What is GAP Insurance?

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GAP INSURANCE – DESIGNED TO BRIDGE THE GAP

Bridge the GAP

“The more expensive your vehicle and the less equity you have in it, the more you can benefit from Guaranteed Asset Protection insurance,” writes Jackie Lohrey in finance.zacks.com.

Indiana state law dictates that all drivers carry a minimum amount of insurance, designed to cover the expenses of medical services and treatment for those injured in an accident,  including:

  • $25,000 liability insurance per person
  • $50,000 liability insurance per incident
  • $10,000 property damage

Reality is, despite those laws, many drivers do not have any insurance at all. But, in order to protect yourself, you should know about other types of benefits available to cover bills in the event of an accident:

  • Comprehensive – This helps pay for damage to your vehicle caused in incidents other than car accidents, such as vandalism, theft, and fire damage
  • Collision – This covers the cost of damage from a collision with another car or an object
  • Rental reimbursement – This helps pay for alternative transportation while your car is being repaired
  • Medical payments – This covers accident-related medical or funeral costs of covered drivers and of passengers (fault is not taken into consideration)
  • Emergency roadside service – This helps provide for towing and labor service (assistance with changing a tire, jumpstarts, towing, locksmith, delivery of gas or oil)
  • Customized parts and equipment – This is an endorsement to the policy that pays for equipment, devices, and accessories other than those installed by the original manufacturer

One especially important type of insurance is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage. UM/UIM protects you in the event that the driver who was responsible for your accident has no coverage, or not enough of it.

Yet another type of coverage to consider – GAP.

What is GAP insurance? GAP is an optional insurance coverage that can be added to a collision insurance policyIf your car is covered by insurance, but is considered a total loss after an accident, GAP insurance is designed to pay the difference between the balance on your lease or loan and what your insurance company pays. If your car is stolen and you owe more than the vehicle is worth, GAP insurance would provide the difference between what’s owed on the car and its estimated value.

“Car GAP insurance is one of those expenses that seem like a waste of money until you need it,” observes bankrate.com. Russ Heaps of bankrate shares an open secret:  the moment you drive a vehicle off the dealer’s lot, your auto insurance is probably inadequate to protect you financially in the case of a total loss.

Think that’s an exaggeration? According to Edmunds.com data, in 2015, 30% of car sales that had a trade-in were ones in which the owner still owned money on the vehicle.  The average amount of negative equity was $4500!

Who should buy a GAP policy?  Bankrate.com quotes Bill Pearse of Travelers Insurance, who says you’re a likely candidate for GAP if:Mind the GAP

  • You’re leasing a vehicle
  • You’re financing a car for 60 months or more
  • You’re putting less than 20% down
  • You’re rolling “negative equity” from your previous vehicle into your new vehicle loan
  • You drive more than 15,000 miles a year
  • You’re purchasing a vehicle with a history of high depreciation rates

GAP insurance steps in when there is negative equity, meaning you owe more on an asset (in this case, a car) than it’s worth.  You’re “upside down.”  You’re “under water.” Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor for edmunds.com offers one simple example of negative equity:

  • You have $15,000 worth of car payments left, but the value of the car has depreciated to $10,000

Where do you buy GAP insurance?

  1. From the dealer (at the time of purchase or lease)
  2. From an insurance company (at any time)

GAP insurance can become very important when you have complications with your Indiana personal injury claim after an accident:

  1. The at-fault driver does not have insurance. Your damages would be paid by your insurance provider under the uninsured motorist coverage portion of your coverage.
  1. The at-fault driver had insurance, but only the minimum $25,000 liability coverage required in Indiana. That driver’s coverage would pay the first $25,000, and your underinsured motorist coverage would pay the remainder up to the limits of your coverage (which may not be enough to cover the loan or lease on your car).

After an automobile accident, a lot of money can be involved, not only in terms of personal injury, but also in terms of car repair and replacement. For this reason, drivers need to be prepared for possible disputes with their insurance company. Some steps to take include:

  • Saving all paperwork related to the accident
  • Getting an estimate from a trusted repair shop (in the event the insurance company undervalues the repairs the car needs)

There are several important considerations when it comes to Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance: 

  1. Because the intent of GAP is to work with traditional liability coverage, it will not pay if your primary insurance company denies your claim.
  1. Unlike other forms of auto insurance, with GAP there is a one-time only premium (you may choose to pay it upfront or incorporate it into a loan if you purchase it at a dealership).
  1. Once you make a claim, the GAP policy expires.
  1. GAP insurance requires a “triggering event” before it kicks in. But, because GAP focuses on your loan instead of on the car, the triggering event is not the accident or theft or damage, but the declaration by your insurer that the car is a total loss.

