Have you been seriously injured from an accident? Learn how hiring a Kansas car accident attorney can make a difference. Give us a call today!
Car accidents are always scary. The sound alone can strike terror on a primal level, without even considering the potential for serious physical harm. If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, however, you deserve to know if you’re owed compensation.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been injured in a car accident because someone else was careless. You might be in pain. You have probably missed work and are worried about your finances. And, you’re probably worried about whether you need an attorney for success with a car accident claim.
Our firm is here to help you with a free legal consultation. Call our Kansas car accident attorney today.
Don’t worry about needing money to pay upfront for answers about your claim. Call us as soon as you’re able and schedule your free legal consultation.
We hope the information in this article will answer many of your car accident claim questions. We’ll go over the many ways you can accidentally damage your car claim. Next, we’ll share the story of one of our clients to help you get an even better understanding of important elements you’ll want to know. Be sure you read to the end of the article to learn as much as possible.
Common Car Accident Claim Mistake
There are numerous things to watch out for that can devalue your car accident claim. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with them to help you maintain your claim’s value.
Not Getting a Doctor’s Exam After the Accident
When you experience a traumatic event, you can expect your body to go into a “fight or flight” response. Your system is flooded with stress hormones that dampen pain while boosting strength and energy. Though temporary, the effects of these hormones can linger for up to eighteen hours — long enough, in some cases, to prevent you from realizing you need medical help.
If you wait to get treated for injuries you couldn’t see or feel until the adrenaline wears off, your health will be at risk. In addition, your car accident claim will be at risk, because the gap between accident and medical treatment enables the insurance company to try and distance themselves from responsibility for your injuries.
The insurance company may suggest you got hurt the day (or days) after the accident in an unrelated incident. Without the documentation that shows a medical exam and diagnosis of injury right after the accident, your claim is weakened.
Don’t give the insurance company the ability to cast doubt on your right to compensation. The sooner you get a medical exam after the accident, the stronger the proof that you were injured in that accident.
Failing to Stick to Your Treatment Plan
Many people make the mistake of not taking their treatment plan seriously after being examined by the doctor. This attitude often leads the injured person to view the medications and therapies listed in their treatment plan as optional. Making this mistake can ruin your claim.
Doctors are busy people. When they take the time to write up a treatment plan for you, consider it the doctor’s best advice for how you can support your recovery once you leave the care of the hospital. If the insurance company discovers you are disregarding your treatment plan, they will again have an opening to throw doubt upon your claim.
Your treatment plan can take a variety of forms. You may be asked to take medications on a schedule. You may need to go to chiropractic appointments, occupational therapy, or another form of treatment. The important thing is that you must adhere to whatever you are advised to do. This includes resting and not participating in activities you aren’t healthy enough to participate in until you’ve healed.
The more you adhere to your doctor’s treatment plan, the stronger your claim will be, because the insurance company can’t claim any difficulty you have recovering is your own fault.
Don’t Allow the Insurance Provider to Record Your Statement
After being injured in the accident, you can expect the insurance company to come calling. The adjuster is going to ask you to provide a recorded statement of what happened. Agreeing to this is a mistake.
When this call comes in, most people assume they have to provide this statement in order to get their claim processed. They worry that if they refuse, their claim will be delayed or thrown out. The truth, however, is not as easy to accept.
The insurance company is looking to gather as much information as possible, in hopes of finding something in your statement they can use to imply the accident was in some way your fault. No matter how friendly and empathetic the insurance adjuster sounds, assume the caller is looking to benefit the insurance company, not your claim.
Insurance adjusters are highly trained in conducting this type of interview, and the company they work for is well aware that this is a vulnerable time for the injured person they are seeking information from.
This is in no way an indictment of your intelligence; it’s simply a reality that even highly intelligent people are vulnerable to being taken advantage of when injured.
Most people don’t know that they are not required to speak to the insurance company. You are well within your rights to decline this call. The best thing to do when the insurance company tries to get your statement after an accident is refer the call to your Kansas car accident attorney.
Waiting Too Long to Find a Lawyer
Many people put finding an attorney to help with their car accident claim last on their list after being injured. This is understandable, but it’s a mistake to wait for very long.
While you may need a few days or even a few weeks to feel up to turning your attention to a car accident claim, please set a reminder for yourself to make it a priority as soon as you possibly can.
This is the beauty of hiring a attorney to help with your car accident claim. Your attorney will know what to do and can get started on your claim while you rest and focus on your recovery.
A second reason people put off finding an attorney is because they plan to represent themselves in their claim in order to save money. If you’re considering foregoing an attorney, know that most people who file claims without attorneys end up with far less than those who hire attorneys.
There are many reasons having a lawyer benefits your claim. One reason is that attorneys can accurately assess a person’s damages to ensure the injured party is awarded as much as possible in compensation.
