Georgia Insurance Claim Attorneys
Most people involved in serious accidents face an enormous amount of stress and uncertainty. Trying to file insurance claims with the correct insurance companies can be overwhelming. Getting information and answers out of an insurance adjuster usually only results in additional questions and confusion and uncertainty. And when claims adjusters add pressure by putting time limits on a response to an offer, people fear that they will do the wrong thing or make a mistake and then regret it.
Many people have questions about how to deal with lost income, medical bills and other medical expenses, car repair bills, getting a rental car, and more. Some of the more common questions we are asked are:
- Do I make a claim under my insurance or the other driver’s insurance?
- Do I need to use my health insurance? (or What do I do when my doctor won’t use my health insurance because it was a car accident?)
- If I make a claim under my insurance, will it make my premiums go up?
- Am I covered under my spouse’s policy even though its only in his/her name?
- What if there isn’t enough insurance coverage for all of my bills?
- Will the insurance company pay me for my pain and suffering?
- What do I do when the insurance company says the policy number listed on the police report is not valid?
Finding the Correct Insurance After an Accident
Regardless of what type of incident caused your injuries, without an experienced Georgia insurance attorney working on your behalf, it will be difficult, and in some cases impossible, to uncover all available sources of insurance money you may be entitled to. This is in part due to the complex nature of insurance coverage – sometimes you are covered under a policy but other times that policy will not apply. It is also due to the fact that insurance companies will rarely tell you if there are additional policies that may provide you coverage. For a lot of accident victims, it becomes a guessing game.
The various types of insurance coverages and policies include:
- Liability coverage (from the at fault driver’s insurance policy)
- Uninsured Motorist coverage and Underinsured Motorist coverage (UM coverage from your own policy or policies)
- Medical Payments coverage (to pay medical bills and possibly health insurance reimbursements)
- Resident Relative UM policies – which comes from policies belonging to a relative in your same household, even if they are not involved in the accident
- GAP insurance (to cover the difference between the value of the car if it is totaled and the amount owed on your car)
- Commercial policies (if the at fault driver was in the course and scope of employment at the time of the collision, or if you were on the job at the time of the accident)
- Umbrella policies (provide additional liability and UM coverage, and sometimes additional Medical Payments coverage)
- Credit Card Insurance (available in some circumstances)
- Homeowners or Property Owners Insurance coverage
- Disability Insurance (short and long term disability)
- Life Insurance
The amount of insurance proceeds available to an accident or injury victim will depend on many factors.
Maximizing Your Insurance Recovery
Maximizing the amount you recover after an accident will also depend on how skilled your insurance attorney is at negotiating with multiple insurance company adjusters and their attorneys. Trying to handle this on your own can be not only frustrating and confusing, but it may cost you thousands of dollars in lost opportunities for compensation.
Many people think that by not paying a lawyer to help them with their case, they can put more money in their pocket. However, research shows this is rarely true for many reasons. First, your attorney will make sure that you get paid for all your harms and losses. Second, your injury lawyer will be sure that all types of coverage are utilized – for example, liability coverage, UM coverage on your own vehicle (even if it was not involved in the wreck), UM coverage on a resident relative’s vehicle, Medical Payments coverage, and possibly more. This means multiple claims have to be opened and filed and possibly also multiple settlements (or payouts).
Third, and perhaps most importantly, some accident victims sign a document that prevents them from filing any other claims with any other insurance policies for their harms and losses without even knowing they have done so. Without a lawyer on board who can review what documents you are asked to sign, you may unknowingly be giving up your rights to pursue other insurance coverage in favor of getting paid by one insurance company.
In short, these are just a few of the many reasons why working with insurance companies after an accident is not something you want to do without a skilled injury lawyer to help you. One final reason you may want to consider is that by having an accident attorney handle these things for you, you will be able to focus on healing and recovery. Let us handle all of these other complicated and confusing issues for you so you can focus on moving forward physically and emotionally. It’s what we do – and we are good at what we do.
