Why is it important that I not speak with the insurance companies until I get an attorney?
If you've ever been home during the weekday and watching TV, you've probably seen the personal injury law firm commercials that warn you to not speak with the insurance companies until you speak with a lawyer. And you might think that the law firms say that for self-serving reasons because they want you to hire them to handle your injury case. And you'd be right, in part. However, despite the marketing, it's good advice.
The reason I advise that you not speak with the insurance companies is because you have no experience in handling an injury case and they do. In fact, the insurance companies handle thousands of injury claims each year. They're experts at it. They also have all of the resources and teams of adjusters and lawyers on their side. Put bluntly, you'd be greatly outmatched and it could cost you.
It might be different if the insurance carriers didn't have an agenda, but they do. It also might be different if you were on equal footing with the insurance companies, but you're not.
The insurance companies hope to contact you before you reach a lawyer because they have a better chance of controlling your claim and paying you less if you don't talk to us. And I know this is true because I was an insurance adjuster for ten years before I became an attorney and I know how the insurance companies work.
Insurance companies spend millions of dollars implementing programs to get adjusters to contact injured people as quickly as possible. They do this because they know that if the adjusters can reach the injured people quickly, the insurance company can pay the injured person less for his or her injury.
The insurance companies also have much more information and experience. The insurance companies constantly train their adjusters in the insurance laws and in ways to keep the money paid for injuries as low as possible. And they don't work on your behalf. The insurance companies are in business to make money.
Now I'm not criticizing the insurance companies for trying to make money. But I am trying to inform you about how this really works and whose side the insurance companies are really on.
Being injured in an accident is serious. It involves your health and it can often result in a significant financial loss. Knowing that the insurance companies are working hard to pay as little in compensation as they can, why would you go against them alone without being equipped with the knowledge and experience that they have?
I worked as an adjuster for two difference insurance companies for ten years before I became an attorney. I know what kind of training and programs the insurance companies employ to reduce injury compensation. I also know what rights the law affords you and I will enforce those rights.
There's no need to deal with the insurance companies alone. Give us a call and let us help you.
Who Pays For My Medical Bills?
If you were injured in an auto accident, one of the first questions you will have is how do your medical bills get paid and who pays for them?
The Pennsylvania auto insurance laws require people who own cars to carry certain types of insurance on those cars. One of those types of insurance is medical coverage, often called Medical Benefits, or "med ben" for short. This med ben coverage must be at least $5,000 but can be up to $100,000 or more, depending on the amount of coverage the car owner chooses when he or she signs up for insurance. That means that if you own a car that is registered in Pennsylvania, you must have at least $5,000 worth of medical insurance. That medical insurance covers any injury you have that is related to the motor vehicle even if you aren't in your own car at the time the injury occurs.
Your insurance company should have sent you a declaration page that lists the amounts of coverage you have. If you look at that declaration page you will see the medical benefits coverage and the amount you have.
Here's how it works: When you go to the hospital or doctor, all you have to do is give them the name of your auto insurance carrier and the policy number, or claim number if you have one. The doctor or hospital may have you complete some paperwork to assist them in submitting the bills. The hospital or doctor will then submit the bills directly to you auto insurance carrier and the insurance company will pay the bills directly. Of course you need to contact your insurance carrier as soon as possible to let the carrier know you were in an accident and that you are going to use your medical benefits. The carrier will send you some papers to fill out and return.
Under the law, under most circumstances, the hospital or doctor is only entitled to 110 percent of what Medicare would pay and the hospital or doctor cannot ask you to pay the difference between what the insurance pays and what they billed. Also, there is no deductible.
Further, your auto insurance carrier is never reimbursed for what the carrier paid for your treatment, even if you weren't at fault or you weren't in your car at the time of the accident.
What happens when the auto insurance medical coverage runs out?
The auto insurance carrier never has to pay more than the limits of your coverage. So if you have limits of $5,000, once your auto insurance pays $5,000 worth of medical bills, your med ben coverage is exhausted and you will have to move to another source of medical insurance. Normally, the next source of insurance is medical insurance. So if you are insured under a medical insurance policy, you will have to have the medical bills submitted to that insurance carrier. If you have Medicare or Gateway or another form of government subsidized insurance, you will have to have medical bills submitted to these carriers.
