Frequently Asked Questions
Have you recently been injured in an accident which was caused by another party’s negligence or irresponsible behavior? Whatever the case may be, our Tacoma personal injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Michael Clark can help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have you recently been injured in an accident which was caused by another party’s negligence or irresponsible behavior? Whatever the case may be, our Tacoma personal injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Michael Clark can help. We believe that any person who behaves recklessly and causes an accident should be held accountable for their actions. You can rely on us to provide you with compassionate legal care and address all of your concerns.
26 YEARS EXPERIENCE
If you or a family member have been hurt due to negligent behavior, you need an experienced and caring legal team on your side. In most cases, the person who caused the accident won’t simply admit to it and provide you with compensation. The personal injury claim process can be complex, involving many different steps and skilled litigation, especially when it comes to difficult insurance companies. Our skilled Tacoma personal injury attorneys serve clients in Tacoma, Pierce County Area, and Western Washington. Our firm can provide you with representation for the following types of claims: premises liability, slip and fall accidents, car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, defective products, and dog bites.
CALL US NOW IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED
If you or a member of your family have been hurt in any type of accident caused by another party, we are here to help. We understand that being involved in an accident can be both physically and emotionally difficult and we want to ensure you receive the support you need. Our goal is to work hard on your behalf to illustrate that the other party was negligent and caused your accident in order to recover maximum compensation.
Is my health insurance company entitled to reimbursement following an accident?
If you are injured in an accident and file a claim with your health insurance company to pay your medical bills, you can expect that they will send you a letter asking you about the nature of the accident and whether you are pursuing legal action against the party responsible for your injuries. Your health insurance company is requesting this information so they can seek reimbursement from you when you recover damages from the person that caused your injuries. The legal name for the right to obtain compensation under these circumstances is called subrogation. Whether an insurance company has a right to subrogation, and the subrogation amount depends on many factors. If a health insurance company is legally entitled to be reimbursed and an injured person does not make reimbursement, the health insurance company may sue the person and sometimes even cancel that person’s insurance plan. Therefore, it is important for an injured person to investigate this aspect of his or her personal injury claim to determine if they are subject to making a subrogation payment and the amount of that payment.
The first thing to determine when looking at a subrogation issue involving a health insurer is whether the health plan is governed by ERISA (employee retirement income security act) or whether the plan is governed by State law. If you receive insurance through your employer, your plan is most likely an ERISA plan. Under federal law, if the ERISA plan documents require full subrogation, then the plan can likely require the injured party to fully reimburse the plan for all expenses paid out of a personal injury settlement. However, a savvy personal injury attorney can sometimes negotiate with the health insurer and get them to agree to reduce or waive their reimbursement claim. Also, the health insurer must comply with the terms of the health plan policy when seeking reimbursement. Therefore, it is important to obtain a copy of the plan’s formation documents to make sure the plan is complying with its own rules.
In Washington, if the health insurance plan is not governed by ERISA, the law says that the health insurer’s right to reimbursement does not arise until the injured person has been “fully compensated.” This is important when the negligent party has a low liability policy limit. In such circumstances, the injured party may not be required to pay back the health insurer for the expenses that it has paid on his/her behalf.
If you are injured in an car accident and you have questions about your rights regarding insurance, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you recover damages that are adequate to legally compensate you for your injuries.
Do I have to talk to the other driver’s insurance?
If you are injured because of the negligence of another driver, you do not have to speak to his or her insurance company. Often the other driver’s insurance adjuster will call you shortly after the accident. They may even tell you that they want to take a recorded statement. The insurance company does this to try to lock you in about how you are feeling and the extent of your injuries early in the case. They may even make you a settlement offer to compensate you for your pain and suffering. However, you should realize that once you settle a personal injury case, it is almost impossible to go back and reopen the claim. If you settle the case before you know the true extent of your injuries, you may never be fully compensated. An experienced personal injury attorney will not recommend settling a personal injury case until the extent of the client’s injuries are fully known.
I was rear-ended by another driver. Who is responsible for paying my medical bills?
When you are injured because of the negligence of another driver, that driver is generally responsible for paying for any reasonable and necessary medical care you require. However, generally speaking, the medical bills are not paid separately while they are accruing; rather, they are paid as part of the total settlement that is reached at the end of the case. Therefore, we will first determine whether you have any PIP (personal injury protection) coverage or Health Insurance that will pay the bills initially and ensure that you can get the proper treatment for your injuries when you need it.
The driver that hit me has no insurance or a very low policy limit. What can I do?
Unfortunately, a large percentage of Washington drivers either have no liability insurance or minimum-limits policies. That is why we recommend that drivers review their insurance policies at least every year and consider obtaining uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). If you have a UIM policy, your insurance company will likely pay for damages for injuries that you received and should have been able to recover for from the negligent party, in the case that they have either no insurance or insufficient coverage.
If you find yourself in a situation where the driver that hit you is uninsured or underinsured, and you do have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage as part of your automobile insurance policy, we strongly recommend you talk to one of our personal injury attorneys to see what options might be available to you.
The other driver’s insurance company sent me a bunch of forms. Do I need to Fill them out to get paid for my injuries?
Often times when a person is injured by a negligent driver, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will send the injured party forms to start the claims process. Some of the forms have important legal consequences like waiving your medical privacy. The simple fact is that you do not have to sign a blanket waiver of your medical privacy to get compensated for your injuries. If you find yourself in this situation and you have questions about your rights, you should talked to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SETTLE MY CASE?
Although it is impossible to predict how long it will take to settle any given case, our team works very hard to make sure that we resolve each client’s case as soon a possible while achieving an excellent result. Insurance companies generally like to try to drag things out with protracted negotiations in hopes that the client will simply get tired and take a low settlement offer. We combat this strategy by putting a time limit on negotiations and escalating the case to the next level if we cannot settle within that time frame.
Will I have to go to court?
We settle most of our client’s cases without the client having to appear in or testify in court. However, we have found that many times we must file a lawsuit to obtain a fair settlement for our clients. Most times, after the lawsuit is filed, the insurance carrier assigns a new “litigation adjuster” who has authority to make a higher settlement offer. In addition, under Washington law, many cases are resolved through arbitration. Using arbitration, we can usually resolve a typical injury case with a hearing that lasts no more than two hours. These arbitration hearings are less formal and usually take place in a conference room instead of at the courthouse.
How much can I expect to receive for my injury claim?
The value of your personal injury case depends on many different factors. These include: the nature and severity of your injuries; whether your injuries are permanent or temporary; the amount of your medical bills; whether you have past and/or future loss of earnings; and other factors. Typically, we will determine the value of your case when you have reached maximum medical improvement and after we have gathered and analyzed all the other factors relating your specific case.
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705 S 9th Street, Suite 202
Tacoma, WA 98405