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Frequently Asked Questions

Motor Vehicle Accidents FAQ’s

Why Van Law Firm?

WE ACTUALLY REALLY DO CARE

There are a lot of law firms out there, especially in the personal injury field.  What makes us different is we actually really do care about our clients.  There have been times when we have gone the extra mile for our clients to ensure that their FMLA is filled out so that they do not lose their jobs. We make sure they have the medical care they need so that they no longer have radiating pain through their arms or legs. We have even gone as far as to have water softener pellets delivered to our client who had a back problem. Our reviews and awards truly show how much we care about our clients.

WE COMMUNICATE WITH OUR CLIENTS

The number one complaint about other law firms is they never communicate with their clients.  That is not the case at Van Law Firm as we have a solid wide goal to communicate with our clients at least once a month, if not more often.  We also have a Client Care Coordinator so that if you have any concerns, you can always contact that person to address your complaints.

OUR FIRM LITIGATES CASES

Some law firms do not litigate, meaning they do not go to court.  A firm that litigates will get higher settlement offers, because the insurance company knows that the firm that litigates is not bluffing and will actually go to trial.  We have a team of seasoned litigators who have worked for defense contractors and insurance companies, litigators who have sued casinos, and won several tens of millions of dollars, sued trucking companies, sued for brain injuries, etc. You want a firm with litigation experience handling your case.

WE ARE UP TO DATE ON THE NEWEST LAWS AND TECHNIQUES TO INCREASE YOUR SETTLEMENT

Furthermore, unlike other law firms that work their attorneys to death and where their attorneys never get to see the light of day, we actually send our attorneys across the country to personal injury and mass tort seminars.  These classes are taught by experienced litigators and personal injury attorneys. Our attorneys learn the latest techniques to win bigger verdicts, pick the best juries, argue more persuasively, and how to frame a case in the best light possible to obtain the biggest settlements. Our attorneys are always attending classes to learn the best techniques on low impact minor vehicle damage cases, trucking cases, product liability cases, defective drugs, brain injury cases, and other areas of personal injury law.

WE ARE OBJECTIVE

Listen, you are mad that this person turned your life upside down when they plowed into your vehicle. You are in pain, frustrated, and fearful of what may happen. You may need the money and may be impatient that this is taking so long and want to settle quickly. You may also think you do not have a case. The insurance company has told you that they are denying liability and that they have offered you every penny on the dollar. The insurance company is denying, delaying, and defending. We are in this together. We do not get paid unless you get paid. We would not want to waste your time or ours. We also know when it is in your best interests to wait for a better offer or perhaps when to go to trial, because the Defendant is not giving you the best offer or an appropriate offer for the pain and suffering that you have had to endure.

A TEAM ALWAYS OUTPERFORMS AN INDIVIDUAL

We have a large team of people to assist you throughout the entire case.  Our firm motto is to get the client the highest settlement in the shortest amount of time. We are willing to hire more people so that our clients will have the best customer experience and more staff to move your case along. We also have a team of experts for every accident imaginable, trucking accident experts, slip and fall experts, drowning experts, construction site experts, swimming pool experts, traumatic brain injury experts, burn experts, chemical burn experts, etc.  There are a lot of tasks involved in getting a case to settle for the highest amount in the shortest period of time and a team always outperforms an individual.

Why do I need an Attorney?

YOUR FINANCIAL STABILITY SUFFERS AFTER AN ACCIDENT 

You were not at fault for the accident; but until the other party accepts liability, you may have to pay for a rental vehicle or deductible to get your vehicle fixed.

 

If you were injured, you will have to pay for your hospital and ambulance bills and any other related medical expenses such as radiology, X-Rays, MRIs, Chiropractor bills, doctor bills, etc.

 

Also imagine all the lost wages you will have from being out of work due to an injury. With the help of Van Law Firm, we can help you get compensated for all these losses mentioned above.

 

CONSULTATIONS ARE FREE AND HIRING AN ATTORNEY INCREASES YOUR LIKELIHOOD OF A HIGHER SETTLEMENT

You should always seek an attorney’s advice since most offer a free consultation.  You should never try and do a claim on your own as you will most likely hurt your case and get a lower settlement.  In fact, in 1999, the Insurance Research Council stated that people who hire an attorney are likely to get more than 3.5 times what they would have gotten had they not hired an attorney. This is also after attorney’s fees are deducted.

