"Do you need a lawyer?" Well, it depends. The easiest answer would be to simply say yes. The law has become very complicated. I have seen many cases screwed up by people trying to do it themselves. Car wreck and injury attorneys not only have three years of law school, but most have a lot of experience handling these cases. Also, the law changes all of the time. While I can't explain everything regarding car wreck cases in a blog post, I will address one major topic- paying your medical bills. Simply paying out car wreck and personal injury cases has become terribly complicated. For example, do you have to pay your health insurance back? The answer in the past was probably not. The answer now is probably yes. The health insurance companies have been literally bringing ERISA cases in federal court against people.
What about the balances owed to medical providers that weren't paid in full? First, most medical providers will have medical liens on any recovery. So, you will need to almost certainly need to pay them out of your recovery. Some medical providers have begun to refuse health insurance for people injured in car wrecks. Right here in Greensboro, one big example is Moses Cone Health System. If you are hurt in an automobile accident and go to Moses Cone, they will usually try and refuse your health insurance. Moses Cone is tired of only getting paid pennies on the dollar from health insurance companies. Health insurance will force cuts and then try and refuse many charges. I am sure that all of you have some experience with that. As a result, Moses Cone will try and wait and see what happens with your car wreck case.
Also, other medical providers may take your health insurance but then try and "balance bill" you. Balance billing is when they take your insurance, and then try and get you to pay what insurance didn't pay. The problem is that they aren't supposed to do that. Most health insurers have contracts with medical providers. These medical providers are supposed to write off the balance. Many times they won't, or they will send you something that looks like a bill but may actually say "not a bill". If so, they may just be banking on you paying the "bill" because you are confused. The long story short- medical insurance, billing and payments are terribly complicated. Most car wreck lawyers can help you with that.
On the other hand, some automobile accidents involve minor injuries. If so, you may be able to handle it yourself. Some of the larger personal injury firms will take most any case as they rely on volume. However, they will take one-third of the settlement or recovery. Also, most of these larger firms are sweat shops with cases mostly handled by "case managers" which is code for paralegals. Many of these paralegals actually handle hundreds of cases and just can't spend the time to develop the case. As a result, your case suffers. These larger firms with then try and talk you into a lower settlement. Many times, it just isn't worth it financially to hire a personal injury law firm in those smaller cases.
If you try and do it yourself, just make sure to take your time and be careful. While my firm doesn't handle whiplash or minor injury cases, I am always glad to talk to people for free. Over the years, I kept getting a lot of the same questions on these small car wreck cases. So, I have put together a list of 10 Tips to handling injury cases. Also, here is a guide to property damage claims. Granted, it is just the basics, but hopefully the tips will help you should you choose to pursue your claim.