car accident claim
car accident claim
Weekend crashes claim 5 lives in the Yakima Valley – The Seattle Times
Weekend crashes claim 5 lives in the Yakima Valley
The Seattle Times
Just before midnight Saturday, five young adults and a juvenile, all from Yakima, were hospitalized — two of them in critical condition — in a one-car accident 16 miles south of Ellensburg on Interstate 82 in which alcohol and reckless driving were …and more »
Separate Traffic Crashes Claim South Jersey Teacher Who Was Jogging & Her … – NBC 10 Philadelphia
NBC 10 Philadelphia
Separate Traffic Crashes Claim South Jersey Teacher Who Was Jogging & Her …
NBC 10 Philadelphia
McGinnis’ death came just one week after student Janiya Castleberry — someone McGinnis taught — died following an Aug. 2 car crash also in Southampton. Janiya was just 13. McGinnis, who received a teaching masters from Rowan University previously …and more »
Save money: Claim teens’ car accidents – Kane County Chronicle
Kane County Chronicle
Save money: Claim teens’ car accidents
Kane County Chronicle
He helps customers navigate the process after an accident, when the tendency to not file a claim is strong, as parents seek to bypass an insurance rate hike. “Customers fear that their rates will soar, or worse, the insurance company will cancel their …
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7 Stages of a Wisconsin Car Accident Claim
Bringing a personal injury claim for injuries sustained in a Wisconsin car accident can be a long and frustrating process. An experienced Wisconsin injury attorney can assist the injury victim in obtaining the highest possible recovery for their injuries.
This article provides individuals that have been injured in an accident in Wisconsin with an outline of the 7 general phases of a Wisconsin car accident personal injury claim.
1. Investigation and Documentation of Claim
Once a case is discussed and signed up by a Wisconsin personal injury lawyer, he/she will dive further into the case to determine who is at fault, whether or not there were any new injuries caused by the accident, and if there is insurance (uninsured and under insured coverage is now mandatory in Wisconsin) or other funds available for recovery.
The attorney may hire an accident investigator to examine the vehicles involved, document any evidence at the scene of the accident, take photos of the evidence and interview any witnesses to the collision. The attorney will also gather any relevant medical records from before the accident and subsequent to the accident. Pre-existing conditions are also researched in order to determine if the accident-related injuries are aggravations of pre-existing conditions.
The attorney will also request and examine all relevant insurance coverage documentation for the at-fault parties including the owner of the vehicle, driver, and employer in order to determine all possible coverages that may be available to the injured party such as Wisconsin required liability polices, umbrella policies, uninsured motorist coverage and under insured motorist coverage (which are now required in Wisconsin), health insurance policies, and medical payments coverage.
2. Demand Phase
Once the attorney has determined there is a valid claim and the injured party has reached maximum medical improvement, a demand package is then prepared by the attorney on behalf of the injury victim. The package can consist of the following documents: accident report, photos of the vehicle/accident scene, property damage report, EMS report, ER records, doctor reports, diagnostic tests, medical bills, prior medical records, final medical evaluation, expert witness reports, witness statements, evaluation of future medical expenses, and an evaluation of loss of future earning capacity.
The package is introduced by a letter from the attorney which summarizes all the information and documents the demand to the insurance company. The demand will usually state an amount the injured party is willing to accept in order to avoid a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
3. Negotiation Phase
Once the insurance company receives, and has had a chance to review, the demand package, the company will usually make an initial offer to settle the case. In the event the offer is the maximum coverage available, often the client and attorney will decide to accept it. After the initial offer, the attorney begins negotiating. Offers can go back and forth until either the offer is accepted by the client or a lawsuit is filed.
It is important to understand that there are advantages to settling a claim before filing a lawsuit in Wisconsin. Some basic advantages include less attorney fees, less case costs, quick availability of cash, less stress, and a guaranteed outcome.
4. Litigation Phase
If the highest offer made by the insurance company is rejected by the client, the next phase in the personal injury claim process is to file a lawsuit in the Wisconsin court system. The attorney will file the complaint and have it served upon the parties responsible for the accident and injuries.
After the lawsuit is filed and served upon all responsible parties, the attorney proceeds with the discovery phase, which can include written interrogatories, depositions, subpoenas, and motions with the court.
5. Mediation Phase
Mediation is typically ordered by the judge presiding over the case. Mediation is an informal dispute resolution process, where both sides come together with a mediator (typically a retired judge) to attempt to settle the case without going to trial.
Each side gets time to explain their understanding of the case and present exhibits to the mediator. Shortly after, the defendant and their attorney go into one room and the plaintiff and their attorney go into another room. The mediator will go between the rooms in an attempt to settle the claim. If a settlement is reached, the insurance company will usually send the monetary recovery within 2-3 weeks and the Wisconsin lawsuit is ended.
6. Trial Phase
If a settlement is not reached during mediation, then the attorneys inform the judge and a trial date is typically assigned. A jury will be assembled and given the task of determining who was at fault in causing the collision and how much money will make the injured party whole for all of their harms and losses caused by the collision.
Trials can last a few days to a few weeks based on how many witnesses must testify. The injured party has the burden of proof to establish who was at fault and the full extend of their harms and losses.
7. Appeal Stage
Both parties maintain the right to appeal the verdict or trial court rulings. The Wisconsin appeals process usually takes years and oftentimes leads to a new trial, at which time the process begins anew.
Insurance Companies Play Hardball With Minor Car Accident Claims
Insurance companies are making it tougher and tougher to collect medical costs incurred due to minor car crashes. According to a recent 18-month investigation conducted by CNN, you could be in the fight of your life if you’re trying to get an auto insurance company to pay medical costs you incur due to an auto accident, even though the accident was not your fault.
