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Your car accident was a shock, and now on top of your already busy schedule, you have new time demands, getting police reports, insurance agents, insurance adjusters, and why won’t anyone return my calls anyway?
You are worried, and rightly so. Perhaps you are thinking, “Why are they treating me like the bad guy, I was the one that was hurt. Am I going to be able to go back to work? Will I blow through my life savings? Will I lose my home because I can’t pay all the bills?”
It’s all getting a little confusing with people calling you, asking you questions, and everyone has their own ideas as to what you need to do and when.
Insurance companies wasting your valuable time as you wait on hold, working through their endless phone tree options while a robotic voice tells you how important you are to them.
Fortunately, I have a solution.
Hi, I am Joe, Senior Partner at Patton and Patton, Personal Injury lawyers. You made the right choice to come here. Like a lighthouse that gives guidance in a storm, I will give you clear direction.
Here’s what you need to to do
Before you talk to anyone before you sign anything, read the information below, and I will walk you through the process.
The least you need to know
You have three claims: 1) your liability claim, 2) your no-fault insurance claim, and 3). your property damage claim
Your auto accident liability claim has three parts: 1. Negligence on the part of the wrongdoer. Is the other person at fault? 2. Injuries caused by the negligence, was I hurt? 3. Someone that has the financial resources to compensate you. Is there insurance to pay the claim? If the other driver was not at fault, you don’t have a liability claim. If you are not hurt, there is no sense in making a liability claim. If there is no insurance, you will need to make an uninsured motorist claim. If there is not enough insurance, you will need to make an underinsurance motorist claim.
Your no-fault insurance claim is started by you calling your own insurance company and asking them to send you a Personal Injury Protection form to fill out. It’s also called a P.I.P. form. Your company will give you your P.I.P. claim number and the address where your medical providers can send their medical billing.
You can get more information about your no-fault claim, property damage claim, and gap insurance at this link.
If you had an auto accident on the job, you may also have a claim under work comp, if so you should skip over to the work comp page since the benefits and method of recovery is different, learn more by clicking here. You may have an auto accident liability claim, which I will talk about below AND a work comp claim which you can get information on at the above link.
I know it all sounds confusing. Don’t worry. I will walk you through it all below.
Ok. Let’s talk about your auto accident personal injury liability claim. I like baseball, so let’s use a baseball metaphor. The first base is fault. Fault is usually proved by showing by witnesses that the other driver violated one of the many traffic laws. Get it in writing, or a recording don’t rely on people to remember what happened. The second base is treatment, get the treatment you need, and follow the doctors’ instructions. Third base is your settlement offer package, and the home plate is the settlement check after you negotiate the medical bills and the liens downward, so you maximize your recovery.
In Kansas, if you are 50% or more at fault, you recovery nothing from the other driver. If you are less than 50% at fault, your recovery is reduced by the percent of your fault. You can read more on that below in the getting into the weeds section.
Sometimes to prove fault, you need a full investigation with witness statements recorded. Make sure you write down the names and contact information of all the car crash witnesses. Police departments do their investigation, which you will find in the accident report you can get by calling their office.
The other driver at fault is required by law to have a minimum of liability insurance to pay for your injuries. If the other driver is not insured, call your own insurance company as you have what is called uninsured motorist coverage. If the other driver has a small policy again, call your insurance company as you have underinsured motorist coverage. You should call me long before you get to this point as you can accidentally waive your underinsured motorist coverage. The call is free. Even if the other driver is uninsured, he is still personally liable to pay, and you can get the payment if he or she as assets.
Assuming you have liability and someone to pay, the focus of your case will be on putting a value on the damages and getting a fair settlement or jury verdict. Don’t settle the liability claim until you have finished your medical treatment and know the extent and nature of possible future medical bills and your physical limitations. You need to understand how those limitations will impact your income-producing ability before you settle so it can be included in your settlement package. You settlement package the insurance company should consist of:
- all your medical records,
- medical billing,
- an itemization of who paid the bills, with the Martinez figure,
- all the medical codes
- a summary of the medical treatment,
- disability reports,
- independent medical evaluations and
- vocational expert evaluations.
