How Does An Insurance Company Make Money?
Insurance companies make money by underwriting policies (collecting premiums) and by investing those premium dollars. These companies make the most money from the automobile insurance line of business. The bottom line to an insurer is profit.
What Does a Claims Adjuster Do?
Generally they investigate insurance claims, negotiate settlements, and authorize payments. Their goal is to maximize profits for their company. The easiest way to do that is to minimize compensation to an injured person. Here are some of their tactics:
* Sending a check for property damage that contains a complete release of all claims, including claims for personal injuries.
* Trying to settle the claim as early as possible, before the end of treatment.
What Is a Deductible?
This is the amount of money YOU need to pay per claim before the insurance company pays its part. Deductibles seldom apply to claims against liability insurance coverages for personal injuries, and generally apply when you settle your property damage claim with your own insurance carrier.
Is Minimum Coverage Enough Coverage?
No! Some insurance companies sell policies based on the motto, "keeping you legal for less". Barely "legal" is usually not enough to pay the victim the full and fair compensation that the law requires. It also fails to protect you and your family if you are injured by an uninsured or under-insured motorist. Always buy as much coverage as you can afford.
What Is the Difference Between Uninsured and Under-insured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage pays for damaged caused by a driver with no insurance. Perhaps that driver never bought insurance, but it may be that the driver's insurance simply expired. If you are involved in a vehicle collision with an uninsured driver, you will file a claim against your own policy in order to be compensated.
Under-insured motorist coverage pays for damages caused by a driver who lacks enough insurance to cover your claims. If you are involved in a vehicle collision with an under-insured driver, first you file a claim with the other driver's insurance company. If you still have damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, after you have exhausted the other driver's policy limits, then, you will file a claim with your own insurance company for the balance.
Indiana law requires that each automobile liability policy contain coverage for uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage in an amount equal to the amount of the policy's limits. Many drivers ignore this law and drive without insurance. That is why it is critical that you have adequate protection. With this coverage, you and your passengers will receive compensation.
We encourage you to review your policy and contact your agent to discuss whether your policy limits are adequate.
Will My Insurance Rates Go Up If I Make an Injury Claim?
If the accident is not your fault, most companies will not raise your rates significantly as a result of your claim.
DEALING WITH AN ATTORNEY
Do I Really Need An Attorney?
For many clients, making a personal injury claim is their first experience with an attorney. If you have been injured, an attorney can identify the issues that determine whether or not you are entitled to compensation, and proceed accordingly. The Chester Law Office will handle all aspects of your case, from the initial consultation to coordinating payment of your medical bills to payment of any award you may receive.
There are several advantages that an attorney can offer you if you have been in a collision:
1. The attorney will understand the intricacies of insurance law, and will know the best way to set up your medical care. For example, we can advise you when it makes sense to use your health insurance, your medical payment coverage, or when it is better to simply work with a doctor on a lien basis, if possible.
2. If you use an attorney it will save you time and stress. It is difficult to work with an adjuster, prepare settlement packages, and negotiate when it is not your daily business. We have been doing this for many years and know what "fair compensation" is for your case.
3. We can frequently discount medical bills, subrogation liens, and other insurance liens, and put a much larger amount in your pocket. All of this is extremely difficult for a non-lawyer to do.
4. We can assist you in finding appropriate medical specialists that are trained and experienced in treating and resolving specific medical conditions.
What Am I Entitled To?
You are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, economic loss including lost wages, medical bills, future medical expenses, and various other types of damages. That is the law. Before we ever even begin negotiating your case for settlement, we review all aspects of what has occurred to you as a result of your injuries. We then come to a joint decision about what to demand from the insurance company. You will have the chance to personally discuss with us all issues that arise in your life that are a result of your injuries.
Settle Or Go To Court?
This is a difficult issue that must be examined for each case. The decision depends on what has been offered by the insurance company, and what your personal needs are. Some people are perfectly willing to wait for years to go through the litigation process. Other people would rather resolve the dispute sooner, and avoid the stress of being involved in a court case. The real issue for the client to consider is not what the total settlement is, but rather what the net amount is paid to the client when the case settles. What good is it if you spend years in court and then end up with a lower amount after subtraction of substantial trial expenses and higher attorney fees? These are issues we always discuss with our clients so they can make an informed decision about the best course of action to take. The final decision - settle or go to court - is yours. It cannot - and will not - be made without your consent.
While lawsuits are started in many of our cases they rarely go to trial. The vast majority of our clients' matters are settled quickly, out of court, and to our clients' satisfaction.
What Will It Cost Me to Pursue My Claim?
Matters of personal injury are generally handled on a contingency fee basis, which means that the attorney fee is deducted from the settlement or award. No attorney fee is paid unless you are paid. On the other hand, clients are always given the option of paying us by the hour, if that is their wish and have the ability to pay for our time and expenses on a monthly basis. But we understand that most people simply do not have the income or resources to pay hour rates month after month, so most of our personal injury clients employ us on a contingency fee basis, which is fine with us.
Once we have decided to accept your case, you will not be asked to come up with any other money in most cases. We will advance the funds necessary to properly prepare and present your case.
What will an attorney charge me?
Most personal injury cases are taken on a "contingency" basis. That means that the attorney charges no fee unless and until you receive money from a settlement or court award. This amount varies from case to case. In most cases, the attorney will advance the costs and will collect them from the settlement or award. On occasion, our clients ask us to work for hourly rates which we are always willing to do.
What is comparative negligence?
This is a legal principle providing that the amount of a person’s fault contributing to cause an accident is determined and then applied to reduce or bar his or her recovery. It plays a part in the majority of injury claims.
If I already have an attorney but want to switch, will it cost me more?
No. We do not recommend switching lawyers in the middle of a case, but sometimes a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship makes changes necessary. At the conclusion of the case, and after you have received your share of the settlement or award, our firm and your former lawyer would divide the fee according to the relative amounts of work performed. This rule in Indiana is clearly established.
How long will my case take?
There is no standard time period to a civil case. The first step is to obtain all the necessary information--medical records, witness statements, police reports, and other related documents. Then, we will contact the party being sued to advise them of the claim, and the fact that we represent you. We will then commence settlement negotiations with their insurance companies. If a settlement cannot be reached, we will take them to court by filing a lawsuit. We do everything we can to speed up the process. At the same time, we are small enough that your case gets the attention it deserves without getting lost inside some giant legal factory where legal assistants do most of the work, handling hundreds of cases all over Indiana.
What about my medical bills?
If you have a right to sue for your injuries, your medical bills and other expenses need to be recovered. It is important that you obtain proper treatment for your injuries and reports from doctors will also probably be necessary. You may be able to use your own physician or we may recommend one for you.
230 North Main Street
Elkhart, IN 46516
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At Chester Law Office, our philosophy is simple: we help accident victims receive fair and reasonable compensation from the responsible party. For more than 25 years, our practice has focused on helping people in Elkhart County obtain fair compensation from insurance companies.
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