After An Auto Accident, Do I Need A Lawyer To Get A Settlement For Bodily Injury?

by San Antonio Attorney

I was involved in an auto accident where the other party was at fault, and the other parties ins co already admitted fault. I only had liability (never again) and my totaled car had a value of $13000. However, the insured was only covered for up to $10k, shorting me $3k. I have minor scrapes and visible scarring on my head from the airbag hitting my glasses. I really only want the value of my car, but if I have to go through lawyer to get property and bodily injury claims of over $25k, after lawyer fees, what am I left with? I want to settle with the Ins Co directly.
Thank all of you for your help. I want to refrain from getting a lawyer at all costs, but I do only want whats fair to me – my life, which is in tact – and the value for my car. My liability insurance, which I had for less than a year, and full coverage for my whole driving history before that, won’t cover the balance. I don’t want to fake anything with a lawyer or get some phone doctor to write my arm that supposedly fell off recently. I want my car back!! Is small claims my way? Won’t that take forever? Can I plead with the adjuster?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

la428282 April 28, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Wait- maybe i read this wrong… but do you actually think you are going to be getting 25 thousand dollars for your glasses cutting your forehead and leaving a scar?

Your property damage and bodily injurie claims are completely seperate. Youve gotten paid for property damage- its a done deal. You got the actual cash value of your car.

Now onto bodily injury.. you say you have scarring.. how long ago was the accident? Have you been to a plastic surgeon who confirmed that it will be permenant for the rest of your life? Are you a model who needs your face to be perfect for work?

I guarantee that you are none of the above and the airbag caused some minor cuts that have not gone away. Regarding… please… please.. dont think you are getting more then a few thousand bucks (including medical bills in there) for this claim.

You have not won the lottery. Other people here who are not educated in car insurance will tell you differnetly b/c theyve watched too much tv. lawyer or not.. settlement will be a few thousand bucks… if you want to give them 1/3 of that.. great.

Nate W April 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm

If the at-fault driver only had 10k in Property damage, then that is the most you will get from his insurance company. You can sue the driver personally for the rest…but good luck getting anything. If you feel you do have Bodily Injuries (did you go to the hospital?), then yes the insurance will reimburse you up to your medical costs, or the insured’s limits, which ever is lower. You will not get any tort $$$(ex: pain and suffering) without a fight.
Good luck, hope this helped

Pieandchips April 28, 2010 at 7:08 pm

I am so sorry you were in such a bad accident. I am glad, generally speaking, that you’re ok. Let’s explain something about attorneys—

1. They take 33% + administrative costs of any settlement you get. What they’d have to do is sue the owner/driver direct, because the insurance has paid their policy max for property damage. 10k is all they’ve got to pay ya. However, seeing as your car is worth 13k, you would have had to pay that to an attorney anyway, so while unfortunate-I wouldn’t suggest hiring one for your vehicle damages as it wouldn’t be worth anyone’s time or money. Honestly, it’s not likely the driver/owner has assets if all he carries is 10k for property damage, anyway…

2. I believe the lowest state minimum for bodily injury is 10k. The insurance is going to check out how much in $$$ was paid out for your medical, and then consider the punitive (work missed, loss of services, etc). Your doctors are all going to submit chart notes as to how long and to what degree of recovery you will make. Again, bear in mind that a policy max is just that. Insurance co’s won’t disclose this amount readily, so you may want to ask if they feel their insured is at least appropriately insured for your bills. If not—
3. Do you carry UIM(underinsured motorist, not to be confused with un-insured motorist). This is coverage for bodily injury only, that you purchase thru YOUR insurer, that covers you if the other party isn’t appropriately covered for the loss. Your insurance will make sure the other carrier’s max has been reached, and offer assistance. There is no deductible for this.
4. Speaking of which—if you carry collision, you can part with the deductible and your insurance can pay the difference in your vehicle damages. Talk to them about it, and let them know you’ve already signed a release and taken money for your car. But hey, losing 500 bucks or whatever is better than 3k, and it’s a non-fault loss so your premiums may not go up.
Hope all these options/explanations have helped. Remember, an attorney is in it to make money and they’ll only take your case if they feel they have something to gain from it. Otherwise the job of the other insurance is to settle your claim as fairly as possible. Undercutting you would be unethical, and isn’t likely to happen.

estmirabilis April 28, 2010 at 7:52 pm

you had liability on a $13,000 car??? wow!

you can try to get a reasonable settlement from the insurance company but you might want to get a lawyer. insurance companies have a history of not paying up and they help keep personal injury lawyers in business. the fee they will take depends on the state. i am not sure if there is a federal cap. in NY and NJ it is 33.3% of the recovery after the damages related to tthe accident (i.e. the cash calue of the car, hospital bills, lost wages, rental car, etc) so the only way the lawyers will get their money is to claim pain and suffering because that’s all they can touch. the rest belongs to you.

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