If you’ve been permanently disabled due to a car accident, your life likely looks very different from the life you lived before the accident. You may have to purchase new medical devices to accommodate your disability or attend therapy to regain as much movement and function as possible. You may need mental health therapy to help adjust to your new life. The future may be full of upcoming surgeries or ongoing medical expenses.
Your car accident has changed your life, and it may look like an increasingly expensive change. What are your options to get the care you need? Here are a few things you should consider.
Waiting on the Right Settlement
If you didn’t cause your car accident, you have more options for recovery in Indiana. Indiana is a fault state, which means that the insurance company of whichever driver was more than 51 percent at fault for the accident should pay for the other driver’s damages. You can also choose to go through your own insurance company even if you’re not at fault if you wish, but you’ll likely have to pay your deductible.
Whichever insurance company you deal with, you’ll eventually receive a settlement offer from the insurance adjuster on your case. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, as you’re still processing your new, permanent disability, you may be tempted to accept the insurance company’s offer. After all, your medical bills are piling up, and you should be focusing on your health, not your finances.
However, it’s important not to accept a settlement offer too quickly. You’re not only entitled to your current medical bills; if you have a permanent disability due to the accident, you’ll likely be able to recover money for future medical expenses.
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
It’s important to reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI) before accepting any settlement offer. MMI is the point at which you reach maximum expected recovery. That may be 100 percent of your health before the accident, but if your injury has led to a permanent disability, it will likely be less. What MMI is varies from person to person. You’ll need to continue to receive medical treatment until your doctor believes you’ve improved as much as can be expected, given your disability.
Types of Damages
A settlement should cover not just your hospital bills, but a variety of other damages as well. Physical therapy, psychological therapy, medical device expenses, future surgeries, and other expenses directly related to your accident should all be included in your settlement.
How Fault May Affect Your Claim
The value of your settlement may be diminished if you are partially at fault for the accident. Indiana uses comparative fault to determine what percentage of fault should be placed on each driver. Your damages recovered from the other driver’s insurance company will be reduced by the percentage you’re found to be at fault. For example, if you’re 20 percent at fault and you have $100,000 in damages, you should receive $80,000 from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits
Once you receive a settlement or award for your car accident claim, you may face another problem: employment. Depending on the type and severity of your permanent disability, you may not be able to return to work.
One option for people with disabilities who are unable to work is to apply for Social Security disability benefits. There are two types of Social Security disability benefits: disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI). If you’ve recently received a car accident settlement, you probably won’t meet the income limitations to apply for SSI. DIB will likely be your best option. However, keep in mind that you have to have a solid work history to prove you’ve paid into the Social Security system through taxes to qualify for DIB.
Applying for disability benefits can be a long, frustrating process. It takes three to five months to be approved after filing your initial application, but most are denied. Another two to four months pass if you appeal that denial, but again, it’s likely you’ll still be denied. The final step, which involves going to a hearing, requires an average of 20 months of waiting in Indianapolis.
Getting approved for disability benefits is the kind of process you only want to go through once. An Indiana disability lawyer can make sure you meet all of your deadlines, file paperwork for you, and make sure you’re building a strong case while you wait for a decision.
Help from Hensley Legal Group
If you’ve been permanently disabled in a car accident, you should be focused on your health. Let an Indiana car accident lawyer take care of your legal case. Call Hensley Legal Group today or contact us online for a free consultation. Our attorneys can handle your car accident claim and help you apply for Social Security disability benefits if necessary.