CAR ACCIDENT FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What should I do immediately after a car accident?
a. Answer: There is not a cook book response as to what to do following a car accident, but generally speaking, the following steps should be taken:
- i. Stay at the scene and call the police. Even if the accident isn’t serious, the police should be called and a police report should be filed. When speaking to the police, it is important to stick with the facts – do not speculate or admit any fault.
- ii. Take pictures with your cell phone or other camera. The pictures should include the damage to both vehicles and the scene.
- iii. Make sure that you have the other driver’s pertinent info, including, but not limited to, driver license information, license plate number, and insurance information.
- iv. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, seek medical attention as soon as possible if injured!
2. How do I know if I have a personal injury case as a result of my car accident?
a. Answer: Generally, you have a case if the following has occurred as a result of a car accident: 1) the other driver was at fault or failed to follow recognized rules of the road; 2) the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries; and 3) the other driver’s insurance policy applies to the accident or you have underinsured or uninsured motor vehicle coverage.
3. What should I expect the first few days following a car accident?
a. Answer: Prepare to be bombarded by phone calls and mail flyers – you will receive communications from the other driver’s insurance company, your insurance company, your health insurance company, chiropractors, and even attorneys. Additionally, the other driver’s insurance company may request a recorded statement or that you sign medical authorizations to retrieve your medical records. It is important that you seek legal counsel prior to speaking with any of these individuals.
4. Who pays my medical expenses while my case is pending?
a. Answer: While you are ultimately responsible for your medical expenses, if you have health insurance, all treatment should be billed to your health insurance provider as it normally would. Thus, if you received medical treatment for injuries sustained in the car accident, always insist upon the use of your health insurance coverage first. Additionally, you may have medical payment coverage (“medpay”) under your automobile insurance – this may be used to cover your co-pays or other out of pocket medical expenses your health insurance company may not cover.
5. What is subrogation?
a. Answer: Subrogation is a term that insurance companies sneak into your insurance contract requiring you to pay your insurance company back any money it paid out for medical treatment rendered as a result of injuries sustained by an at fault party if you are able to obtain a recovery from the at fault party. This duty generally applies when an insurance company pays for something (like a medical bill) on your behalf, and then someone else (the at-fault person or their insurance company) pays you for that same bill – then, you may have a contractual and/or legal duty to pay back money you originally received from the person or company that was not at-fault but was contractually responsible for paying your bills. For example, if you have health insurance with Medicare, and it has paid some of your medical bills incurred as a result of a car accident, when you obtain a recovery or settlement as a result of your accident, you are obligated to reimburse Medicare for the money it paid out. These funds come directly out of any settlement or recovery made.
It is important to note that insurance companies do not always have a right to subrogation. There may be exclusions or other Federal or State laws that reduce, eliminate or nullify the amount your Health Insurance Company is seeking to recover. Accordingly, it is important that you seek the advice of a qualified attorney before agreeing to pay a subrogation claim.
b. This principle generally applies when an insurance company pays for something (like a medical bill) on your behalf, and then someone else (the at-fault person of their insurance company) pays you for that same bill – then, you may have a contractual and/or legal duty to pay back money you originally received from the person or company that was not at-fault but was contractually responsible for paying your bills. For example, if you have health insurance with Medicare, and it has paid some of your medical bills incurred as a result of a car accident, when you obtain a recovery or settlement as a result of your accident, you are obligated to reimburse Medicare for the money it paid out. These funds come directly out of any settlement or recovery made.
6. Do I have to file a lawsuit in order to recover damages as a result of a car accident?
a. Answer: In short, no. There is a big difference between submitting a personal injury claim and filing a lawsuit. Generally, prior to filing a lawsuit, if you retain Tittle & Perlmuter as your law firm, we will attempt to settle your claim prior to filing a lawsuit by negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company directly – it is only when the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement or denies responsibility for your injury will a lawsuit be necessary.
7. What type of compensation am I entitled to receive?
a. Answer: This is a very fact sensitive inquiry that depends on the facts of each accident. However, you may be able to receive compensation for any of the following items: 1) Medical bills, including emergency room fees, surgical procedures, and any other hospital costs; 2) Lost wages; 3) Costs of rehabilitation and physical therapy; 4) Disability or disfigurement; 5) Pain and suffering; 6) Wrongful death, including loss of companionship and loss of financial support; and 7) Other out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the accident.
8. When should you attempt to settle your case?
a. Answer: Generally, one should not attempt to settle your claim until medical treatment has concluded and your doctor has released you from his or her care. Otherwise, one may settle his or her case without knowing the full extent of his or her injuries and the treatment that will be required as to such injuries.
9. How long will it take to complete my case?
a. Answer: This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on a number of factors. Specifically, and as mentioned previously, it is not advisable to settle your claim prior to finishing medical treatment – only then will the total extent of your medical bills, the amount of any future medical treatment, and the permanency of your injuries be known. Therefore, the severity of your injuries and the length of time you need to heal will determine the length of your claim. Additional factors in determining the length of your claim are the other party’s willingness to settle and the offers they make. If insufficient offers are made, your claim may have to proceed to trial, which will increase the length of your claim.
10. What are Tittle & Perlmuter’s fees for representing me in car accident case?
a. Answer: All motor vehicle accident cases are handled on a contingency-fee basis. We will advance all costs and expenses. You will not have to reimburse us for any costs or expenses unless we are successful. That means you will pay absolutely nothing for lawyers’ fees or costs unless we win a monetary award in your case. When we obtain a recovery on your behalf, then we charge an agreed-upon portion of the amount recovered.