While consumers may at first have a problem understanding the unique limitations of GAP coverage, those limitations really make sense.  GAP is a form of credit insurance and it covers your loan, NOT the vehicle itself.

In fact, GAP insurance is designed to do just what its name implies – bridge the gap between what your insurance company will pay and what you owe.

Bride the Gap

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET MY CAR ACCIDENT SETTLEMENT MONEY?

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The big question for anyone who has been injured in a car wreck is – just how long will it take to settle my case?  The bills sure aren’t waiting, you quickly realize.

And the answer is….. there is no set answer. The amount of time it takes to settle a personal injury case really depends on the circumstances of each accident and the injuries sustained by the people involved in that accident.

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Insurance companies, of course, know this.  They also know that you, the injured party, require costly medical care and that you may not be able to work. They know a quick settlement (even if it’s for far less than you need and deserve), will sound awfully good to you at first. Yes, you need to pay bills, but what you most need to buy is time.

Time will allow your Indiana personal injury lawyer to build a strong case and increase the chances for a fair settlement. In great part, the answer to the how-long-will-it-take question depends on whether you want to take the low-ball quick settlement from the insurance company or buy the time and the professional expertise to get more of what you deserve.

The general principle is that when you’re involved in a serious car accident for which you’re determined not to be at fault, you’re entitled to compensation for any expenses incurred as a result of the event. Such costs might include:

  • Repairs to your vehicle
  • Repairs to other items of property that were involved in the accidenthelp
  • Medical bills
  • Compensation for lost earnings
  • Reimbursement for pain and suffering

Over the next weeks, or even months, your lawyer will be busy gathering information by:

  • Communicating with the other driver’s insurance company
  • Organizing your medical records and bills for treatments you are receiving
  • Getting estimates for any future treatments you are predicted to need
  • Negotiating with health providers, disability service providers, and worker’s compensation personnel to reduce liens against you
  • Negotiating with insurance adjusters
  • Interviewing witnesses to the accident
  • Possibly preparing for a lawsuit (regardless of whether that lawsuit ever actually happens or not)

Weeks and months may well pass while all this negotiating and information-gathering is going on, and while the situation becomes more clear:

  • Will you be needing ongoing medical care or therapy?
  • Will you be able to return to the full earning power you had before the accident?

You and your attorney will need time to analyze the offer. You will need to determine whether the offer is fair and if it will be enough to cover the costs you’ve incurred. Once you and your attorney are ready to accept an offer, you’ll need to sign a release form stating you will not ask for any further money from the other party.

Once the settlement has been finalized, the insurance company is obligated to pay it in full within a pre-determined period of time. If the insurer fails to pay before the payout window expires, the settlement balance begins to accrue interest at a high rate.  Still, the unpleasant truth is that insurance companies use all sorts of delaying tactics, including making new demands that you must meet in order to “take physical delivery” of the settlement.  In exchange for your demand for an “expeditious release,” you may need to sacrifice a portion of the money.  It is still a waiting game.

As the next-to-last step of the process, the settlement check is deposited into your lawyer’s trust account.

The check must first clear the bank. The money is finally here, but you must continue to wait. Before your lawyer can disburse your share of the settlement proceeds to you, he or she must deal with any liens against your lawsuit.

A lien is a legal right to someone else’s assets. The two kinds of liens that usually exist in personal injury lawsuits are medical liens and governmental liens. Medical liens come from health care providers and health insurers, while governmental liens are usually from Medicare, Medicaid, or a child support agency.

After the liens have been renegotiated and finally settled, the attorney keeps his or her agreed-upon portion of the money, issuing the remainder to you via check. But wait…that check may take another two weeks to clear.

There’s no need to be concerned with your lawyer keeping the money in the account longer than necessary.  In fact, no lawyer may deposit your settlement money with his or her own money. Indiana has an Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA) program. (In fact all 50 states plus Washington D.C. participate in such programs). As the Indiana Bar Foundation explains, any interest earned on the money while it’s in the IOLTA account is used for charitable purposes, usually those related to pro bono work.

By now you’ve no doubt become very tired of waiting. Remember, though, that time can be on your side in terms of holding out for a fair settlement.  A settlement is final, so make sure all your injuries have resolved before accepting one.  

“YOUR OWN” INSURANCE? THEY HAVE “THEIR OWN” INTERESTS AT HEART!

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Should you talk to your own insurance company after a car accident? No, at least not yet.

 

One widespread misconception is that you have to call your insurance company immediately after an accident.  You do not. If you’ve been injured to any degree, it is far better to wait until your injuries have been assessed and treated – and, until you’ve discussed the matter with an Indiana personal injury attorney.

