CALIFORNIA: Bodily injury insurance claim, how does this whole thing work???

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I was in an auto accident about 4 months ago, the other vehicle(commercial truck) rear ended a car in back of me, going at about 40-50MPH, that vehicle then rammed into the car in front of them & that vehicle rammed into my car, thus creating a sort of domino effect (me & the other 2 cars that were hit were completely stopped at the time of impact). Luckily I did not hit any one (the commercial truck was found to be 100% at fault), however I was about 7 months pregnant at the time of the accident, I was rushed immediately to the hospital by the ambulance & ended up having to stay there for almost 2 days the impact sent me into pre-term labor! I was released from the hospital still pregnant, however I had a lot of pain in my back, a bruised rib & my legs hurt a lot after the accident (lifting them, exercising). Luckily I was able to go full term with my pregnancy. I’ve had my child since then & I now have upper back pain a lot & neck pain & my labor was a lot WORSE then my First Born. What are my options I have an attorney BUT he doesn’t seem to eager if you know what I mean, he is not telling me very much. I am also kind of traumatized because I have panic attacks when ever a vehicle gets too close behind me. I may be damaged for life physically & mentally because of this accident I want to be fairly compensated what options do I have? I have never been in an accident where I had a bodily injury claim, the last thing I want is to settle for too little.

  1. Reply
    April 13, 2014 at 12:39 am

    Your attorney should tell you what your options are. But generally, you’re not going to get anything for stress, mental health, panic attcks, etc.

    Any insurance that truck has, IF he has insurance, well, that coverage amount would get divided out among everyone in all the cars. It’s possible, if you’re talking about 10 people hurt, and $ 100,000 of coverage, that the most anyone would get, is $ 10,000.

    Regardless of medical bills.

    You sue the driver who caused the accident, that’s what your option is. If YOU had no insurance, you can’t collect from him, and you can’t win. If you DID have insurance, you need to file a claim under your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

    You’re problem isn’t going to be settling for too little. It’s going to be, getting no cash. If you go to court and get an award for $ 50,000, your lawyer will take the first third of it. The guy’s insurance will pay you your share of the claim – $ 10,000. Your lawyer will get that, and you’ll be left holding the bag, with a $ 40,000 judgement balance on this guy, and no way to actually collect it.

    I see your lawyer making out on this deal, not you. Ask your lawyer, if he knows how much insurance this guy had, and how many other people were injured. Then do the math.

  2. Reply
    April 13, 2014 at 12:46 am

    I work in a Chiropractic clinic, and it’s my job to handle Personal Injury Claims [Auto Accidents]. I work in Kansas City, so everything I am saying is according to Missouri law. I’m sure it’s a little different in CA, but most insurance companies are the same throughout the states.

    The most important question to ask I guess is what auto insurance did the commercial truck have? And do you have all of that information still? His insurance is called 3rd Party Liability, because you said that it was all his fault. Not only is his insurance responsible for your bodily injury, but also to the other drivers if they were injured as well. There is a possibility that his insurance isn’t high enough to cover three different cars [assuming everyone was injured]…the state requirement in MO is $ 15,000. I’m not sure about CA. Let’s assume that it is high enough, though.

    In my experience, insurance companies won’t pay for “bodily injury” unless you’ve have sought treatment almost immediately after the accident. Some companies are 30 days, some are 90 days. If you don’t seek medical treatment before however many days, they won’t cover it…claiming that the injury wasn’t a result of the accident. HOWEVER, if you were pregnant and required hospitalization, I think that merits a little glance. It sounds like you were in tons of pain. If you can prove that you’ve been doing things to help alleviate the pain, and you have a paper trail to prove it…then the insurance companies will take you seriously. For instance: you got in the accident on April 1st. You spent a few days in the hospital. When you got out, you had to go back to work, take care of the family, etc. You still had some back pain, you went to the medical doctor on the 20th and he prescribed you some pain pills. In the meantime, you are using hot packs, ice packs, tylenol. In the insurance business they call that “self treating”, and telling them that you did that will make them listen. The end of May you go to a massage therapist. The pain still is there so in June you get an MRI, and July you go back to your Medical Doctor. You get my drift…

    What you’re basically trying to do is set up a timeline for the insurance company to prove to them, yeah the accident happened 4 months ago…but this pain is not going away. You have documented papers (Any doctor visits not including GYN for baby, massages, receipts from tylenol) that prove that you were seeking relief.

    Once that has been established, the insurance company now knows that they’re gonna have to pay for your physical therapy. And how 3rd Party works is, you go to the Physical Therepist (or Chiropractor or whatever) and they get you better. Meanwhile the bill that you’ve racked up from getting back to normal is huge now. 3rd Party has to pay that. And guess what else they need to do? Now, they try to settle with you for a low amount. If your bill with the PT comes to $ 4000, they’ll try to settle with you for $ 4500. Well, that only barely pays the bill, plus you only get a lousy $ 500. How it’s supposed to happen is, they compensate you for:

    – Time lost from work [you had to stop working because of your injury, no matter if it was 2 days or 2 weeks…they need to pay you for that lost time you’ll never get back]
    – Time lost with your family [not to mention your pregnancy, but time that you couldn’t spend with your husband or boyfriend because you were in so much pain, any birthdays or holidays you missed.]
    – “Duties Under Duress” That is exactly what the insurance company calls this. It means, things that you have to do on a regular basis, that you no longer can do without pain. For instance: you can’t lift the laundry to do it, you can’t scrub the dishes because it hurts your shoulder, you can’t pick up your child. Basically they’re paying for your pain and suffering. And they need to! All this mess wouldn’t have hurt if that accident had never happened!

    So keep that in mind when they throw numbers at you to try and settle. They need to compensate you for everything you’ve had to go through because of the wreck. Also, you need to know that your lawyer will get a third of the settlement right off the top. So plan accordingly, and don’t settle for 12 grand unless you’re willing to only get 8.

    I know this is long, but Insurance Companies make me so mad…and I hope that my information helps you. Feel free to message me if you have any more questions. 🙂 Good luck!

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