 

THE INSURANCE COMPANY REPRESENTS THE DEFENDANT NOT YOU 

When you are injured in any type of accident, the insurance company that you have to deal with is working for the party who injured you and their only objective is to pay you as little as possible (See this ABC special on this.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_AUR9wKu_Y). The insurance company may deny that their party was at fault or caused the accident.  The defendant’s insurance company may also state that your injuries were not related to the crash. The insurance company may also deny the claim entirely and refuse to pay you anything.  For circumstances like this, you need a good lawyer on your side like Van Law Firm.

 

We manage your case so that we can hopefully get you the maximum settlement. You do not have the time and expertise to gather all the documentation and time to draft a great demand letter, let alone talk to adjusters, witnesses, and experts while holding down your day job. We do this day in and day out because it is our job. Unfortunately, you could mess up your case by trying to do it on your own and we may not be able to fix any issues created.

 

THE INSURANCE COMPANY WILL TRICK YOU INTO A RECORDED STATEMENT

In most cases, the insurance company will try to reach out to you immediately following the incident, often times for a recorded statement (See why this is a bad idea  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvPW087RiJ8). While this may seem like mere investigation on their part, these statements are often twisted in their favor and used as evidence against you. In fact, the insurance company will index you meaning they will put you into their accident database. They will try to research your past, comb through your social media, your criminal history, past accidents, financial status, and do whatever they can do to try to lower your settlement. By indexing you, they hope to get you to settle for a lower amount.

 

THE INSURANCE COMPANY USES TACTICS TO LOWER YOUR SETTLEMENT

These are common tactics insurance companies use to lower your settlement.  First of all, the insurance company will use any information you give them against you. We protect you by not giving them your private information. In fact, our law firm goes the extra mile by redacting your personal information off of all of your exhibits. They will say that your current injuries were caused by any prior accidents that you have had.  If they find out that you are a felon, they will know that you cannot file a lawsuit as your criminal history may come into evidence and thus you will likely accept a lower settlement offer rather than take your case to trial.  They will use any financial issues that you may have as an argument to the jury that you are only in it for the money. They will research your social media accounts to see if you are doing anything strenuous while you are injured.

 

WE MAKE SURE YOU OBTAIN THE MEDICAL TREATMENT YOU NEED TO MAKE YOUR CASE

Furthermore, if you represent yourself, you may not be able to get the medical treatment that you need.  Some doctors and specialists refuse to treat individuals who are involved in an accident without a personal injury attorney overseeing the case. They would not treat you on your promise to pay them. We have relationships with many doctors and specialists to get you the treatment that you need to help you get better and to document your injuries. Your settlement is based on what is documented in your medical records. Without medical treatment, your settlement will be a lot lower.

 

WE CAN AUTHORIZE TREATMENT ON A LIEN IF NECESSARY

If you do not have health insurance to obtain medical treatment, we can authorize medical treatment on a lien, which is basically an IOU stating that you will pay the medical provider from your case settlement. Sometimes, medical treatment can still be expensive even if you have health insurance.  You would have multiple copays and a deductible to pay for. Some people with health insurance still decide to treat on a lien as they cannot afford the thousands of dollars in copays and deductibles.

WE PRESENT YOUR CASE IN THE BEST LIGHT POSSIBLE

When you are done treating, we collect all of your bills and medical records to present your case.  Most importantly, we negotiate on your behalf to get you the best settlement possible.

WE ASSIST YOU WITH GETTING YOUR CAR FIXED OR TOTALED OUT

We will help you get a rental car, get your car fixed, or get your car totalled. Many law firms do not help with property damage as it is ⅓ of the work done on the case and they would rather do less work.

WE KNOW THE PERSONAL INJURY LAWS

We know the laws and the kind of compensation you should receive.  Establishing liability in a dog bite case is different from establishing liability in a slip and fall case, auto accident case, or trucking accident case. We know how to build a case and what evidence to present. We know the medical terms and how to review legal documents. We also negotiate on a daily basis. We also know the deadlines and processes for filing a lawsuit.

THIS IS OUR JOB AND WE HAVE THE TIME AND EXPERIENCE TO DO IT

Bringing a claim to a close typically requires hours and hours on the phone and a lot of exchanging documents back and forth. It requires a lot of documents. It requires a great deal of expertise to navigate through the pitfalls that insurance companies try to create. This is a lot to take on when you are already trying to get back to work, going to doctor appointments, etc.