Some forms of health insurance are entitled to be reimbursed for the bills paid, depending on the type of insurance. Insurance like Medicare and Gateway are entitled to be reimbursed. That means that when you settle your injury claim with the insurance company of the person that caused the accident, that insurance will have to not only pay for your pain and suffering but also pay the amount Medicare or Gateway paid out on your behalf. You will be responsible for making sure Medicare or Gateway gets reimbursed from that portion of the settlement. As your attorney, we will make sure that is taken care of.
Most forms of private health insurance are not entitled to be reimbursed, with a couple of exceptions that we don't need to discuss here.
What do I do if I don't have auto insurance?
If you don't own a car but live with a family member who owns a car, then you are probably covered by the medical benefits available for that car. If you don't own a car and don't live with anyone that does, but you were in a car when the accident happened, then you can use the medical benefits available for the car you were in at the time of the accident. Most of the time, there will be auto insurance medical benefits available for you. If not, then you move right to your health insurance.
If you don't have any auto or health insurance, then the hospital or doctors won't be able to get paid for your treatment until you settle your claim with the responsible party's insurance. There's not much you can do about a situation like this but hope that the medical providers are willing to provide your medical care and wait for payments. Often, those providers will accept a promise from your lawyer to get paid out of the insurance settlement proceeds and continue to treat you.
It's not a complicated system but it's usually that last thing in the world you want to deal with when you are injured in an accident. If you were involved in an accident, call us and we can help take care of these issues and guide you through the process so you can take care of getting better.
What is the difference between full tort and limited tort?
In Pennsylvania, when you buy an auto insurance policy, you have to select either the limited tort or full tort option. That tort option determines your ability to be compensated if you are injured in an auto accident. Selecting the proper tort option could have a major impact on your life if you are injured in an accident.
The limited tort option, as the name implies, limits your ability to be compensated financially when you are injured in an accident. If you have limited tort, you won't receive any compensation for pain and suffering or inconvenience unless you have a permanent and serious injury. So, if you have limited tort and you sustained a neck sprain and you recover from that injury, even if it takes you a year or more, you won't receive any compensation for the pain you endured during your recovery.
If you have full tort, you're entitled to compensation for pain and suffering and inconvenience no matter how minor your injury is. So, if you have full tort and you suffered the same neck injury, you would be entitled to compensation.
There are some exceptions to the limited tort option that will entitle you to be fully compensated as if you had full tort. For example, if you are injured by someone who was driving while drunk and convicted of the DUI, the limited tort option won't apply to you. If the person that hit you was driving a car that is registered in another state, the limited tort option won't apply to you. If the vehicle that hit you is a commercial vehicle, the limited tort option won't apply to you. Finally, if you don't own a car and don't live with a family member that owns a car, then you will automatically have the full tort option.
What do you do if you are involved in an accident?
Being involved in an accident is an event none of us wants to think about or plan on. But sometimes the unfortunate happens and when it does, you’ll not only be left with a damaged car and painful injuries, but you’ll have insurance company representatives calling, providing you with information and pressuring you for information. You’ll also have many questions and since the insurance companies have their own agenda, you won’t know if the information they are giving you is accurate and in your best interests.
When an accident happens, you must first attend to your injuries and make sure you get the medical treatment you need, as well as the necessary treatment for anyone in your car. If you are able, it is important that you obtain information from the driver that caused the accident. You should obtain the name, phone number, address and that person’s insurance information. If the police arrive, make sure you give them your full version of how the accident occurred. Also, ask them if there were witnesses and if those witnesses will be included in the police report.
Once the dust has settled, you’ll be left with a lot of unanswered questions, like what happens to your car, who will pay for the damage, will I get paid for the time I missed from work, and will I be compensated for my injuries? The insurance companies will start calling. They will give you information and ask you for information. They may even ask to meet with you and for you to sign papers.
