Before that happens you should increase your Uninsured Motorist bodily injury coverage – there are millions of drivers out there that are uninsured, and think of all the idiots who will be driving drunk on Thanksgiving. If you have only $30,000 worth of Uninsured Motorist coverage (the minimum in Maryland), that IS NOT ENOUGH! Medical bills from a car accident can be $100,000 or more, and that doesn’t even count lost wages and pain/suffering. If a person hits you and is uninsured, you will likely not be fully compensated unless you have really robust Uninsured Motorist coverage. I personally have $100,000(per person)/$300,000(per accident) coverage and it is probably not enough.
Afterwards you should:
1. Seek medical treatment – if you were hit with some force there could be injuries you don’t know about on the day of the accident. I recently had a client whose car was hit by a truck. He was shaken but thought he was fine physically. A few days later, however, his shoulder and arm started hurting and he couldn’t go to work (he has to lift heavy objects for his job). Turns out he had a small fracture in his spine that he wasn’t aware of. Most accident settlements are based on the dollar amount of the medical bills. Don’t commit fraud, but get medical treatment for legitimate pain/limitations no matter how minor you think it is. If you don’t treat your injuries you will not get properly compensated by the insurance company.
2. Don’t settle with the insurance company right away – Insurance companies will try to get you to settle before you are done getting medical treatment because it saves them money. My wife was just learning to drive as a teenager when she was hit by a driver who made an illegal U-Turn. Her car was totaled and she was taken to the hospital. She was discharged from the hospital and thought she was fine (see #1). The other driver’s insurance company called her and gave her an offer a few days later, convincing her that she would be saving her parents money on her medical bills. Instead of getting a lawyer (she hadn’t met me yet) she immediately accepted their offer, which didn’t even cover the cost of replacing her car. The CEO of the insurance company probably got another Mercedes that year (his fifth), but she was left out in the cold. To make matters worse, she found out later that the impact had caused significant damage to her upper spine. A chiropractor fixed the damage, thankfully, but she paid several thousand dollars out of her own pocket.
3. Call a lawyer! – You knew this was coming because I’m a lawyer :) But it’s also great advice. The Law Office of Emmett B. Irwin will be answering/returning calls before, after, and on Thanksgiving if you call 443-447-7493. A reputable attorney can direct you to a medical provider in your area who has experience dealing with injuries from car accidents. A good attorney will maximize your settlement and guide you through the process.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving and be safe!
Disclaimer: this Blog post is meant for general information purposes, it is not legal advice. Everyone’s situation is different, if in doubt get legal counsel.