Episode 65: In this episode, injury attorney Jeff Roberts discusses several, frequently asked questions about a motor vehicle claim. He’s spent the last 30 years representing people injured in car wrecks, motorcycle accidents and semi-truck collisions. These are complicated cases and often involve layers of important factors. It’s why the answers aren’t always as easy as you might assume.
Who’s Going to Pay My Medical Bills?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions. Kentucky law provides that the vehicle you are in at the time of the collision is responsible for paying the first $10,000 of medical expenses and/or lost wages. This benefit is referred to as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), No-Fault, Basic Reparations Benefits, etc. It’s typically available for the driver and each passenger. They don’t split it. It’s available to each person, individually. This is regardless of which driver was at-fault. It’s why we refer to it as “no-fault benefits” in Kentucky.
Note, PIP benefits for motorcyclists are different. They aren’t automatic. Please click here to listen to Episode 50, during which Jeff explains this issue. There’s also a link to Episode 18 for additional information.
One of the tactics Jeff uses to help his motor vehicle accident clients is that he sends a letter instructing the insurance company to reserve the PIP benefits. This actually helps to preserve more money for you.
Hospital bills can often be negotiated down and there are special rates for using health insurance. It sounds odd, but it’s actually fairly simple. Once the bills have been reduced, then PIP can be applied. If the benefits weren’t reserved and that negotiation didn’t take place, PIP would have paid the invoiced amount, leaving less to cover addition expenses such as deductibles or other out of pocket medical expenses.
Remember, your health insurance company has a right to be reimbursed from your settlement or verdict. By applying PIP benefits properly, it reduces the amount they take from your settlement.
How Will I Get Paid if I’m Out of Work Due to an Injury?
Lost wages are a serious concern for many injury people and their families. PIP benefits can be used to cover a portion of someone’s lost wages. Unfortunately, the amount eligible to be paid is extremely low ($200/week).
Jeff comments that by reserving the PIP benefits, it also provides a source of funds that can be used to pay a portion of the lost wages.
In previous episodes, Jeff has recommended some type of short-term disability insurance coverage. If you’ve been injured in a car wreck, it’s quite possible the majority of your PIP benefits will go to cover medical expenses. The at-fault driver’s insurance isn’t going to pay until the case is resolved. This could leave you without a source of income. A short-term disability claim can definitely be worth the cost.
What Does It Cost to Hire Jeff Roberts for My Accident Claim?
The initial meeting with Jeff is always free. He’ll take the time to listen to your situation and provide you with a qualified opinion about your legal options. There’s no obligation to hire him, just because you had a consultation with Jeff.
Jeff is frequently asked about his attorney fees. He works on a contingency-fee basis. He only gets paid at the end of the case, and only if he successfully settles your claim. His fee is 1/3 (33%) of the amount recovery. His rate hasn’t increased during the last 30 years of his practice.
If your case goes to trial, he doesn’t increase is fee percentage, even though some firms do. If your case needs to go to trial to get full value, then that’s what needs to happen. The client shouldn’t have to pay more for that privilege.
Whenever an attorney works on a case, there will be additional fees and potential court costs. Jeff also handles those on a contingency-fee basis. Those fees and expenses will be deducted from the recovery, but if he fails to prevail in your case, he does not pass them on to the client.
The insurance companies know if someone is trying to settle a case without an attorney, that individual probably doesn’t know how to properly file the case in court. He/she may be unaware of the statute of limitations, which can prevent you from even filing the car wreck, motorcycle accident or semi-truck case. Once a legal case begins, there are also specific deadlines for filing documents with the court. These are examples of how hiring an experienced injury attorney can be well worth the legal fees.
Will Accessing PIP Coverage or Under Insured Coverage Affect My Premiums?
The answer is no. Kentucky statutes prevent your insurance company from raising your rates for utilizing these coverages. Remember, these aren’t being paid because you were the at-fault driver. The PIP coverage isn’t determined by negligence. Again, that’s why it’s call “no-fault.” The UIM coverage is being used because of the negligent driver’s inadequate insurance policy.
How Long Will It Take to Resolve the Claim?
This is a very common question about a motor vehicle claim. The answer varies from case to case. If you’ve been injured in the collision, you may have extensive medical treatment, including multiple surgeries and rehabilitation. Until your doctors are able to determine the full extent of your injuries and related expenses, you shouldn’t attempt to settle your claim. This point at which you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) is an important factor in the value of your case. Waiting for that point takes time. Doing so could jeopardize your ability to have complications covered as part of the settlement.
Jeff explains that there are times with a motor vehicle accident case when he will actually settle the liability case before MMI is achieved. It’s never his preference, but if the medical expenses well-exceed the negligent driver’s insurance policy limits, it may be in the client’s best interest to go ahead and settle for the policy limits.
If the injured driver has Under Insured Motorist (UIM) coverage on their own auto insurance policy, Jeff will file a claim to recover additional funds from that UIM policy. The UIM policy is there when the medical expenses exceed the negligent driver’s policy. In other words, the at-fault driver was under insured for the amount of damage he/she caused.
Will This Case Have to Go to Court?
This is a difficult one to answer as it relates to frequently asked questions about a motor vehicle claim. Jeff explains that statistically speaking, no. You probably won’t have to take the case to court to get it resolved. Most of them get settled before a jury trial.
Once a claim has been filed with the negligent driver’s insurance company, Jeff is often able to get the claim settled, as well as the UIM claim, before he has to file a legal complaint with the court.
However, there are times when it is necessary to file the lawsuit and begin litigation. It’s common for many of those cases to settle before it gets to the jury trial.
As Jeff mentioned in the episode about Common Questions about Your Workers’ Comp Claim, the best way to get a car wreck case settled is to prepare the case to be tried by the jury. If you properly prepare, the insurance company will know you’re ready to take it to trial. The defense attorney will know you’re ready and willing. They will also know the plaintiff’s attorney’s record of successfully litigating motor vehicle accident cases. These are important factors the other side will evaluate in their decision to agree to a fair settlement value for the damages caused by their negligent driver.
What Do Other Clients Think About Jeff?
We always encourage listeners to read the Google Reviews Jeff Roberts has received from many of his clients. A 5-Star rating and the comments are earned recognition and demonstrate Jeff’s commitment to his clients. As a solo attorney, he has more Google Reviews than some firms with multiple attorneys. Jeff shares the credit with his staff at the Roberts Law Office. Successfully representing a victim of an automobile or motorcycle accident is a team effort. It’s why Jeff likes to say his firm offers small town service with big city results.
Jeff Roberts Represents Injured Clients Throughout Kentucky
With offices located in Calloway County and now Christian County, Jeff has a history of representing personal injury clients, workers’ compensation clients and social security disability clients across the state. He’s represented clients from Paducah, Bowling Green, Louisville, Covington, Whitesville and many other Kentucky locations. He’s not just a Western Kentucky injury attorney.
We hope you found this episode insightful and helpful. Thank you for listening!
Is It Time to Speak with an Attorney about your Motor Vehicle Accident Claim?
The office phone number is (270) 753-0053 or toll free at 800-844-5108. For more information, visit www.JeffRobertsLaw.com. This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice. Jeff’s principal office is located at 509 Main Street, Murray, Kentucky. Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson. This is an advertisement.