Hiring an attorney takes that burden off and allows you to focus on getting the necessary medical treatment to get better. While we are doing our job, you can focus on getting back to your job. This is why we advise you to contact us right away so that we can step in immediately and deal with the insurance company on your behalf.

Why is the insurance company saying it’s my fault?

If you are determined to be completely or partially at-fault for the car crash, it will hurt your case unless we can overturn that decision. In Nevada, you have to be less than 50% at fault for the car wreck to recover any monies for pain and suffering. Therefore, if the jury finds the other person more than 50% responsible for the car accident, then you will recover something. But if you are 50% or more at fault, you will recover nothing, no matter how injured you are.

Sometimes, the insurance company will say that you are completely at fault for the car accident or partially at fault for the car accident because they want to avoid paying for your rental, your car, your pain, and your suffering.  Even though the other person involved in the car crash may tell you at the time of the car crash that it was their fault, they may tell their insurance company something entirely different and the insurance company will use their client’s testimony to their benefit and drag their feet into paying you any compensation.

Police reports can be helpful but sometimes can cause confusion as you may have been cited for the incident. You may have given a recorded statement which gives the insurance company reason to believe you were at fault or partially at fault. A witness statement may be incorrect leading the insurance company to assign fault to you. Insurance companies are also known to say you are partially at fault if the accident occurred in a parking lot as they know the police will not investigate an accident in a parking lot as it is on private property. The insurance company also knows that you cannot obtain video footage from a non party, for example, a shopping center or parking lot, without filing a lawsuit.  Also, the insurance company may know that you do not have representation and no ability to fight them so they will place the blame on you. This is something that we deal with regularly and us stepping in is sometimes the best way to get around these determinations.

Who will fix my car after an accident and when will it be fixed?

Getting your car fixed is usually one of the first priorities of our clients, and we have a team of specialists on hand to assist you with your property damage claim. Getting your car fixed is not always a straightforward process. Pursuant to NAC 686A.670, the insurance company can take 30 days and sometimes even longer to investigate liability. Therefore, it can take up to 30 days or longer to have your vehicle repaired as police reports have to be requested, liability has to be assessed, and the insurance company will need to interview their client and any other witnesses.  We will do our best to get your vehicle repaired, vehicle totaled, get you a rental vehicle, loss of use, and assist you with your GAP claim.

Your insurance company: If you purchased Property Damage Coverage on your auto insurance policy and you want your car repaired right away, you can have our law office contact your insurance company and file a claim. You will have to pay your deductible out of pocket, but if the other party is later found at fault, and if there is sufficient property damage coverage on the other party’s insurance, you will get your deductible back.

Defendant’s insurance company: If you do not carry Property Damage Coverage aka Collision Coverage, then you are somewhat at the mercy of the defendant’s insurance company. If you are lucky and the defendant tells his or her insurance company that they caused the accident, then you may get a car rental sooner. It is preferable that you do not speak to the insurance company, for several reasons, but if you have to, you may be able to speak to the defendant’s insurance company, but only about getting your vehicle fixed. Do not speak to them about your injuries or the accident, tell them to contact your attorney. Pursuant to Nevada law,  NRS 686A.670 the insurance company can have up to 30 days to investigate the claim prior to paying for your car rental, fixing your vehicle, or giving you money to replace your vehicle. Investigating the claim means speaking to all parties and witnesses who were involved, reviewing any footage of the crash, and reviewing the police report. If the insurance company needs more time, they can extend the time to investigate with written notice. If the insurance company believes that their insured is not at fault, we may have to file a lawsuit and go to court prior to the insurance company compensating you for your damaged vehicle or providing you with a rental.

Will I get a rental?

If you carry rental coverage on your auto insurance policy, then we can assist you with opening a claim through your own insurance company. If you do not have rental coverage, then you are at the mercy of the defendant’s insurance company, if and when they accept liability. Please see Who will fix my car after an accident and when will it be fixed? for more information.

What if I have no health insurance?

