Claims settle after a Demand is made on the insurance company for payment; a Demand must include sufficient information about the injuries to the victims to justify the maximum settlement possible. Claims take between 30 days and 60 days after you are discharged from your last doctor. Once we have all the relevant medical records, verification of lost income, or other necessary records, we prepare a Demand to the insurance company, which reviews the accident, course of treatment, your injuries, and demands compensation for your injuries and losses.
The insurance company has 30 days to respond to a Demand. The insurance company must either: (1) offer a settlement or (2) request 30 additional days to evaluate the Demand. Once the insurance company has all the necessary information they will make an offer. If necessary, your attorney will make a counter offer, and the process will continue until a settlement is agreed to by both sides.
After the insurance company has agreed to pay a specific amount in settlement, they require a written Release to be signed by the victim before they will issue a check for settlement. Once the insurance company has the Release, generally they provide the check within 10 days (but they may take as long as 30 days). The check will be deposited and the bank is allowed 10 days to hold the check to ensure that it clears the account before they must release the funds for disbursements. All settlement checks go into an Attorney’s Trust Account and from that account checks are prepared for each person or entity that is paid from the settlement. The client receives a detailed written accounting of every dollar into and out of the Trust account from their settlement.
From discharge by your last treating physician to payment can be as quick as 30 days, or as long as 90 days, depending upon the insurance company, the cooperation from the client in signing necessary papers, and other factors. Your attorney should do everything possible to expedite this process—you should too.
Also, the liens for medical doctors or a demand for reimbursement from the health insurance company should be addressed. This process generally begins at the time of discharge when all the medical bills or payments have been calculated. Again, the doctors and/or insurance companies can delay this process if they refuse to return phone calls or respond to a request for an accounting or reduction.
If you were employed at the time of the accident, you may seek compensation for the time you lost from your job. Your claim for lost income is calculated at: (1) the number of hours that you missed from work, multiplied by (2) your hourly rate. You need to be able to prove each element. If you were self-employed, your lost income is calculated at the reasonable value of the time you lost from work or actual losses established by reduced income during the period of your injuries from the accident. Under this process, you must exclude from your losses all other causes, such as vacation, reduced work force, reduced market, the recession, etc.
If you seek compensation for lost income, you must obtain verification from your employer. We can provide a form to be filled out by your employer where they signed under oath as to the losses you sustained while recovering from your injuries from the accident.
When you are discharged, you should be at maximum medical improvement. This does not mean you are pain-free. It simply means that the doctor cannot help you recover any further. If you continue to have significant pain, you must advise your doctor and your attorney, because you may need to see a specialist.
The most important part of your claim is that you received proper medical attention for all of the injuries from the motor vehicle accident. This may require additional testing to diagnose other problems. You need to know every injury you sustained in the accident so that you can obtain proper medical treatment to protect you for the rest of your life, and seek the maximum compensation for your claim.