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Legally Speaking

13 Things to Know After an Accident: Part 2

06/01/2008 - 5) How much money is my case worth?

There is no easy answer. After twenty years in this field, we have developed a pretty good sense of the value of cases based on the injuries. Generally the dollar value depends on the type and severity of the injury. Other factors can enter into this, for example: medical bills, length of treatment, loss of work, future medical bills, etc. Wyoming law typically allows recovery for: pain, suffering, and emotional distress; disability and/or disfigurement; loss of enjoyment of life; loss of earning and earning capacity; medical expenses; caretaking; and property damage. It is important that you or the person that you are working with have a full knowledge and documentation of all your damages.

6) Establish the scope of insurance coverage:

There are various types of insurance that cover various types of injuries. In brief, you will want to establish the extent of liability insurance the other person has and whether s/he has an umbrella policy for excess coverage. You will also need to know the extent of medical coverage that you have under your own auto policy, and whether you have uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage.

7) Which insurance will cover the accident?

If the person who caused the auto accident has liability coverage, your settlement for physical injuries and for pain and suffering will ultimately come from that coverage. But this may take a long time. In the interim, if you have medical coverage with your auto policy, or if you have your own health insurance coverage, you may need to file claims under these policies to get the medical care that you need. If the other person did not have insurance or did not have enough insurance, you will need to establish whether you have uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage. If you have these, you will need to notify your own insurance company.

8) Get appropriate medical care:

Medical records are essential. The proof of your injuries is established by the medical records. Thus, if you have an injury, it is important that you completely and accurately describe to your doctor all your symptoms and problems. I have had experience in trial when many months or years after the accident, the insurance company will claim that the person must not have had a certain injury because it was not documented in the medical records back in the early weeks and months following the accident. Your doctors want to help you get well, but they can only do that if you give them complete and accurate information. This means going to the doctor. This means fully documenting your injuries. This means following the doctor's orders. This means follow-up if the problem continues.

Every case is different with specific circumstances that should be addressed individually. Should you have a legal question, speak to an attorney who is qualified to answer your specific question.

R. Michael Shickich is an attorney-at-law practicing in Casper.

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