In addition, an attorney can recognize and sidestep insurance company tactics that may otherwise devalue your claim.
An attorney is going to be objective if a settlement offer should be made, and can advise you as to whether the offer is worth considering or is best passed up.
And finally, if the insurance company refuses to make a reasonable and fair settlement offer, your attorney can sue them in court on your behalf. The insurance company knows this. Sometimes, having an experienced trial lawyer handling your claim can incentivize the insurance company to settle, because the threat of court is implicit if they refuse.
Without an attorney to fight for your right to compensation, the insurance company may resort to claim denials and delays to get you to give up and go away. After all, they know that without an attorney, you’re likely out of moves if negotiations fail.
Finally, sometimes people drag their feet on hiring an attorney because they believe the state’s statute of limitations for filing allows plenty of time to do so. This, too, is a mistake.
No matter how long the statute gives you to file, remember that evidence respects no one. The longer you wait, the less evidence you will have. The scene of the accident will get cleared away. Witnesses are likely to forget details. They may also move and become impossible to find. The evidence itself is sometimes lost.
It’s important to find an attorney to handle your personal injury claim as soon as you can do so. This will maximize your attorney’s ability to build you a strong claim.
Choosing an Attorney Who’s the Wrong Fit for Your Car Accident Claim
When you’re ready to choose an attorney, don’t make the mistake of hiring the first one you come by without confirming some important things.
The first thing you need to be sure of is that the attorney specializes in personal injury. Like doctors, lawyers have many practice areas within which they can focus. Each area has its own knowledge base of case precedents, rules, regulations, and restrictions. Make sure the one you hire spends most of his or her time in the personal injury arena.
In addition, make sure your attorney is a trial lawyer. Even though the majority of claims are resolved through negotiation and settlement, some fail to settle, requiring a trial to bring justice to the injured party. If your claim is one of these, you need to know your attorney has what it takes to win your case in the courtroom.
Kansas Car Accident Client Story
The client story that follows will help you better understand your car accident claim. We’ve edited the names and specifics to protect the privacy of our client, but the information’s value remains. Be sure to read it through to learn more about this type of claim. When you’re done, give us a call. We’d love to discuss your specific claim.
On a cold March day not too long ago, Margo Eskins needed a chair. Her new book club was launching that evening in her funky bookstore/coffee shop in Hutchinson, Kansas. Her eclectic space had almost enough seating for two dozen, including window-nook benches and four randomly upholstered beanbags. Margo needed just one more chair, and she knew just where to get it.
She’d spotted the old wingback the previous Thursday at a thrift shop across town. Margo had been window shopping, just looking for inspiration for her store. And suddenly, there it was. Covered in no less than five different fabrics, including checks, paisleys, and stripes; note of which went together in the least.
The chair’s most significant feature was the backrest: a burlap coffee bean sackcloth stretching from wing to wing. It read, “Cosecha Coffee, Antigua, 1821” in addition to shipping weight and other trade information in blocks of type across and down. It was perfect.
Margo tried to recall the price of the chair as she fired a quick text off to her best friend to meet her at the store with her hatchback and bungee cords.
Margo traffic heading north on Main Street was moving smoothly. It was 3:30, so she knew that may change coming back down. She didn’t care, though, this was the last piece to the puzzle. Her boyfriend Bryan was picking up the food at 5:30 p.m., the big room was set and ready. All she needed was that chair.
Margo saw that Shannon had managed to park in front of the store. She parked on the side street and found Shannon inside the cluttered store, sitting in the chair waiting for her. “I figured I’d claim it so no one bought it,” she said, popping up with a big smile as Margo approached with a hug.
Margo paid for the chair and together they managed to fit it inside the hatch of the car, and Shannon took off back to the store. Margo drove off in the opposite direction to get ready for the big night. The inaugural book club meeting would start with a light catered dinner, followed by an author reading of the first chapter of her new novel.
Margo was waiting at the light at Sherman when a speeding Buick ran out of room behind her and slammed into her small Chevy. She woke up in the intensive care unit with Bryan at her side.
Margo had broken vertebrae in her lower back and had a spinal fusion to stabilize the area. The doctors were hopeful she’d recover all her mobility without pain or numbness, but it would be a while before they’d know for sure.
Three weeks after the accident, Margo was still struggling with pain and numbness in her legs and was not yet able to walk without a walker. Her doctors were talking about additional surgeries. Bryan suggested she make an appointment with personal injury attorney Melinda Young for a free legal consultation.
How much does it cost to hire an attorney?
When Margo and Bryan sat down in Attorney Young’s office, their first question was about expense.
“Before we get too far, can you tell me what it costs to retain your firm?” Melinda asked.
Attorney Young explained that there would be no upfront cost, since the firm works on a contingency fee model. “Our firm covers all case expenses from beginning to end, including trial expenses, should a trial become necessary. In the end, we only receive compensation if we bring your claim to a successful resolution,” Young said.
