One of the most common questions that we have heard from our clients, over the years that we’ve been representing car accident victims and other seriously injured clients is: How long will my case take to resolve?
The fact is, in the context of an injury case, this question is usually best directed to the treating doctor, as opposed to the lawyer. This is because it is usually not advisable to try to submit your case to the insurance company for consideration of settlement before you have been released by all of your doctors. This point in time is often referred to as reaching Maximum Medical Improvement. (MMI).
Now, as with any rule, there are always exceptions. One of those exceptions is if you suffer a very serious injury and you have incurred a very high set of medical bills. Of course, we handled many cases like this over the years, such as when someone may have been admitted to the hospital or undergone emergency surgery.
In the course of just one week, the victim of such a serious injury can easily incur over $100,000.00 in medical expenses. This is because it is not just the hospital bill that is involved. The victim may have been transported by helicopter from the scene of the accident—that is one large bill. Then there is the hospital bill, the consulting doctor’s bill, the MRI’s CT’s lab work, surgical bills, and that is just the beginning.
In other places on our website, we have discussed the idea that in VA, the minimum limits for coverage for car insurance are only $25,000.00. In NC, they are only $30,000.00.
What do you do if you have these kinds of low insurance limits available to pay for your injuries, along with medical bills that far outstrip the available coverage? In my upcoming book, Strong Justice for Car Accident Victims, I will discuss this situation, which I call the “Mismatch Scenario,” in more detail.
Meanwhile, assuming that the lawyer has done his or her homework and discovered any and all policies which may provide coverage, our advice would be not to drag on with such a case. Rather, we would make every effort to close out the case as soon as possible. We would submit the largest medical bills to the car insurance company to obtain the full limits of insurance coverage as quickly as possible.
Now obviously, if you were hit by a commercial vehicle with very high insurance limits, or you have very high limits on your underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, the approach would be completely different. In that circumstance, we would want you to complete all your treatment, reaching MMI before any settlement is discussed.
But, where we find that the medical bills far outstrip the coverage that is available, the best approach is not to wait until you have completed your treatment, but settle much sooner. This is because, as we discuss elsewhere on this site, if there is insufficient coverage, nothing is going to change the value of your claim. You are stuck with the limits of coverage.
What we do at Joe Miller Law when we come across a ‘Mismatch’ case is to make every effort to stop you from incurring more bills, and to call upon your healthcare providers’ billing departments to substantially reduce all of their bills so that you come out with a positive result and some money in your pocket, EVEN when the medical bills far outstrip the coverage. In North Carolina, and in Virginia, there are statutes that assist us with reducing those bills.
Unfortunately, I believe many of the larger, factory firms– who may be too busy to assess each case properly— make a mistake by letting too much time pass before an assessment of the available coverage is made. The accident victim then gets the double whammy—not only is he or she severely injured, but at the end of what may be years of treatment, an insurmountable mountain of medical bill debt has built up, which can never, ever be repaid. This only subjects you and your family to more and more debt that could have been avoided if the available coverage was discovered early in the case.
So the bottom line about how long your case is going to take? The answer by now, should be obvious.
The answer is: it depends. If there is a lot of coverage available, then the question about how long it will take is for your doctor, because we’re not going to even begin to talk settlement until you are totally finished treating and your doctor has pronounced you to be at MMI.
If, on the other hand, there is low coverage and very high medical bills which far exceed that coverage, then no matter what your injuries, a speedy acquisition of the available policy limits would be to your advantage in keeping you and your family out of the heavy burden of high debt.
How long will that take to affect such a speedy settlement? It depends how cooperative the other insurance company is in paying the limits of coverage and also, on how quickly your healthcare providers respond to our requests for reductions in your bills. Although there are no guarantees, certainly we would aim to resolve such a ‘mismatch’ claim within a month or two after your serious accident.
In any event, this is all part of what we do at Joe Miller Law that makes Strong JusticeSM available and important to our clients. If you have been seriously injured in an accident, please call us at 1-888-694-1671 or email Joe Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.