Why wait? For one thing, at the scene of an accident, you’re hardly in a state to do any accurate reporting.  Mental trauma and emotional disorientation are natural outcomes of an accident experience. You may think you’re capable of thinking clearly, but the truth is, you’re probably not—not yet.

Besides, as Dr. Alex Bingham, D.C. explains, vehicle accidents can cause physical damage that’s hard to notice amidst all the distractions immediately following the incident. Some issues might not present any signs until days or even weeks later.

 

recorded insurance callRemember this: There is no law in any state that requires an injured person to give a recorded statement to an insurance company, either your own insurer or that of the other driver.

 

You may find this fact a hard pill to swallow, but it’s a fact nonetheless: no insurance company – not your own and not the other driver’s – is focused on your best interests after you’ve had an accident.  (Remember, too, that if the other party has too little insurance or no insurance coverage at all, your own insurer is the one that will be paying for your injury claim.)

 

Insurance companies are businesses and their interests naturally lie in protecting their profits. To an insurance company, increasing profit and reducing losses means paying out as little as possible for a car crash personal injury claim.

A second important aspect of insurance payouts in Indiana is that we are a “fault state” (a state in which the Comparative Fault Act applies). That means that if you were injured in a vehicle accident, you have a choice of using your own insurance or first using the other party’s insurance.

In either case, as an injured party, you have become the adversary of the insurance company.  Think about it – to whatever extent your claim is against your own insurance company, you have gone from being their client to being on the other side of the table from them.

It’s very important to understand the concept of “comparative fault.”  When you have been in an accident, each side’s insurance company tries to show that their insured person was less responsible for the accident and that the other driver was more responsible. As the Law Journal Library explains:

                  The cornerstone principle of a comparative fault system is that each

                   person who contributes to cause an injury must bear the burden of

                   reparation for that injury in exact proportion to his share of the total

                   fault which contributed to cause the injury.

The more the other driver’s insurer can prove that you were responsible for the accident, the less they will be forced to pay.  An insurance company Car repairinvestigation usually entails trying to find where you are to blame. The likelihood that you may say something to an insurance adjuster that they can later use against you (showing you were at fault) is greatest just after the accident (remember that mental trauma and emotional disorientation we talked about?).

 

A not-so-secret secret is that the profit motive plays an extremely important role in any auto accident claim. Did you know that insurance company representatives are sometimes given bonuses for getting injured claimants to accept smaller amounts of money for their injuries? When you have been injured in an automobile accident in Indiana, you need to have a very healthy respect for the insurance companies’ profit motives and interests.

 

Personal injury law involves cases that involve injury to the body or the mind.  The underlying principle is that you have the legal right to recover compensation when you are injured as the result of someone else’s careless action. The amount of any settlement you receive to cover your losses will be influenced by the extent and the nature of the damage you’ve suffered.

 

Time can be on your side and yet work against you.

  • Once you give a recorded statement to an insurance company, that statement can be used to deny a personal injury claim you may later file.
  • An insurance settlement is final – you receive one, and only one, award. Once you’ve accepted a settlement, even if you later come to realize you need money for further medical treatment, you will have waived your right to any future compensation.

 

It probably costs to give a statement. A lot. It always pays to wait.

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Don’t talk to an insurance adjuster or insurance company representative. At least not yet.  Not until you’ve been seen by a doctor or received medical treatment. Not until you’ve documented all treatment expenses and gotten an estimate of what further treatments might be necessary.  Not until you’ve consulted an Indiana personal injury lawyer.

 

Wait before you talk to an insurance company. Any insurance company.  “Your own” insurance company still has “their own,” not your own, best interests at heart!

DOES HIRING AN ATTORNEY AFTER AN ACCIDENT MEAN GOING TO COURT?

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courtYou’ve been injured in an automobile accident that was not your fault. If you hire a personal injury lawyer, does that mean you’re going to be involved in a court trial?

 

Probably not. Chances are, at some point the other driver’s insurance company is going to propose a settlement offer before you ever get to the point of going to a trial.


Still, if settlement negotiations become deadlocked, there is a chance your case might result in a lawsuit. The next step might be preparing for a trial if:

  • The claims adjuster can’t get approval for a large enough payout to reasonably cover your damages, or
  • A settlement has been offered, but you and your attorney believe the offer is not fair and reasonable

Truth is, when it comes to a personal injury accident, going to a trial with a jury is not something either side really wants. In fact, the vast majority of car accident cases never go to trial. And, even when a car accident lawsuit is filed, most of the time the case is resolved before the trial actually takes place. One of the reasons is that trials can be expensive, especially when expert witness and court reporter fees are involved. By reaching a settlement, both sides tend to have more control over costs.

