Were you hurt from a car wreck and have questions? Read these 5 common questions about a car accident, then contact our Atlanta attorneys.
1) How Do I Pay My Bills After a Car Accident?
One of the primary concerns we see with clients who come to see us after being injured in a motor vehicle accident is what to do when they’re unable to pay their bills. Many people after being injured are forced to miss time from work and are not paid for work time that they would’ve had, if they had not been injured. Most of us are dependent upon our weekly or bi-weekly paychecks in order to pay for our basic necessities in life, such as a place to live and food to eat. When we’re not able to work and we don’t have the funds that we would have to pay those bills, we often deal with people who are attempting to collect money that we may not have. Oftentimes, the bill collector in those situations does not care that you have been in an accident and have not been able to work. We often have bill collectors chasing clients who are already having to deal with issues related to pain and not being able to work.
2) Who will Pay for my Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
One of the first things we are asked when working with new personal injury clients is who is going to pay for their medical expenses. If you are reading this, it may be because you have been injured due to the negligence of someone else and you are trying to determine who is responsible for paying your medical expenses. The first thing to consider is whether you have health insurance and if you should use it. I always advise my clients— and would advise you— that if you have been injured in an accident of some sort and you have health insurance, make sure that health insurance is applied to every medical visit you have. In the end, as long as liability is established, the other party’s insurance will compensate you for those medical expenses, but if you have utilized your insurance, we are able to maximize the recovery in a more effective manner for you.
The process of obtaining a recovery for medical expenses is something that you’ll want an experienced attorney to help you work through.
3) Do I Need a Minimum Amount of Medical Bills to File a Car Accident Claim?
Not every case is alike and that can vary. Some cases can have significant injuries and relatively minor medical expenses, and those cases are worth pursuing. Other cases can have minor injuries and minor expense and not be worth pursuing. For example, we may have a case where the only injury someone sustained is a gash to their forehead, and all they had in medical expenses was the expense of having it stitched up, but they’re left with a permanent and visible facial scar, and that’s the type of injury that has some compensation value. Those cases are worth pursuing, even though you may only have a small amount of medical expenses.
On the other hand, you may have a claim where you were in discomfort for a week, and you went to see a chiropractor two or three times, and you have $500 in medical expenses, those cases generally aren’t worth your time. They don’t have a lot of value to them, and the amount of time you’d have to spend to pursue them doesn’t really warrant it based on what the recovery is going to be.
The best thing to do if you’ve been in a car wreck and you’ve been injured is to immediately contact an attorney who can walk you through that process and let you know if you have what is necessary to make up a good car wreck claim.
4) What if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
This is a very common occurrence. Even though Georgia law requires a minimum level of at-fault insurance, there are many, many drivers that don’t have them. Another circumstance where this comes up is if someone has minimal coverage but the person that they’ve harmed has significant injuries. This is why it is imperative that you protect yourself with uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This is coverage that you buy on your own automobile policy that protects you against types of claims when there’s not enough insurance on the other side to compensate you.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is not expensive, and it can be added through your agent, covering you up to an amount that you choose. For example, in one of the first personal injury cases I had, a man was hit by a vehicle that only had a $25,000 policy of coverage. This man had an initial ER bill of over $280,000. He did not have uninsured motorist coverage, so the most we were able to recover for him was the other driver’s $25,000 policy. That left him with a lot of bills to negotiate on his own and no recovery for his personal injury.
Please make sure that you speak with your insurance agent and make sure your policy contains uninsured or underinsured coverage.
5) What if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Car Insurance?
There are two types of coverage to everyone that drives an automobile and has insurance coverage. The first is called underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage (generally referred to as UM coverage). The second type is called medical payments coverage, and we generally refer to it as MedPay coverage. These can be very important and can have a big impact on your claim in many situations.
As an example, we recently had a client who had been in a significant motor vehicle collision. Someone had run a stop sign and pulled into his lane. He had very significant injuries and his medical expenses from the ER alone were over $200,000. Unfortunately, the at-fault driver had a state-minimum policy, which is $25,000 in liability coverage, and didn’t have any personal assets that we could pursue, so our client was left with only $25,000 in coverage to pursue for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of injuries. If he had an uninsured motorist coverage policy, he would’ve had money from his own policy that he could have added onto the at-fault driver’s policy.
There are two different types of this coverage that you can purchase. One is called added-on, and the other is called offset or difference in limits coverage. The added-on coverage is the one that you want to get. It does not offset anything from what you have purchased based upon what the at-fault driver had. In the example we talked about before, the client would have the full $250,000 to pursue on top of the at-fault driver’s $25,000. In the offset version of the coverage, he would only have an additional $225,000 to pursue because they would offset the $25,000 the at-fault driver had against his uninsured motorist policy. Make sure that you get the added-on variety. Uninsured motorist coverage is very inexpensive and it’s something that you definitely need to have.
The other type of coverage — medical payments coverage — can also be very beneficial, especially if you do not have health insurance. When you’re in a motor vehicle wreck and you need treatment, the at-fault insurance carrier does not provide treatment for you and does not help you go get treatment; they simply reimburse you for your medical expenses after you’re finished with your treatment. That can be a problem if you don’t have health insurance and can’t pay for the treatment up front. When you purchase medical payments coverage, your policy will provide payment for a certain amount of medical coverage that you don’t have to pay out of pocket, and then you still can pursue that coverage later when you go after compensation from the at-fault driver’s policy.
Like uninsured motorist coverage, medical payments coverage is very inexpensive and is something you should definitely have because it can protect you when these worst-case scenarios happen.
Were you or a loved one seriously injured in an automobile wreck in Georgia and have questions?
After reading these 5 common questions about a car accident, contact the experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys at The Gunnels Law Firm today to arrange a free consultation and case evaluation.
Let our experience work for you.
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