If you require emergency medical attention due to an accident and you do not have health insurance, you should still seek medical treatment as your health is important. If it can wait, you can contact us immediately and we will schedule you with a doctor who will accept a lien. A lien is basically an IOU or promise to pay the doctor when your case settles. When the defendant’s insurance company accepts liability and your claim is settled, your medical bills are normally paid from the settlement. If you do not seek medical attention shortly after the accident, the insurance company will say that you are not injured, which can greatly affect your settlement. Contact us and we can get you the medical attention you need.

The person who hit my car has no auto insurance, now what?

If the person who hit you does not have auto insurance, then you can file a claim against the person personally, rather than the person’s insurance company.  Keep in mind if you go this route, most people who do not have auto insurance do not have assets to go after.  Uninsured defendants could also file bankruptcy, leaving you with no assets to go after.  However, if the person who hit you was driving someone else’s vehicle, then you can go after the owner of the vehicle and make a claim on their insurance.

This is why you should carry uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy. If you have this coverage, you can collect on the coverage that you have been paying for by filing a personal injury claim against your own insurance. Pursuant to NRS 687B.385, your insurance carrier cannot raise your premium or cancel your insurance coverage if you did not cause the accident.

I was a victim of a hit and run, what now?

Chances are you will have to pay for damages unless you get the information of the vehicle who committed the hit and run. This is why you should be covered by these types of insurances: Uninsured Motorist Protection, Med Pay, and Comprehensive Coverage and Collision Coverage. If you are a victim of a hit and run, you should:

  • Stay on the scene and call the police as soon as possible, as they may be able to find the other vehicle;
  • Try to gather as much information as you can about the car that hit you. Such as:
    • Color of vehicle
    • License plate number – this may be hard to get but it is very important information to have.
    • Approximate year, make and model
  • Look around you to see if there were any witnesses, and gather their information;
  • Write down the location and time of the accident as well as which direction the vehicle headed;
  • Take pictures of the vehicle damage;

Contact us after the accident, so we can assist you with your claim.

When will my case be settled?

There are many different factors that influence how long it takes to settle a claim. No two cases are the same as each person will have different injuries, different vehicle damages, different insurance policies, different adjusters, and different insurance policy limits. If your friend got a settlement sooner, maybe the person who hit your friend had very little insurance.

Typically, you must have already completed your treatment or your injuries must have stabilized for us to begin settling your case. We will also need all your medical bills and records and any doctor recommendations of future treatment. We then gather all of this information and draft a demand letter to the insurance company to review.

Nevada law requires the defendant’s insurance company to respond with an offer within 30 days of receipt of the demand, although they can request an extension. Once the initial offer comes in, we can negotiate the best settlement. There is no way to know how long negotiations will take as it is a back and forth with the insurance adjuster, and each case is different and you may get a bad or wrong adjuster.

It is important to remember that you must file a lawsuit within 2 years of the date of the accident or you will lose your right to your claim as you will violate the statute of limitations.

How much will my settlement be?

Settlement figures are determined by a multiplier of the medical bills, the extent of the documented injuries, the noneconomic damages such as not being able to hike, carry your toddler, or dance, etc. It is also based on the available policy limits, how much treatment you had, who is determined to be at fault, and if you are also partially at fault. Our number one goal is to get you the full policy limits whenever possible. Contact our office so that we can give you an accurate opinion as to how much your settlement may be.

What if I don’t treat right away or have gaps in treatment. Will this hurt my case?

If you are injured in an accident, you should seek medical treatment. Gaps in treatment may hurt your car crash case, especially if you don’t seek treatment immediately following a car wreck. The insurance company will try to argue that you are not injured. Any reasonable person who is injured and hurt in a car accident will go see a doctor.

You only get paid for pain and suffering which is documented in medical bills and records by a medical provider. Waiting too long can increase the likelihood that the insurance company can say you injured yourself some other way, such as you getting hurt at the gym or falling down a flight of stairs. Also, gaps in treatment will lead to a lower settlement. There are certain instances that may cause understandable gaps, like a death in the family, or being pregnant, but for the most part, it is important to make sure you treat consistently throughout the process.

Why are accidents not considered accidents?

Fatalities on our roadways are skyrocketing at a rate not seen in 50 years. There is a mentality in our society that often trivializes crashes by calling them accidents. Nearly all crashes stem from driver behavior like drinking, distracted driving and other risky activity. Just 6 percent are caused by vehicle malfunctions, weather, and other factors.

