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Insurance Negotiations Process | what now
I was in a car accident Oct 25th 2007 (so the statute of limitations is quickly approaching).
Background: I was on the freeway at a complete stop. The driver of a Ford Bronco hit a Minivan ,who was stopped very closely behind me, who then hit me. The insurance company of the Bronco guy accepted responsibility for the accident. Damage to my car was $1500, damage to the Minivan was $4500 (according to the insurance adjuster)
Injury: I immediately felt a burning in my neck and went to the ER shortly there after when the neck really stiffened. I was off work for 4 days and was told to come back if symptoms of whiplash persisted (they did). My primary care physician then recommended I take off work until 11/17/07 and attend physical therapy. I did all of this. The neck still hurts occasionally when upright for long periods.
Losses: Appx. $6000 in wages and medical copays
Result: The insurance company initially tried to settle for $500, then $650, then $1000, and finally they've stalled at $2500. I (under the advice of my attorney brother in law who practices in intellectual property) took the insurance company to small claims court where it was promptly thrown out because they aren't the at fault party.
So then I sent a demand letter for the payment of Bodily injury and Damages to the Bronco Guy (as the small claims court website suggested). He turned it in to his insurance company. They wrote me that the highest Bodily injury they'll pay out is $2500 and the damages claim is still "in dispute."
I faxed the insurance company medical records and proof of lost wages and they still say all they'll settle for is $2500.
FINALLY the questions:
What the heck do I do now? :^)
*Do I need to just take the Ford Bronco guy to small claims court?
*Who is liable for the injury claim and damages claim? (if it's even a seperate claim)
*If I accept the insurance companies $2500, then does that eliminate me from being able to collect on the lost wages in court?
*Anything else you can offer? This is all so confusing to me and I feel like I've really screwed it up. Should I just go see an accident injury attorneys?
I GREATLY appreciate any advice that you can give me.
As you know, you are always encourage to talk to a lawyer and advise you of your case. Most cases change depending on your jurisdiction.
From the facts that you tell me, it appears that you can only go after the Bronco's insurance company for all damages and injuries (they were the at fault party). They owe to put you back in the position you were before the accident. This includes medical bills, loss wages, pain and suffering, etc. It is evidence that a $2,500 offer would not compensate you for that ($6,000 is what you believe your special damages are).
Now, you have certain options (and again, you must talk to an attorney because your statute of limitations is coming up fast).
You can try to take the Bronco Driver to small claims court and get a judgment there. Remember that mos states have limitations in how much money you can ask in small claims, your state might limits this to $4,000 or less, so this might not be a good venue for you. or
You can hire an attorney and go directly after the Bronco driver for what ever damages you have (there is no limit here). Usually attorneys can get you a much better offer than you can on your own. You do have to account for attorneys fees (just keep that on mind).
Visit http://www.auto-insurance-claim-advice.com/bodily-injury-claim.html for information about injury claims and what you can ask for.
The best thing to do hire is to at least talk to a lawyer that does Personal Injury work. Usually the first consult is free. The can guide you in the process and at least give you a better "state" inside information there.
To answer your other question, yes, once you take an offer, you must "give up" all rights and lawsuit against the driver (if you are settling within limits). If you don't, the insurance company will not pay you.
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