The article states that this type of “insurance hardball” particularly happens in relatively minor accidents such as fender benders where there is no injury that may be seen by the naked eye or established with an X-ray.
This insurance-company’s- “play-tough” trend is apparently a recent one, a strategy adopted and religiously enforced by the nation’s two largest insurance companies, State farm and Allstate. According to the CNN investigation, the result of such a strategy has been extremely profitable for the insurance companies, but has hurt consumers significantly. People end up getting dragged through the court system over fender bender claims, but no one sees any benefit such as reduced premiums. In fact, the dirty little secret of the insurance industry for the last 15 years has been this – they’re paying out much less for minor auto accidents, their profits are soaring as are your premiums. Of course, for them, it’s a winning formula.
CNN’s investigative team reportedly reviewed more than 6,000 company documents and court records and conducted interviews with numerous people including former insurance company insiders, accident victims and other experts. This is what they learned. If you challenge an insurer after a car accident and refuse to accept what the insurance company offers you, even if you are insulted by it – you will be left with little option but to go to court and be dragged through a complex, expensive and slow system.
Why is it that fighting an insurance company is not beneficial to a consumer? Because it takes up so much time and so much money. You can’t really turn to a personal injury lawyer because the experienced ones refuse to take on these cases. They know that the payoff for their client and the law firm is to low to make it worth taking up the cause. The law firm makes no money and the client is dissatisfied with the recovery the law firm got for them. It is a now win situation for the lawyers. It is simply not worth it for them to be involved.
Insurance company employees at Allstate were reportedly instructed to get rid of claims quickly by offering a pittance to accident victims – in some cases, amounts as low as $50. The injured person could take it or leave it or sue. And then the insurance companies complain about the volume of lawsuits.
CNN talked to two victims who experience this first-hand. Roxanne Martinez of Santa Fe suffered neck and back injuries when she was sideswiped by a driver insured by Allstate. After three years of back-and-forth, the company offered her $15,000, barely half of what she needed to cover lost income and pay medical bills. She took it to court and four years after the accident, a jury awarded her $167,000 plus interest.
But an Indiana woman, Ann Taylor, was not so lucky. Taylor suffered a herniated disc and muscle tears after she was rear-ended by a State Farm insured. Her bills and lost wages totaled nearly $15,000. But how much did State Farm offer her? $2,000. She was insulted and she sued, but the jury returned with an award of only $1,500 because the insurance company’s attorney showed them an enlarged picture of Taylor’s car after the accident, in which the vehicle had a small dent. So jurors said they thought Taylor was only trying to get more money out of the insurance company.
Experts say this strategy was devised to boost profit for the insurance companies in the mid-1990s with the help of a consultant. Those documents obtained by CNN recommend that insurance companies put on their boxing gloves when it comes to soft-tissue injuries in minor crashes. Their strategy outlines three D’s – denying a claim, delaying settlement of a claim and defending against the claim in court. Other experts say that this strategy helped insurance companies weed out so-called victim’s attorneys “who make a living off auto accident victims.” They argue that lawyers are upset about insurance companies playing hardball with the public because they fear that “the gravy train is over.” The insurance companies did not mention how their tactics were unfair to the innocent auto accident victim; they just blamed everything on the personal injury attorneys.
The party that really suffers in a minor injury crash is the average driver, the guy who is not ready financially to spend thousands at a given time to handle medical expenses for issues such as chiropractic work, which is not covered under many health plans or to be off work for a week or more. It is the average consumer who suffers as a result of this profit-mongering strategy adopted by insurance companies. It is these companies that stand to profit millions by not paying what is due to innocent, injured auto accident victims and then worsening the situation by increasing premiums.
The truth is that a minor car accident can cause a significant injury. This is especially so to seniors and people with preexisting conditions… We’ve had clients who suffered severe back injuries in a moderate rear-end accidents. Yes, many of them were elderly but aren’t they entitled to safe passage on our highways? Aren’t they entitled to compensation for the damage done, regardless of their age? Yes, many of the others are people with preexisting conditions, especially “degenerative disc disease”, a medical term for the wearing out of your spin through age.
We have seen people in the forties who are as fit as can be get into a small or moderate rear end collision and have serous neck and back issues. The insurance company claims it is a preexisting condition, “degenerative disc disease” and they refuse to pay. In these cases it is true that the “degenerative disc disease” was present before the accident. What wasn’t there before the accident was the pain and discomfort. The “degenerative disc disease” was asymptomatic; meaning it wasn’t hurting or causing any problems. The accident caused the degenerative disc disease – to become symptomatic, in other words, painful and in some cases debilitating.
Just because you are over 40 years-old does not make you fair game for a spinal injury or for an insurance company rip-off.
There are some steps you could take to make sure you are protected or covered if you get involved in an auto accident – major or minor. The first step, if you are able to do so after an accident, is to get insurance information, name and address of the parties involved in the crash and any witnesses. Also, take as many pictures as possible of the site even if it’s on your cell phone. Finally, get a thorough check-up. Remember that symptoms could surface after several days up to a year or more.
We have recommended to a significant number of people to just take the negligent driver to small claims court. Bypass the insurance company altogether. Bring the traffic collision report and your medical records to court along with any witnesses you have to your accident and the difficulties you have suffered since and let a judge decide. The negligent driver’s insurance company will pay the judgment and neither of the parties can be represented by an attorney.
Small claims court is quick and easy. It is much quicker than haggling with an insurance adjuster for months. The people who we have assisting in their preparation for their small claims court hearing have generally done very well compared to the insurance company offer. And the insurance company hates it.
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