At this point, you need to download our 27-page free book, which you can get at this link. You will learn about:
- the most common mistakes you can avoid in an auto accident case,
- all about property damage and
- P.I.P. or no-fault benefits as well as
- a free self-assessment that will help you decide if you need a personal injury lawyer,
- and more.
Frequently asked questions
How Much is My Injury Claim Worth? A jury evaluates all the evidence and agrees on the amount of the verdict. Lawyers base a settlement on estimates of what an actual jury would award. The value of your claim depends on the severity of the injury. If your Auto Accident injury results in permanent restrictions that will restrict your activities and income in the future, then the jury will increase the amount of the award. At the other end of the spectrum, a muscle sprain that goes away after three months will be valued only on the amount of medical bills, income loss, and an amount for the suffering due to pain.
Do I need a Lawyer? Not always. Get a copy of our free book at this link to learn the details.
Who pays for my loss? Initially, you will want to submit the bills to your own auto insurance company and then your health insurance so you can get medical treatment. Still, in the end, the wrongdoer, also called the Defendant in a lawsuit, is required to pay. If the Defendant has liability insurance, then the insurance company will pay the claim up to the amount of the policy limits.
Must ask questions
What is a permanent injury? Auto Accident injuries often result in permanent disability. A permanent injury is one that lasts longer than three to six months and has real restrictions on your ability to function.
How do I prove permanent injury? No one can view the future with certainty. Still, the medical providers have enough education and experience to give an opinion both as to the nature and extent of any permanent restrictions. A vocational expert can provide an opinion as to how the limits will reduce your future income.
What can bar my claim? Your claim must be filed in court within the applicable time limits, usually two years from the date of the accident. If you miss the deadline, also called the statute of limitations, your claim is barred. Also, if the Defendant can prove you have 50% or more of the fault, then the comparative fault statute will bar your claim.
If I have prior physical problems, can I still recover? Yes. In a civil action, unlike Kansas work comp, you can recover for aggravation of preexisting conditions. Although insurance companies often use preexisting conditions to deny a claim, the fact is a body weakened due to a preexisting condition can be more severely injured than a perfectly healthy body.
As we mentioned before, in a civil case, the jury can award compensation for an injury even if there is a serious preexisting condition. The Kansas courts have decided that “… aggravation of a preexisting condition is compensable in an action to recover personal damages,(Knoblock v. Morris, 169 Kan. 540, 220 P.2d 171; Rowe v. Maule Drug Co., 196 Kan. 489, 413 P.2d 104.) Williams v. Benefit Trust Life Ins. Co., 200 Kan. 51, 434 P.2d 765, Kirk v. Beachner Const. Co., 214 Kan. 733, 737, 522 P.2d 176, 180 (1974).
In the weeds
The Comparative Negligence statute is applied to Kansas Auto Accident cases. This means that you may be partially at fault and still recover. Your percent of fault will reduce the amount of the verdict. For example, if you are 10% at fault in an auto accident and have a verdict of $100,000.00, then the award would be reduced by $10,000.00, which is 10% of the total verdict. When there are many parties, each one may be compared, and there is a process to compare the fault of those that are not in the case.
If you are 50% or more at fault, then your claim is barred, and you recover nothing.
The statute, K.S.A. 60-258a, provides in part, “When the comparative negligence of the parties is an issue and recovery is permitted against more than one party, each party is liable for that portion of the total dollar amount awarded as damages to a claimant in the proportion that the amount of that party’s causal negligence bears to the amount of the causal negligence attributed to all parties against whom recovery is permitted.”
Get Your Free Evaluation! You do not have to guess. You can get a free evaluation of your case by an Auto Accident injury lawyer by clicking on this link.
Legal Disclaimer: You knew there would be a disclaimer; after all, I am a lawyer. Here it is: Legal cases are complex, and it is impossible to give you all the ends and outs on a page like this. We provide this information to help you decide whether or not you should call us so we can give a complete evaluation and answer your questions.