This issue came up 3 times this week: A client called my office and asked whether he truly needed a lawyer to resolve his case. While this can be tricky, the answer is yes, particularly motor vehicle accidents where there has been full recovery, i.e. medical treatment is over, and in which bills and other losses are below $10,000. It is not cost effective for my office to handle these cases and, if we did, I am convinced that the client would receive less after deducting costs and legal fees.
If you find yourself in this situation, here is what I tell accident victims to do:
1. Collect all medical bills. This can be most easily done by obtaining ledgers from the office of each doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, pharmacy, etc.
2. Collect all "chart notes." Please note that this is different from medical bills or EOB's/
3. Ask your employer for a letter documenting your missed work.
4. Send this information to the insurer and say you are ready to settle your case.
Begin your "negotiations" with the insurer by asking for an amount well above what you believe is a fair amount. Insurance companies will say you are asking for too much money no matter what your first offer is.
Here are the issues that most often trip up clients in this process.
1. If medical bills have been paid by the client's motor vehicle insurer under a Medical Payments coverage, this has to be repaid. This issue can best be addressed by confirming that the insurer will address this.
2. For the same reason, if medical care has been provided without payment by a chiropractor through a "lien agreement," this amount has to be repaid. This issue can also be best addressed by confirming that the insurer will pay this person directly.
3. Again, for the same reason, if medical care has been paid by the health insurer, it will have to be repaid. I recommend contacting the health insurer in advance and asking if any sort of discount will be given.
4. Finally, Clients worry about being treated fairly and what is a fair settlement. Other than starting high to see what the insurance company will do, I am unable to address that in this Blog. However, in cases with these types of losses, it is better to negotiate a settlement than bear the cost and risk of a lawsuit.
You have to play your hand smartly. See www.Junelawyer.com.