Using Health Insurance Policies After an Accident
One of the most common sources of confusion and anxiety following an accident or catastrophic injury pertains to using health insurance to pay for medical treatment. Part of the problem stems from the fact that injury victims, doctors offices, and hospitals all think that auto insurance will pay for your medical bills directly. Only in a very small number of cases does this happen in the correct and proper manner, if it happens at all.
Making things worse, there is considerable disagreement between insurance companies and doctors and hospitals concerning the proper way to handle the use of health insurance.
As a result of the confusion, many people are told by their doctors office that they WILL NOT accept health insurance or file claims under health insurance policies after a car accident. Instead, the doctor’s office staff will demand a copy of the police report and payment up front before even being scheduled for an appointment for treatment. This may even be the case with a primary care physician that the patient has been seeing for years.
So what is the proper way to handle the situation when it arises? Because of how complicated insurance regulations are, and the unique circumstances of each case, it is almost impossible to outline a plan that will work in every case. But basically, here’s what should happen:
- Utilize your Medical Payments coverage on your auto insurance policy and the policy covering the vehicle you were riding in, if it was not your own.
- File claims with your health insurance company as quickly as possible to avoid having them denied because they were not filed soon enough after the treatment was rendered.
- Provide proof that you have no Medical Payments coverage or that it has been exhausted to get the assistance of your doctors office or hospital financial office in filing claims with your personal health insurer.
- Monitor your bills as they come to your address to be sure the claims have been submitted to your health insurer. If not, send copies of the bills to the claims address on the back of your health insurance card.
- At the conclusion of your case, if you receive a settlement or payout from the insurance company, you may be required to reimburse your health insurance company out of the proceeds. This is frequently the source of much anger of patients and is the topic of the next section below.
Do I Have To Pay My Health Insurance Provider Back?
The answer to this question is, it depends. It depends on the type of health insurance policy you have, whether you continue to receive benefits after the settlement, how much the insurance company has paid (which is different from how much the doctor or hospital charged for their services), whether your accident attorney understands health insurance reimbursements and how to defeat them or minimize them, and many other factors.
Why do I have to pay them back? This is actually a simple answer. In your policy, there was most likely a paragraph or two included where you agreed to pay them back if someone else was responsible for your injuries and you receive compensation from them or their insurance carrier.
But I paid the premiums for my coverage! Look at it this way: if you added up the total of your premiums plus the amount you pay the insurance company back (after your skilled accident lawyer negotiates the amount on your behalf), you will in almost all circumstances being paying less than what you would have paid to the doctors and hospitals for your treatment without it.
Here’s an example: Victim A has health insurance and pays $400/month in premiums. Her medial bills over the course of one year after her accident total $30,000.00 but her health insurance pays 40% of that amount ($12,000.00) and writes off the rest. Her attorney negotiates a reimbursement amount of 75% of that $12,000.00 ($9,000.00). So Victim A pays a total of $4,800 in premiums and $9,000.00 in reimbursement for a total of $13,800.00 out of her settlement. (Please note that this is only an example and is not necessarily the percentages that would be applied in every case. Other cases may have higher or lower percentages.)
Victim B does not have health insurance. His medical bills over the course of one year after his accident total $30,000.00. Victim B is on the hook for $30,000.00 to be paid out of his settlement.
So Victim A paid only $13,800.00 with health insurance and Victim B paid $30,000.00 without it.
What if I don’t Reimburse the Health Insurance Company? If your insurance policy contains a provision that requires you to reimburse amounts paid after you recover money, and you do not reimburse the insurance plan, you have breached your contract with the insurance plan. An insurance company can then decide to file suit against you for breach of contract and/or decline to provide you with continued insurance coverage or benefits.
Get An Experienced Insurance Attorney On Your Side
The injury attorneys at the Studstill Firm, LLP have four decades of experience protecting the rights of Georgia accident victims. We know how to find accident insurance coverage that may be available to you after an accident, and we will use our expertise to be sure you receive the most compensation. We will also fight to protect you from improper insurance company tactics, and acts of bad faith by their representatives.
If you or a loved one has been in an accident, call our legal team today at (229) 247-2299. We have 3 convenient offices in Middle and South Georgia, and our insurance attorneys represent clients from cities such as Valdosta, Macon, Albany, Waycross, and Moultrie.