Basic Legal Information for Most Car Accident Victims
The following is some advice that applies in almost all car collision claims – if you have any questions or wish to discuss anything in more detail, please contact us. In most cases, the statute of limitations for an injury claim is 2 years from the date of the injury. Sometimes, it can be shorter or longer so it is important to speak to an attorney about your case. Even if your statute of limitations is 2 years, you should not wait 2 years to resolve your claim, but do use some of that time to ensure you are thoroughly diagnosed and treated for any condition related to the collision.
Settlement negotiations are only proper once you have completed treatment or once you can accurately predict what treatment will be needed and for how long.
Here are some pointers that will help you avoid mistakes in your case (with an attorney or without one):
- Don't speak with the adjustor about anything more than your property damage and rental car - your injuries and treatment should be off limits.
- If your car is considered a total loss, you can usually only recover title fees and taxes only if you pursue your property damage claim through your own car insurance. Your deductible will be reimbursed when your auto insurance is reimbursed by the other driver's insurance (that process is called “subrogation”). For more information regarding your rights and responsibilities when your vehicle is deemed a total loss (aka totaled), click the link below:
- If you are still experiencing symptoms, don't go more than 2 weeks without seeing some kind of medical professional (doctor, chiropractor, physical therapy, etc.). Insurance companies routinely dispute medical treatment that occurs after a "gap in treatment."
- Talk about all of your symptoms at every visit with every doctor - this will help ensure good records to help prove your claim. Don't just complain about the things that hurt the worst. Make sure your doctors know when your symptoms started (e.g. immediately after the collision, gradually got worse over the first few days after the collision, etc.)
- Get off-work notes from your doctor if you plan on missing work for your injuries and expect to be reimbursed for your lost wages.
- Bill everything through your group health insurance. You can submit bills to your health insurance for payment even if the provider refuses to bill your group health insurance unless it is Medicaid or Medicare, those visits must be billed by the provider directly. Using your health insurance will increase the amount of money you get to keep from the settlement.
- Any “out-of-pocket” expenses, like co-pays and deductibles, might be reimbursable through your auto insurance if you have a no-fault medical coverage (frequently called "med pay" or PIP or medical payments coverage). The med pay will need to be paid back out of the recovery from the at-fault driver's insurance, but at least you will not have to be cash-flow-negative between now and settlement.
Also, you want to be careful about what you post on social media. Social media is a way for insurance companies to pry into your life without having to hire a private investigator...don't do them any favors by posting pictures of you doing things that would be difficult with your injuries. Don't post about your car accident.
If you are curious what the process would look like if you worked with our office on your case, visit our Documents and Resources for Personal Injury and view the Timeline/Flowchart for Pre-litigation and Litigation.