How Do I Find The Right Personal Injury Lawyer For My Car Wreck?
Personal injury law is one of the most lucrative areas of the law. As a result, a lot of attorneys will attempt to handle a car wreck, injury claim even if personal injury is not the focus of their legal practice. The law has become a complicated animal; as a result, you find a good personal injury lawyer by finding an attorney that regularly handles only personal injury cases. Yes, as a lawyer I can handle a divorce case but since I don’t regularly handle divorce law, my performance might be good at best. In contrast, my divorce lawyer has handled so many divorce cases that his performance should be excellent or top notch. It is no difference with personal injury. You want to find someone whose legal practice focuses on car accidents and not twenty other areas of the law.
You want to find someone who can talk to you directly, not only through paralegals or secretaries. You want someone who understands a good personal injury lawyer tries to maximize your recovery with his right hand while minimizing the deduction from that recovery (e.g. liens, case costs) with his left hand.
Can I Force Insurance To Fix My Car If They Want It To Be Totaled?
Unfortunately, the choice as to whether a car is total loss or not is not up to you. If a car is a total loss after a car accident, the insurance company owes you fair market value of the vehicle, also known as the actual cash value of the vehicle. Fair market value basically refers to how much the car would have sold for the day before the car wreck. If the cost to fix the vehicle is exceeds 75% of the actual cash value, the insurance company is required by Kentucky law to consider the vehicle a total loss.
What Should I Do If Insurance Wants To Total My Car?
Unfortunately, when the car is a total loss, the insurance carrier for the at-fault driver owes you the fair market value, or the actual cash value, of your vehicle. They don’t owe you what it costs to replace the vehicle or what you owe on the vehicle. The standard is basically what was the car value the day before the wreck. As a result, the condition and mileage of your vehicle plays a significant role in determining the total loss value of the vehicle. Nowadays, it seems like most insurance companies use a detailed report, usually performed by Commerce Clearing House, where they outline how much vehicles like yours have sold for in your area for the last six months. Personally, I like to go to Cars.com and pull up that type of motor vehicle within 100 miles of my location. This will usually give me a good idea as to what dealers are asking for the automobile and what the high and low value of the car is.
If your vehicle is a total loss, you want to get together your title and all receipts you have showing the repairs and/or improvements (e.g. rims, new tires, upgraded sound system) you have done to your car. Make copies of these receipts and make sure you give the insurance adjuster a copy. While these receipts do not necessarily increase the value of your car dollar for dollar, you want to show your car was in better than average condition or was worth more than average because it had additional options. In essence, even if the insurance adjuster wants to agree with you and provide you with a higher offer for your car, he needs to be able to justify his decision should his file be audited several years from now. Your receipts are a form of justification for those arguments and the increased value of your vehicle.
Do I Need A Personal Injury Lawyer If Insurance IS Cooperating With Me?
First, always know which insurance company you are dealing with. If you are dealing with the insurance company for the at-fault driver, their legal duty is to protect their insured, the at-fault driver, and they achieve that by settling your personal injury claim as quickly as possible. So if that adjuster offers you a quick settlement of $1,000, they are buying the risk that you might need future treatment and by doing so, they are protecting their insured. Their duties do not run to you and they cannot legally give you legal advice. As a result, they are also not going to tell you that you may have to pay liens (i.e. amounts owed to your health insurance, med-pay carrier, etc. for the medical bills they paid) out of your personal injury settlement. They are also not going to discuss with what other insurance coverage might be available and what procedures you need to take to go after that insurance coverage. For example, if the insurance company ever offers the policy limits, the maximum amount of insurance purchased by their insured, they are not going to suggest that you look for more insurance coverage on their driver even though your personal injury claim might be worth more.
Second, even if it is your own insurance company, keep in mind that you might not be getting correct or good advice. Insurance companies tend to assign the senior adjusters to those cases handled by personal injury lawyers. I have seen many a time wherein the insurance adjuster has provided their insured with bad advice. Also, the goal of an insurance company to make money and they, the insurance corporation, make less profit the more they pay on your personal injury claim. Unlike a personal injury lawyer that makes more money as an attorney’s fee when you recover a greater personal injury settlement, the insurance company wants to pay you less for your personal injury claim.
Lastly, neither insurance company is going to educate you about the law and required procedures. Specifically, I am referring to underinsured motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage allows you to make a claim against your own insurance policy to cover the damages that the at-fault driver did not cover. In essence, when the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance, your insurance company acts like they insure him or her for a greater amount; thereby potentially allowing you to recover the full value of your personal injury claim. Most states have a procedure described by statute wherein you must notify your insurance company by certified mail of the underlying settlement, the one with the at-fault driver(s), before you can make an underinsured motorist claim. If you don’t follow the statute’s requirements, the claim against the underinsured motorist coverage may be barred. In all my years of practice, I have never seen an insurance adjuster provide an injured client with the necessary information to process an underinsured motorist claim.
For more information on Finding The Right Personal Injury Attorney, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (502) 694-1888 today.
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