Visitor Question

Should we wait for an offer before hiring an attorney?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Swanton, Vermont)

My husband was in a motorcycle accident in June 2017. He was traveling at about 45-50mph on a main road in Vermont. A commercial van did not see him and turned left to enter a ramp to the interstate. My husband didn’t have time to stop and essentially smashed right into the front quartet panel.

He was thrown approximately 40 feet over the van, across the road, through a barbed wire fence and into a field. He briefly passed out but woke up to bystanders thinking he was dead. His bike was completely totaled.

The other driver (who was uninjured) admitted fault at the scene to the state police. He was taken to an ER where they did the basic tests, concluded it was all strain/sprain/contusion of his ankles and terrible road rash in certain areas. He was unable to walk so they put him on crutches and splinted his left ankle.

As he was being discharged, he collapsed into a wheelchair. His blood pressure and heart rate dropped extremely low. They did an ultrasound right there and determined no internal bleeding, gave him fluids got his levels back up and sent him home. My children witnessed all this and were hysterical. He could not even use the crutches because of the pain in his shoulder that came a few days later.

He started seeing an orthopedic doctor for the shoulder pain and his ankles. His ankles have healed except for occasional pain in one of them when running. But his shoulder, now 4 months later, is still causing significant pain when moving it certain ways. He immediately started seeing a physical therapist and has had 2 injections from his orthopedic doctor. He had an MRI which only showed tendonitis and bursitis, thankfully no tear. The injections aren’t working at all though. His doctor says he will only give one more shot and if it doesn’t work, then he will just have to live with the pain for six months to a year and hope it goes away.

My husband is 28 years old. He’s been in the military 9 years and intends to stay in until retirement. He’s a maintainer, so the full use of his shoulder is critical to his job. He always wears full protective gear when riding and has taken motorcycle safety courses every 3 years. We have 3 small children. I was actually 37 weeks pregnant when the accident happened. With him being injured, I was faced with not only caring for myself at the end of my pregnancy and our other 2 children, but him as well. Helping him out of bed to the bathroom, taking baths, etc. We don’t live near family so there is no extra help here.

He has not been able to play with our children still to this day like he used to, which is devastating to them. Finally, this has impacted him mentally. He adored his bike. Riding was a passion for him. He rode every day the weather permitted him. Now, he has another bike he can ride for short periods without feeling too much pain, but unfortunately he has no desire anymore to ride. He admits he’s scared and finds no joy in it now. He doesn’t even care to look at the bike anymore.

We met with an attorney days after the accident to get ideas of what this road would look like, but my husband insisted we should try to handle this on our own. Now that we have a diagnosis and somewhat know what the future holds, my husband has agreed to talk settlement options with the insurance company.

So far the adjuster has been kind and acts concerned. She actually also told my husband it was a high value policy limit which was shocking to me. Should we wait to see the offer that I assume will just be medical bills and a small amount of compensation for pain and suffering or do we go with the attorney now? Do we even have a case strong enough to need an attorney since there were no “hard injuries”? His total loss of his bike was $5220 equipment was $1200 and so far medical bills around $6000 but will go up with another injection and physical therapy. Any insight is appreciated.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

While your husband’s medical bills are currently $6,000, because of the severity of his injury, it is likely those bills may continue to escalate until he is fully healed or he reaches a level of “Maximum Medical Improvement”.

Maximum Medical Improvement or MMI, is the treating physician’s way of saying “You have reached a level in your recovery where additional medical treatment will not substantially increase your medical condition.”

Once your husband reaches MMI he may not feel 100% better, but he is at a point where there is nothing more medically which can be done to help him. This doesn’t mean he will not fully recover, but doing so may require his own volition.

“Hard injuries” are those injuries which are more serious. They can include bone fractures, head trauma, 2nd and 3rd degree burns, disfigurement, and similarly serious injuries. “Soft injuries” are those your husband seems to have sustained. Soft injuries can include strains and sprains of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, minor burns, road rash (normally sustained in motorcycle injuries), whiplash, and other similar injuries.

Without reviewing your husband’s medical records, the accident report, and correspondence between you and the insurance company, it is difficult to tell you whether your husband should be represented by an attorney. You can certainly wait to see what offer the insurance company makes, and then decide if you are comfortable with the amount.

If not, speak with the personal injury attorney you previously visited, or seek the advice and counsel of others. As you are likely aware, most personal injury attorneys do not charge any fees for initial office consultations.

There is a three year statute of limitations in the State of Vermont for personal injury claims. This means you have up to three years from the date of your husband’s injury to either settle your husband’s claim, or file a lawsuit.

To read Vermont law on personal injury statute, visit Vermont Statutes Title 12, Part 2, Chapter 23, Sub-chapter 2, Section 512 of the state government website.

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

Best of luck,

Published: November 6, 2017

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