Unsafe lane change...

by Katt
(Goldsboro, NC)

On 9/23/15 I was struck on the passenger side of my vehicle (actually in my sisters' name) by another driver who "attempted to make an unsafe lane change". As a result, both my air bags were deployed and I was transported to the hospital. My CT scans & X-rays came back negative. Luckily, I only suffered from facial, abdomen, and forearm contusions.

I know there are 2 insurance claims, one for the totaled car - in my sisters name, that I was buying from her, and one for the medical expenses - me. My bill is almost $11,000. I also had to pay out of pocket for my prescriptions.

I'm a stay-at-home Mom, but my husband relies on me for transportation to/from work and due to the accident he lost one of his jobs (due to us having no transportation). We continue to struggle to keep his other job.

Should I hire an attorney? What should I ask for in a settlement? Or will the insurance company just pay the hospital directly and I get nothing from this? This is my first accident and I feel so overwhelmed with not knowing what I should do or what the "right" thing to do is. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Unsafe lane change...":

Katt (Goldsboro, NC):

Start by contacting the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Make sure they are aware of the collision. The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to your claim. Be sure to keep the claim number handy. You may need it when dealing with the insurance company.

Next, get a copy of the police report. In the report will be notations made by the investigating officer about fault. The report may also include a written diagram made by the officer showing the direction both cars were heading and the position of both cars at the time of the collision. The report may also indicate whether the drivers were issued any traffic citations.

From the facts you present, it is difficult to tell whether or not the $11,000.00 you speak of represents the value of the car, your medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses, or both.

For the sake of argument, we will presume the $11,000.00 is for your medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses for medications, and like costs. Because of the high cost of your medical bills, you would be best-served by seeking legal advice from an experienced personal injury attorney. Find out more about attorneys in this article and this one.

Without an attorney, the insurance company may pay the hospital directly. They have a right to do so. With that said, there is also a good chance the insurance company may then offer you only a small amount for your pain and suffering.

Make appointments with several attorneys. Bring along to the appointments copies of your medical bills and records, including the results of the CT Scan and X-rays. One of the best aspects of seeking the advice and counsel of several personal injury attorneys is that most won't charge for an initial office consultation.

In North Carolina, you must either settle your claim with the at-fault driver or file a personal injury lawsuit within three (3) years from the day of the accident. If you fail to either settle your claim or file a lawsuit within that time you will lose your right to sue the at-fault driver. You can read NC’s law on the statute of limitations here.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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