- When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney After an Accident?
When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney After an Accident?
As you may imagine, the correct answer to that question is very quickly. However, there are a couple other actions that should take priority in the immediate aftermath of an accident.
The first is to call 911 to ensure an ambulance is on the way, not to mention getting law enforcement officers on the scene to help defuse the situation and to protect everyone involved. Trained EMTs will provide necessary first aid, and police officers can deal with any traffic tie-ups or conflicts that may have arisen following the accident. Plus they’ll eventually file an official police report which can come in handy if you should ever have to pursue legal action resulting from the incident.
The second is to contact your insurance company so they can help arrange a rental car and find a collision repair facility to deal with making any necessary repairs to your damaged vehicle. Remember that Michigan law gives you the right to choose any body shop you prefer, even if it’s not one recommended by your insurer.
Then there is a pivotal third step, which is to discuss your rights – and any compensation you deserve – with a personal injury attorney. Your attorney will serve as your advocate in negotiations with insurers and, if needed, act as your legal counsel if you’re forced to take your case to court.
Changes to Michigan’s No-Fault Law Make Legal Representation More Important Than Ever
Today that critically important third step (contacting a personal injury attorney) is more crucial than it’s ever been before. This is especially the case when you consider some distressing changes to Michigan’s No-Fault insurance laws that recently went into effect. Let’s take a moment to get you up to speed on a couple of those changes – one of which you might find particularly worrisome.
Unlimited Personal Injury Protection Benefits Are No Longer Certain for Michigan Drivers
In the past, motorists with any Michigan compliant insurance policy didn’t have to worry about whether they would receive the security of unlimited personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to make up for lost wages, pay for essential medical care, or even cover necessary services like rehabilitation and attendant care. Unlimited PIP used to be included in every no-fault policy sold in the state. However, with the changes in Michigan’s No-Fault insurance laws, providers are now able to offer plans that can cost less on the surface, but with only limited PIP medical coverage or no PIP medical coverage at all. Those cheaper car insurance plans can seem enticing, but as we’ve noted here in the past, the average cost of hospital bills following a car accident are far higher than that base PIP coverage amount. For example, just a few years ago, a CDC report pegged average hospital charges following a car accident at $57,000 per person, and medical costs have risen dramatically since then. As we frequently remind our clients, choosing unlimited PIP benefits is the smartest thing to do when it comes to protecting yourself and your family from devastating medical bills. Our advice: It never pays to skimp on insurance.
Common Insurance Company “Tricks” Designed to Discourage You from Receiving the Benefits You Deserve
Finally, let’s briefly discuss three tactics that insurance companies sometimes use to make it difficult for accident victims to receive care they truly need to fully recover.
The first is called a “written notice of injury,” and it is in effect a one-year statute of limitations on when you have to file a claim for PIP benefits. If you wait too long to submit this document, your insurance claim could be denied. So be sure to act quickly if you or someone you love has been hurt in an accident.
The second is an “examination under oath,” a potentially intimidating experience where an insurance company compels you to sit for an interview in front of a court reporter. During this process, any statement you make can carry the same weight as deposition or even trial testimony concerning the circumstances of the accident and your need for personal injury protection benefits. Your insurance policy may contain language requiring you to submit to examination under oath when the insurance company requests it. The insurance company claims these examinations are intended to prevent fraud but they are often a daunting experience for some people even when their claims are obviously legitimate.
The third is an “independent medical examination,” which takes place when an insurance company hires its own physician to determine the accuracy of evidence provided by other medical professionals about an accident victim’s condition. As noted by an article published by the National Library of Medicine, this can result in conflicts of interest and situations where doctors might not act in the best interest of patients – raising ethical concerns and perhaps even risking patients’ health.
Fortunately, every attorney at Mike Morse Law Firm is very familiar with the ins and outs of the No-Fault changes we’ve outlined, as well as the obstacles insurance companies use to discourage accident victims from getting the benefits they deserve. We stand ready to make certain you and those you care about are appropriately compensated. But you must take that first step and contact us as soon as humanly possible following an accident. This is especially true because in certain cases, there are notice requirements that need to be met just weeks after a crash.
If It Sounds Complicated, Call Us for an Explanation
We know that dealing with all of this can seem overwhelming, especially when you or a loved one have been injured. That’s why we’re prepared to do everything in our power to make your life easier during those trying times. Just give us a call at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or simply contact us here to get the ball rolling. You’ll be glad you didn’t wait to get in touch.