What actually happens in court should things get to that point? In Indiana, as in most states, a jury (rather than a judge) makes the decision in a car accident lawsuit.

  • After the jury is selected, the attorneys for each party make opening statements. As the plaintiff, your attorney would present your case first, by calling witnesses, including you if you are able to testify. The individuals called to testify lawyer in courtmight have witnessed the accident. Your doctors might be asked to testify about the treatments you’ve received, about future treatment that will be necessary, and about your chances for a full recovery from your injuries.

 

  • The defendant (usually the insurance company for the at-fault driver) might call witnesses who saw the accident, perhaps in order to contradict your side’s version of what happened. The defendant might also present other doctors or healthcare professionals who treated you and who have an opinion different from the doctor your attorney called as a witness.


In general, personal injury claims tend to be divided into two categories:

  1. “Soft Tissue” Injuries

The majority of personal injury claims in the United States are of the soft tissue type and typically result from:

  1. “Hard” Injuries

These are more serious, and often more complex cases, resulting from:

While the majority of motor vehicle accidents result in soft tissue injuries, hard injuries may also be the result of car accidents.

If I do not want to go through the expense and the tension of a court trial, do I need an attorney?


You have the legal right to recover compensation when you are injured as a result of someone else’s carelessness or negligence. You may receive compensation by accepting a settlement offered by an insurance adjuster, either before court paperworkor after filing a lawsuit. If the insurance company does not make a reasonable offer for settlement, you may decide to take your case to trial.

Whichever of these paths you ultimately choose, the expertise of an experienced personal injury lawyer has the potential to make a positive difference in the outcome. The main goal of tort law (the area of the legal system that deals in private and civil wrongs and injuries) is to make you, as the injured party, whole and to discourage others from committing the same offense.  The main goal of the personal injury attorney who accepts your case is to protect your interests.

Whether you have a “soft tissue” injury or a “hard” injury may not be immediately apparent at the time of the accident. Without expert help in evaluating a settlement offer, you might be giving up rights to future claims.  You might miss out on receiving payment, not only for damage to your car and your medical bills, but also for pain and suffering. In order for you to claim full compensation, there will be witnesses to interview and evidence to gather. After an accident, you’re hardly in a condition to navigate the complex insurance and legal systems.

 

An attorney can be of help by:

  • Communicating with the other driver’s insurance company
  • Obtaining evidence of liability
  • Organizing medical records and bills

And, whether or not your case actually ends up in court, legal expertise is needed in order to:

  • Gather and evaluate evidence (including witness statements, policy reports, and medical reports)
  • Research case law
  • Draft pleadings and motions
  • Interview witnesses
  • Prepare for trial

(Even if a trial never happens, the very fact that your attorney is preparing to take your case to court often serves as an incentive for the other side to improve their offer of a settlement.)

Does hiring an attorney to represent you mean you’re on your way to court?  Probably not. But a trial may be what it takes to get fair compensation for:

  • The cost of medical treatments – and transportation to and from those appointments
  • Pain and suffering from your injuries
  • Loss of work time
  • Loss of business
  • Cost of a rental car and of repairing your car
  • Cost for psychological counseling caused by stress or physical injury

 

It’s important to have counsel who isn’t afraid to keep fighting – all the way to court if need be!

 

 

HOW MUCH IS THE AVERAGE CAR ACCIDENT SETTLEMENT? IT DEPENDS!

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When you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, all your energies are focused on trying to put your life back together. Naturally, one of the biggest concerns on your mind is how to get the financial help you need. Just how much monetary help can you expect to receive in the form of a settlement, you wonder? This may not be what you want to hear, but the only right answer anyone can give you at this stage of the game is, “It depends!”

Many factors impact the amount of any settlement, including:settlement check

  • The type and duration of the injury you suffered
  • The extent of financial costs you incurred because of the accident
  • The type of mental and/or medical treatment you received and still need to receive
  • How much insurance coverage you have (and how much the driver who caused the accident has)
  • Comparative fault (was the accident in any measure due to you exceeding the speed limit, for example?)

 

Not only must each one of these factors be considered, the facts must be investigated, documented, and evaluated. After all of those steps have been completed, where will the money come from if you are awarded a settlement? Almost always, the money will be paid by an insurance company.

 

Let’s talk about auto insurance in Indiana…

Indiana is what is called a “fault” insurance state.  That means that if you were hurt in an auto accident in which another car owner was at fault and you’re seeking compensation for damages, you have the choice of:

 

  1. Filing a claim under your own insurance policy
  2. Pursuing a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy
  3. Filing a lawsuit against the other driver (you might combine #2 and #3)

 

In Indiana, owners of registered vehicles are required to demonstrate “financial responsibility” in case there is an accident. Indiana drivers are not required to carry liability car insurance, but if they don’t, they must demonstrate that they have the means to take responsibility in the event of an accident.

