PERSONAL INJURY FAQS
How much insurance do I need?
You should have sufficient liability coverage to protect the general public from any damage or injuries that you may cause. Because you cannot predict the severity of a future accident, you should have enough liability coverage to adequately protect you from the liability you may incur by causing a severe accident. While everyone is different, we recommend minimum limits of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident (commonly known as 100/300 coverage). You should also purchase uninsured motorist (UM) and under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage to protect you and your family from fiscally irresponsible drivers. Studies have shown that as many as one third of all driving public are uninsured. Again, we strongly recommend a minimum of 100/300 coverage for UM and UIM coverage. It is never a good idea to let an insurance agent talk you into waiving UM and UIM insurance – too many drivers on the road today drive with little or no insurance, despite the financial responsibility laws. Many states also require Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which generally helps pay for medical costs, lost wages, and essential services regardless of fault.
After an accident, what should I do first?
After any accident, you should call the police to investigate the collision. You should also contact your insurance company. If you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, your insurance carrier should help with your initial out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills, wage loss and essential services. You may also have a claim for general damages for pain and suffering if you have sustained painful and lingering injuries. And remember that you have the right to competent, aggressive legal representation to help you deal with the insurance company and help you receive a fair settlement. Do not wait to seek legal help. Often, insurance adjusters will get you to make statements or sign documents that will prejudice your claim. At Craig Swapp & Associates, we can begin handling your case with just one call.
How do I know if I have a good claim?
If you were injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you probably have a good claim. With one call to Craig Swapp & Associates, we can set up a free no-obligation consultation in your home, office or other place convenient to you. During this consultation, we usually ask a number of questions to determine if you have a good case: Was the accident or injury the fault of another party’s negligence? Did you suffer injuries and incur related medical costs? Did your injuries result in permanent disabilities or disfigurement (such as scars)? Did the negligent party have insurance coverage at the time of the accident? Did you have insurance (including uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage) on your vehicle at the time of the accident? If you were a passenger, did the owner of the vehicle have insurance? Based on the responses to these questions and others, we can tell you early on if you have a good case.
What if the insurance company is already making me an offer to settle?
Insurance companies look out for their own self-interests – not yours. The insurance business is very profitable – no wonder the big insurance companies are all found within the Fortune 500. Their goal is to make the claim process so complicated, drawn out and frustrating that you will settle your claim for less than fair compensation. At Craig Swapp & Associates, our goal is to level the playing field. We take on the day-to-day headaches and complexities of dealing with the insurance company and its adjusters, so you can get on with your busy life. We understand the law and your rights, and represent our clients competently and aggressively. We have helped thousands of people, just like you, to get fair settlement after an injury accident. You should not prematurely settle your case. Check with us first. Often an insurance company will try to get a cheap and quick settlement by offering you a nominal amount up front. Many people later regret the quick settlement when their pain doesn’t go away and their medical bills continue to pile up.
How much is my case worth?
Many people wonder what kind of compensation they can expect from their case. The value of your claim depends on many factors, such as the nature, extent and duration of your injuries, the amount of your medical bills, lost wages, and the ultimate outcome of the healing process (especially if the injuries are permanent). Once we have thoroughly investigated your accident and injuries, we then have the necessary information to know the value of your claim and begin to negotiate a fair settlement for your case.
How will my claim be handled?
At Craig Swapp & Associates, your case is handled by an experienced personal injury attorney and his or her legal team of professionals (called a ‘Pod’ that includes a case manager, negotiator and paralegal). As your case progresses, you will have an opportunity to interact with each Pod team member, including your attorney. Your Pod legal team handles your case using an effective multi-step process:Case Filing and Initial Investigation – Your insurer and the other party’s insurer will be promptly notified that we are representing you with your claim. We will help establish the strength of your case by collecting and examining police reports, photographs, affidavits and other official documents. We’ll also assist you with your own insurance company, which may owe you benefits prior to settlement. Our legal staff can help provide the necessary follow-up and documentation to expedite the payment of these benefits.Documentation of Injuries and Damages – We’ll contact all medical providers, hospitals and clinics to gather your medical records, reports and billing information. If wages were lost due to the accident, we will gather the necessary wage information from your employer. When treatment for your injuries is completed, we will prepare the final documentation of all records so that we can begin negotiating a final settlement.Negotiation and Settlement – After your claim has been fully documented, we will use that information to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. This process is often lengthy as both sides review and evaluate the documentation. In many cases, negotiation results in a settlement. In some cases, however, the insurance company may dispute negligence or the extent of the damages/injuries. If these differences cannot be settled, we may recommend filing a lawsuit. Although most lawsuits are settled prior to going to court, if necessary, we have an experienced litigation team ready to represent you in court. If your case is litigated, the court will award the damages.Final Distribution of the Settlement – After you have authorized us to settle your claim, we obtain the funds from the insurance company and retain our fee for legal services, make final payment for any outstanding medical bills, and pay you the net settlement. At the time of final settlement, you must sign a release giving up any further claim against the negligent party and his/her insurance company relating to your accident.
How long will it take to settle my case?
It may take several months, or even a year or two. Why? Our first priority is to help you get the medical care you need. Once you recover from your injuries, it is then appropriate to discuss settlement options. You should remember that once you settle your case, you sign a final release giving up any further claim. Therefore, it is extremely important that your medical providers have determined the full extent of your injuries and that you have completed all necessary medical treatment. We successfully resolve most cases within a few months after treatment is complete. If litigation becomes necessary, the process is longer due to procedural rules and the inherent delays of the civil justice system.
When is it too late to file a claim?
It is never a good idea to delay your claim. You should be exploring your options now. Certain statutes of limitation vary by the type of the case and the state where the accident occurred. Statues of limitation limit the time in which you have to file a claim. (Once a statute of limitation has expired, your options are few if any.) In general, a delay may erode certain key elements of your case. For example, accident witnesses may no longer be available or memories may fade or become uncertain. Because medical treatment should be sought as soon as possible after an accident, a delay in treatment may hurt your physical recovery and weaken your case as we attempt to settle your case. Also, certain deadlines apply when making a claim against a government entity.
If I make a claim, will my insurance company raise my rates?
By law, your insurance company can only raise your rates if you were responsible for an accident or if your actions contributed to an accident. If you believe an insurance company has inappropriately raised your premiums, you may contact your state’s Department of Insurance and file a complaint.
If I involve an attorney to settle my case, will I have to go to court?
We successfully resolve most cases without filing a lawsuit. However, in some cases the insurance company refuses to make a fair and reasonable settlement offer. In those cases, we recommend that our clients seek fair redress in court. At Craig Swapp & Associates, we have a highly successful, experienced and aggressive litigation team to represent you throughout the litigation process should it become necessary.
What about getting my car fixed or if my car is totaled?
Most collision claims can be resolved by dealing directly with either your own insurance company or the adverse driver’s insurance company. You have the right to a rental car paid by the liability insurer while your vehicle is being repaired. You have the right to be compensated for any loss in value due to the vehicle being in a collision. You also have the right to use a repair shop of your choosing over the insurance company’s “authorized” repair shop. If your car is totaled by the accident, you are entitled to the fair market value of your vehicle plus tax and title.
What if I don’t win a settlement?
At Craig Swapp & Associates, we work on a contingency fee basis – meaning that if we don’t successfully resolve your case, there is no fee for our legal services.