What Is The #1 Limit on Your Money In A Personal Injury Case?

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May 20  

The Number One Limiting Factor

What is the number one limiting factor for your damage in a car accident case? What's the number one thing that limits the money you can recover, the damage you can receive in a car crash case. Some of you are going to think like how big are my medical bills? Are my medical bills under a hundred thousand or over a hundred thousand? Some of you might say, can they claim that it was partially my fault and it'll reduce what I get and the damages? Those are all good answers and those are answers that many attorneys would give you.

Three Things To Consider In Evaluating A Case

But I will tell you, and not many people realize this because not many people who don't do what I do for a living evaluate things this way, but it's important. The three things I do to evaluate a case. Number 1, how did it happen? In other words, is it all somebody else's fault or is it partially my client's fault? Number 2, how serious and permanent are the injuries and how extensive is the medical treatment? Number three is the topic of today's article, auto insurance or business insurance.

In many of the best biggest cases in my office where the first two factors are awesome. Like my client didn't do anything wrong and my client did everything right and their injuries are profound, like multiple surgeries. I represented a lady whose case wrapped up some time ago. Somebody crossed the center line and had hit her head on. She's still having surgeries on her leg, that's how bad the fracture was. She's probably had six surgeries now. 

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Auto Insurance

So in a situation like that, huge damage means a valuable case. But the third factor is the is the number one factor that limits what people get in car crash cases. It's somebody else's fault, your injuries are horrible, your medical bills are high, you're not working. That third factor often makes the case limited in what we can get for you and that is insurance coverage.

In Illinois right now, the limits used to be twenty thousand per person, forty thousand per accident. Now the limits are twenty-five thousand per person, fifty thousand per accident. But if you've been to the doctor or the hospital recently, you know that 25 000 can go like a snap. If you're in the emergency room for a day or two, that's 25 000 right there. The state limits are low, and I always tell people, if you drive and the difference between state minimum coverage and 100 000 or 250 or 500, the difference between those levels of coverage and what you pay is not that much money.

Get A Higher Insurance Limit

If you're living paycheck to paycheck, do what you have to do. But if you have a little bit of extra wiggle room and you want to protect yourself, your family and others, get a higher insurance limit. My point is, let's do a hypothetical, let's say it's that lady's case, somebody hits her head on, she's doing everything right and let's say she got three hundred thousand dollars in medical bills. Well, what if the other car only has twenty-five thousand in coverage? That's right, we're probably limited to twenty-five thousand in recovery for her.

Suing Individually Is Not A Good Idea

A lot of people in response to that will say, why don't we just sue that person individually? I do an asset search on people, on the defendant and I find out, do they have a law license? a doctor's license? a nurse's license? a beautician's license? In other words, do they have any license with the state of Illinois showing what their profession is? Then I run their names through this database I can subscribe to because I'm an attorney. Only private eyes and attorneys and judges can subscribe to this database as far as I know, law enforcement too.

It tells me do they own a house or multiple houses? Do they own a bunch of cars? In other words, are they rich? Well why would I want to know that? If they're rich, there's a higher percentage chance that they will be able to pay money out of their pocket. But ask yourself this question, if they don't own property or maybe they own a little one-bedroom condo, and they don't own a bunch of cars, and they don't own a business, they don't own a corporation, they don't own a boat or an airplane, nothing like that. And they've got state minimum insurance policy limits.

They Will Just File For Bankruptcy

What are the chances that they're rich and they're going to be able to pay you? Because when you sue somebody, and you go after them individually, all they have to do is file for bankruptcy. Then you can go to court and win a million dollars against them, but you'll never collect it. The debt that they owe you will be discharged in bankruptcy. They can do a bankruptcy for probably two thousand dollars, a thousand or two something like that.

It doesn't make sense for us to go after them. Now what happens if, in that same scenario, you have a serious leg fracture 300 000 in medical, it wasn't your fault the other guy has 25. Well if the other guy has 25, what is your insurance?

Under-Insured Motorist Coverage

In Illinois, it's mandatory that you have something called under insured motorist coverage. It's mandatory that your insurance company offers that coverage to you and usually people take it. You have to specifically opt out of that and sign something saying you don't want it. It would be a mistake, because that coverage protects you if somebody runs into you and they don't have enough insurance.

So let's say you went out and got 250 000 insurance on your car. And the other guy had 50, or the other guy had 25. Well what would happen then is, we would collect the 25 from the other driver and we could collect 225 from your policy for a total recovery of 250. Now you may be saying, "said my bills were 300 000 and there's only 250".

I don't want you to worry about that, because out of every case, you always get paid. Even if all we did was collect the 25, that 25 gets carved up. I take an attorney's fee and get my case costs back. I call the doctors and work out a deal with any doctor or insurance company who has a lien or a right of subrogation.You always end up with money in your pocket, no matter what the settlement is.

A Third, A Third, And A Third

Same with the 250, it just means that the amount of money going into your pocket is going to be much better. If it's a big case with lots of damage and a relatively small recovery because of the limit of the insurance company, it usually breaks out to something about a third, a third, and a third. The lawyer gets about a third, all of the medical doctors, health insurance that actually paid the bills and doctors with liens who didn't get paid yet but want to get paid out of the case. All of them get about a third.

They're entitled to 40% under the law, but I can negotiate them down, quite often. Then the injured person ends up with a third. So my point is, you can see that this is super complicated, and so if you've been involved in a crash and you're concerned about this number one factor, insurance coverage, talk to a lawyer. Honestly. If I'm too focusy for you or my mannerisms or the way i talk drives you nuts, talk to another lawyer.

Doing This Yourself Is A Bad Idea

Don't do it yourself. This is too complicated and you can actually put money in your pocket and get all of those bills worked out if you have a lawyer. But if you do it yourself it's going to be bad news.

If you let the insurance company help you with the bills, here's what they do. They tell you "we paid a 20 000 bill for you" and you're like "oh thank God they paid a 20 000 bill". But what they don't tell you is, they got on the phone with the provider and worked that bill down to like a thousand dollars or two thousand dollars. So they're getting credit for solving a twenty thousand dollar bill for one or two thousand dollars and they're pocketing the rest of it.

They're not giving you any. If I do it, or an injury lawyer does it, they get that twenty thousand dollar bill and they work out a deal. You may be putting eight thousand dollars in your pocket. Which is why you need to talk to a lawyer.

The Amount Of Insurance

My point is after doing this for almost 25 years, the number one limiting factor, especially in good cases, is the amount of insurance the defendant has and you have. So if you have state minimum insurance, consider getting higher limits and consider switching to a name brand insurance company. If you have a weird sounding one, a substandard insurance.

I hope the information helps you and I hope I explained it in a way that was understandable.

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