After you have been in an accident, here are some of the most frequently asked questions.
Do I have a personal injury case? Remember, the video, three points to every personal Injury case, located on my home page? That is where you must start. 1. Are you at fault? 2. is there insurance on the other side (or in the alternative, do you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage with your own insurance)? and 3. most importantly are you Injured? If you have all three elements, you have a good case and you should seek legal counsel. If you are unclear as to fault or insurance, you should still call me at 512-472-FUNK and I would be glad to talk to you and explore the facts of your case. What do you have to lose? I would be honored to speak with you and the call doesn’t cost you a dime. However, if you are not injured and its simply a property related matter, then you likely can handle the matter through the insurance company directly. Just be careful, because if you give a recorded statement stating that you are not hurt, and only later realize that in fact you are injured, you may have damaged your case. Its best to be certain that you are not hurt before speaking directly with the insurance company. If you are hurt or suspect you are injured, call us immediately, and I will be glad to go over all your legal options.
What is my case worth? This is the magical question, right? I am probably asked this question no less than twenty times a week. Its a fair question, but sadly does not have a clear answer. Your case is worth as much as I can get for it. On last count our latest algorithm had over one hundred variables that determine the value of your case. Here are a few examples of variables that determine the value of your case: damage to your vehicle, your current injuries, your diagnosis, your future prognosis, your pre-existing injuries, your driving record, the defendant’s driving record, any DWI’s in defendant’s past, witness statements, the police report, any video evidence, EMS records, 911 tapes, etc, etc, etc…. Hire the right lawyer and then your only job should be to heal. Let the lawyers at Funk & Associates handle your case so we can take into account all the variables to maximize the value of your case. When you hire us, you are the ultimate boss of your case. We will negotiate an offer and present it to you. You, the client, will make the ultimate decision if to accept the offer.
How long does this process take? Every case is different. Some cases come to us after the person as already healed and is ready to settle the case. These cases can be completed in a few weeks after we begin the negotiation with the insurance company. Other cases require complex surgery and recovery and may require a lawsuit which can take more than two years to conclude.
But the typical soft tissue car wreck case’s time frame is as follows: You get in a car wreck on day one and are rushed to the Emergency Room via Ambulance. You call Funk & Associates that same day or within a few days. Its important to call us right away and not speak with the insurance adjuster. We sign you up to a contingency contract; that means we do not get a fee unless you get a recovery. Next, if your physician deems it appropriate we can help you find follow up care with any of the following providers: General Practitioners, Specialists, Orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, Physical Therapists, radiologists for Xrays, MRIs, or CTs, surgery centers, and general surgeons. These providers will either take your health insurance, or accept a Letter of Protection from our office, which is basically a letter in which we promise to repay the medical provider out of the settlement proceeds.
Assuming that your injuries only require chiropractic care for soft tissue injuries, your chiropractic care will usually take six weeks (on average) to conclude. During your treatment, our medical team is ordering all your past medical records and bills. Once the final physician states that you have reached MMI (Maximum medical Improvement) we assemble a demand package which goes out to the insurance company. This comprehensive demand package includes an analysis of the accident and the laws that were violated within the transportation code, possibly photos of your injuries, sometimes a driving history record for the at fault party, police reports, investigative reports, all medical records with a corresponding medical analysis, all medical bills, etc, etc. etc. Depending on the insurance company, we usually settle 95% of our cases within 30-90 days after the demand goes out. So the bottom line: on a soft tissue case it typically takes 6 weeks for your body to heal, 2-3 weeks to get the final medical records, and roughly 6-18 additional weeks to settle the case. (Total 4-6 months on average) Some cases cannot be settled, as an insurance company could deny liability or their offer could be unacceptable to you. Our next step is usually a court battle. Your typical case which has to be filed in the courts usually takes 1-2 years to see a final conclusion. Five percent of all our cases are filed in the courts and we settle over 80% of those cases usually through mediation. Remember, 95% of all our cases are never filed and settle pre-suit.
Please note that every case is different. So many factors determine the length of time it takes to conclude your case. The aforementioned illustrations is only provided as an example of a typical soft tissue, non surgical case. All cases are different and result vary. The time frame varies greatly. We have settled completed cases within days of sign up and we have handled a complex legal battle for over a five year period. Like all great legal answers, IT DEPENDS!