 

The minimum amounts of financial responsibility for a car accident in Indiana according to the Indiana Department of Insurance are as follows:pen on paper

“Each newly written Indiana auto liability policy must include uninsured and underinsured motorist’s coverage unless you reject this in writing. Minimum liability limits are:

  • Uninsured Motorists: Bodily Injury: $25,000/$50,000
  • Property Damage: $10,000
  • Underinsured Motorists: Bodily Injury: $50,000

The uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage allows you to collect these damages from your own insurance company.”

However (and this is important for you to understand), even though the nature of the damage and the injury you’ve suffered will influence the amount of your settlement, a major controlling factor is the insurance policy limits. 

By the way, if you escaped injury in the car wreck and your claim involved only damage to the car, your settlement amount will generally be the cost of repairs and/or the cost of replacing parts. If those replacement and repair costs exceed the value of the car, the insurance company may call it a “total loss” and pay you for the depreciated value of the car (which may or may not be enough for you to purchase a replacement car). If your automobile sustained damage and you were injured as well, the personal injury case will be negotiated separately from the property damage case.

A second very important thing to understand about insurance settlements is that they’re final. In other words, you receive one, and only one, award. Once you’ve accepted a settlement, even if you later come to realize you need money for further medical treatment, you will have waived your right to any future compensation.

paramedicWhen bodily harm results from an auto accident, health insurance companies may also get involved. Your employer’s health insurance plan might allow the health insurance company to place a lien and share in your settlement. If your bills for medical treatment are paid by Medicare or Medicaid, a lien may apply to your settlement as well.

While the type and duration of the injury you suffered and the extent of your financial loss are key in determining the amount of your settlement, you can’t forget that Indiana has a “comparative fault” rule. If it’s determined (based, for example, on the police report of the accident) that you shared 20% of the fault for the accident, your total damages would be reduced by 20%. And, if you are found to be 50% or more at fault, you will not be able to collect from any other at-fault party.

Yes, when you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, all your energies are focused on trying to put your life back together. You’re going to need financial help, that’s for sure. Just how much monetary help can you expect to receive in the form of a settlement?

Besides recognizing the financial losses you’ve suffered as a result of the accident, including the present and future medical bills and lost earnings, the law recognizes two types of pain and suffering: physical and mental.

  • Physical pain and suffering refers to the discomfort you felt and perhaps continue to feel as the result of your injuries, and also the negative effects your injury is likely to cause you in the future.
  • Mental pain and suffering includes emotional injuries, including fear, shock, social or sexual dysfunction, or anxiety resulting from the accident.

When you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, it’s natural to want to get a handle on just how much monetary help you can expect to receive in the form of a settlement. Call, chat, or e-mail today to speak with an attorney for a FREE evaluation of your claim.  Because there are so many variations and so many different factors involved, the only right answer anyone can give you at this stage of the game is, “It depends!”

WHY HIRE A LAWYER AFTER A CAR WRECK?

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What, exactly, is a personal injury lawyer? And do you really need to hire a lawyer at all if you’ve suffered an injury in an auto accident?

hand shake

Here’s the way Wikipedia defines the profession of personal injury law:

A personal injury lawyer is a lawyer who provides legal representation to those who claim to have been injured, physically or psychologically, as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another person, company, government agency, or other entity.

 

Personal injury, of course, doesn’t happen only because of car wrecks. Other types of personal injury can include:

 

Basically any case or claim that involves an injury to the body or mind falls under the umbrella of personal injury law, with the underlying principle being that you generally have the legal right to recover compensation when you are injured as a result of someone else’s careless action.gavel

And how does that recovery of compensation generally happen? The compensation may result from:

  • Settling a claim outside of court
  • Through a formal court-based lawsuit

 

Whichever of these two paths you take after your auto accident, one of the most important decisions you will need to make is whether to hire a lawyer.

No one likes paying legal fees, but there are a number of compelling reasons to consult a personal injury lawyer following an automobile accident:

Reason #1:

Even though the nature of the damage and the injury you’ve suffered will influence the amount of your settlement, no insurance company will ever pay out more than the policy limits (of course their business interest lies in paying out less!). Not only are lawyers experienced in negotiating with insurers, the insurers and defendants may take your claim more seriously if you’re represented by an attorney.

