In general, any attorney experienced in handling personal injury claims should: Save you time by doing the work for you; handle the legal aspects of the claim that you may not be familiar with; look out for and protect your rights; and resolve your claim in a timely manner.
Specifically, the attorney should:
- Contact either your carrier or the third-party carrier to ensure that the rental car is paid for as your car is being repaired or until they decide it’s totaled.
- Investigate the at-fault party’s insurance coverage and your own insurance coverage to determine the maximum insurance recovery. If there is not adequate coverage, the attorney should investigate whether the at-fault party has assets that may be liquidated to satisfy a judgment in your favor. The attorney should also determine whether there is an “umbrella” policy that applies. Insurance companies often conceal the existence of umbrella policies, according to several class action lawsuits (email me and I will reply with the article discussing these class action lawsuits).
- Investigate the accident and scene to determine whether any “deep pocket” defendants exist (for example, highway design, etc.)
- Find out who will be paying your medical bills as they are incurred: PIP, health insurance or even the third-party carrier in some cases. If there are no sources for payment of your medical bills, an experienced attorney will often know medical providers that are willing to provide treatment on a lien basis – where the provider waits for payment until you settle your case. When operating on a lien basis, providers assume you have a worthwhile case if a reputable attorney has agreed to take your case on a contingency basis.
- After you have finished your medical treatment, the attorney should immediately prepare a comprehensive demand package that includes all information the insurance company will need in order to evaluate your claims.
- If the insurance company rejects your offer of settlement, your attorney must be prepared to file suit and take the case through trial.
- A CNN article which describes how insurance companies like State Farm and Allstate are saving billions of dollars by underpaying accident victims;
- An Insurance Journal article which covers consumer group and whistle-blower allegations that insurance companies are manipulating computer claims programs they use to underpay injury claims; and
- An internal (and formerly confidential) Allstate memo which describes their tactics to keep your settlement value as low as possible.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is provided as a free service to consumers and does not constitute legal advice. Nothing contained herein should be relied upon as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.