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Common Questions Asked About Auto Accident Cases

What Are The Steps Someone Should Take If They Have Been Injured In An Auto Accident And They Suspect They Will Need To File A Claim?

If you are injured in an auto accident, be sure to notify your own insurance company. This is necessary because there are some benefits that first need to be paid by your insurance company. In this scenario, it is assumed that at the time of the accident the police were called and a proper investigation took place with a proper police report. You should obtain that police report once it is completed, which can take anywhere from a few days after the accident to a few months.

Additionally, you need to get consistent, quality medical care to treat any injuries sustained in the accident. You also need to keep all paperwork and documentation regarding any damages you find you have suffered. For example, you will need to document and prove if you missed work and that it was as a result of the automobile accident. You should also gather any off-work or work limitation slips from the doctor who treated you as a result of the automobile accident. Lastly, you must not give a recorded statement to any insurance company.

Bottom line, you need to consult with an attorney to go over your case and the sooner the better. You do not necessarily have to hire a lawyer, as every case is different. However, even the simplest cases should still get a legal consultation so you can determine what to expect and what hurdles you might have to handle on your own.

When You Are Contacting Your Own Insurance Company, Should You Also Contact The Other Party’s Insurance Company To Ensure They Are Aware Of The Situation?

It is a good idea to contact the at-fault person’s insurance carrier. However, you need to be sure you are not going to be giving them any information other than of the fact that you were involved in an automobile accident with their insurer and you were injured. DO NOT GIVE A RECORDED STATEMENT.

If The Other Driver’s Insurance Company Asks For A Statement, Should You Ever Give Them One?

The only time it is appropriate to give a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance carrier is if you have the assistance of your attorney at the time. Otherwise, you should never give a recorded statement to the insurance company. (P.S. Don’t give your own insurance carrier a recorded statement either without an attorney.)

What Are The Biggest Misconceptions People Have When It Comes To Auto Accidents?

One misconception people have regarding auto accident cases is that the attorney will take all of their money, but that’s just not true. Attorneys can only take a fair and reasonable percentage of the recovery in a case. Without an attorney, in most cases, you definitely stand to lose money and not get the most that you are entitled to. Other types of claims often come into play, and if you don’t have an attorney to negate or reduce those claims, such as health insurance liens, no fault liens and hospital liens, then you lose a lot of your case. If you don’t have an attorney to fight those liens, you could end up with less in your pocket or no money at all from the settlement.

The second most common misconception is that people try to correlate or relate the amount of property damage done to the vehicle to the amount of physical injury a person suffers in an accident. There are many studies and statistics that show that there really isn’t any direct correlation between the amount of damage to an automobile in an accident in relation to the amount of injury a person suffers. There have been many cases where cars were completely destroyed by an accident and the person walked away with virtually no injury whatsoever. There are just as many accidents where there was minimal damage to the automobile and a person walks away with very severe spinal injuries. These could be crippling for life. Therefore, it is urged that you don’t let that misconception mislead you to believe that you don’t have a case. Property damage really doesn’t control the amount of damages that you can prove or claim in an automobile accident. Those are the two misconceptions seen frequently.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Bringing A Personal Injury Claim Or Lawsuit In Kansas When You Are Involved In A Car Accident?

Both are controlled by the two year statute of limitations for negligent claims or tort claims. There are exceptions to that two year time limit, but you really don’t want to test those exceptions. If you don’t file suit within two years of the date of your accident, you could lose your automobile accident claim.

One of the exceptions to the two year statute of limitations is the extension of time for the personal injury claim beyond the two year time period. This would be the case where the defendant’s insurance company pays the property damage claim thirty days after the accident. In many cases, in Kansas, that is a typical scenario that takes place in clear liability accidents. The property damage side of the case is settled first and then a few months or even a couple of years later, the personal injury negligence claim is ready to be settled. When a property damage claim is paid thirty days after the accident by the negligent party’s insurance company, that payment extends the statute of limitation for the personal injury claim by that period of time. Therefore, you don’t want to wait for that additional 30 days, but you may want to use that as a means or method to avoid getting thrown out of court for having missed the statute of limitations.

Is The Statute Of Limitations Different For Minors And Children?

The statute of limitations is eight years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit if the person injured is either a minor or if someone is declared legally incompetent (but one year from the age of 18.) Therefore, no one should assume that in all cases the statute of limitations is automatically two years. One should always take the facts and information to an experienced personal injury attorney to have him assess and determine the absolute statute of limitations date on a particular case.

How Long Do Auto Accident Cases Typically Take To Be Resolved?

If liability is clear, then typically it takes three to four months after you are finished with medical treatment to settle a claim. If liability is not clear, then it usually takes nine months to settle a case or a year after you are done with medical treatment. When liability is not clear, most of those cases will require a lawsuit be filed. Then, hopefully, liability gets cleared up in the course of the lawsuit before you have to go to trial. In the instance where you have to file suit, that process can take as long as two to three years, sometimes longer.

Why Does Someone Even Need An Attorney When Liability Is Clear? Won’t Insurance Just Handle Everything?

Most people have some form of health insurance that is going to ask for reimbursement out of their settlement and most, in today’s environment, will see hospital liens filed against them. This will result in money being taken out of your settlement. There are liens being claimed all of the time in these cases. Therefore, you will need an experienced attorney who generally spends 40 percent of his time negotiating and eliminating the different liens that could be applied to the settlement proceeds. The more liens that they can eliminate or reduce, the more money they can put in your pocket.
If you are not proficient at negotiating these types of things and you don’t know the various laws that apply, you may settle your case for what you think is a fair settlement. You could then be hit with a number of liens and end up making your good settlement look like no settlement at all. While you think that you may have saved attorney fees, what you ended up doing is getting little or nothing for your personal injury case because you weren’t in a position to be ready, willing, able and capable of negotiating the second phase.

In every personal injury case, there are two negotiations that take place. The first negotiation is with the liability carrier for the person who caused your accident. That’s an assessment done by the parties to determine the value of the case and of what a jury might pay. The parties then try to negotiate what that value is and often will negotiate back and forth to a set dollar amount. The case may be settled based upon that amount.

The second set of negotiations often occurs either before, during or after the first. These negotiations involve talking to potential lienholders to try to reduce or eliminate their liens.

Once all negotiations conclude and the money can be dispersed to the plaintiff, only then is the client in a true settlement state of their case.

How Do Underinsured And Uninsured Motorist Claims Work In Kansas?

A lot of personal injury claims in Kansas are underinsured or uninsured motorist claims. If you don’t understand uninsured and underinsured claims and what those are (which come from your own insurance company) and how they are supposed to be applied, then you better get an attorney immediately. This is important because those are rather complex claims that, if handled properly, can benefit you greatly. However, if they are handled improperly, it can result in your recovery being significantly limited.

Underinsured and uninsured motorist claims are something that are very common in Kansas. In many situations, they are not properly understood by people who don’t have experience in those particular types of claims. If you think that you are not going to make a full recovery from the person who caused the accident, then you may be underinsured and there is some additional coverage that can be applied. However, you have to go through the proper procedures to get that to be applied and to result in your making a more extensive recovery in the end.