I was in a head on accident March 17, 2011. I was hit by a woman who ran a red light and have a police report that shows her at fault. I was 25 at the time and relocated to Arizona, and I thought I was fine but my back started hurting, I couldn't stand still, sit in a chair, and my hand started going numb. Arrived in Arizona for a new job and began treating at chiropractor on Aug 17th and ended sometime in December. Medical bills between $3k-4k.
She has good coverage Progressive and I had good Geico. Progressive said they wouldn't pay medical but offered $750 to settle. Geico (my insurance) said after an independent review, that they wouldn't pay the claim (I had $5k medpay).
Two random lawyers weren't interested in the case. Have I not found the right one or do I not have a case?
In order to win your claim, you must prove 3 things:
1. Negligence on the other driver
2. Injury or damage to you
3. Collision caused injury
The time gap from the date of the collision until when you first got treatment is going to be the strongest defense for the insurance company. They will strongly argue that in the five months between your collision and your first chiro treatment, you may have done something else that led to your pain symptoms. In order to prove your claim, you must have a medical doctor testify that your injuries were caused by the collision. The time gap may create doubt in the doctor's mind and prevent a doctor from giving that opinion on your behalf.
You have a case if you can prove the connection between your injuries that led to your chiropractic treatment and the collision. If you cannot do that, then you will not have a case. Even if your chiropractor testifies to the causal connection, the insurance company will still have a strong argument at trial that your injuries are not related to this collision. Then it is up to a jury to determine what they believe.
The other consideration is that personal injury lawsuits are expensive and the value of your case is fairly low even if everything goes your way. If it doesn't go your way, you could spend more in expenses getting to trial than you would be awarded by a jury. These factors are likely why two lawyers have declined representation of your case.
There is a practical reason those lawyers are not interested in your case. The defendant's insurance company is going to say they won't pay anything due to a "Delay in seeking care" they will force this case to a trial. You will need a medical expert who can clearly demonstrate your injuries that you began treating for in August, were causally connected to the accident in March. Very difficult to do. The insurance company, or better yet their attorneys, will paint you as a liar in front of the jury. In a business where we lawyers are only compensated if we make a recovery for you, this is a bad business risk.
If you wanted to pay an attorney hourly to sue them, you would likely find one to do so. But, as we all know in life, nobody can afford to work for free. I'm not trying to be crass, or insensitive. I'm just trying to give you the benefit of my experience and industry understanding. I just noticed Geico wouldn't pay your med pay. I would suggest suing them in small claims for $5000.
Best of luck, and I do hope your injury is better. Jeff
Most likely Progressive and Geico both are denying to pay the medical bills due to the time frame between the accident and the begining of your treatment. Assuming that the other driver was more than 50% at fault, and you can tie the injuries/treatment to the accident, you may be able to recover your damages. However this will likely require some substantial medical research/evaluation work be done to prepare the case. In addition to the medical expenses, you would also have a claim for any lost wages relating to your treatment/recovery and additional damages for pain and suffering.
My guess is that you have not had success in finding an attorney to take the case due to limited value of your case and the complications associated with handling it (i.e. distance between you and attorney, time since accident, and time frame between the accident and treatment).
Even if the other drive is clearly 100% liable, most insurance companies low ball settlement offers to unrepresented injured parties. Even worse, once you sign a settlement agreement, no matter bad your injuries are (or may become) you will not be entitled to any further compensation. Therefore, in most personal injury cases I advise potential clients that it is in their best interest to seek legal representation before settling a claim with an insurance company.
If you would like to discuss the case further, please feel free to call may office next week and make an appointment to speak with me. I am an Indianapolis attorney, who handles personal injury, worker's compensation, and appellate matters, and I may be able to help you resolve this matter.
John B. Steinhart
Attorney at Law
P.O. BOX 44220
Indianapolis, IN 46244
Phone: (317) 721-5178
Fax: (317) 252-0362
The insurance company's reluctance to pay and the attorneys' concern are probably due to the five month gap where you did not treat. An insurance company is typically going to question how hurt someone truly is if they do not seek treatment for 5 months. It doesn't mean they are right, but that is the reality of your situation and they will probably hold firm on the denial and make you prove your claim. You may have a tough time finding an attorney to take on the challenge, but certainly suggest you keep trying. Good luck.
Steven A. Schwartz
JOEL H. SCHWARTZ, P.C.
One Washington Mall, 16th floor
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 250-2072 fax
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