“Okay, well, that sounds reasonable,” Margo said.
How much is my claim worth?
Margo next asked what her claim was worth. Young answered that it was not possible to answer that question accurately without first conducting an investigation and knowing Margo’s damages.
“We can begin an investigation right away,” Young said. “But discovering your damages will require your participation. We’ll need you to reach what is called ‘maximum medical improvement.’ This is the point that your doctors would declare you back to your ‘normal’ level of health.
“If the nature of your injuries prevents you from reaching this level of recovery, then maximum medical improvement will mean when you’ve reached the best level of health you are capable of recovering to,” said Young. “It’s also going to mean you’re done with surgeries and we know that the future care of your injuries involves.
“When you get to this point, we’ll know what your damages are, and thus what your claim is worth. All of this means your sole focus must be on your recovery. Get as much rest as you need and follow your treatment plan,” said Young.
All of this made sense to Margo.
How long will my claim take?
Margo’s next question was about her case timeline. “How long will my case take?” She asked.
Young told her that she could not give her a definitive answer, because the timeline of the case would depend on two factors. She then explained what those two factors were.
“First, your claim’s timeline is going to depend on how long it takes you to reach maximum medical improvement. When you’re there, we’ll know your damages and send a demand letter to the insurance company.
“From that point onward, how long your claim takes to resolve will depend on whether the insurance company behaves in a constructive manner, working with us toward a fair and acceptable settlement. If they do, we’ll be ready to wrap everything up.
“If the insurance company refuses to consider a reasonable settlement, however, we’ll take them to court. But, please don’t worry about the possibility of a trial, Margo. Your sole focus needs to be on your recovery. In fact, that’s one of the great benefits of hiring an experienced Kansas car accident attorney. We’ll take care of the case; you focus on your recovery.
“Our firm has a long and successful record of winning car accident claims. The insurance company has probably heard of us. If so, they may even offer to settle just to avoid a courtroom battle. There’s no way to be sure which way a claim will go, but it’s happened before.
“No matter which way your claim goes, we’ll be ready to fight for you, whether in the courtroom or at the negotiating table. That’s why whomever you decide to retain to handle your claim, we strongly suggest you go with a personal injury trial lawyer with experience winning car accident claims.”
Challenges You May Face in Your Claim
“What are the biggest roadblocks I could face in this case?” Margo asked.
“Excellent question, Margo. Kansas is a state in which comparative fault applies. That means that compensation is awarded on the basis of the percentage of responsibility of each party.
“Any blame the insurance company can shift from their driver onto you lowers the amount they will be required to compensate you for the accident.
“From what you mentioned on the phone, your injuries occurred when you got rear-ended, correct?” Asked Young.
“Yes. I was stopped at a red light, minding my own business,” said Margo.
“Okay. We always do an accident investigation to cover all contingencies, but this case seems pretty straightforward,” said Young. “Now, as you know from having to file with your Personal Injury Protection insurance three weeks ago for the accident, Kansas law requires you to go through your own PIP insurance before filing a personal injury claim, no matter whose fault the accident was.
“To go beyond the no-fault coverage, your injuries must qualify as ‘serious,’ beyond the limit of your PIP coverage. Qualifying means meeting one of the following:
- A permanent injury
- Permanent loss of a bodily function
- Permanent disfigurement
- Breaking a weight-bearing bone
- A bone fracture that is compressed, compound, crushed, or displaced
“I apologize for being so blatantly morbid, but as you know, it’s my responsibility to discuss your chances for compensation for you to move forward with your claim,” said Young.
“I appreciate the honesty. I’ve always valued having people around me I can trust, especially in times like these,” Margo said, as Bryan squeezed her hand. “Vertebrae in my back suffered degrees of fracture, compression, crushing, and displacement, requiring spinal fusion to stabilize my spine. At this point, I’m most likely going to need a laminectomy to help ease the pressure and compression that is still causing me daily pain. It remains to be seen whether I’ll be able to walk again without pain or the help of a walker.”
“I’m so sorry, Margo. In addition to all of that, the lumbar section of your spine is indeed weight-bearing. It’s connected to your pelvis and is involved in most of your weight-bearing and body movement. As I mentioned, every case begins with a thorough investigation, but from what we know at this point, it looks as though you’ve got a case to pursue here.”
Margo was satisfied with the answers she received in her free legal consultation. She retained Melinda Young’s firm, and today we are happy to say Attorney Young got her over seven times the amount the insurance company initially offered.
Call Our Kansas Car Accident Attorney Today
If you have any questions about this or any other questions about a car accident claim, contact our experienced Kansas car accident attorney, Melinda Young for a free consultation and case evaluation. We’re here to help you find justice.
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