Will I Get a Settlement From My Car Accident Injury in Vermont?


Will I Get a Settlement From My Car Accident Injury in Vermont?


By Steven A. Bredice, Esq., Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist

If you have been injured in a car accident in Vermont, you may need financial compensation for your injuries. You might face huge medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and other extreme hardships that put enormous stress on your life. But getting compensation for your injuries is never as simple as calling an insurance company and waiting for a check. Before expecting a recovery from an auto accident, you will need to understand how the process works and how to avoid mistakes that will hurt your case.

Liability Insurance For Accidents

First, the source of almost all recoveries is liability insurance carried by the party at fault for the injury. “Carriers” issue liability insurance policies to people and businesses that could pose danger to others in their day-to-day activities.

The most common liability insurance is an automobile policy, but individuals, businesses and professionals also secure coverage that protects them in other situations, such as liability for dangerous premises, the negligent actions of their employees or their own professional errors and omissions.

On a basic level, an insurance policy covers the holder up to its stated limits for liability for their own accidental actions, and this coverage is only good while the policy is in effect. Intentional acts, and, often, punitive damages, are excluded. Without insurance, it is nearly impossible for auto accident victims to gain financial recoveries, since most individuals, and even many businesses, do not have enough assets to satisfy the damages because of bankruptcy law protections.

Additional Coverage

Fortunately, your own insurance may cover your car accident injuries when you are hurt by someone who either doesn’t have insurance or has inadequate policy limits.

Automobile policies come with minimal coverage for uninsured or under-insured motorists, but you can purchase additional coverage, which is always a good idea. Most auto policies in Vermont also include “medical payments” coverage, which can be tapped to pay medical bills for reasonably relatable treatment, usually limited to one year from the date of the accident.

Making sure ahead of time that you have high uninsured/underinsured policy limits is the best thing you can do for yourself. If you are seriously injured, your policy will pay you back for your losses, including medical bills, impairment, pain and suffering, future care and lost earnings after the other driver is tapped out.

In addition to the other driver’s policy and your own UM/UIM coverage, other policies may be roped in and ”stacked,” such as policies covering the other driver’s additional vehicles. The rules governing these situations can be complex.

Mistakes That Could Cost You

A good personal injury lawyer will identify and claim against all potentially applicable insurance policies, and even litigate to obtain coverage when it is denied. In many instances, an injury lawyer’s understanding of and experience with insurance issues makes it worthwhile to retain them for this reason alone.

Insurance companies frequently assert dubious positions on coverage, liability and/or damages—especially when someone is claiming full value for their case. In most instances, their process of “adjusting” claims entails low-balling injured people or manufacturing coverage, liability or damages “issues” in order to minimize your recovery.

Some people try to go through this process without the benefit of legal counsel, not realizing that they are at a disadvantage with professional “adjusters,” and the consequences can be serious. By the time they realize they really do need an injury attorney, they’ve already made mistakes that irreparably damaged their case. These errors can severely limit a lawyer’s ability to deliver effective representation, and you may find it difficult to hire a good one because of that.

Liens And What They Mean

Another reason to retain counsel, even in cases that settle, is to make sure your legal and contractual obligations with your own health insurer are satisfied. Health insurers and “medical payment” providers are usually entitled to a “lien” on your recovery. This means that you will have to pay them back for the money they spent on your care and treatment and, if applicable, lost wages.

A knowledgeable injury attorney will not only maximize your recovery and make sure you are not left with financial responsibility for unknown obligations, but also negotiate reductions in the amounts of the liens. These services put as much money as possible into your pocket when all is said and done.

Recovering from a serious injury from an accident is never easy. The physical, mental and emotional impact may affect you for the rest of your life. By educating yourself about the process now, you will know what to do, increasing your chances of a successful outcome.

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