The immediate moments after a car accident are full of confusion, and it’s challenging to know what to do next, how to evaluate your health, and what details matter for the future of your claim. There are numerous considerations, and having a clearer understanding of them now could make all the difference later if you’re involved in an accident.
The experienced personal injury and automobile accident attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphreys want to put you at ease. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions following a car crash.
Top 10 Questions After a Kentucky Car Accident for an Accident Lawyer
From how Kentucky’s PIP insurance covers basic services to what information you need to hire an attorney, these are the steps to take right after an accident.
1. Should I report a car accident in Kentucky to my insurance carrier, even if it wasn’t my fault?
Yes, Kentucky is a no-fault state, which means regardless of who’s at fault for an auto accident, every Kentucky driver has $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage under their car insurance policy. PIP allows them to pay for basic services such as medical bills and expenses as well as a minimal amount for lost wages (up to $200 per week). PIP benefits can also be utilized to cover household expenses if you’re unable to perform these tasks yourself following the accident. PIP can also reimburse mileage or taxi service to and from doctors’ appointments.
Your insurance adjuster starts a PIP benefits claim for you immediately. Just make sure to document all expenses associated with the claim and keep receipts. You’ll also need to give the insurance information and PIP claim number to accident-related medical providers.
2. Should I go to the emergency room or wait to see how I feel in a few days?
No one likes to sit in an ER waiting room, especially if it seems like we only have a few bumps and bruises from the accident and there’s no reason to waste time going to the hospital to be checked out.
However, car accident injuries aren’t always immediately apparent. While there might be obvious soft tissue injuries, whiplash, contusions, and abrasions, it’s wise to make certain there are no fractures, torn ligaments and tendons, a concussion, or deep organ injuries. After a car accident, the emergency room staff orders x-rays, CT scans, and possibly other diagnostic tests, even if you seem fine at the time. They might also prescribe pain medication, muscle relaxants, and schedule a follow-up referral if needed.
3. If I’m still in treatment for my injuries, who pays the bills after PIP money runs out?
Once PIP benefits are exhausted, you’ll charge medical visits and expenses to your health insurance carrier, just as you would for any other injury or illness. Once again, track what’s being charged for any accident-related treatment, including your health insurance explanation of benefits forms.
4. Who pays for the damage to my car?
Depending on the type of coverage you have, your insurance company handles the property damage claim, either paying the repair bill or providing reimbursement if the car is totaled. An adjuster guides you through the process of getting estimates for repair work or what to do if a car is totaled, including securing a rental car in the meantime.
5. Should I talk to the at-fault driver’s insurance company before speaking to a car accident lawyer?
If you’re not represented by a auto accident attorney, you should be cautious when communicating with the liability carrier’s representatives. Their job is to keep any settlement to you as low as possible. Without someone to negotiate on your behalf, you might not receive the compensation you deserve.
6. Why do I need to hire a Kentucky auto accident attorney?
It’s not always necessary to hire lawyers for auto accidents to represent you in a claim. For example, if your injuries were minor or practically non-existent and you required little-to-no medical treatment, you might not need legal counsel.
However, if you suffered more serious injuries and lost considerable time and income as a result of a collision that wasn’t your fault, an experienced car accident attorney will help you navigate the murky waters of the process, including, but not limited to:
- Seeking further medical treatment
- Providing statements to liability carriers
- Interviewing witnesses to the accident
- Handling all aspects of the claim process
- Pursuing further compensation, if necessary
7. What kind of information do I need in case I decide to hire an auto accident attorney in Kentucky?
In your first meeting, your Kentucky auto accident attorney will outline the primary information required to move forward with the case. But if you have the following available, feel free to provide them as soon as you can:
- Your insurance information and any communication from insurance companies so far
- The police report of the car accident
- Photographs of the accident scene, damage to vehicles, and your injuries
- The list of hospitals and physicians providing post-accident treatment
8. How much is my car accident case worth, and how long will it take to settle?
Financial recovery depends on the type of injuries sustained in the accident and how long you require additional treatment. Your Kentucky auto accident attorney communicates periodically with the liability carrier adjuster to provide updates on your treatment and case status. Once you have completed your treatment and have reached what is known as “maximum medical improvement”, all of your up-to-date medical records and expenses are gathered and evaluated for a settlement demand to the liability carrier.
Your attorney’s job is to calculate the value of your personal injury claim in order to make a settlement demand. This value is based on:
- The severity of your injuries
- The amount of your medical bills and associated expenses
- A reasonable amount for pain and suffering
If, for example, you have medical bills totaling $7,000 and you were in treatment for three months, your case won’t be valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if you suffered catastrophic injuries due to the accident and medical expenses total $25,000 or more, your case could be valued at a higher amount.
However, the at-fault driver might not have enough coverage to pay the value of your claim. The minimum amount of Kentucky auto liability insurance coverage is $25,000 per person for bodily injury, with a total maximum of $50,000 per incident.
9. What if my case is valued higher than the policy limits of the liability carrier?
If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) on your car insurance policy, this helps compensate you should the other party not have adequate coverage. While not a policy requirement like PIP in our state, it’s a valuable option for extra protection.
10. What recourse do I have if there’s not enough additional insurance to cover my accident injuries in Kentucky?
If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured and you don’t have UM/UIM coverage, a skilled car accident attorney can advise you on other possible options. In more severe cases, there might be a need to file a personal injury lawsuit to ensure proper financial recovery and future health and wellbeing.