When Will I Be Compensated for My Personal Injury?
I’m Ed Smith, a car accident lawyer in Sacramento. One of the most common questions an attorney is asked is how long will it take to receive compensation. This is a fair question because many clients are unable to work and have accumulated high medical bills. However, there are many things to consider when answering this question, and each case is different. Let’s take a look at the many facets that you need to consider.
How Insurance Companies Handle Claims
After a claim is submitted, an adjuster will be assigned to a car accident case. The adjuster will examine the vehicle and make photographic documentation. He or she will probably talk to the other driver as well as witnesses during the course of the investigation. The adjuster will also request a police report, visit the accident scene and request medical records from the claimant’s doctor.
If repairs are needed, the adjuster may ask for estimates from one or more repair shops. If injured, the insurance company will want to secure the individual’s medical records. On occasion, the company may request all medical records beyond those necessary for the accident. A car accident attorney should be consulted before doing that since the occurrence of a previous medical condition might be used to drive the insurance payment down.
Determining liability is one of the major parameters in saying how long a case may take. That is because there is a range of possible results. In some cases, the liability is clear. One person was at fault and the other wasn’t. For instance, one driver ran a stop sign and hit someone legally passing through an intersection. In others, the liability for an accident is unclear, and proving liability lengthens the amount of time the case may take.
However, consider the situation where a tree limb hides a stop sign. An unwitting motorist may not be aware the stop sign is there, and sail through an intersection without stopping, hitting another vehicle. If a municipality fails to keep the sign clear of overhanging branches that obscure a driver’s view of a stop sign, this may become a factor in the case. When government entities are involved, the time it takes to settle the claim may be extended.
On occasion, both driver’s have some degree of responsibility for the accident. In California, comparative or shared liability is permitted, and both parties can collect according to their degree of liability. Let’s say that one party was 80 percent responsible for the accident, while the other party was 20 percent liable. The injured person who was 20 percent responsible is still able to collect 80 percent of his or her damages. The introduction of shared responsibility for an accident can cause the length of time it takes to arrive at a proper amount to be longer.
The amount of damages has a significant effect on the time it takes to settle a claim. For instance, a claim asking for $5,000 in damages is often settled quicker that one worth $100,000. Other things can be factored into this, such as a clear association between the accident and the damages. Generally, the bigger the claim, the longer it takes to reach an agreement between the injured party and the insurance company. Sometimes, no agreement is reached. In that situation, a lawsuit must be filed.
Different insurance companies approach a claim in slightly different ways. Some companies employ more adjusters, meaning that an overburdened adjuster will not slow the process down. Others are more adamant about rejecting claims or low-balling the initial offering. In addition, some insurance companies have a more complex claims process. Increasing the efficiency of claims management is an important factor in the insurance industry. Trying to balance strategies for avoiding overpayment while being fair to customers is the overall goal.
The nature of one’s injuries is an important element in a car accident case. The more serious the injury, along with a higher cost of medical care, the more reluctant the insurer may be. It is essential that the injury is proven to be a result of the accident, and any blurring of this connection invites contention. Injuries such as back problems related to a car accident in an individual with long-standing arthritis of the spine are more likely to be contested.
Maximum Medical Improvement
Often an attorney will advise a client to wait until they have been treated for an injury and reached a point of improvement beyond which no further improvement is expected. This is called the maximum medical improvement. Trying to collect damages before the MMI has been reached is not in the client’s best interests. Once an insurance payment has been received and a waiver signed that no further payment will be given, the claimant will not receive anything even if more treatment is needed.
Related Articles by Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer, Ed Smith ~
- Questions and Answers About Auto Insurance
- The Importance of Uninsured – Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage
Car Accident Lawyer in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a car accident lawyer in Sacramento. If you have been involved in an accident, you may be able to be compensated for damages such as medical care and lost wages. Reach out to me for friendly and free advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 anytime or contact me online.
I’ve set up a Settlements and Verdicts page to make it possible for you to see how I resolved other cases.
I’ve won $1 million verdicts and settlements for my clients. Because of this, I became a member of the Million Dollar Advocates, a nationwide collection of trial attorneys with similar histories.
Stay here on the website I established and own, AutoAccident.com, to learn more about accidents and personal injuries.
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