In January 2016, the state of Nevada enacted a law to change the word “accident” to “crash” in dozens of state laws, such as those laws covering insurance and police reports. The push to call these occurrences crashes instead of accidents is better for those injured since now the jury cannot think that the party who hit your vehicle is not at fault as it was an accident.  Therefore, the word crash is less prejudicial to you – the person injured by the crash.

Why is it important to get my vehicle out of a tow yard after an accident?

It is important to get your vehicle out of a tow yard as soon as possible as the fees will add up the longer it sits in their lot. If a vehicle sits too long, the tow company can auction off the vehicle to pay the fees. Even if you did not cause the crash, you still bear a responsibility to mitigate the damages by getting the vehicle out of the tow yard as soon as you can.

I got hit by a government vehicle. Now what?

A government entity typically enjoys protection from liability under a doctrine known as government immunity or sovereign immunity. However, one of the more common exceptions is vehicle liability when government employees are involved in auto crashes.

If a crash is the result of a police car pursuit, fire trucks going to a fire, or ambulances speeding through intersections, you can file a claim for damages. Additionally, non-emergency crashes, such as being hit by a public school bus or a city public works vehicle, are also subject to claims.

The threshold for proving driver responsibility will be higher than a regular car crash. If you are involved in a crash with a government vehicle and are considering filing a claim, you should seek legal representation as lawsuits against the government are often complicated and require adhering to strict timelines.

How do I ensure that I get a high settlement?

That depends on a lot of things, such as how bad was the accident? How bad were the vehicles damaged? How bad are the injuries? Will it be injuries that you will overcome, or injuries that you will have for life? Was the defendant the sole cause of the accident, or are you partially to blame for the accident? Do you have a lot of medical bills or a little in medical bills? Were you injured badly or is your pain level low? Do you have gaps in treatment which can be used against you? Do you have past injuries that were exacerbated by this accident?

Aside from the questions mentioned above, make sure you hire a competent law firm that can negotiate and also find all available avenues for recovery and insurance policies.

What documents are required for the initial consultation?

You can bring us whatever documents that you may have in your possession or no documents at all, and we can worry about that later. No documentation necessary. Common documents include:

  • Police reports
  • Traffic incident reports
  • Your personal insurance declaration page to determine if there is additional coverage for your claim and vehicle
  • The Defendant’s information
  • Any pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles, license plates, and VIN numbers

What if I am injured in an Uber or Lyft accident?

If you’re a passenger in a covered or ridesharing vehicle, and hit while in service, you should be covered by the company’s policy. Ride-share companies, in most cases will not claim legal responsibility for their drivers as they are not employees of the company, but you will be covered as a passenger. Keep in mind that the insurance for the at-fault party, whether it was your driver that caused the accident or the driver of the other vehicle, will be the first policy that we would make a claim against.  Ride-share companies have a team of lawyers in place to ensure that they pay out as little as possible, so it’s important that you hire your own independent lawyer if you are ever in this situation.

I was hit by a drunk driver, now what?

You have a very good chance of getting compensation for any injuries sustained from the crash.  The insurance company will be encouraged to settle because if it goes to court, we will have a punitive damages claim against the defendant for drunk driving.  Some insurance policies do not cover drunk driving, so you would want us to investigate the claim and review the insurance policy to make sure that there is coverage. This is also why you should carry uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy, because it will cover you in the event that the Defendant has no insurance coverage.

If you are ever in this unfortunate situation:

  • Call 9-1-1 so the police can come to the scene and make a report documenting that the Defendant is drunk or under the influence;
  • If you feel safe and physically able, try to get photos of the Defendant’s license plate and VIN number, vehicle, driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance identification card;
  • Speak directly to the police officer to give your side of the story;
  • Obtain your police report number or traffic accident report;
  • If you feel like you need medical attention, go to the hospital;
  • Contact us to assist you in filing your claim.

Personal Injury FAQ’s

Is there a fee for a consultation?

There is never a fee for a consultation. We get paid a portion of what we recover for you.

Can undocumented people make personal injury claims?

Yes, undocumented people can make personal injury claims. Nothing prohibits undocumented people from making personal injury claims. You do not need a drivers’ license, social security card, green card or to be a citizen or permanent legal resident to file a claim for personal injuries. Your immigration status will also never be mentioned if your case goes to trial.

