About a month ago, I was involved in a rear end accident with a man driving a corporate vehicle. (His truck hit my Prius.) My car has been in the body shop since that time because his insurance keeps stalling the repair (body shop says car would have been back to me two weeks ago). When I call for an update, I'm passed form person to person with no one taking the final call. The rental is not as nice as mine and gets half the gas milage - I average 200 miles/day driving. I also had back pain and sought medical attention. What is reasonable to ask them for and what termanology do I use to get compensated for the loss of value of the car, loss of time using the car, injury/medical expenses, pain and suffering, and general aggrevation? I want to be fair but feel the insurance agency does not. They just kept the body shop in limbo for the last week because they wanted recycled parts used instead of new parts - recycled parts would have voided the car's warrenty. It's only 3 years old. I do not feel I can trust anything they say and am very frustrated. Do I need a lawyer?
2 Answers from Attorneys
I have answered approximately 1,600 questions on this site over the years and yours is one of them that I have been asked many times. I have also been asked this through my law firm over the years. I will give you the same answer I have given everybody else.
First, your question is intelligent and its reasonable. Do you need a lawyer? Absolutely. If you had a serious medical problem and asked if you need a doctor, my answer would be the same.
I do not blame someone for trying to save money and do something themselves. The problem with these cases is that you will not save money. The reason is, the insurance company knows that you have no ammunition. They know that they can treat you poorly and not fairly compensate you for everything you have been through, because you have no recourse. Without recourse, then they simply do not take you very serious and have no fear of you. Insurance companys are ruthless. They are in the business of making money. The less they pay out in claims, the more money they make. Its as simple as that.
I would love to tell you how to go about this, but I'm afraid that there is simply too much too it. Even people who have a law degree and a little bit of experience practicing law can have a hard time.
I cannot tell you what your case is worth without knowing all the details of your case, including medical information. The value of these cases are based on quite a number of factors. To list just a few, they are based on subjective versus objective injuries, the amount of medical treatment, the type of treatment, the nature of the injuries, various liability issues, insurance coverage types and limits, the facts and circumstances of the accident including the extent of car damage and low impact versus high impact, lost wages, out of pocket expenses, compensatory versus punitive damages, whether the other driver was cited for violating any traffic laws and the outcome of the citation(s), and the list goes on and on. I have handled these cases for years and depending on the type of injuries, I will usually communicate with the treating physicians and get a statement as to what is called Maximum Medical Improvement. With that I obtain documentation of any appliciable disability or impairment rating. I get further documentation on any future loss of enjoyment (legal term), and any restrictions on a personal or work/professional basis. I get documentation on the doctors prediction for re-occuring problems with the injuries, what future medical treatment will be needed, the extent of such treatment, the projected cost of that treatment, and so forth. Another huge guideline for putting a value on these cases, is the dollar amount of the medical treatment past and present. As with everything else that I have addressed, I do not know what that figure is in your case. Then one of the more difficult form of legal damages, which is fully compensable, if "pain & suffering." That one has certain hurdles to go through as you could imagine. Another compensable damage that most people do not know about nor have the ability to calculate, is what is called Loss of Consortium.
What I have outlined is not all inclusive. There are other factors and considerations with these type cases. I am just trying to outline for you and idea of what is involved.
Again, your question about needing an attorney is a very intelligent one. And the answer is Yes. There are legal matters that people who are not attorneys can handle themselves. And I certainly do not fault a person for wanting to try and do those things on their own. But if a person wants the most out of one of these cases, wants to be treated fairly, be compensated fairly, and protect themselves as much as possible, then they need the assistance of a trained legal professional.
I hope I've helped here.
Should you have any other questions or are considering retaining an attorney, you are more than welcome to call or email me.
I represent people across the state.
Robert Johnston Attorney
Location: Myrtle Beach (Horry County)
Email: [email protected]
Web Site: www.RobertJohnstonLaw.com
Areas of Practice: Criminal Defense & Personal Injury
Yes, you should consult an attorney. I echo many of the sentiments expressed by Mr. Johnston. If you would like additional information about this or related topics, you can visit my personal injury law blog (www.SCPILaw.com) or our firm's website (www.StevensFirm.com). If I can assist you further, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Thanks and good luck, Ben Stevens
Related Questions & Answers
Are all employers required to take out workers comp? Asked 9/16/09, 11:22 pm in United States South Carolina Personal Injury Law and Tort Law