Reason #2:

Injuries that may seem minor at first may turn into major ones. If the damage you’ve suffered turns out to be worse than first thought, and you’ve already accepted a settlement offer, you will have given up all rights to make future claims.  Your legal advisor can help you determine when the time is right to accept an offer.

Reason #3:

If you’ve suffered personal injury as a result of another driver’s negligence, the amount of financial help you stand to receive will depend not only on the actual damage to your car and the cost of your own medical bills, but might also include compensation for “pain and suffering.” With an attorney representing you, it’s more likely you could receive all the damages to which you’re entitled. This is no small consideration, because like the effects of physical injuries, the effects of emotional injuries can be prolonged and even lifelong.

 

Here’s the way Legalcareers.com describes the work personal injury lawyers do:

“Personal injury lawyers specialize in an area of law known as tort law which includes private or civil wrongs or injuries, including defamation and actions for bad faith breach of contract. The main goal of tort law is to make the injured party whole and to discourage others from committing the same offense.

 

“Personal injury lawyers help plaintiffs receive compensation for their losses, including loss of earnings capacity (due to an inability to work), pain and suffering, reasonable medical expenses (both present and expected), emotional distress, loss of consortium or companionship, legal costs and attorney fees. Personal injury attorneys also work to safeguard clients from being victimized by insurance companies and the legal system.

http://legalcareers.about.com/od/corelegalcareers/p/What-Is-A-Personal-Injury-Lawyer.htm

 

“Personal injury lawyers handle a case from inception through appeal,” Legalcareers continues. Typical tasks include:

  • Investigating claimsfiles
  • Screening potential clients and evaluating the merits of their case
  • Gathering evidence
  • Formulating legal theories
  • Researching case law
  • Drafting pleadings and motions
  • Interviewing and deposing witnesses
  • Preparing for trial
  • Advocating at trial
  • Counseling clients

In the specific area of automobile accidents, a personal injury attorney can be of help to you by:

  • Communicating with the other driver’s insurer
  • Obtaining necessary evidence of liability
  • Organizing medical records and bills
  • Communicating with healthcare providers
  • Organizing and presenting evidence to prove liability
  • Negotiating with health, disability, or workers’ compensation insurers to reduce liens
  • Negotiating with insurance adjusters

 

You may need a lawyer because of complex legal rules involved in your particular claim, or because the severity of your injuries might cause your compensation to vary greatly from the norm — or simply because an insurance company refuses to settle a matter in good faith.

You will likely find that not only the skills of an experienced personal injury lawyer, but also the threat to an insurance company that having a lawyer on your side presents, are worth the money you must pay that lawyer to represent you.

Of all the ways in which personal injury may be caused, automobile accidents are actually the area in which most personal injury actions arise. New findings from the Insurance Research Council’s (IRC) Auto Injury Insurance Claims Study shows that auto injury claim costs per insured vehicle have continued to increase across the United States and “claim severity (the average cost per paid claim) increased in most states.” Meanwhile, propertycasualty360.com adds, “Medical expenses reported by auto injury claimants continue to increase faster than the rate of inflation.”

http://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/Trends2015NRFINAL.pdf

http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2014/03/10/auto-bi-claims-costs-outpace-inflation-even-as-inj

Do you really need to hire a lawyer if you’ve suffered injury in an auto accident? Perhaps not, IF:

 

  • IF you’re satisfied with the other driver’s insurance company repairing your car and paying a portion of your medical bills
  • IF you don’t mind gathering all the information needed to determine the value of your claim
  • IF you don’t mind gong to the time and trouble of interviewing witnesses
  • IF you’re confident the insurance company is not trying to take advantage of you

With or without legal counsel, you have the right to recover compensation when you are injured as a result of someone else’s careless action. Could a personal injury attorney make the path easier? You be the judge….

SHOULD I GO TO THE DOCTOR AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?

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After a car accident, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed, and your first instinct may be to minimize the situation. Even if you believe you and your passengers are okay, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible for two major reasonsstethoscope

  1. The longer you wait to seek medical care after the accident, the harder it will be to prove that any injuries you have were actually caused by the accident.
  1. Symptoms of a serious injury may not become apparent immediately, and you‘re putting your own health at higher risk the longer you go without seeing a doctor.

If children were passengers in your car, it’s especially important to have them examined immediately, as young ones cannot always communicate their feelings or evaluate any physical damage. And if you or one of your passengers was pregnant, medical attention is vital since accidents can cause miscarriage or bring on pre-term labor.

 

Once you are seen by a doctor or given medical treatment of any kind, be sure to begin documenting all treatment expenses. Detecting the true extent of injuries from the accident may require x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or other advanced diagnostic technology.

 

Who pays for my treatment?

