Fairfield County Personal Injury FAQs
- When should I contact an attorney?
- What should I do if I've just been in a Fairfield County car accident?
- Do I need to go in the ambulance?
- Should I go to the hospital after my accident?
- What if I did not have car insurance, my license or registration?
- Who will pay my medical bills?
- Will my insurance rates go up after my accident?
- Will I get reimbursed for my co-payments, out of pocket expenses and lost wages?
- Do I have to stay out of work?
- How long will it take for my case to be resolved?
- What if my case does not settle?
- How much is my case worth?
The sooner you speak to me about your accident claim, the better I can help you manage all the hurdles and challenges you will face. If your car was damaged, I will help you get your car repaired, a rental car during repairs, or a settlement for your car's total loss. I will help to arrange medical billing, provide guidance on your choices for medical care. I will become the contact person for the insurance carriers who may try to prevent you from getting a proper recovery.
You should speak to me before you give a statement to any insurance adjuster. They will sound like your best friend, but are surely trying to keep their costs down by getting you to make statements that are against your best interests. When you contact us early, my team of investigators and engineers can secure and preserve evidence we may need later in the presentation of your claim, such as:
- Photographs of car damage
- Accident scene pictures
- Retention of forensic experts to evaluate defective conditions, sidewalks, roads, products and property.
Connecticut law requires you to exchange information with the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident. Failure to do so can result in a charge of Evading Responsibility. However, you should be sure you are in a safe position to make this exchange, especially if the accident occurs at night, or if you were injured and cannot make this exchange without risk of further injury. If anyone is injured, or there is a disagreement as to who was at fault, you should contact the police immediately. You should also inquire if anyone in the other vehicle is injured and needs medical assistance. Do not argue with the other driver or anyone else in the other vehicle. If you are unsure at all about what to do, call the police immediately.
Only you can make the decision as to whether to get immediate medical attention, or whether to take the ambulance to the Hospital. It is usually a good idea to get early medical attention just to be sure, as your decision making may not be clear after the trauma of an accident. Therefore, it is best to follow the advice of medical and emergency personnel at the scene.
Often, clients tell me that they did not feel injured at the accident scene, but were "shaken up" or felt "jittery, nervous and upset." The next morning, many of those same clients feel the effects of being in an accident. They feel injured or in pain "all over." This is common, and you should seek medical attention right away. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best way to ensure a good physical recovery. You should tell your doctor all the problems, aches and pains you are experiencing, to ensure that each symptom is placed in your medical chart. A minor ache or pain can become worse as you return to regular activity, and thus will be clearly connected to your accident by early mention of it to the doctor.
If the police are on the scene, you may be given a ticket for any one or more of these issues. If you were not at fault for causing the accident, you will still be able to make a claim for your injuries, related losses (wages, broken glasses, etc.) and property damage. Failure to have car insurance may limit some of your options for medical treatment and rental and property damage reimbursements, which are discussed below.
Not the driver of the other vehicle. While it may seem unfair (you were injured through no fault of your own) the rules and statutes only require the other person to pay at the end of the claim, and usually through his insurance carrier. Therefore, securing and paying for medical attention, or getting it paid by insurance, is your responsibility, with the help of your attorney.
This is the order in which your medical bills will be paid, depending upon the types of coverage you have. Your bills will be paid in this order, and is governed by statute. And, while you may be concerned about rates increasing, if the accident was not your fault, then there will be no rate increase applicable:
- Primary: Your own car insurance, if it includes medical benefits
- Secondary: Your private/group health insurance, if you either use up your car insurance benefits, or your car insurance does not include medical coverage
If you have medical benefits on your car insurance: If your car insurance includes medical benefits, then your own car insurance policy will pay the medical bills for accident related treatment, up to the amount of the coverage listed on your policy declarations sheet (the first part of the policy that shows what coverage applies). You only have this coverage if both of the following are shown:
1. Medpay or Family Compensation
2. A charge premium are shown for this coverage
In order to get your car insurance to pay your accident-related medical bills, your agent or insurance company must be notified about the accident. I will make this notification for you, and obtain the application for benefits that needs to be filled out. Both my office and you will notify your doctors of the claim information.
If you do not have medical benefits on your car insurance, but you have private or group health insurance: If your car insurance has no medical coverage, then you must supply your health insurance carrier with proof of this fact. The best way to do this is to give your doctors a copy of your car declarations page, or have a letter from your agent/company stating that there is no such coverage. You will be responsible for co-payments.