It’s important not to sign anything without seeking legal advice. The insurance companies have attorneys on staff and teams of adjusters trained to protect their own interests and the interests of the people they insure. You need someone on your side who will make sure you are treated fairly.
At the Law Offices of Greer H. Anderson, we deal with the insurance companies on a daily basis. Greer Anderson spent ten years working for the insurance companies and he knows exactly how they work. He can work for you and make sure that you are being treated fairly.
Our office is located in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and centrally located to serve Lancaster, Dauphin and Berks Counties. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, you need someone on your side. Call us and we will make sure your rights are protected.
Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your injury case.
Distracted Driving And Why It Is Dangerous
We see this on a daily basis and it's a problem that's getting worse. Surveys indicate that at least 31 percent of people admit to texting or reading texts while driving. That same survey indicates that at least 69 percent of people talk on the cell phone while driving. Distracted driving is a problem and it's dangerous.
Did you know that in the time it takes you to read a text, you could easily travel the length of a football field? That means you could travel over 100 yards while you are looking at your phone instead of the road. In that amount of time, a child could run into the street ahead of you or a car could turn. And by the time you looked up from the text, it would be too late.
When you look at the numbers associated with auto accidents, the picture is even more severe. Typically, it takes on average 3 seconds to react to an urgent situation on the roadway if you are travelling 40 mph. So if you are looking at your phone for 3 seconds, you have lost valuable time. When you put the numbers together, you would travel over a football field and a half by the time you look at your text, perceive the emergency and stop. Further, a 3,000-pound car travelling at 40 mph will experience a crash-force of 80.28 tons. When you combine those numbers you see why texting and driving is a recipe for disaster.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that over 9 people are killed and more than 1,060 accidents are cause each day in the United States as the result of distracted driving. That's over 3,000 deaths a year because of distracted driving. And the numbers are increasing each year.
Schools are instituting programs to address this problem with new drivers and state and local governments have passed laws prohibiting texting while driving. But that's simply not enough. If this problem is going to end, we all need to take personal responsibility and put our phones away while we are driving. Nothing is so important on your phone that you can risk causing a serious accident.
Distracted driving is a serious problem. If you've been injured as a result of someone's inattention, call us. We can help.
Valuing a Case?
One of the most common questions clients ask is “how much is my case worth?” Unfortunately, there is not an easy way to answer this question because the compensation for an injury is based on many different factors.
These factors include the type of injury you have and how bad that injury is. Other factors include the length and extent of treatment, whether you will ever recover from the injury, how painful the injury was and how the injury changed your daily activities and life in general. Obviously, it is impossible to know the answers to those questions early on. Because of that, it is impossible for your attorney to know the value in the beginning, and that can be frustrating.
In our system of justice, the ultimate decider of the value of your case is a jury, if your case goes that far. Juries are assembled randomly by basically picking potential jury members out of a hat. Because of this, it is impossible to know exactly what a jury would decide. Fortunately, most cases never go to trial and therefore you probably won’t ever have to worry about leaving the value of your case up to a jury. Most cases settle by you coming to an agreement with the insurance company. This is called a settlement.
When you select an attorney to handle this important matter, you need to make sure that your attorney understands how frustrating it is to be injured and not know what the future holds. You also need to feel confident that your attorney understands this process and is able to give you the honest answers to these important questions and provide you with guidance, knowledge and experience along the way. You need to feel confident that your case is being handled the right way.
As much as I would like to be able to tell my clients what their claims are worth from the beginning, I can’t. It’s just not possible. However, it is important that my clients know that I have the experience to know how to guide them through the process and make sure their cases are supported by the appropriate documentation so that they receive the compensation they deserve.
Hopefully this gives you a little understanding of why attorneys can’t give you this answer up front, as much as we’d like to. If you were hurt in an accident and you have unanswered questions, give us a call. We’ll give you honest answers, even if it’s not what you were hoping to hear. Let our experience work for you.
We offer free consultations for the following types of cases:
If you have been hurt as the result of someone else’s negligence, call us today for a free consultation. Let our experience work for you.
931 Russell Drive
Lebanon, PA 17042