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Editorial

Legally Speaking


13 Things to Know After an Accident, Part 3


07/01/2008 - 9) Are there some legal issues which require a lawyer?

There are some areas that need the direct attention of an attorney. You may need a lawyer to figure out how much time you have to file your lawsuit. Lawyers call this the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations limits the amount of time you have to settle your claim and/or utilize the judicial system. You may also need a lawyer to help you navigate the various types of insurance coverage that are available. You may need a lawyer to help with the reimbursement of medical expenses, i.e. paying back money owed to medical providers, health insurance, your own auto insurance, etc. These payments are known as subrogation or medical lien payments.

10) It takes time, but you will get past this:

A person who has been in an auto accident, particularly if it is a serious one, goes through a whole array of physical concerns and emotional experiences. In one instant you were minding your own business and functioning in your life and in the next instant your financial, physical, emotional, and familial well-being are impacted. So at the outset, know that this difficult time will pass. Your part of the process involves directing your energies toward your recovery, working with your doctors, and allowing yourself to accept the fact that it may take weeks, months, and sometimes even years to get the matter behind you.

11) When dealing with the other party's insurance company, be aware of the old adage that "haste makes waste":

It has been my experience that my clients desire to get their matter closed and behind them. This is a healthy response. But it is not healthy if you settlebefore you know the full extent of your injuries. There is a good chance that the insurance company for the other party will encourage you to wrap this matter up and put it behind you. Remember, once you sign a release with an insurance company, there is no going back. Even if your doctors later discover that your injuries were more extensive than you had thought, you cannot go back. Once you settle with the insurance company, it is settled for good. Therefore, know your complete medical diagnosis and prognosis before you settle.

12) Conduct yourself professionally and honestly:

Whether at the scene of the accident, in interviews with insurance companies, or in the weeks and months following visits with your doctor and health care providers, it is important that you be honest. Conduct yourself in a professional way. You may not see the results in the short term, but in the long run, you will benefit.

13) Handle your car damage claim and your bodily injury (medical bills) claim differently:

It is not uncommon for insurance companies to settle out the damage on the vehicle, but keep the personal injury (medical treatment) open. Settling out the vehicle damage may be challenging. It is okay to settle out the car damage component before you settle out the personal injury side of the claim. Just make sure that when you sign a release, you are releasing only issues and matters that pertain to your vehicle.

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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