I didn't have the money to pay my deductible. If their company pays in the first instance, you don't have to worry about the deductible.
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