If you do not have either medical benefits on your car insurance or private or group health insurance: If you have no medical coverage on your car insurance, and no health insurance, you will have to either enter into a payment arrangement with the doctor's office, or have your attorney provide a lien to the doctor against any money you might recover from your claim. This lien is called a Letter of Protection, which guarantees the doctor will get paid from money received in your claim or lawsuit. It is a way in which someone who is injured can receive medical treatment without having to pay out of pocket.
Your car insurance premiums are primarily based upon your driving history. If you are in an accident that was not your fault, your rates should not go up even if you have to make a claim against that policy for medical, collision or other benefits that you paid for. Remember, you pay premiums so that you have coverage when you need it. You should not be scared to use what you pay for!
If the other driver was at fault for causing your injuries, he will be responsible for all your out of pocket expenses that were reasonably necessary for your medical treatment, property damage, prescriptions and the like. Also, if you lose time from work, you are entitled to be compensated for lost wages. Unfortunately, as stated above, you will be required to pay these bills up front, and they will be included in your claim for reimbursement. Likewise, your wage losses will not be paid until the end of your claim as part of the total settlement.
You should follow doctors - orders regarding restrictions on your work, activities and activity levels. However, many injured folks simply cannot stay out of work due to their job requirements or family needs. You must make this choice based upon what is best for your particular circumstances. You do not need to stay out of work to "make your case better." Your case will be based upon a large number of factors, including lost wage. The money you lose from not working is not the most important factor.
Each case is as different as the clients involved. In Connecticut, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is two (2) years. Your attorney will certainly try to settle your case before that amount of time has passed. In some cases, a lawsuit will be filed right away, due to the nature of the case and the parties involved. Your case is ready to settle when:
1. You have finished treatment with your doctors;
2. All of the bills, notes and reports have been gathered by your attorney and presented to the other driver's insurance carrier for review;
3. Your primary doctor(s) has provided a detailed report that explains your injuries and what future problems and treatment will be necessary to keep you in your current condition.
Your case cannot be settled until all the information has been gathered. You only have one chance to settle your case. Therefore, it is critically important that the medical picture is as clear as possible to ensure proper compensation. If you settle early, and you have more medical problems later that were not addressed, you will not be able to come back.
95% of cases settle before trial. Some cases require trial or another form of dispute resolution called arbitration. Trial happens when both sides cannot agree on a proper amount to settle the case. The facts of the case are presented to a jury of six, with a judge presiding. The jury decides who was at fault, and if you win, how much money you will receive. In arbitration, a single experienced lawyer, or panel of three experienced lawyers, will decide the case as if it were in front of a jury, with the same rules.
These are the most important elements in evaluating your claim:
1. The nature and extent of your injuries: Did you require hospitalization, extensive therapy, medications, and surgery? Were the injuries serious: broken bones, dislocations, fractures, herniation, vision problems, or other life-altering conditions (chronic pain or sleep difficulties)? Did you have other financial losses, wage loss, loss of ability to work in your chosen field, inability to work as long or hard as before? What other aspects of your life were affected? For instance, if you are a pianist who suffered a hand injury, clearly you will have had a loss of function to your hand that will impact that leisure activity.
2. Did you make a full recovery physically, or are your injuries permanent and chronic? How do these problems affect your daily life, and what hurdles do you now face as a result?
3. Did you have out of pocket expenses for medication, medical services, co-payments, wage losses? Will you have additional expenses for these items in the future? Has your ability to work in your chosen field been affected? Do you need additional help at home, or accommodations at work, and at what cost?
4. Additional factors based upon individual circumstances.
Your case cannot be valued until it is ready to settle. I will never try to guess the value of your case until I have all the facts. Even giving an estimate at the beginning of the process is a very poor indication of the value of your claim at the end of the process because there are simply too many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Not every client has the same physical recovery or medical needs for the same injuries. Some people heal better, or worse, than others. Other factors can also have a role in the value of your case. You may have only minor injuries at first, which become far worse over time. Or, your serious injury may heal very well. Any lawyer who tells you that they can tell you what your case is worth before they have the entire medical, wage and other information in their hands is only guessing. It is far better to focus on your medical treatment and getting healthy, than to worry about your case value.