A question I get often is, “James, I want my case finished. Why can’t we just wrap it up?” The question is often asked at a time when the client is still recovering from their injuries. In these instances, I have to remind them to just slow down.
Remember, once you settle, you can’t go back for more!
In Virginia car accident cases, you should expect to get one lump sum payment for your personal injury claim. That means that you should NOT expect the car insurance company to pay you in installments. If you sign a settlement release, you won’t be able to get more money in the future.
I know, you need money now due to all of the bills piling up. Just keep in mind, if you settle, and find out down the road that you need additional treatment, you’ll be out of luck.
What’s the hurry?
One thing you have in your favor, at least in Virginia, is that there’s generally a two-year statute of limitations to file your personal injury law suit. (In some instances, it can be shorter so make sure to check first). That means that you will have a good amount of time to allow recovery in your claim. (And if you won’t fully recover from your injuries, two years is a good amount of time to understand that nature of your claim).
Given that, we always inform our client that it’s important to be patient and not rush claims. Because there’s nothing more detrimental to the value of your case than rushing it and settling prematurely.
But I need money now. What can I do?
You should look at the other insurances that are potential sources of funds in your case. The first is health insurance. Make sure that all of your bills are submitted to your health insurer. So long as your treatment is in-network, your health insurer should be assisting payment as agreed upon in your health insurance contract.
You should also look to your own “medical expense” (or MedPay) coverage under your automobile insurance. Often, you’ve purchased MedPay, which is usually a small policy of $2,000 to $5,000, generally paid without much issue by your automobile insurer. And don’t worry, it shouldn’t affect your premiums, since it’s a “no-fault” policy, meaning you didn’t cause the accident necessitating payment.
You can submit your bills directly to MedPay (but make sure you submit them after you’ve already submitted them to your health insurer), and they should pay the outstanding amount (or provide you a check directly) up to your coverage limits.
Of course, if all else fails, reach out directly to your medical providers and tell them your situation. And see if they are willing to work with you on payment. Many doctors would rather be paid over time, rather than simply sending your bills to collections and possibly never getting paid.