Don’t Settle Your Personal Injury Claim Before You Do This

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Don’t Settle Your Personal Injury Claim Before You Do This

A friend called me the other day telling me about a car accident she was involved in two months ago.  She knows I am a Eugene personal injury lawyer and she was hoping I could provide her with some guidance about her claim.  She had many questions and I was more than happy to walk her through the process and answer each query to her satisfaction.  At the end of our conversation she expressed much gratitude and commented on how fortunate she was to know a car accident attorney who would take her call and take the time to answer all of her questions for free.  I assured her I was happy to help and that she should call back if she had any additional questions.

 

What I didn’t tell my friend is that our firm offers the same service to anyone that calls; even if they are not friends or family.  That is what we mean when we promise a free consultation.  We will review your case with you, answer all of your questions and help you make good decisions about your personal injury claim.  Sometimes it is clear that the injured party will need an attorney to help them with their case.  Other times, they just need answers and guidance.  Either way, our objective is to make sure you are fairly compensated and are not taken advantage of by the insurance company.

 

Along those lines, I wanted to share with you some general principles that apply to most personal injury claims.  The following are some universal rules answering the question – “What should I make sure to do before I settle my case?”:

 

1.  Medical Bills Once you settle your personal injury case with the other side your case will be closed.  Regardless of what you might think or believe or what the other side might have  “implied”, once your case is settled you will NOT receive any additional funds for past or future medical bills.

Therefore, it is critical that your settlement covers all of your past, present and future medical bills.  This also includes any liens by your car insurance (PIP), health insurance, Medicare, or any other entity that paid any medical bills related to your car accident or personal injury claim.  It is an unwelcomed surprise (to put it mildly) to discover that you owe your health insurance thousands of dollars after you have already settled your case!

2.  Income/Wage Loss:  If you lost any wages or income due to an accident related disability, you must recover it at the same time you settle your claim.  This is especially important if the accident rendered you permanently disabled and will cause you to incur future wage or income loss.  As I indicated above, once you settle your claim it is forever closed.  You will not be able to ask the insurance company for more compensation three years down the road because you still cannot return to work.  This issue must be reviewed with your medical provider and included in your personal injury settlement consideration.  It is your responsibility to contemplate your future loss and bring it up before settlement.  The insurance company will NOT remind you of that.

3.  Read & Understand The Release Agreement:  Once you reach an agreement with the insurance company to settle your car accident or personal injury claim they will send you a release agreement form to sign.  Sometimes the release agreement will be sent with your settlement check, other times they will send the release agreement first and the settlement check only after they receive the signed release back from you.  The release agreement represents and formalizes the terms of the settlement.  Make sure you review the agreement before you sign it and return it to the insurance company.  If any

of the terms of the agreement do not accurately represent your understanding of the settlement STOP.  Contact the insurance adjuster and request that corrections be made to the release agreement.  If you are unsure, contact an attorney.  Most personal injury attorneys will be happy to explain the terms of the settlement agreement to you; our firm certainly will.

Finally, remember, you can always contact our firm for a FREE consultation if you are unsure about any part of your personal injury settlement.  Don’t be intimidated by the insurance company, the release agreement, or the settlement process. 

 

 

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