Can I Get My Medical Bills Paid After A St. Louis Car Accident?
Can I Get a Settlement Check for my Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
Unfortunately, settling a car accident claim in St. Louis isn’t as simple as simply sending a bill and waiting for a settlement check to arrive. It is a near certainty that the defendant’s insurance company will either deny liability or dispute the amount of your claim—after all, it is the job of an insurance company lawyer to save as much money as possible. When dealing with savvy insurance company lawyers, the value of the services of a skilled St. Louis car accident lawyer cannot be underestimated.
The Settlement Process
Settling a car accident claim is a distinct process that can be broken down as follows:
Wait until you have recovered from your injuries before demanding a settlement. Your doctor will notify you when you have reached the point of Maximum Medical Improvement. The purpose of waiting is to determine the full extent of your injuries so that you will know how much money to demand.
Send a demand package to the defendant’s insurance company. The demand package should include a letter describing the accident, explaining why the accident was the defendant’s fault, and demanding a specific amount of monetary compensation. Your demand letter should also include extensive and authoritative documentation of your claim (medical records, for example).
Wait for a response to your demand letter. If you haven’t contacted a St. Louis car accident lawyer yet, this would be the time. The claim will be eventually resolved one way or the other through the usual back-and-forth of negotiations.
Filing a Lawsuit
Strictly speaking, it is not necessary to file a lawsuit to receive a settlement check. In practice, however, the defendant might be unwilling to make a decent settlement offer until you do. Once your lawsuit is accepted by the court, you can use it as a bargaining chip.
Calculating Your Damages
To obtain a settlement, all of your medical bills must be thoroughly documented. If your injuries are long-term, the tricky part is estimating your future medical bills. Keep in mind that once you sign a settlement agreement, you can’t demand more money later if it turns out your original demand was insufficient, because any settlement agreement will contain a clause that forbids this.
In addition to medical bills, you should also consider demanding compensation for other losses such as:
incidental expenses like child care and travel expenses;
psychological damages such as physical pain and mental suffering; and
legal expenses (in some cases).
The Importance of Beating the Statute of Limitations Deadline
In Missouri, you have five years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit (certain exceptions apply, such as the rule that a plaintiff who was a minor at the time of the accident has until his 23rd birthday to file a lawsuit). If you miss the deadline, no court will hear your case. More importantly, the defendant will have no incentive to offer you any compensation at all, since he already knows that you cannot win a lawsuit against him.
All settlement checks are not created equal. Depending on how your case progresses, you could end up with a little or a lot. Considering the wide variability in possible settlement amounts, the aftermath of a car accident is not the time to skimp by trying to represent yourself or allowing an inexperienced lawyer to represent you. Alvin Wolff is an experienced and aggressive St. Louis car accident lawyer who has secured generous settlement offers for his many satisfied clients. Call 314-241-2500 today for your free initial consultation.
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