Under Indiana law, if another driver caused the accident, that driver is financially responsible for your medical and repair bills. The problem is, investigating an accident and determining who was at fault takes time – a lot of time.  Meanwhile, you need medical care now.

The first line of defense when it comes to covering your medical bills is the Med Pay, or Medical Payments Coverage, on your own auto insurance policy. The Med Pay covers your medical bills, and the medical bills of your passengers (up to the policy limits) no matter who caused the accident. Depending on the terms of your policy, the following things may be covered:

  • Health insurance co-payments and deductibles
  • Treatments excluded by health insurance
  • If you don’t have health insurance, Med Pay can pay for your medical bills

money

Med Pay is specifically meant to cover medical bills due to car accidents, while most health insurance policies cover medical expenses related to illness, not accidents. Even if a health insurance company pays your accident-related medical bills initially, they can demand the money back from the medical provider.

It’s important for you to know exactly what health insurance resources you have at hand, because if there is a long delay until you can collect from the at-fault driver’s insurance, or even from your own Med Pay, your health insurance might be a resource to turn to for now. That resource might be in the form of employer-sponsored group health insurance, an individual policy you purchased, Medicare, or Medicaid.

Worried that your auto insurance premium will go up because of a claim on Med Pay? If your insurer pays when the accident  wasn’t your fault, your premiums should not be affected. (As you might imagine, your insurance company will undoubtedly seek reimbursement from the at-fault party’s insurer.)

 

Ultimately, though, if you’re the victim in this accident, it’s the other driver’s insurance that should be covering all these costs for you. How can you go about making that happen?

 

Indiana auto accident cases are handled a bit differently from other states, in that Indiana is a “fault state” and the Comparative Fault Act applies. States that have “no-fault” automobile laws force an injured driver to use his or her own auto insurance policy before the at-fault driver’s insurance company can be asked to pay for any property damage or medical bills. “Comparative fault” is a legal term that compares the fault of each person involved in the accident, and any monetary damages are assigned accordingly.  In Indiana, you have a choice of using your own insurance or first using the at-fault driver’s insurance.

 

An example of comparative fault:broken-car

In a personal injury lawsuit involving a motor vehicle accident, the jury awards $100,000 in damages.  It is determined that the plaintiff was 20% at fault, and so the plaintiff would recover $80,000.

 

There’s a very important feature of the Indiana Comparative Fault Act that must be understood: if it is determined that you, the plaintiff, were more than 50% at fault for the collision, you are not entitled to recover anything!

 

Aside from any lawsuit you may file, and regardless of how the medical providers end up getting paid, it’s crucial for you to see a doctor for the sake of your own well-being. Failing to see a physician as soon as possible amounts to needlessly putting your health at risk. One osteopathic physician, Dr. Maud, remarks: “What you do and don’t do in the first 72 hours after a car accident can radically affect the course of your recovery.” Following an accident, she explains, your body is very vulnerable.

Simple things that can help you heal, says Dr. Maud, include:

  • Rest
  • Good nutrition
  • Drinking plenty of water

Simple things that can make things much worse, she cautions, include:

  • Lifting
  • Twisting
  • Sitting for long periods of time

Should you go to the doctor after a car accident? It never hurts to seek medical attention. Injuries need documentation, and injured bodies need professional help.

PAIN AND SUFFERING CAN BE MEASURED IN MONEY

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You’ve suffered a personal injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, and now you’re turning to the legal system for financial help. As the plaintiff in a personal injury case, just how much help can you hope for?  The answer will be heavily dependent on how your “pain and suffering” is calculated.

 

What exactly does that term “pain and suffering” mean? How are pain and suffering measured?

 

The law recognizes two types of pain and suffering:pain and suffering word cloud

Physical: This refers to the discomfort you felt and that you continue to feel as a result of your injuries, but also includes any negative effects the injury may cause you to suffer in the future.

Mental: A serious personal injury affects your emotions and your thinking as well as your body. Fear, anger, anxiety, shock, sexual dysfunction, and even humiliation can be a big part of the overall damage you suffered due to becoming injured. And, like the effects of physical injuries, emotional injuries can be prolonged and even lifelong.

 

Truth be told, it’s difficult, perhaps even impossible, for any one person, any one lawyer, any one judge, or even a jury, to measure the extent to which someone else is suffering. The measurement actually relates to money:

  • Medical bills (both those incurred so far, and anticipated future medical costs)
  • Earnings lost so far and anticipated lost earnings

Suppose a driver was severely burned in a car accident. He could probably recover money for:

  • The agony of enduring the burn
  • The cost of treatment
  • The discomfort caused by the treatment (both mental and physical)
  • Limitations on his lifestyle
  • Lost income

A frequently asked question is whether you need an attorney to claim pain and suffering after an auto accident.  Injured people often turn to a lawyer for help because dealing with a car insurance company can be a hassle, especially if it’s the other driver’s carrier. And litigation can be:

  • Expensive
  • Time-consuming
  • Stressful (you will have to give a deposition, and that can be grueling)

Working with an attorney can alleviate part of that stress. Lawyers who are experienced in handling Indiana car accident cases know what works and what doesn’t. Many people find it’s worth the money in order to maximize their chances of collecting a settlement and avoiding the hassle.

