Frequently Asked Questions
About Injury Claims
If I have been injured, who will pay for my medical treatment?
The person who caused the collision, or his or her insurance company, is legally responsible for paying for your medical treatment. Your insurance carrier may participate in paying your medical bills but will expect to be reimbursed by the negligent person’s insurance company.
What if I am unsure of the extent of my injuries?
Many injuries resulting from a traffic accident are not immediately apparent. You should seek a preliminary medical examination soon after the collision to determine the nature and extent of any possible injuries sustained.
Can the insurance company select the doctor I have to see?
No. The insurance company cannot tell you what doctor you have to see nor limit the medical care you receive. But, it is imperative that you can show the medical treatment was necessary to treat injuries associated with the traffic accident.
If I lost time from my job after the collision, can I be reimbursed?
Yes. Even if you used sick leave or vacation, you are entitled to be reimbursed for this time off work.
The careless driver who injured me had no insurance, am I out of luck?
Not necessarily. In South Dakota, the law requires that every auto insurance policy has uninsured motorist coverage. So, even if the vehicle that hit you had no insurance, your own vehicle’s insurance policy should cover you.
If the insurance company pays for the repair of my automobile fairly and in full, can I expect the insurance company also to pay my personal injury claim fairly and in full?
No. The insurance company is aware that you understand the approximate amount you are entitled to receive on your property loss claim. However, the insurance company is also aware that you have minimal knowledge of the amount to which you are entitled on your personal injury claim. Injury claims typically pose a greater threat to the insurance company since they are of a higher dollar value than property claims. The insurance company’s ultimate intent is to limit its loss on the injury claim.
Is the job of the insurance adjuster to determine the amount to which I am entitled?
No. An insurance adjuster, also called a claims representative, is paid by the insurance company to represent the insurance company’s interests, not to make an impartial assessment of your claim. Your claim poses a potential loss for the insurance company, so the insurance adjuster’s job is simply to pay you the least sum possible.
Do I need help from an attorney?
Yes. Without the help of an attorney, you will have to face the insurance company claims adjusters alone. These adjusters know the business well, and they get paid, praised, and promoted for limiting the amount they pay you.
Won’t hiring an attorney mean I actually receive less money than I am entitled to because I will have to pay a legal fee?
No. Most personal injury attorneys charge a percentage of the monies collected. They receive no legal fee if they are unsuccessful. An experienced attorney makes sure you are fully compensated for all the damages you received in the collision, something you are unlikely to be able to do on your own. Specifically, using a competent personal injury attorney can increase the amount of money you will be paid, so that even after the attorney’s fee is paid, you will have more money in your pocket than if you attempted to represent yourself. A competent personal injury attorney is actually not a cost, but rather a benefit.
A few other questions you might have
What should I do following a traffic accident?
- Always call law enforcement immediately.
- Obtain information on all vehicles, drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
- Do not guess severity of injuries. Immediately seek medical treatment.
- Photograph scene, vehicle damage, and injuries.
- Do not assume insurance companies have your best interests in mind.
- Notify your insurance company.
- Do not provide statements to their insurance company.
- Obtain your own vehicle estimates.
- Pursue injury claims separately from vehicle damage claims.
- Have an experienced attorney review any documents before signing away your rights.
If I am involved in an automobile collision, should I contact the other parties’ insurance agent?
No. The insurance agent’s job is to sell policies of insurance. The insurance companies employ special individuals whose job is to “adjust” claims, or, in the language of the insurance industry, “limit the loss.” However, you should contact your insurance agent promptly, and the other driver should contact his or her insurance carrier.
What can be done about the damages to my vehicle?
You are immediately entitled to enough money to pay for the repair of your vehicle so it is in the same condition it was before the accident. If the cost of repairing your vehicle is greater than its value, the negligent person’s insurance company may decide to pay you the value of the vehicle. In addition, most insurance companies will reimburse you to lease or rent another vehicle until you repair yours or have received money to replace it.
What is Mediation/Arbitration?
In many states insurance injury claims can be settled through alternate dispute resolution (ADR) techniques. The primary three ADR techniques that can be utilized to settle your insurance injury claim are:
- Non-binding Arbitration; and
- Binding Arbitration.
While there are other forms of ADR, these are the most often selected.
Mediation is an informal settlement conference conducted by a trained mediator that is attended by you, your attorneys and the insurance company representatives. The mediator, in preparation for the mediation, examines your claim so as to try to bring both parties to a reasonable settlement.
Non-binding arbitration is similar to mediation except that the trained mediator accumulates all of the information and, without attempting to reach an agreement among the parties, provides an opinion on the amount that should be paid by the insurance company to you, as the injured party. Since it is non-binding, neither you nor the insurance company is compelled to accept his opinion.
In the last instance, binding arbitration is where the arbitrator, after being fully informed as to the circumstances, renders an opinion that, beforehand, the insurance company and you, as the injured party, have agreed to accept.
Mediation is most often an inexpensive and expedient manner to resolve disputes between an insurance company and you, as an injured individual. Moore·Faust Injury Law Group have handled hundreds of mediations and arbitrations and can adequately present your claim to the mediator so as to seek and obtain for you your full entitlement from the insurance company. The attorneys at Moore·Faust Injury Law Group are familiar with the various mediators in the region and, thus, will present your claim in the form and fashion familiar and suitable to the mediator which would be most beneficial to you.
Mediation/arbitration often is a suitable alternative to lawsuit when exhaustive negotiations have failed. Though mediation/arbitration is seldom necessary, it is comforting to know that this is an alternative to an exhaustive and expensive lawsuit.
These techniques, in settling an insurance claim, are only successful when the injured party is represented by an attorney who can analyze all aspects of your claim to be presented to the mediator and fully demonstrate the full amount to which you are entitled.
What is the difference between lawsuits and settlements?
Moore·Faust Injury Law Group endeavor and strive to obtain your entitlement without suit. Most often insurance claims can be settled without lawsuit through negotiation, mediation or arbitration if the attorney wishes to undertake the endeavors and utilize the skills necessary to accomplish that result. Yet, some attorneys are more “comfortable” in the litigation and the lawsuit process than they are in negotiating. Moreover, some attorneys, albeit few, pursue lawsuits so as to be paid a larger and greater legal services contingent fee.
The attorneys at Moore·Faust Injury Law Group will assure you that we will vigorously and aggressively first attempt to negotiate, mediate or arbitrate your claim for your proper entitlement and will not suggest a lawsuit without compelling reasons for doing so. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Moore·Faust Injury Law Group know how to obtain the evidence needed to fully prove and argue the elements of your injury claim such as physical injuries, incurred medical bills, future medical bills, lost income, temporary/permanent impairment, temporary/permanent disability, scarring, pain and suffering, inconvenience, as well as other elements.
Truth be told, lawsuits are rarely necessary. After all, insurance companies must pay thousands of dollars to defend lawsuits and if the claim is skillfully presented by your injury lawyers you may be paid by them if for no other reason to avoid lawsuit. Moreover, not only do your fees increase with lawsuit, but there are extensive fees for pretrial depositions, the cost of experts to establish your claim and the cost of paying your treating physicians to substantiate the nature and extent of your injuries in the lawsuit. Consequently, all things considered, lawsuits generally result from the error of either an attorney in evaluating and presenting your claim or the insurance company in not understanding the evidence presented to them by the attorney to properly evaluate your claim. Make no mistake about it, insurance companies generally do not want lawsuits. Most often, your claim will be paid in full with the assistance of a skillful and competent injury attorney who has negotiated settlements of thousands of claims.
Contact us for a free, confidential consultation concerning your insurance claim.