Tag Archives: personal injury myths

Steps to protect your rights after a car accident: Personal Injury Attorney Illinois

Steps to protect your rights after a car accident: Personal Injury Attorney Illinois

Barry Doyle
Personal Injury Attorney
barry@fightingforwhatsright.com
312-766-4875
www.fightingforwhatsright.com

This is Fighting For What’s Right with Personal Injury Attorney, Barry Doyle. Barry, are there some recommendations that you have for people who have been in an accident, who have not hired a lawyer to protect themselves.

Well, there are a number of things that you can do to really protect your interests before you get a lawyer, if you’ve been in an accident. One thing I really recommend to people is that they get photos to document, not just the damage to their car, but the kind of injuries that they had. Frequently insurance companies will go out and have their own set of photographs taken of your car. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve represented somebody who’s described, really, pretty extensive to their car but the photos from the insurance company really don’t correlate with their description of the damage to their car or the pictures that they took themselves.

The other thing I really recommend that people take pictures of is the kind of injuries that they had, things like bruising, cuts, if they’re in a cast, those sorts of things, because it really helps bring home and dramatize the seriousness of the injuries that they suffered. The second thing that I recommend to people is that they get prompt medical care after an accident. Now, a lot of times people will be taken to the hospital in an ambulance, and treated in the emergency room, but then, it’ll be a long gap between when they seek their first follow-up care with either a primary care physician, or a specialist.

Anytime you have a significant gap in between the accident and when you’re getting medical care, whether it’s the initial care or the first follow-up medical care you get with a primary care doctor or specialist, it creates room for doubt in two different ways. First, is it creates doubt as to whether or not the injuries that you’re claiming that you suffered were really all that serious, because people start thinking, “If they were hurt that badly, why didn’t they go to a doctor?” The other area where it creates doubt is this. It creates doubt as to the causal relationship between the accident and the injuries that you’re claiming. In other words, if you’re sitting at a red light and you get rear ended, and you have lower back pain and you don’t get any medical care for, say, a week or 10 days, that week or 10 days becomes a source of doubt for both jurors and people from the insurance company, as to whether or not that rear end accident caused the low pain that you initially sought medical care for.

Now, the other thing that you need to be very careful to do when you go into the doctor’s office and get care, is to give a good clean history. What I mean by that is this. You need to be very clear in explaining to the doctor exactly what happened. The first thing a doctor’s going to do when you come in for a focus exam like this, is take a history. Basically, all that amounts to is saying, “What brings you here? What happened to you?” The doctor is going to record this in your medical record. It’s going to be reviewed very closely by the defense lawyer or by the insurance adjuster for your accounting of what happened. You certainly want to be very clear about what it is that brought you into the doctor’s office.

One of the things that sometimes comes back to really bite people, is not being very precise about describing exactly what occurred. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had clients describe being in accidents where they’ve been hit by a car that’s been going 40 or 50 miles an hour, and there’s only $1,000 worth of property damage to the car. That creates issues as to your credibility. Your credibility is something that’s always going to be crucial in any type of a personal injury accident. Being accurate, in terms of how you describe the accident itself, is something that’s going to be really very important. Finally, the area where I see people causing a lot of problems for themselves, is by giving a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster. There’s a couple of different ways that they create problems for themselves. One is by being very imprecise in describing how the accident occurred. People will say quote unquote, “The car came out of nowhere.” A skilled insurance adjuster will make that sound like you weren’t paying attention when the accident happened.

The other place that people create problems for themselves is in how they describe their injuries, whether it’s minimizing or exaggerating their injuries. You don’t want to do either one of those things. You want to be very accurate in how you describe things. If you’re really not properly prepared to give a recorded statement, you can create all kinds of problems for yourselves.

Barry Doyle
Personal Injury Attorney
barry@fightingforwhatsright.com
312-766-4875
www.fightingforwhatsright.com

Paying your medical bills after a car accident: Personal Injury Attorney Illinois

Paying your medical bills after a car accident: Personal Injury Attorney Illinois

Barry Doyle
Personal Injury Attorney
barry@fightingforwhatsright.com
312-766-4875
www.fightingforwhatsright.com

Yeah, one of the things that people commonly believe about getting their medical bills paid is that no matter what happens, their bills will get paid by the other driver’s insurance if they’re at fault. There are at least two reasons why that’s not necessarily the case.

One reason is that you actually may have more medical bills than the other driver has in insurance coverage. The other reason is that the causal relationship between the accident and the injuries that you’re claiming is something that is subject to being contested, and often is, so the bottom line is that the only time the other driver is going to be required to pay your bills is if you actually take the case to trial and get a verdict which includes your medical bills. Otherwise, it’s an item that’s subject to negotiations as part of the settlement, but the thing you have to keep in mind is that regardless of whether the other driver is paying your bills voluntarily, your doctors and your hospitals have a right to be paid in a timely way for the services that they provide to you.

So if the other guy’s insurance doesn’t have to pay, how do you make sure that those bills get paid and avoid having those things go to collections?

The thing that I always recommend to clients is to do their best to make sure that their medical bills get paid through their health insurance. Sometimes people have this innate resistance to having their health insurance pay for medical care that’s really due to the fault of someone else, and the thing that you really need to remember is that health insurance is one of the benefits that you work for. It’s there to really cover you in the event that you need medical care, and one of the times that people really need medical care is after an accident has happened.

Now, once those bills are paid, the thing that you need to keep in mind is that virtually every health insurance policy will have a provision in it that provides for reimbursement of the medical expenses to the health insurer. In other words, if you get a settlement, you’re going to have to pay back your health insurer for accident-related care. In the end, the burden for your medical care really does end up on the at-fault party, but you avoid getting sent to collections in the interim.

The other reason that you want to have your health insurer pay your bills is that your health insurer will have an agreement in place with just about every healthcare provider around to pay a discounted amount for whatever care it is that you require. The amount that you have to pay back to your health insurer is the discounted amount that they negotiated with your healthcare provided, so the bottom line is using your health insurance really is the preferred method for getting your medical expenses paid, even though for all kinds of reasons, it just sits wrong with a lot of people.

So what are your options if there is no health insurance?

Well, the options are relatively limited. One option that you would have would be to use what’s called medical payments or medical expense coverage that you would have through your own insurance or through the insurance of the car that you were in at the time of the accident. It’s no-fault coverage, but it’s a relatively low limit coverage. Typically it’s $5000 or less, which really doesn’t go very far after an accident happens, and there’s still that reimbursement obligation.

The other way to go ahead and get your medical bills is to have healthcare providers do what’s called putting a lien on the settlement, and essentially what that does is it gives them a right to get paid directly out of the settlement proceeds. The reason that you would prefer to use health insurance if it’s at all available is that that lien figure that you have to pay is going to be the gross amount that the doctor or the hospital or the physical therapy clinic actually bills out, and many times that’s a much higher figure than you would have to pay out otherwise.

So is there anything that people should be aware of in particular?

The one thing I tell all my clients to be aware of after an accident happens is the situation where you have a healthcare provider, whether it’s a doctor or a hospital, trying to tell you that we will “bill the liability insurance.” Where this happens is when you actually have health insurance, but you have the healthcare provider trying to put a lien on the settlement. Essentially what happens in that situation is instead of getting the benefit of the discounted amount that your health insurer has negotiated with the healthcare provider, they’re going to put a lien on the settlement so they can get paid the gross amount billed.

Barry Doyle
Personal Injury Attorney
barry@fightingforwhatsright.com
312-766-4875
www.fightingforwhatsright.com