Many undocumented individuals feel that if they file a lawsuit that they will be deported or that the insurance company will report the undocumented person to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Enforcement (USCIS) and that they would be deported, but this is simply not true and against the attorney ethics rules.

I slipped and fell in a casino, what do I do?

First, make sure you file a report with the casino immediately. If they ask you to sign anything, get a copy. If you need medical attention, get it immediately. Make sure to take pictures of what you fell on or what caused your fall. Also make sure to get information from any witnesses who saw your fall. Then contact us immediately and we will file a claim for you.  You must remember that time is of the essence so hire us right away as we need to contact the casino to make sure that they preserve any sweep logs, employment records, evidence, and video of the fall. These cases are tougher to prove and will take longer as we will probably have to file a lawsuit to obtain the evidence. The Defendant does not have to cooperate or show us any evidence until we file a lawsuit.

Can I get compensation for tripping over a pallet in a supermarket?

Yes, if you have a valid claim. It is the legal duty of a business that welcomes the public onto their premises to provide customers with a reasonably safe environment. So, if there is a valid and documented injury, the customer can expect to receive some type of compensation from the accident.

If you have an accident or slip and fall in a store, you should inform the store manager immediately about the incident and file a written report that you can use as proof to support your claim. There are several ways to prove the negligence of the supermarket staff, including requesting a review of security cameras, obtaining statements from witnesses, or from the staff who saw the incident or assisted you after the incident.

A dog bit me, do I have any rights?

Dog bite cases are much more difficult to establish because usually you will need to make a claim against the dog owner’s home owners insurance policy, but this only applies when you are injured by their dog on their property.

What happens at trial?

About 4% – 5% of personal injury cases go to trial.  Most settle prior to trial (Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, Federal Tort Trials and Verdicts). Trials can be a couple of days to a week. If it is a big case with a lot at stake, a trial could take several weeks. Both sides will present their evidence to a factfinder who may be a judge, an arbitrator, or to a jury. The factfinder will decide if all elements of a claim are present. The elements of a personal injury claim are duty, breach, causation and damages.  If one of these items cannot be proved, you will lose your case. You may also have a lower settlement if you are found partially at fault for the accident. Whatever the factfinder or jury decides is binding unless one party decides to appeal the case.

Why are slip and fall cases harder to prove than car accidents?

Slip and fall cases, also called premises liability cases, are harder to prove because you need to show that the premises owner knew about the dangerous condition or allowed it to occur.  For example, a dangerous step, flooring, or a wet floor without a sign.

What if I need treatment in the future?

There are a few different ways that we can get you compensated for needed care that hasn’t yet happened. For things such as surgeries and injections, we can get an estimate from the doctor to present to the insurance company to pay for future medical treatment and the pain and the suffering that you may have to endure. This is called a future estimate.

Unlike care that you actually have, a future estimate does not carry the same weight towards your settlement offer. The insurance company is not going to give you the same offer for future care that may or may not happen as they would for treatment you actually had. The insurance company may not believe that you will have this treatment, so they will discount your offer on any future medical care and give you a higher amount on care you actually had.

If we can show that you will need regular continuous care. For example, injections for the rest of your life due to back pain, future surgeries, a nurse or caretaker for the rest of your life, someone to help you shower or go to the bathroom, in these instances of significant injuries, we will order a life care plan and have a doctor document what your future care will cost, how this car accident has affected your life, etc. These are examples of why it is important to hire an attorney that will make sure you are fairly compensated for the full extent of your damages.

Other FAQ’s

Explain to me what policy limits mean, for example $25,000/$50,000

The first number, $25,000, means that no one person in the case can recover more than $25,000 no matter what your injury or bills amount to. The second number, $50,000, means that the total that can be paid out in the accident under that insurance policy is $50,000.  No matter how many people are injured or make a claim in the case no more than $50,000 will be paid out under that policy for all those that are involved. The only way to get a higher settlement for your pain and suffering is if there is an additional insurance policy or if you bought uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage or med pay coverage.

What’s the difference between liens and treating with insurance?

Liens: When a client does not have medical insurance to pay for medical treatment or when the client does not want to treat with his or her medical insurance as he or she cannot afford the deductible, the frequent copays, the long waits for certain treatments, or cannot obtain the treatment that he or she requires because of insurance preauthorizations, the client may be treated under what is called an “Attorney’s Lien.”  An Attorney’s Lien is basically an IOU, which allows a client to receive medical treatment without paying any costs upfront. The medical providers are aware that you were injured in an accident and will treat you under the condition that they will receive payment when your case settles.

