Should I hire a lawyer?

My son and I,(the insured) were in a car accident in Sept. 2012. We live in WA state. The other driver was found to be 100% at fault as she hit the rear driver side of our car after running a stop sign. The damage to my car was appx $5,000. Both my son(who was the driver) and I have been dealing with painful back injuries that have required ongoing treatment and physical therapy. The medical costs are approaching $10,000 for each of us. This has been covered completely by my PIP (which maxes at 10,000 each). I am also concerned about payment for further medical costs over the PIP limit. The 'at-fault' driver's insurance adjuster just left message to call "to see how I am doing" (which he has done previously). Should I not talk to him? This is the first time I have been in this situation and I'm worried about making the right decisions. I know we have 3 years, but wondering if it would be reasonable and beneficial to have an attorney handle our case through to settlement. Thank you for your suggestions.

Hi there, Michelle here...

First, thanks for providing so much information, it helps me understand your situation better.

The easy answer is yes, you both need to hire an attorney. A lawyer will take over all contact with the at-fault drivers insurance adjuster, all phone calls to you and your son will stop and the lawyer will simply be the one they contact.

This is a one of the benefits of hiring a lawyer. I would not call the at fault insurance adjuster back until you have spoken to a lawyer.

The second reason to consider having a lawyer representing you is that when you hit the PIP limit, which sounds like it will be quite soon, your medical providers may ask you to pay them for their services.

Or, they may want to take out a lien against your future settlement. A lien sounds scary , but is simply a legal means that the medical providers can guarantee they receive payment at settlement.

The other reason for hiring a lawyer, is because the damage to your car was not severe, and some insurance companies will attempt to argue with you that you did not need a lot of treatment because your car was not badly damaged.

Do not let this sentence worry you, I am only telling you this as it is a normal tactic an insurance company will attempt to use to keep a settlement low.

A lawyer will prevent these types of tactics from affecting your settlement in anyway. And further, the lawyer will make sure your medical care is covered for the future.

You already know that in Washington you have three years from the date of the accident to settle, close or bring any type of needed lawsuit against the at fault party.

You are well within the time limits, and so have nothing to be concerned with from a time perspective. A lawyer will keep track of the time frames and make sure you are protected.

You also may know this piece, but in case another reader doesn’t I will say it again: the first visit with a lawyer is free, there is no charge to you, this allows you to talk to some lawyers and find one who you want to work with.

Secondly, the lawyer is paid after the settlement from the settlement, not paid from your pocket. This can make a big difference when thinking about hiring someone, as you do not need to come up with the cash out of pocket to pay for a lawyer’s services.

I want to encourage you to seek chiropractic treatment, you mention physical therapy, and still being in pain. After treating patients for 20 years, I have found it a rare occurrence that patients will heal completely without chiropractic care.

Although physical therapy has a very real and important role to play in the healing cycle, chiropractic care treats the underlying cause of the muscle pain and weakness, which is the injury to the alignment of the bones.

When you have a traumatic impact in a car accident, the bones in the neck and back are injured. This type of injury puts pressure on the nerves, and this pressure causes pain to the muscles.

So, if you have not seen a chiropractor, please see one right away. You do not need to have a doctors referral to treat with a chiropractor, you can simply call and set up an appointment.

Finally, as you are in Washington, I want to offer you a more personal referral. If you are in either Seattle or Spokane, I can if you wish, refer you to the office of lawyers I know and trust and who have worked on cases for my clients.

Here are two ways to move forward:Contact us

Or, fill out the form here: Find a lawyer

Best Regards, M.

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