Frequently Asked Questions after being injured in an automobile accident

These are just some common questions asked by people who have been injured in an automobile accident in San Diego that we come across often at The Law Firm of Howard Williams. If you have any other questions or concerns, or would just like to talk to a lawyer call us today at (858) 654 – 0407

1. What important steps should I take after my injury?
One of the most important things for you to do is of course to recover from your injury. It is required by law for injured people to “mitigate their damages.” Meaning, the law requires that you do what is necessary to improve your physical condi­tion and recover  as much as possible from your injury.

This can mean all or some of the following steps for you:

  1. Don’t miss any of your appointments with your doctor. Keep in touch with your doctor or physician and make sure to maintain your appointments. If you must cancel your appointment, give your doctor as much notice as possible. Having the words “no show” on a doctor’s record sheet may be used against you during your settlement or trial.
  2. Attend all of your physical therapy sessions as prescribed. Your hospital or doctor may prescribe physical therapy to facilitate recovery from your injury. This procedure is beneficial in several kinds of injuries including strains, sprains and other so‑called “soft tissue” injuries. If you are prescribed physical therapy make sure to keep your appointments and actively participate in the process. Also, if you must cancel an appointment, be sure to call and give notice, but try to avoid canceling appointments as much as possible.
  3. Follow what your physician tells you to do. If your doctor prescribes medications, therapy exercises, or certain limitations on activities, make sure you follow your doctor’s recommendations. If you do not follow your doctor’s advice, it can be used against you when it comes time for a settlement, or it can be used against you in court if your claim proceeds to litigation.
  4. Follow the advice of your doctor with respect to work and leisure activities. If your doctor tells you to rest, stay out of work, or avoid certain activities, it’s important that you follow these recommendations. If you don’t listen to your doctor’s advice and do activities that have been recommended not to do, it will not only prevent you from recovering quickly, but could also jeopardize a favorable outcome of your case. Even though staying home from work can affect you financially, it’s important to follow such advice so that you can recover. Your attorney will work to recover any earning lost from staying home.

2. How will I pay for my medical bills?
Your San Diego personal injury attorney will talk about paying your medical bills in detail with you. Your medical bills can be paid using one of the following methods:

  1. Using your own health insurance included in your employment benefits package.
  2. Your own health insurance that you personally have paid for.
  3. Health insurance that you have through your spouse or by your parents if you qualify for this type of insurance.
  4. Medical payments insurance coverage included in your own auto policy if you were driving your car and were involved in a car accident.
  5. Medical payments insurance coverage from the  auto insurance coverage of the person you were riding with if they have auto insurance coverage.
  6. Your own funds if you weren’t insured at the time of accident and can pay your medical bills as they are incurred.
  7. Workers’ compensation insurance if the injury that occurred happened while you were working on the job and the injury was a result of your employment.
  8. The liability insurance coverage on  the person, persons or company that was responsible for your injuries. This insurance coverage is likely to be paid at the time of settlement instead of during the period that you incur your medical bills.
  9. Any other possible sources.

Based on the circumstances of your case, your medical bills could be covered by any of these possibilities mentioned. If no insurance coverage is available, your expenses will be saved by your attorney and you, and will be paid later if and when your case is settled.

3. Will hospitals, doctors and medical facilities wait to be paid if I’m not able to pay my bills as they are incurred?
In many cases where there is not an immediate method to pay medical bills as they are incurred, doctors, hospitals, and other medical facilities will wait for payment for their services when the case is resolved by the settlement or verdict in court. It’s very important to let your medical providers know right away if you don’t have insurance or financial means to pay your medical bills as they are incurred.

4. How will my attorney ensure that the doctors and medical facilities get paid?
Most attorneys have a policy that withholds money from the settlement or court verdict to pay the doctors and medical facilities. Most doctors and medical facilities will require that the patient/client signs a form (usually referred to as a subrogation or lien form) that allows the attorney to withhold enough money to pay for the medical bills directly from the insurance settlement proceeds.

5. Will the insurance company of the person or company who caused my injuries pay my medical bills automatically as they occur?
Typically, the insurance companies of the tortfeasor (the person, persons or company who has caused your injuries) will not pay medical bills automatically as they occur. There are several reasons why they won’t. The first reason is that they don’t want to spend a substantial amount of money on medical bills and then face an unreasonable or excessive demand at the time of the settlement. This means they don’t want to pay a substantial amount of money on medical bills and then have the chance of defending a lawsuit. Another reason is, typically, insurance companies want to conclude or settle the claim with just one amount of money. Most liability insurance companies wait for the letter of demand from your lawyer and then attempt to conclude the case all at once with just one payment.

6. What is the best way for me to keep track of all my bills?
One of the most important things to do is keep an accurate record of your medical bills and expenses. This is a good way to go about it:

  1. Request a medical bill each and every time you go to see a doctor or medical facility.
    Keep a record of your visits and make sure to obtain a medical bill for each visit to your doctor, hospital, physical therapist or medical facility.
  2. Save all of your prescription bills.
    Make sure you save a copy of your prescriptions and drugstore charges for medicine that you purchase due to your injury.
  3. Keep a chart that includes dates, amounts of medical bills, and purchases of any medication.
    Keep separate records that have the date of the medical service or pur­chase of medication, the amount charged, and the method of payment for the bill (by insurance, out of pocket, etc.). This is very important because it will be the record of all medical bills incurred as a result of your injury.
  4. Make sure that your attorney gets a copy of each medical bill, prescription bill, or any other bill that is related to your injury.
    It’s very important for your personal injury lawyer to receive copies of all of your medical bills as well as a copy of your medical bill summary when your case becomes ready for settlement. Even though your attorney may receive copies of bills from the medical facilities directly, a double‑check process will assure that your claim is settled for the maxi­mum value. If your attorney doesn’t have a record of all of your medical bills and expenses, your case may be settled for much less than its potential or actual value.
  5. Obtain a record of all medical bills even if they are processed through a health insurance provider.
    Even if your medical bills are paid for by a health insurance company or by your employer, you still need to keep copies for yourself and get copies to your San Diego personal injury attorney.

7. How long will my automobile accident lawsuit take?
A time frame of how long it is going to take to resolve a personal injury lawsuit cannot accurately be determined. Every case is different than the last and is handled uniquely according to it’s requirements. A personal injury lawsuit can settle in just a few months without ever going to trial, or can even take up to several years.

8. How soon do I need to file a lawsuit?
It is in your best interest to get in contact with a personal injury lawyer immediately after your accident. Personal injury victims have a short period of time in which they can file a claim. If the victim fails to file their lawsuit within this timeframe, the victim can be prevented from ever recovering compensation for their injuries as per the statute of limitations.

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