Five steps to take if you are injured in a car accident – InsuranceNewsNet


Your health and car insurance contracts probably require you to cooperate with your insurance company. After any accident, promptly notify your auto insurance agent of the accident. Provide health insurance information to referring physicians.

Accept interviews and other reasonable requests from these insurers. If you don’t report an accident to your insurer promptly and cooperate with them, you may not be covered for the accident.

Step 3: Do not make a statement to the opposing insurance company.

The other driver’s adjuster might call you a few days after the accident to ask about it. Do not give this person an interview.

Cooperating with the other drivers’ insurer at this stage will not help you. You may still be on medication as the adjuster asks detailed questions about the accident.

You may give inaccurate estimates of important matters such as time, speed, and distance. Your estimates will then be used against you.

If the other driver’s insurer calls you, respectfully decline to answer any questions. Tell the expert you’ll call them when you feel up to it.

This won’t harm your request and assures you that you won’t talk until you feel well enough (and possibly not until you’ve seen a lawyer — see step 5 below).

Step 4: Don’t settle the personal injury case until you’re healed.

Insurers generally require a release in exchange for payment for liability claims. Don’t settle with the other driver’s insurer until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). In other words, wait until your accident symptoms are gone or until doctors tell you that your condition is unlikely to improve.

If you settle with the civil liability insurer and your condition worsens, you will not receive additional compensation if you have signed a receipt.

So wait until you have healed as much as possible before settling down. It can take a year or more. Usually, this doesn’t cause legal problems because statutes of limitations for negligence claims usually give you three years to sue (except for deaths in car accidents and claims against government entities).

Step 5: Hire a lawyer if you are unfamiliar with insurance and subrogation.

No law requires you to hire an attorney to help you with a personal injury claim. Many people settle their claims without a lawyer. This requires some understanding of subrogation (the obligation to reimburse health and disability insurers who have paid money to you or for you due to an accident). In simple cases with minor injuries that go away completely after minor medical bills, a lawyer might not add value to the claim.

However, when there is a significant injury with possible permanence and the medical bills are significant, a lawyer will generally add value and relieve the injured party of the burden of the claims process.

If you hire a lawyer, do it early. It usually doesn’t cost extra to hire an attorney early, as most personal injury attorneys accept a percentage of the recovery as fees. There’s value in the peace of mind that comes with an attorney who knows insurance and provides good advice to maximize your compensation.

Robert J. Kasieta is the founder and managing member of Kasieta Legal Group, LLCin Madison. His practice focuses on civil litigation, personal injury, civil rights, discrimination, business law and employment law. He is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin Attorneys Referral and Information Service, which connects residents with attorneys across the state. Learn more at wislaw.org.

Know Your Legal Rights is a bimonthly column distributed by the Wisconsin State Bar. It is written by members of the State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyer referral and information service (LRIS), which connects Wisconsin residents with attorneys throughout the state. Learn more at wislaw.org.

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