I heard the personal injury lawyer does not handle the property damages claim. If the injured has property damages in the car accident, should he settle it with the auto insurance by himself before proceed to the personal injury lawyer?
So you understand, there are practical reasons WHY many lawyers do not "handle" the property damage portion of most PI claims especially on most minor impact "soft tissue" or MIST cases. This all revolves around a financial conundrum. If the lawyer takes a contingent fee from the PD, this allows the insurance to settle your PD claims for 64% of value because its cheaper than the lawyer fees, which sucks for clients. If clients have to pay lawyer hourly rate to handle PD, then again, this is not cost effective unless you have a very expensive car. Even "handling the PD for free" as claimed by some lawyers is generally farce as no coherent lawyer will spend $5,000.00 in lawyer time dealing with getting an extra $500.00 for the client and a rental car, and even doing so to secure a $10,000 policy BI claim, is a financial loss to the lawyer who spends $5,000.00 to gain at most $3,33.33. Even worse, many lawyer have learned that handling PD cases as courtesy often COSTS them the case where they are trying to be helpful as many clients fire those lawyers because they (often wrongfully) view the lawyer as "no good" because they don't get "all the client is entitled to" and fear the lawyer will do a poor job on the injury case. The classic no good deed goes unpunished. Adding to this mess, is that Florida law prohibits "splitting a cause of action: which means noone can sue the at fault part separate for PD and then later your injuries. Due to all of this PD cases cause a lot of controversy that can be resolved once everyone understands how the issues play out.
With this in mind the answer to your question is NO, you should NOT settle the PD BEFORE hiring an injury lawyer but rather do so IN CONJUNCTION with one. Even on cases where our firm does not "handle" the PD claims, we always give guidance and direction for maximizing those claims to our clients. MORE IMPORTANTLY, you don't want to do things regarding the PD claim that could devastate a more valuable injury claim such as sign releases or give recorded statements. While the lawyer works on the PI case, he can coordinate the PD claim with you and then you maximize the value of the claim.
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Many personal injury attorneys will handle the property damage claim as a courtesy to their persona injury client. It is better to allow the attorney to have the opportunity to address that issue, as there may be a need to document the damage to the car before proceeding with the injury claim, as that damage could be evidence of the liability issue, force of the impact, and so on.
You need to speak with your lawyer about helping you with the property damage claim. A lot of us assist with the property damage portion of the claim as a courtesy. Good luck.
Kentucky and Florida Licensed. This answer does not create a legal relationship.
First, before jumping to conclusions, ask your lawyer if he will handle the PD claim.
If s/he doesn't handle it im sure they will point you in the right direction. Frankly, these claims are simple matters which I'm sure you can handle yourself anyway. Just make sure to seek a depreciated value award if the car isn't totaled, and to have your attorney read any release before you sign on the dotted line.
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Many lazy lawyers will try to pick off the injury, and stick you with the property damage. Get a new lawyer that does both. Avvo has a terrific lawyer finder tool to locate an attorney close to your home.
Any personal injury lawyer should be capable of handling a property damage claim. I definitely recommend at least speaking with a lawyer prior to settling the property damage claim. There are some issues that may not be immediately apparent to people who have never had to deal with a property damage claim before. The first thing that you should know is that you may have an option to go through your own insurer or the insurance for the other party. Many times it is easier and quicker to resolve it through your own insurer. When going through your own insurer the damages you are entitled to are governed by the insurance contract. When you pursue a claim against the at-fault party the damages you are entitled to recover are established by Florida Statutes and case law developed over time. The main difference is that the at-fault party owes you for all damages you suffered not just those damages that may be covered by your own insurance contract. The two biggest differences come in the area of loss of use and diminution of value claims. When your vehicle is damaged due to another driver's fault that person is responsible for fixing your vehicle, providing you with money for the loss of use of your vehicle for the period of time it is out of service (this is typically handled by putting you in a rental vehicle) and the diminution in value of your vehicle after all repairs have been made. Diminution in value settlements are typically not covered under your own policy of insurance and can only be recovered from the at-fault party or their insurer. If you are just worried about getting your car repaired in a clear liability accident this is usually easily accomplished without attorney intervention. If you are looking to recover damages for diminution in value these claims almost always require attorney involvement and expert opinions in order to reach a settlement. So the short answer to the question is that your need for an attorney to handle the property damage claim depends on the facts of the case and the damages you are looking to recover.
Valuation problems arise in two ways. The most common problem is that the insurer's valuation isn't anywhere near enough to actually buy an equivalent car in the marketplace. For example, if a driver's six-year-old Mazda Protege is totaled, the driver will understandably want enough money to buy another six-year-old Mazda Protege with comparable options. The less common scenario is where an older, more valuable car has been babied so that it is in mint condition and has only a small fraction of the expected mileage on the odometer. Such a car will be worth much more than the run-of-the-mill cars of its age on the road.
If you don't agree with an insurer's estimate of your car's cash value, your best bet is to pay an independent appraiser to provide an estimate. You may need to bring in more than one, so the car will have to be fairly valuable to make this process worthwhile.
If you are injured and plan on obtaining a personal injury attorney, I suggest that you do that immediately and discuss the property damage claim with your attorney. He may not want you to be in communication with the adverse carrier, as they may attempt to elicit information from you that he does not want you discussing.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
Legal Disclaimer: If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
I would do some research talk to a personal injury lawyer that is willing to help you with your property damage claim. We typically will agree to handle this aspect of the case when the insurance company is being unreasonable about the amount owed to the client needed to compensate the client if the vehicle is totaled. Also, sometimes it helps to get an attorney on the phone to negotiate for you; that's what you are hiring us for.
I hope this helps.
If you prefer to handle the property damage claim yourself you certainly may do that. A personal injury attorney handling your body injury claim will most likely handle your property damage claim as a courtesy. If you decide to handle the claim yourself please do not discuss anything regarding your body injuries or treatment. If you feel like they are not giving your property damage claim attention, please defer to your attorney to handle this.
I agree with my colleagues in that most, if not all, personal injury attorneys should be capable of handling your property damage claim. If you have hired an attorney to handle your PI claim, it would be wise to discuss this with him/her prior to having any discussion with an insurance company. If you have not hired an attorney for your possible PI claim yet, feel free to discuss the property damage claim with them during your consultation. Is your vehicle totaled? Gather any information you can regarding the amount of damage/repair costs to your vehicle, and obtain the value of your vehicle by searching similar make, model, mileage, condition, etc., in the event that it is totaled. Please do not focus on your property damage claim to the detriment of your medical treatment, if any is necessary, as there are strict time periods associated with getting medical treatment after an accident, and most insurance companies have a process in valuing and reimbursing your property damage claim. Your insurance company will likely reach out to you regarding your property damage in an effort to settle; I would advise that you have all of your vehicle's value/repair information handy, and that you not to settle the claim without first consulting an attorney, so that your property damage claim is fairly reimbursed.
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