Who decides where it is repaired? It is your decision where your vehicle is repaired. The estimate from the repair shop may be different than the estimate from the insurance company. This may be a result of the repair shop finding additional damage once they remove body panels. We like to let the insurance company work that out with the body shop. Based on the Fair Market Value of your vehicle, a determination will be made if your vehicle is repairable or a total loss.
What if my car is totaled but my car was financed? The big question here is how much do you owe. For example, if the Fair Market Value of your car is $10,000 and you owe $8,000, your lien holder will receive $8000 and you will receive the equity in the vehicle, or $2,000. However, if the Fair Market Value of the vehicle is $10,000 and you owe $12,000, then unfortunately you are “upside down” or “under water” on your car. What are your options if you are upside down? If you have GAP insurance, go to the next FAQ below, if not here are your options: 1. You can pay the difference. 2. You can Not pay the difference, which would be a breach of your contract with your lien holder and could affect your credit. 3. You can very politely ask your lien holder to put the money you owe into your next purchase. So if the new car you want to buy is $15,000 and you are upside down $2,000 on your old car, then your new finance amount for your new car will be $17,000. 4. The best option is called GAP insurance. See the answer to the next question.
What is GAP insurance? GAP insurance has nothing to do with your auto insurance policy. It is usually purchased from the company financing your vehicle. If you owe more money than the fair market value of your car, your GAP insurance pays that GAP in price. Hence, if the Fair Market Value of the vehicle is $10,000 and you owe $12,000, you are “upside down” or “under water” on your car. If you have GAP insurance, that insurance will cover the $2000 difference and you will owe nothing.
Will the repair shop charge me for storage?
The insurance company of the person who caused the accident is responsible for reasonable towing and storage costs . If the vehicle is declared a total loss, the insurance company will pay to have it moved to a salvage or wrecking yard. If you do not grant the insurance company permission to relocate your vehicle, you will be liable for any storage or towing fees. You have a duty to mitigate your storage fees. Once we decide to take on your case we will walk you through this process.
Who decides if my vehicle is repairable or “totaled”?
The insurance company who is liable for payment can decide that your vehicle is not worth repairing. If the cost of the labor and parts exceeds the market value of your vehicle, the company can declare it a “total loss” and pay you the market value. Market value is determined by the fair market value of similar vehicles in your area, or from an independent source such as the Kelley Blue Book. If you want to keep the vehicle after it has been declared a total loss, you have the option to keep your vehicle and receive a salvage price on your car (as opposed to the Fair market value) from the insurance company. This usually comes with a salvaged title on your vehicle. I only recommend this option to those with a mechanic in the family, who can perform the repairs cheaply; or for those cars deemed a total loss, but due to the value of the vehicle the damage is minor in nature.
Do I get a rental vehicle while my vehicle is being repaired?
If its being repaired at the expense of the at fault insurance company, then the answer is YES.
You can always get a rental vehicle if you are willing to pay for it. If you want the insurance company to pay for it, while your vehicle is being repaired or replaced, then payment depends on several factors. If you caused the accident, check to see if your own insurance coverage includes rental vehicles. Many policies do not include rental vehicles unless it is specifically stated. If the other driver caused the accident, then you can expect the liable person’s insurance company to pay the costs of providing you with a rental vehicle. The vehicle will be a substitute for your own vehicle, that is, a vehicle of similar quality. Be sure to check with your own insurance company about insurance coverage on the rental vehicle.
Usually, rentals are not provided for total losses. If your vehicle is totaled then they will pay you the Fair Market Value as described above. If your vehicle is repairable, then you will get a like kind rental during the repair process. Depending on the insurance company and the time it takes them to get out to examine your vehicle, sometimes we can help get you a rental during the investigation phase of the case. However, most insurance companies want to determine fault and assess if your vehicle is repairable before authorizing a rental vehicle.
We DO NOT get a fee unless you get a recovery. There is no fee for the consultation with our personal injury attorneys. Our fee is based on a percentage of what we obtain for you. All of the expenses associated with your case, from investigation through trial, are advanced by us, and ONLY in the event of a recovery are CLIENT EXPENSES DEDUCTED FROM THE TOTAL RECOVERY. If we are unsuccessful in obtaining a settlement/verdict, you DO NOT pay us any of the advanced expenses. Client expenses are deducted from the total recovery.