Automobile Accident or Premises Lialibility Case
After notification of the claim, the insurance company will set up a file and appoint an insurance adjuster to handle your claim.
The insurance adjuster will want to take a statement from you regarding the accident and injuries. He or she will most likely want to do this immediately after the accident either by telephone or in person, and will often times want to record the statement.
Insurance adjusters work for insurance companies. Despite any verbal assurance they may give you about speaking with them, remember they are working for the best interest of the insurance company, not you. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit and they don't make profits by paying claims.
We recommend that you get legal advice before speaking to any insurance adjuster. Often times the adjuster is looking for information from you that can result in a reduction in the compensation you are due.
Here again, your own policy may provide additional coverage for you under the mandatory underinsured motorist coverage of your policy.
For this coverage to come into effect, your damages must exceed the persons at fault's policy limits and your policy must provide a greater amount of coverage than the person at faults' policy. For example, say your total damages are $100,000.00 and the person at fault has only $50,000.00 in liability coverage and your policy has $100,000.00 in underinsured motorist coverage. Under this scenario you would be able to collect the remaining $50,000.00 from your own policy.
This area of the law can be complicated as there are pitfalls that could prevent your underinsured claim. For example, before collecting the $50,000.00 from the person at faults' policy you must first get your insurance companies written consent to do so. Also, if you have more than one auto policy, you may be able to "stack" your underinsured coverage.
In view of the relative complexity of these claims we recommend you do not try to settle these claims yourself without the benefit of legal advice.
Depending on your situation, your bills may be paid by one of the following methods:
a. Medical payments insurance coverage from your own automobile policy if you were driving your automobile and were involved in an automobile collision.
b. Medical payments insurance coverage from the person you were riding with if you were a passenger in an automobile that has automobile insurance coverage.
c. If you were injured on another’s premise, medical payments coverage from the responsible owner’s premises liability insurance.
d. Your own health insurance.
e. Your own personal funds if you were not insured and are able to pay medical bills as they are incurred.
f. Workers' compensation insurance if your injury occurred while you were working on the job and the injury occurred as a result of your employment.
g. The liability insurance coverage for the person, persons or company who caused your injuries. Such insurance coverage will most likely be paid at the time of settlement rather than during the period that you incur such medical bills.
In most cases where there is no immediate method to pay medical bills as they are incurred, many doctors, hospitals, and other medical facilities will wait to be paid for their services when the case is finally resolved by way of settlement or verdict in court. It is important to let medical providers know early in the process if you have no insurance or financial means to pay medical bills are they are incurred. Your attorney can work out all arrangements with the provider, such as providing a voluntary lien on your settlement or verdict proceeds.
It is our recommendation that you should not attempt to settle even a minor claim without at least speaking to an experienced personal injury lawyer. The main reason is that you would be dealing with an insurance claims adjuster who will try to pay you less than your claim is worth. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to properly value your claim. Unless you have been exposed to this, you most likely will not know how to value your claim and will most likely not get the appropriate settlement amount you deserve.
Virtually all personal injury lawyers use the contingent fee agreement. This means that you do not have to pay the lawyer unless you receive monetary compensation for your injuries and losses.
Under the contingent fee agreement, the lawyer receives a percentage of the gross amount recovered. The usual and customary percentage is one-third.
Motor vehicle claims: If the person committed a crime in the course of causing the accident, he or she may be charged with a criminal offense; i.e. DWI, DUI or Careless and Negligent Driving.
If no crime was committed, usually the person at fault gives a statement to the police and contacts his or her insurance company, usually that person has very little to do with your claim. The greater majority of these cases are settled out of Court. If settlement is not reached and a lawsuit is filed, the person at fault will normally have to cooperate with the insurance company's lawyer, such as answering written discovery, appear at a deposition as well at all required Court proceedings.
Premises Liability: In the vast majority of premises injury claims; after notifying the liability insurance carrier the owner has little or nothing to do with your claim. However, if a commercial premises is involved and a code violation has occurred, the owner will likely be compelled to take action to comply with the code.
To a large degree, it depends on how soon you reach your maximum medical improvement from your injuries. In order to properly evaluate your injuries your attorney needs to know what effect your injury has had on you. How it has affected your ability to earn a living? How much have you lost in wages and what is the total of your medical expenses? Are you able to engage in daily living activities and recreational activities as you did before the accident? These and many other questions can only be answered after your injury has healed or has gotten as good as it is going to get.
Once you reach your maximum medical improvement, your attorney will then evaluate your claim and make a demand for settlement on the insurance company. From that point, it may take two to four months to settle your claim. If a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached, then a lawsuit will be filed. From that point, it depends on what County or jurisdiction you are in, but you can expect at least one to two years before your case will be tried.
No, in fact greater than 90% of the suits filed are settled out of Court. Most jurisdictions are supporting of the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques before your case is tried. Chances are your case will go through a mediation session before your trial date. This is a very successful technique that resolves most cases. Also, settlement negotiations will likely continue after suit is filed between your attorney and the attorney representing the insurance company.
Work Place Injury
How do I get workers’ compensation benefits for an injury that’s just occurred?
If your work related injury has prevented you from returning to your job and you continue to undergo treatment for your injury, your employer may not fire you. If you recover from your injury within two years, the employer must reinstate you in the first available position that is suitable given your position at the time of the injury and your current physical condition. However, you must keep the employer informed of your continuing interest in returning to the job, your recovery and any changes in mailing address. If you are likely to be out of work for more than two years due to your work related injury, we strongly encourage you to contact a workers’ compensation attorney due to the fact that it is likely that you have a permanent injury. In that case you may be entitled to additional compensation and you may benefit from the assistance of an attorney in presenting your claim.
You have the right to appeal a denial of benefits for workers’ compensation. The Department of Labor has an appeals process that allows you to present evidence that shows that you were injured on the job and you are entitled to benefits. You may represent yourself through the appeals process and any hearings held by the Department of Labor. However, we strongly encourage you to talk with a workers’ compensation attorney to determine whether you would benefit from the representation of an attorney. The Vermont Department of Labor website contains information and forms to initiate the appeals process.