At Smith, Feddeler & Smith, P.A., we know that most people never have to face the ordeal of suffering a serious injury. When it happens, the process for filing an insurance claim against the negligent party (or even your own insurance company) can be frustrating, to say the least.
This blog post will discuss two important things you will need to know when filing a claim or hiring an attorney to help you fight for compensation.
Dealing with insurance companies
After the accident, it may be difficult to remember to gather records and information as evidence of what happened at the scene. When filing your compensation claim for medical bills, lost earnings and pain, the insurance company will demand records and reports. In the case of auto accidents, the police reports and eye witness accounts really are necessary to determine which insurance company will be held liable for negligence. Sometimes, though, requiring that every i is dotted and t is crossed may be a deliberate delay tactic, hoping you will just give up and go away. Unnecessary delays are technically illegal under Florida insurance laws, but too many insurers rely on "bad faith" practices to save themselves millions of dollars in liability settlements every year.
Filing a claim on your own
You have every right to deal directly with the insurance adjuster, but it is usually not in your best interest. If you decide to try it, don't be too quick to sign the check for what appears to be a fair settlement offer. Remember, you will be paying back medical professionals who provided services, often on a lien against your future settlement. They have a legal right to claim their portion of the compensation.
You won't know the full extent of your financial damages until you have obtained what medical professionals refer to as maximum medical improvement (MMI). In catastrophic injury cases, it frequently takes more than a year to get a clean bill of health or the MMI report. Only then should you start considering negotiating with the appropriate insurance company. Otherwise, you may actually be left with nothing and still owe for further medical care you may need, in the event your injuries continue to require treatment.
It pays to talk to an attorney
Gathering reports and records and dealing with the complexities of an insurance claim can be frustrating at the best of times. You will be fighting the legal resources of a major corporation. When trying to overcome the fallout from a serious injury, handling the small and large details becomes even more complicated. It makes sense to start by talking to an experienced personal injury lawyer before making your decision about how to proceed.