Responsibility for damages follows fault In Illinois, the person at fault is responsible for paying your damages. Damages may include fixing your car, paying your medical bills, paying you for any time you may have missed from work, as well as compensation for any injuries you may have sustained. The first issue in determining who will pay is who was at fault? Usually, but not always, an insurance company will accept fault based on the police report. If the police report places blame on you, you may need to contact a personal injury lawyer to recover any damages. If the insurance company accepts 100% responsibility, they are responsible for 100% of your damages.
Getting your car fixed
An insurance company is responsible for paying the lesser of the fair market value of your car or the cost to repair your car. This means, if the cost to repair the car costs more than the value of the car, the insurance company has to pay only the value of the car. Be sure to get an estimate for any repair from a collision repair shop you choose and don't rely on the insurance companies' estimate.
If you have a car note or owe money for a loan on the car, the insurance company will pay money to the loan company before paying the remainder, if any, to you. We have had clients who were "upside down" on their car and they owed more money than the car was worth. To avoid this scenario, consider buying gap insurance which pays off your car if it is totaled out.
The insurance company is also responsible to pay for any transfer tax and title expenses if your car is totaled. When you have to buy a new car to replace the one which was totaled in the accident, you should not have to pay for these additional fees. The at fault insurance company is responsible for paying them.
Sometimes, there is a dispute over what repairs will be covered, or perhaps the value of the car if it is totaled. If you are not able to satisfactorily resolve the property damage with the insurance company, you may need to contact a personal injury lawyer.
Getting your medical bills paid.
The other driver's insurance company is responsible for paying your medical bills. However, they will not pay them as they are incurred. For example, the at fault insurance company will not pay each time you go to the doctor or after each test you receive. An insurance company will pay your medical bills from the accident, but only after you agree to settle the case and sign a release. When you sign a release, your case is over and you cannot collect any more money from the insurance company. This is true even if you made a mistake or if your injuries get worse.
It is very important to get medical attention following an accident, but it can sometimes be difficult if the insurance company will not pay your medical bills unless you settle your case. Many doctors refuse to treat patients unless they get paid immediately, and they are unwilling to wait until the case is over to be paid. An [experienced personal injury lawyer] can often get medical treatment authorized while your case is pending. To learn more, contact us for a free consultation].
Do not fall for the insurance company trick of offering to pay "any out of pocket medical expenses." Some insurance adjusters use this line in an attempt to lower the amount they pay for your claim. Under Illinois law, an insurance company is legally responsible for the full amount of your medical bills, not just your out of pocket expenses. The fact that you may have health insurance or some other manner to pay your medical bills does not limit the responsibility of the insurance company for paying your bills. What's more, you may be legally liable to pay back your health insurance company from any settlement. The claims adjuster will not tell you that and you will be in for a rude awakening if you find out after your case.
What is a lien?
A medical lien is a legal document sent by a health care provider such as a hospital, doctor or chiropractor, which ensures they will get paid from any settlement of your case. When an insurance company receives a lien from a health care provider, they will include the provider's name on any settlement check you receive. You will not be able to cash or deposit your check unless you get the endorsement from the medical provider with the lien. So, if you settle your case for a certain amount, that may not be the amount you get if there are liens on your claim. Once again, an insurance adjuster may not tell you about any liens he or she has. All they want is for you to sign a release and close your claim.
Handling your case yourself can be tricky.
This article addresses only some of the pitfalls facing people who have been in accidents and deal directly with the insurance company. Having practiced personal injury law for over 20 years, I have come across countless horror stories of costly mistakes made by people handling their cases themselves. There is nothing I can do after they contact me if they have signed a release. If insurance companies dealt with people more fairly and honestly with regard to fixing their car or paying their medical bills, there would be no need for personal injury lawyers.
How to avoid making a mistake with your car accident case.
You can avoid making a mistake by contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately following your car accident. For more information about car accident cases, click on a link below or contact McCready, Garcia & Leet for a free consultation.