Not every personal injury claim requires representation by an attorney. If you have a minor claim and wish to settle with the defendant’s insurance company on your own, keep the following information in mind to assist you, and if you have any further questions, please give Hampton Injury Law PLC a call today.
- Report the accident to the police, even when the other driver offers you their insurance information or promises that they will “take care of things.” Their willingness to cooperate may well change when you have a claim for injuries or the repair estimate for damage to your vehicle is more than expected. They are also more likely to provide correct insurance information to a police officer than to you.
- Take good photographs of the damage to both vehicles in the collision. Insurance adjusters frequently associate the damage to vehicles with the necessity of medical treatment. The defendant driver’s vehicle may have more damage than yours.
- Seek medical treatment as soon as you experience symptoms of injury. A delay in getting treatment will be viewed with skepticism by the insurance adjuster when reviewing the claim. Consult with Hampton Injury Law for assistance if your symptoms require ongoing treatment. Consultations are free.
- Report the accident to your own insurance company as soon as possible. Your policy requires timely notice of a potentially insurable event. If there is a coverage problem with the other driver’s insurance (such as a cancellation or gap in coverage), you may have to activate your uninsured motorist coverage. Likewise, if your injuries are serious or there are multiple claims from the accident and the other driver’s insurance policy only has the Virginia mandatory minimum coverage ($25,000), your uninsured motorist coverage will be triggered when your policy limits are higher. This is also a situation where a consultation with Hampton Injury Law is advisable.
- Obtain a copy of the accident report. It will contain useful information that you will need when dealing with an insurance adjuster. It is better to send the report than to attempt to give a verbal description of your own.
- Use your personal health insurance coverage and direct any treating providers to bill your insurance plan. They are required to bill your insurance when directed to do so. Bills are your responsibility, regardless of whether or not you have a liability claim against another person’s insurance. The other driver’s insurance will not get a credit for what your insurance pays or amounts that are written off. Your insurance is not free, and you should receive the benefit of using it.
- Set up a payment plan with your medical providers for any uncovered medical expenses, deductibles and co-pays in order to avoid any bills going into collection and affecting your credit. Medical providers are not required to hold their accounts for payment, and most are unwilling to do so, regardless of whether there is a claim against another party for your injuries.
- If you do not have health insurance, Hampton Injury Law can assist you with locating a doctor who accepts referrals of self-pay patients, and will hold the account with a letter of protection from the firm.
- Request a note from your physician for any time you miss from work due to your injuries and treatment. An insurance adjuster will not consider wage losses without proper documentation. It may also be necessary to obtain written confirmation of the hours and days you miss and your hourly wage or salary from your employer. If so, be sure that the wage documentation from your employer does not include any vacation, sick leave or other type of benefits used while out for medical reasons. You earned those benefits, and the defendant’s insurance carrier should not be allowed to reduce your wage claim because of them.
- If you receive a subrogation notice from a collection company on behalf of your employer’s health plan, consult Hampton Injury Law for advice. Subrogation by health insurance plans is a complex area of law. Certain plans may have a right to reimbursement from your injury case under federal law, while others governed only by state law do not. It is often difficult to tell the difference. Do not rely on a subrogation adjuster to correctly inform you about the law which controls the plan.
- Do not give a recorded statement to the defendant’s insurance adjuster (or your own if the other driver is uninsured). An adjuster cannot record you without your permission. You have the right to say “no.” When giving your (unrecorded) statement, do not discuss your injuries or medical treatment. Adjusters frequently attempt to ask you those questions before you have been evaluated by a medical provider. Some injuries do not have symptoms that are immediately obvious. Accurate information can be submitted later through your medical records.
- Do not assume that your injuries will simply get better just by hoping for the pain to go away before getting treatment. You are not qualified to evaluate yourself and determine a course of treatment. Leave that decision to a doctor.
- At the Emergency Department, do not give the hospital information about the defendant’s auto insurance. Make sure that they have your insurance information and direct them to bill your health insurance. When your insurance pays, a participating provider with the plan is required to accept what the plan pays and some of the charges will be written off. Those write-offs will reduce the amount you have to pay later when your case is settled. Hospitals will often try to submit their bill directly to the defendant’s auto insurance to avoid write-offs. This practice does not benefit you; only them.
- Do not discuss settlement or the nature and extent of your injuries with an adjuster unless you required no more than an Emergency Room evaluation and are certain you will not need further treatment.
- Do not send an adjuster any bills you may have received which show information about your health insurance or any payments made toward the bill. Only a statement of the charges for your medical services should be sent. You will need to request this from the billing department.
- Do not assume that an initial offer from an adjuster is acceptable. The first offer is almost never good. Make a counter demand for a higher amount and negotiate to reach their best and final offer. If you are not sure whether you should accept, Hampton Injury Law will provide you a no-obligation case evaluation.