Written by attorney James Richard Rowe II

Car Accident - I was injured, and now surgery and lost wages! (Q&A)

Q. Two weeks ago another driver ran a stop sign and crashed into my car. As a result I suffered a herniated cervical disc that will require surgery, as well as a fractured wrist and arm. Thankfully, the other driver had insurance. But who will pay for my medical bills, and who will compensate me for my time off work? A. Injuries suffered as a result of automobile accidents can be severe and life altering. The most common injuries are to the neck and back such as a herniated or bulging disc, nerve damage, broken or dislocated bones, brain or head injury and spinal cord injuries. Sometimes the injury is so severe that wage loss results from the inability to work. Apart from health concerns, the immediate concern in an automobile personal injury case is to get your medical bills paid and to reimburse those lost wages. The last thing an injured person wants to worry about is debts piling up and bills going to collection. The goal is to get the negligent party and his or her insurance company to pay for your damages quickly, but most importantly, wholly. In most accidents there is an at-fault driver who was negligent or careless in the control of the automobile he or she was driving. In your case, it sounds like the other driver was negligent in running the stop sign. Since the other driver had insurance, we can begin there. Car insurance restores an individual back to a pre-accident state after an auto accident through the claims process. This begins with a call to the car insurance company. After a car insurance representative collects the initial data about an auto accident, the claim is assigned to a claims adjuster who will process the claim through a series of tasks. To fully recover your losses from a car accident, you must protect your rights. Injury and insurance laws are complicated, and you have the right to have an attorney help you make your claim. Even though the law prohibits an insurance company adjuster from telling you that you don't need an attorney, they will often imply that your car accident case is "too small" or "too simple" for an attorney to handle. Often times, they will try to settle your claim for far less than it is worth by downplaying your injuries, or telling you that if you get an attorney involved the attorney will get all the money and you'll walk away with nothing. That simply isn't true. In fact, most insurance companies take advantage of unrepresented injured parties by offering quick (but very little) cash. Don't fall for that trap. Any reputable attorney will handle a personal injury case on a contingent basis, meaning you pay nothing out of pocket and the attorney only gets paid if you win. Usually, the lawyer's fee is 1/3 of the settlement, and I would be leery of attorneys who demand more. The consequences of a serious motor vehicle accident can have a catastrophic impact to your life and may further result in injury from mental anxieties such as depression, pain and suffering and the general loss of the ability to enjoy life as you once knew it. When faced with insurance companies and mounting hospital bills, it is best to find an aggressive lawyer you trust and seek out their advice. And remember, once you settle your claim you will usually be unable to go back for more later, no matter what new injuries, pains or damages may surface. So, be sure to get it right the first time.

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