Any lawyers on the forum? I need some advice.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Tom-G, Mar 30, 2002.

  1. Tom-G

    Tom-G Screenwriter

    Mar 31, 2000
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    Pittsburgh, PA
    Real Name:
    Tom G
    In August of '01, I was involved in an auto accident that was not my fault. I was driving through a green light at an intersection and a gentleman decided that he wasn't going to stop at the red light and broad-sided my vehicle. I broke a rib and hurt my back and neck, but I'm thankful I wasn't hurt worse.

    I had all but forgotten about the accident unitl I received a call from the insurance agency of the driver who hit me. The agent left a message on the answering machine informing me that he had all of my medical records and he wanted me to call back with a monetary amount that I am looking to claim.

    Huh? I didn't know that I was entitled to a cash settlement. I realize that many people acquire lawyers after being involved in an auto accident to sue for damages, but I had no intention of suing.

    Should I pursue this further? If I do, what amount should i ask for?
  2. Robert Marc

    Robert Marc Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 13, 2002
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    Tom, sorry to hear about your accident. I hope you have made a full recovery. You certainly are entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. The rest of your question is difficult to answer without knowing more. For example; who paid your medical bills and car expenses? How many days did you miss work? Did you or do you currently participate in therapy or rehabilitation? Do you still have issues with your back and/or neck?

    These are some of the reasons why I would advise you to consult with an attorney in your area who is experienced with personal injury cases. It does not cost you anything up front, the attorney charges you a percentage of the recovery, somewhere between 25-40%. (Contingency basis-the attorney's fee is contingent on the amount of the recovery)The percentage is negotiable,however. The more money that the attorney can settle for, the more money that he or she makes. So the attorney will certainly try to get you every penney that he can because the more you get, the more the attorney will get. There should be plenty of lawyers who would be interested in this type of case. I am surprised you were not contacted by one.

    Since I am not familiar with your locality, it is difficult to gauge the "worth" of your case. One more reason to retain an attorney. Am I starting to sound like an ad for attorneys? Anyways, IMO, this case could be worth over $3k, maybe alot more, if you want to maximize your recovery, consult an attorney. Good Luck, Rob
  3. Richard Cooper

    Richard Cooper Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 21, 2001
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    I'm going to be openly hypocritical here - but I shall explain.

    Ok, you can claim a financial recompense for your discomort and out of pocket expenses. That is fair enough. However, remember that insurance companies are in businees to make money. When they are claimed against, they lose some money. They recoup that money through higher premiums. Not only does the person who was to blame for the crash have to pay higher premiums, but indierctly, everyone who is with his insurance company does too.

    Can you see where I'm going here? If people, when given the opportunity to recieve a cash handout, go for as much as they can, it pushes premiums up massively. Over here we've seen in the last two or three years various companies spring up which 'specialise in blame'. This year my car insurance went up 25%. Last year it went up 10%. I have been driving for 6 years, and every year except teh last two, my premiums have dropped. I have never had a claim against me, or had to claim against anyone (thankfully). I recently changed my car to a less powerful and less valuable one.

    Basically, I'm imploring EVERYONE, not just Tom_G to think twice when they're given this opportunity. I'm sure it only hurts you in the long run. By all means claim a reasonable amount to cover your out of pocket expenses etc. but please make it reasonable.

    Now for my hypocrisy. As I said, I've never had to claim against anyone. I hope I never do. However, if I find myself in teh same situation as you are in, Tom_G, I can't promise that I would do what I've asked everyone to do above. I think it's called 'Human nature'.
  4. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

    Jul 30, 2000
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    Do you feel you were really wronged?

    How bad is your back?

    Do you think you may have future problems with it?

    Were you hurt so bad that the rest of your life will be difficult or hard?

    These are questions you have to ask yourself. If you have made a full recovery and do not anticipate any future problems, I implore you to give them a fair settlement without an attorney. Add up any and every bill you had to pay, figure in lost wages, etc, then add some extra money on top of that for your pain and suffering. I can't give you a figure, you have to decide on this yourself. How much would YOU like to get? How much is reasonable? Give them the figure and work with them.

