Some prospective clients call and they are farther along in the information gathering process after a car accident. Maybe they read our book on Georgia Car Accidents and insurance issues or maybe they have done their homework. Although it is getting harder to get insurance companies to disclose their liability policy limits these days see our article on State Farm’s required affidavit to tell you how much insurance they have) it is possible if you jump through the hoops.
So you do your homework and determine that you have a serious injury with large medical bills; for example a broken femur with $80,000 in surgical bills. You determine that the at fault driver had $100,000 policy limits. Obviously, they should pay you the full policy limits, right? What is the point of getting a lawyer involved who may take 33% of the money? There are two areas that must be analyzed to get the correct answer. Area one is money coming in. Area two is money staying with the victim.
Money Coming Into the Victim:
Ask; have I found all the possible liability insurance coverage? Am I missing something? Here is where having a lawyer dig into the facts is important. We have a case for a client who was badly injured on a bicycle. he had over $90,000 in bills from a broken shoulder surgery. The at fault driver only has a $25,000 policy. Where do you look next to find insurance? Well, the boy is 18 and does not live with his folks. He owns his own car. You cannot sue the parents for the actions of the child in many circumstances in Georgia. However, you can look to see if the child was not truly a sole resident of his own place. Students drawing support from their parents and relying on them financially are often considered to still be residents of the parents house. If the 18 year old is a dual resident and legally partially still resides with mom and dad, then mom and dad’s insurance may cover him.
Even in situations where dual residency does not apply, are there other family members with different insurance policies covering cars in the household. Those may apply.
Have I discovered all of the Underinsured Motorist Insurance Available? Proper analysis of UM coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is a very complex pile of overlying policies. For example State Farm issues a separate uninsured motorist policy for each vehicle in the house. Those policies will all stack on top of one another to add up to a larger amount of coverage.
Money Staying with the Victim
Remember that if health insurance or Medicare or Medicaid paid any of your bills, you are going to be facing reimbursement claims. You may also get notices of Georgia Medical Liens filed by the hospital. Kennestone hospital is famous for filing these liens within days of your care. If there is a limited insurance situation with a huge medical lien, you will need a lawyers help to fight the situation.
The bottom line is this; its a free consultation! It cannot hurt. Take the lawyer up on the free offer and pose the blunt question to them: why is it cost effective for me to hire you? Will I get to keep more of the settlement money with you or without you?
If there is no good answer, get a second opinion. If you still don’t hear something that makes good sense, then go it alone.