How, exactly, can an attorney help if you were injured or suffered property damage in a car accident?  Here is a list of just some of the tasks a personal injury lawyer handles on behalf of a client:

  • Communicates with the other driver’s insurer
  • Obtains necessary evidence of liability
  • Organizes medical records and bills
  • Communicates with healthcare providers
  • Organizes and presents evidence to prove liability
  • Negotiates with health, disability, or workers’ compensation insurers to reduce liens
  • Negotiates with insurance adjusters

There are many causes for injuries, but car accidents are definitely one of the leading ones. The economic cost of car accidents is estimated to be $277 billion each year – around $897 for every person living in the United States. While injuries vary from crash to crash and person to person, there are a number of fairly common types of car accident injuries:

2)   Spinal cord damage or herniated disk

  • Reduced sensation in limbs
  • Paralysis
  • Arm or leg pain
  • Muscle weakness

3)  Whiplash

  • Neck pain and swelling
  • Vocal cord paralysis

4) Chest injuries

  • Traumatic cardiac arrest
  • Damage to internal organs

5) Broken bones

  • Severed limbs
  • Torn ACLs

If you are injured in a car accident, just how much money can I hope to recover for pain and suffering? The answer is – “It depends.”

It’s important to remember that many, many factors impact the amount of any settlement, including:

  • The type and duration of the injury you suffered
  • The extent of financial costs you incurred because of the accident
  • The type of mental and/or medical treatment you received and still need to receive
  • The type and amount of insurance coverage held by the at-fault driver

 

As the plaintiff in a personal injury case, just how much help can you hope to receive?  The answer will be heavily dependent on your “pain and suffering.”

 

It is always a good idea to speak with an Indiana personal injury lawyer to get an opinion on your claim whether it is a result of a truck accident, car accident, fall down or dog bite.  The attorneys at Hensley Legal Group offer free evaluations and work on a contingency basis, which means they only get paid if you do.  Call, chat, or e-mail and we will be happy to answer any questions you have about your claim.

Five Steps for Handling a Car Accident with an Underinsured Motorist

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Car insurance policyIf you were in a car accident with an underinsured motorist whose insurance coverage isn’t enough to cover your damages, you’ll have to file an additional claim with your own insurance company using your underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). (That is, if you carry that type of coverage; it’s not mandatory in Indiana, so you’ll need to check your policy.)

The Claims Process after an Accident with an Underinsured Driver

The claims process after an accident with a driver with too little insurance can get complicated. Dealing with two insurance companies and the variances in policies can be quite frustrating.

After the accident, here’s the recommended way to handle matters: [Read more…]

6 Common Motorcyclist Injuries after an Indianapolis, Indiana Accident

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Due to the unenclosed nature of motorcycles, bikers are more prone to injuries than other motorists and have a higher risk of fatality. For riders who have been injured in an Indianapolis, Indiana accident, filing a claim and seeking compensation may be a viable legal option, something with which Indianapolis law firms can assist you.

6 Common Types of Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents in Indianapolis

Motorcycle accidents can be tragic and the chances of being injured are extremely high:
 

  • broken bones and joints, especially in the shoulder and pelvis areas;
  • concussions and traumatic brain injuries;
  • internal bleeding;
  • soft tissue damage, such as road rash;
  • nerve damage to the upper arm (biker’s arm)and;
  • facial disfigurement.

These injuries can be devastating and have lifelong consequences. Just because someone chooses to ride a motorcycle does not mean that they deserve to be injured more in an accident. Indianapolis law firms often handle motorcycle accident cases and help victims seek compensation for their injuries and any pain and suffering they have experienced as a result.

If you or someone you love has been in an Indianapolis, Indiana accident, and are dealing with injuries such as internal bleeding, you should consider talking to an attorney to see what your legal options are and to get assistance in filing a personal injury claim.

A Helping Hand from Indianapolis Law Firms

When you have complications with your personal injury claim, Indianapolis law firms can help you to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety associated with filing a claim. In order to get back on track with your personal injury claim. Contact Indianapolis law firms at the Hensley Legal Group for a no-cost consultation – 888-558-0595.