Treating with Insurance: Health insurance will pay a portion of the medical bills and the client will be responsible for any copays and deductibles.  At the end of the case your health insurance company may want to be paid back for any medical bills that were related to the accident that your health insurance paid for.  This is called health insurance subrogation. In some cases, medical providers may not want to treat someone who has been in an accident and an “Attorney’s Lien” for medical treatment is necessary.

Do I get less in my settlement if I am a minority?

In Campbell vs. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, 65 P.3d 1134, at 26-27 (2001), State Farm was found to treat certain people differently, namely, “ethnic minorities, women, elderly individuals.”   Normally the minorities that they discriminate against are Asians, African Americans, and Hispanics.  They believe that these people are less likely to go to court and less likely to object to their low ball offers.  This is why you need a good attorney in your corner to fight for a higher settlement and if necessary go to court and make the insurance company pay what is rightfully yours.

What if the insurance adjuster wants me to sign a medical release?

Do not do sign it without consulting us first.  What they may not explain is that what you are signing allows the insurance company to obtain copies of your entire medical history. They will also probably use this to find out more information, such as if you have had other accidents (so they can say that the other accidents caused your injuries), if you have any criminal history, ethnicity, and financial issues.  If the other driver’s insurance company is requesting you to sign a medical release form, you should consult with your case manager or attorney before doing so. Signing that form can possibly ruin your case settlement if you have a history of past health issues, criminal history, or financial issues.

What is a Minor’s Compromise?

NRS 41.200 was designed to protect minor children involved in an accident who receive a personal injury settlement.  Examples of settlements could include compensatory damages or medical bills resulting from a car accident.  It can also include lost wages from a slip and fall accidents.

If a minor receives a personal injury settlement, the guardian needs to seek permission from the court to open a blocked account for the minor.  The guardian may be any one of the following: A parent if they are both living together, a custodial parent based off of a custody award, the parent with whom the minor is living with if there is no custody award, or the legal guardian of the minor (if one has been appointed).

The petition must contain the following:

  • Facts of the accident
  • The age of the minor
  • The settlement offer
  • The guardian who is petitioning, aka asking the court’s permission to open a blocked account
  • The amount of medical bills
  • The medical providers
  • Estimates of any future medical care
  • The status of the current minor’s injuries
  • And the FDIC insured bank that the account will be opened at.

The settlement must be approved by a judge and the minor’s portion of the settlement must be deposited into a blocked bank account at an FDIC insured bank until the child turns 18.

How to read your insurance policy to determine what kind of coverage you have?

Reading and understanding your insurance policy can be a confusing and frustrating task. Insurance policies are legal contracts. These contracts must be detailed to ensure that the coverage you are paying for is what you are actually getting. Also, the insurance company wants to cover themselves by only providing the service that you are paying for in the premium. Just because there is language and terms you do not understand do not just skim the document. Understanding your coverage may help prevent a gap in coverage later on down the road.

Declaration Page: This page is important! It tells you everything you need to know about the coverage you’ve elected and those which you have declined. The coverage levels, deductions, named drivers, and the price you are paying for each coverage are also stated on this page. If you make changes or renewals you should be given a new Declaration Page.

Coverage Levels: The most important and least understood element of an insurance policy is coverage levels. Differences between coverage levels can be the difference between you having adequate coverage when involved in an accident or being personally sued because you do not. Coverage levels differ from state to state and Nevada’s current minimum coverage levels are 25/50/20.

What is a Pro Global Settlement?

In some cases, there may be more than two parties involved in a claim.  In that case, the parties involved may be entitled to a pro rata global settlement.  It’s referred to a global settlement because it is inclusive of all the parties involved.  For instance, if an at-fault party has a $50,000/$100,000 policy, and the claim of all the parties involved exceeds the $100,000, the insurance company will issue the policy limit as a global settlement.  The pro rata refers to the way in which that global settlement would be divided.  It could be equal, let’s say that there are five claimants, each would get $20,000, or it could be divided based on a percentage of their medical bills.  Let’s say Claimant A was the worst injured and he had $100,000 in medical bills, and the other four claimants had a total of $50,000 combined, then half would go to Claimant A, and the other $50,000 would be divided amongst the other claimants.

