Why Is My Attorney Telling Me to Accept an Amount Less Than My Medical Bills?
You’ve been injured in a car accident and incurred thousands of dollars worth of medical bills. Plus, you’ve spent countless hours in doctors’ offices, missed work and suffered physically, mentally and emotionally due to the incident. You believe that you’re entitled to having all your medical expenses, as well as additional expenses, covered.
You are fully justified in feeling that you deserve compensation for the injuries the other driver caused you. If they were in the wrong, they should have to pay up so that you can get your life back to normal as quickly as possible.
However, unfortunately, cases don’t always turn out how lawyers and their clients would like them to, and medical bills aren’t fully covered in every single settlement. This can be disappointing news, but there are ways to protect yourself from a worse outcome.
Why Accepting a Lower Amount May Be Necessary
Perhaps your personal injury attorney is advising you to accept a lower amount than your desired settlement. Let’s say you have $100,000 in medical expenses because of your accident, but the settlement is only $15,000. Why would you lawyer tell you to settle in that case?
Well, there are a number of reasons.
The other driver may only be insured for up to a certain amount, like $15,000, and they have no assets or ability to pay beyond that. If you want to recoup the other $85,000, and your other damages, you would have to go to court; but to what avail?
As you might already be aware, it can take months or even years for your case to go to trial and for you to get a judgment against the other driver. But let’s say, in the best-case scenario, the jury sides with you and you are awarded well over $100,000.
The insurance company may say, “Here’s your $15,000, since that’s the driver’s policy limit.” But what if the driver has no means of paying you the rest? They might not have any money or assets or ability to raise the money. In that case, they could go into bankruptcy and have the judgment completely discharged (wiped out). If this happens, they may no longer have to pay you.
Essentially, at the end of the day, it wouldn’t be worth it, prosecuting the case over all those months, and possibly even years.
If your lawyer is telling you to accept a lower amount, it’s not necessarily that they’re giving up. They may be just being realistic and want to have you maximize your ability to use the money you can receive.
Of course, it is to you up to you to decide what action you want to take. You don’t have to blindly trust that your lawyer is giving you the right advice. Ask questions. Get answers. Speak up if you don’t understand their advice. Make an informed decision.
It’s disappointing to hear that you can only collect a portion of your ultimate damages. Hopefully, your own underinsured motorist coverage will help you cover the rest. If it doesn’t, though, be rest assured that there are other options!
How to Protect Yourself from Underinsured Drivers
One option to protect yourself from similar future problems is to purchase adequate underinsured motorist coverage.
If you had enough underinsured motorist coverage you could recoup that $15,000 from the other driver’s insurance and, hopefully, the balance of all your damages under the underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.
We make a second claim with your insurance company. Of course, you can also choose limits appropriate to and depending on your needs.
Underinsured motorist coverage usually costs a very modest amount and could end up saving you thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run.
Typical Medical Expenses from a Car Accident
If you’ve gotten into a car accident, your medical expenses can range from a few thousand dollars to millions if you’re in a catastrophic accident with high healthcare costs.
Even if you just experience whiplash or “soft tissue” injuries, it can still take a long time to heal. You may need to go to the doctor and get therapeutic exercises and physical therapy. The pain can travel to other parts of your body, as well, and impair how you function in everyday life. These visits alone can cost thousands.
If you have a catastrophic injury, like serious burns, the loss of a limb, a skull fracture, brain damage or spinal cord injuries, then you will never fully recover, and you face life-altering changes. You might have to give up your job and not be able to physically, emotionally, or financially help your spouse out or your children. You and your family would suffer great losses from these circumstances and face daily challenges. Getting good representation can make all the difference.
By having adequate UIM coverage, and having a good lawyer/firm in mind, you are being proactive just in case something was to happen to you or your loved ones.
Finding a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and want to ensure that you get the highest settlement possible, you need to find an experienced personal injury attorney who has spent years dealing with these sorts of cases.
To find the best personal injury attorney for your case, former clients, other lawyers and judges, know who does the best job. Check online testimonials and reviews of attorneys. Explore the attorneys’ websites to see what kind of services they offer. We don’t suggest that you use lawyers that advertise to millions of people on television.
With most personal injury attorneys, you won’t have to pay them anything until you get your settlement. Then, they will take a percentage against the settlement for the work they did for you.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured in any type of accident, then call the personal injury attorneys at Heiting & Irwin at 951-682-6400, or contact our office online to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible. We will work very hard to get you all the compensation you should be entitled to in your personal injury case.