If you have been in an auto accident and have no-fault auto insurance, you may think that the insurance company will take care of everything for you. Under many circumstances, this is true. But there are times when you may want to hire a car accident attorney to make sure your interests are protected. If any of the following apply to you, contact an attorney right away to discuss your options.
#1 You Sustain Serious Injuries
No-fault insurance laws vary from state to state, but each has a threshold for both the severity of the injury and the dollar amount for medical expenses. That means that if your injury surpasses the severity of injury threshold or your expected medical costs are higher than the cost threshold, you will need to pursue a personal injury claim to recover the full amount of your medical costs. Check your state's laws to determine the threshold for severe injuries and/or the threshold for medical costs to determine if your injuries and associated medical costs exceed the threshold. If you are unsure, ask for a consultation with a car accident attorney with experience in dealing with no-fault insurance claims. Many will provide a free consultation to help you determine whether you will benefit from the services of an attorney.
#2 You Need Personal-Injury Protection for Dependents
Many insurance policies, including no-fault insurance policies, provide personal-injury benefits to the policy holder and family members. This may apply when you or a family member is involved in an accident, even if you are driving or are a passenger in someone else's vehicle. Because the benefits may not be directly related to the policy of the driver, getting the benefits can be more difficult. A car accident attorney can advise you how to fill out paper work and file documents to get the benefits you and your family are entitled to.
#3 You Seek Replacement of Lost Income
If the injuries you sustain as a result of the accident cause you to lose income from your work, your insurance company may be liable for paying all or part of the lost wages. While some insurances have a cap on the amount you can receive for lost income, others will negotiate the amount with you. If you are facing lost wages due to the accident, an auto accident attorney can help you get a fair deal.
#4 You File a Third-Party Claim
If your accident was caused in part due to the actions or lack of action of a third party, such as the manufacturer of the vehicle, a mechanic that certified your vehicle was safe to drive, or debris left in the road by another party, you will need to file a claim against the third party to recover your losses. A car accident attorney has the experience and expertise to help you document and file the claim.
Tips for Protecting Your Rights During a Car Accident Claim
There are a number of things you can do, or refrain from doing, to protect your rights in a car accident claim. Here are some of the most common areas to focus on.
- Direct all communication to your lawyer. This means you shouldn't talk to representatives from your insurance company or the insurance adjuster on your own. Likewise, if the other party to the accident contacts you, simply refer them to your lawyer. This helps you avoid accidentally making statements that can be misinterpreted or taken out of context.
- Avoid social media – at least as far as your insurance claim is concerned. Offhand remarks made to friends, even when you think the messages are private, have a way of falling into the wrong hands and may hurt your case. Go ahead and chat it up with friends, but leave all references to your insurance claim out of the conversation.
- Keep all your doctor's appointments. Failing to make your appointments or failing to follow your doctor's advice may be interpreted as evidence that your injuries are not as bad as you claim or that you do not want to get better. Watch what you say to your doctor about your case and avoid telling him what your attorney has said. Conversations you thought were held in confidence may find their way into the courtroom.
No-fault insurance works great in many circumstances by eliminating fault-finding and speeding up the process of receiving benefits, but there are times when you need to go further and hire an attorney. Don't be afraid to hire a car accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected and you get the benefits you deserve.