    Are you going to get the most money doing it this way? Probably not. A lawyer might get you an extra few hundred bucks, perhaps a few thousand. 'Course, he's going to take some huge percentage off for himself, so you could very well end up with less than you would have received on your own, all the while contributing to our nation's legal problems.

    I would get a lawyer if:

    - You've been really harmed and will have problems for the rest of your life.

    - There is any possibility of the driver who hit you suffering more (financially or otherwise) for his actions. I'm sure his rates have already gone up, but look into it. Will they go up more if you win a big settlement? At that, I'd consider it not for the money (the lawyer will take most of it anyway) but for making him pay for his mistake. Of course, this also depends on his attitude: If it really was an honest accident and the driver was very remorseful, then I'd say forgive him: He's suffered enough. On the other hand, if he hit you because he's just a self serving idiot, and then acted like a jackass after the fact or otherwise tried to pin the blame on anyone but himself, do whatever you can to nail him to the wall. His insurance company's profits are simply collateral damage.

    - If the insurance company tries to weazel their way out of paying you a fair settlement or otherwise jerks you around (for instance, if you lost a week's worth of work and they refuse to reimburse you for it). In that case, take them to the cleaners.

    Lastly: If you're fine, think up a fair number and settle. Hiring a lawyer purely because you have dollar signs in your eyes and want to buy a new boat is morally and ethically wrong. I don't care if you can get away with it legally: It's still wrong.

    Hope this helps.
  5. Erik_C

    Erik_C Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 15, 2000
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    Hi. I'm an attorney. I practice criminal defense in Va and DC. The only advice you should take away from anyone who responds on this forum is this: contact an attorney in your area. Ask friends or co-workers for recommendations. Call the state Bar. They usually have referral services, too.

    I'm not qualified to advise you on matters of Pennsylvania law (assuming it actually happened in Pa), and I'd bet there's no more than maybe one or two Pennsylvania attorneys at the HTF. Go get an attorney. Like Robert said, it shouldn't cost you anything out of pocket. The attorney'll take a cut of your recovery.


  6. Danny R

    Danny R Supporting Actor

    May 23, 2000
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    When they are claimed against, they lose some money. They recoup that money through higher premiums.

    I'd like to argue the other side of this coin. Insurance companies that are NOT ever claimed against are also taking your money... and putting it into their own pockets.

    The purpose of the insurance premiums you pay is to cover these sorts of claims. Insurance companies that are constantly raising rates are being dishonest. The money everyone pays already should cover the costs they incur.

    Thus I would not at all feel guilty about filing a legitimate claim to cover your actual costs. Of course filing a false claim to cover imaginary damages is just as wrong.

    FYI: My insurance hasn't increased its rates more than a dollar or two in the past 5 years. In fact I've had my rates decreased due to being a safe driver and having steady employement, etc.
  7. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

    Jun 30, 1997
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    One reason why the insurance company wants to settle with you now is that sometimes (not sure how often, but it happens) problems don't show up until much later. Call a personal injury attorney and find out what the statute of limitations is in your area. Then, put them off until there's about 6 months left on the limitations clock. If you're still fine, get a checkup to make sure and then go ahead and settle. But you're potentially shooting yourself in the foot if there's something wrong that you don't even know about and you sign off on a release (which they will definitely make you do if they pay out).
  8. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

    Jul 24, 2000
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    Similar thing happened to me, the other driver's insurance comapny called me up and asked how much money I wanted.

    I did what Ryan Wright suggests: I added up my medical bills (the full amount, not what I paid, since I wasn't sure how much of it my insurance would cover), lost wages and other costs related to the accident, then I added a couple of hundred bucks for pain and suffering.

    Everybody's happy, end of story. Don't bring in a lawyer out of greed, there are plenty of those kind of lawsuits out there already, do your part to help...


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