Does The Severity Of An Injury Ensure Likelihood Of A Larger Settlement?
The more severe the injury, the larger the potential value of your claim. Someone who has serious injuries, huge medical bills, invasive treatment such as surgery, and an incomplete recovery where they’re going to have a disability or impairment for the rest of their life, is likely to obtain a much larger recovery than someone who has injuries that require treatment over a few weeks and fully resolve. However, merely having a severe or long-lasting injury does not ensure you will be compensated for that injury or obtain a substantial recovery. You need to find a source to pay for that recovery and provide the compensation. The worst situations that I face as an attorney is having a client with catastrophic injuries, that were clearly caused by somebody else’s negligence, but where the at fault party has no insurance or minimal insurance coverage, and no assets. It is tragic and heartbreaking. I absolutely hate to see that situation because it’s not enough that my client sustained severe or life-changing injuries, it’s the lack of money or resources available to compensate them for those injuries that makes a terrible situation even worse.
We have to find the deep pocket. So, we look to the defendant’s insurance. We look to see if the defendant was in the course and scope of his or her employment or on an errand for someone elsewhere we could draw in an employer or somebody else who may be legally responsible. Sometimes we look to the defendant’s assets. Do they have the economic and financial wherewithal to pay these damages out of their own pocket? We look at the entire circumstance of the collision. Was there a dangerous, defective condition on the roadway that may have caused this incident? Was there a hidden insurance policy for excess coverage or an umbrella policy that may provide coverage for our client.
We also look to our client’s own coverage. If our client has uninsured motorist coverage that is larger than the defendant’s liability coverage, we can collect the defendant’s policy limits, and then proceed through our client’s own uninsured motorist coverage. We ask the defendant and our client if they have an umbrella policy. An umbrella policy is usually a million dollars or more, and a lot of people have them. A lot of lawyers don’t even think to ask about them, but we have been very fortunate to have found these deep pockets where it didn’t look like there was any coverage greater than $100,000 in a number of cases. Upon digging and relentless investigation, we have been fortunate enough to have found additional sources of compensation for a number of our clients.
The severity of the injuries is a big factor, but your attorney must also take the steps to find the source of money to pay for those damages.
Who Will Recoup Funds Once A Personal Injury Settlement Has Been Reached?
A settlement, once it’s paid, has to satisfy everyone who has an interest in the settlement, and that starts with our client. It’s your case. You’re the one who’s injured. You’re the one that had the disruption in your life. You suffered the injuries, the losses, and the pain and the suffering, and the purpose of the case is to compensate you for those losses.
However, if you saw doctors on a lien basis, you promised to pay those doctors out of the settlement. If you had medical insurance for medical payments, they may have contributed payment for medical bills during the case, but they may assert a right of reimbursement from your settlement. Your group medical insurance may have a reimbursement claim for their payment of your medical bills. If you have Medicare or MediCal, they are, by law, entitled to reimbursement for medical bills they paid. Your attorney also has an interest in your case for his or her fees and any out of pocket costs that he or she advanced in order to pursue the case.
If you’re looking at a situation where your settlement is large enough to only pay for your medical bills, then something went terribly wrong. Somebody made a huge mistake in not evaluating or investigating the case. That is not the way it’s supposed to work. Your attorney needs to monitor your injuries, your medical care, the liability issues, and the amount of insurance coverage. Insurance companies aren’t going to tell you how much insurance coverage there is when you make a claim. They won’t tell you, and they don’t have to tell you until you file a lawsuit. But there are ways that experienced attorneys use to find out how much coverage a defendant has, and we need to know so that we can manage your case to make sure the damages do not exceed the amount of money available to pay the claim. If we find out that there is limited insurance coverage and no other source of recovery, we need to take steps to resolve the case early so that our client gets compensated before bills consume the entire settlement. Therefore, you need an attorney and a law firm that understands this and puts your needs and interests first. A law firm that takes on every case and becomes a “mill” will not be hands-on and will be unable or unwilling to take the steps necessary to guard against a bad outcome for you.
For more information on Severe Injuries In A Personal Injury Case, a personalized consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (818) 530-1770 today.