I am often asked: “how long after a car accident can you claim injury?”, “are personal injury claim settlement amounts predetermined?”, “what is the personal injury claim process?”, and “should I take a quick settlement offer from the other insurance company?”
Let us begin with the last question. A “quick” personal injury claims settlement is not necessarily a bad thing if you do not need any treatment. But if you are still treating, or have undiagnosed symptoms, then no, you should not take a quick settlement offer from the other insurance company.
I often counsel injured claimants that they should not settle their claim while they are still treating for injuries from the accident. Imagine a scenario where you accept a settlement offer while you are still treating. Later your doctor tells you that you need surgery. In that scenario, it is certain that you received an amount that is not sufficient to compensate you fairly.
At Jackson Jones we do not settle a case until we have a complete understanding of the damages. A “quick settlement” is the opposite of that – you, and consequently the insurance adjuster, have little understanding of the actual damages. And you settling without a complete understanding of the damages favors the insurance company, not you.
The insurance company adjuster will often say: “I will write you a check now, and keep the medical costs open.” The reason they do that is, in some circumstances, the law requires it. They attempt to act like they have your best interests in mind, and that they are going to pay all the medical costs. Neither can be further from the truth. Settling a personal injury claim with an insurance company should not be done in a haphazard fashion.
Settling a personal injury claim with an insurance company, in my opinion, should not be done prior to you consulting an attorney. Jackson Jones is not the only personal injury attorney in Eugene, Oregon who provides free initial consultations. You can call any number of solid attorneys in your area and get a consultation before you settle your case.
Your personal injury claim is unique because all personal injury claims are unique. Do you think the insurance company that applies a standard, non-custom analysis of your claim really means to figure out the true value? Of course not, and to drive for the quick settlement is just that – they do not care about your unique circumstances. Those “quickie” adjusters are trying to climb the corporate ladder, and they are doing so at your expense. Protect your rights by calling an Oregon lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims.
Two questions: “what is the personal injury claim process?” and ”how long after a car accident can you claim injury?” are related. Generally speaking, personal injury claims have a two-year statute of limitations. See ORS 12.110 [https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/ors/ors012.html].
There are exceptions to that general rule, so it is very important to consult with an Oregon personal injury attorney to determine if there is any circumstance unique to your case that will affect the timing of when the statute of limitations applies to your personal injury claim begins and ends.
The personal injury claim process, as it pertains to a car accident, consists of a number of steps. First, the accident and injury should be reported to your insurance company. Your insurance company will give you a “PIP” claim number. That PIP claim number is the basis for billing of your initial medical costs.
Yes, your medical costs for a car accident are first billed to your insurance company, even if the other party is at fault. The reason Oregon law works this way is the subject of a different blog, but trust me, your automobile insurance company that provides you with liability protection, also provides you with medical coverage after your accident.
Next is the course of treatment. During this period, you know from the discussion above, you should not settle your case. You should tackle your treatment and do everything in your power to get better. Listen to your doctors and physical therapists and do what they tell you to do. Do not undertake activities that are likely to exacerbate your injuries. Once your treatment is finalized, then settlement becomes a possibility.
“Are personal injury claim settlement amounts predetermined?” No. Contrary to what you might read on the internet, or what the insurance adjuster may try to tell you, there is no law that says for this type of injury you get this amount. Insurance adjusters will tell you that certain types of injuries only require 8 weeks of treatment, no more – they will tell you that there is a standard amount that their insurance company pays for “your type of injury”. Often when you refuse to take their offer, or don’t respond to their inquiries, they send you a letter saying they are closing the claim.
Don’t fall for the lies. Don’t let the pressure and confusion result in you taking a settlement offer that is not fair. The insurance companies rely on confusion, pressure, and misinformation as a means to get you out of their hair and off the books. Your weapons against this type of manipulation are to get informed, get better and get a fair result.
The insurance adjuster, no matter how well-meaning they seem, no matter how kind they are, is most definitely not on your side. They have a job to do, and it is not to pay you fair compensation. Their job is to be empathetic and manipulate you to take an amount that is beneficial to the insurance company, not you.
People often say that they trust the insurance company who insures the at fault party because the injured person has the same insurance company. Elderly people will say, “I’ve been with X Insurance Company for 20 years, and they insure the other guy – they will certainly do right by me.” Well, I am sorry to say, the data does not bear that out. The adjuster is not advocating for you. They are in it to win for the insurance company, not for you.
There are real benefits to hiring a lawyer to handle your Oregon personal injury case. Lawyers handle the liens, work with the adjuster to get the reserves set right, know the value of your claim because they develop the evidence and evaluate the damages, and importantly they have the hammer of being able to litigate a case should the insurance company not pay fair value.
Remember, you have one chance to get your personal injury claim handled in the best manner. Any misstep along the way can cause a result that is not ideal. Get treatment, get informed and get fairly compensated for your personal injury.