Do I have to pay Medicare or Medicaid back?

You may have to pay Medicaid back just as you would any private insurance company for medical treatment due to injuries sustained in a personal injury case.

You must report the incident to the Medicaid Coordination of Benefits (COB). They are a private company that processes reimbursements to Medicaid when a Medicaid recipient is involved in a personal injury case. If you don’t report the injury to the COB, they will most likely find out anyway when they send you a letter asking about your recent hospital visit. You must reply to this request for information as it could put your personal injury case at risk. Unfortunately, as with private insurance companies you cannot negotiate with Medicaid for the cost of medical treatment.

Medicare is under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSP) and they are not to pay medical bills when payments are made or are expected to be made under workman’s compensation or under insurance plans or policies.

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is like a mini court. The Courts were clogged so they basically appointed experienced attorneys to be mini judges for the lower value cases. The Arbitration program is for cases that are under $50,000.00. The good thing about Arbitration is that it is usually a quicker process with more relaxed rules. The bad thing about Arbitration is that attorney’s fees are capped at $3,000.00, which does not give Defense Attorneys much incentive to settle your case. Other bad things are that if you win at Arbitration, the Defendants can appeal your case, basically making you do your mini trial over. The last con about going to Arbitration is that the most you can be awarded is $50,000.00.

Why is it not best to settle your case quickly?

The insurance company is in the business of saving shareholder money.  A thing that we learned early on is the Defendants are always going to delay and stall. In fact there was an Anderson Cooper video on the insurance companies delay and stall tactics.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSj3FLO3IXA and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkq-CX17aO8. The first offer you receive is usually not the best offer you can obtain. If you accept the first offer, you are only hurting yourself in the long run. What if you later on still need to see a doctor and have more medical bills? Once you have settled a case and gotten paid, you cannot go back to ask for more money.

It is always best to negotiate with the insurance company, that is what we are here for. It is sometimes even better to file a lawsuit if the insurance company is not giving you a high enough offer. We have seen cases increase by 3x to 20x or more because we filed a lawsuit.

Why is my lawsuit taking so long?

Usually after we file a lawsuit, the case can take a year or two.  We are at the mercy of the Court, the Defendant, the Defense Attorney, and everyone’s schedule.  The Court issues the scheduling order, we have very little control over the deadlines that the Court gives us.  There is no way for us to order the Judge to hurry up.  We may also be at the mercy of when the Defendant can be deposed, and when the medical doctors can be deposed, or when it is convenient for the Defense Attorney to hold the depositions.

After we file the lawsuit, there is a time where each party is doing discovery.  This discovery process can take 6 months up to a year.  We are exchanging documents and witness lists with the Defense.  We are asking the Defendant questions, asking him to produce documents, requesting medical records, subpoenaing documents, and we are deposing the Defendant, witnesses, police officers, medical doctors, etc.  The Defense can also request the same from you.

After the discovery process is done and each party has presented all of their evidence, negotiations will begin or a mediation may be held.  If things cannot settle in this period of time, then the case proceeds to trial.

Why it is sometimes better to go to court rather than settle your case quickly?

The insurance company will always try and settle your case for the lowest amount possible.  The insurance company also knows that you are impatient, need the money, want to avoid court, avoid depositions, and that you will settle for less money.  When you are really injured, have permanent injuries, or require future care, it is sometimes better to file a lawsuit and keep the insurance companies on their toes.  Sometimes, filing a lawsuit will increase your final settlement than not filing a lawsuit.  Sometimes filing a lawsuit will increase your settlement by 3-20 times or more.

Why won’t insurance companies give you videos?

The insurance company for the Defendant does not have to cooperate.  In fact, they do not have to give you any evidence until after you file a lawsuit and request the information by discovery or by subpoenaing the information.  They are hoping that they get lucky and you never file a lawsuit to come after them.  It is important in these premises liability cases that you hire us as soon as possible so that we can send a preservation letter to the premise owner so that they can be notified to save evidence.

Why won’t the insurance company accept liability?

The insurance company does not work for you, they are on the side of the Defendant.  So their number one goal and objective is to give you as little to no money at all.  Sometimes they achieve this by saying they are denying liability.  Most of the time this is a bunch of baloney.  They may think that by saying this you will give up and be discouraged and not file a claim.