F.A.Q.s

An accident is an overwhelming situation.

You may be feeling disconnected from the life you’re used to living.

You are in pain and upset. You have a lot of questions. We want to communicate with you as truthfully and directly as we can. This page is devoted to answering questions we have heard in the past from injured persons who want to get back to their regular life as quickly as possible.

Please call at 202.465.8685 or contact us to tell us how you have been injured and get help.

Do I have a case?

Injuries in accidents vary from person to person. All injury claims require a medical provider to connect the cause of the injury to the accident. A medical doctor will evaluate you based on your particular injury and past medical history. Sometimes the medical doctor will prescribe surgery, a cast or physical therapy. It is important that you follow the directions of your medical provider. What is different for each person is what may make him or her susceptible to an injury such as whether you have been in an accident or had a surgery to the same part of the body in the past. Treatment received is quantified by your medical bills. We seek compensation for the medical bills that resulted from the accident. In addition, you may have lost time from work. We fight to get you reimbursed for these lost wages. We also pursue your pain and suffering.

What is pain and suffering?

Pain and suffering is used to describe the mental and physical pain experienced in an accident. Unlike medical bills, pain and suffering involves compensating you for losses that are hard to quantify or to put a dollar value on. This may include losing out on important events with friends or family because of your pain and injuries. You may not be able to play with your children like you used to or stand for long periods of time at work. You may also have taken time out of your busy schedule to go to doctor’s appointments. Accidents are always scary and can cause some residual emotional anguish, such as fear of being in a car or having nightmares of the accident. When we submit your personal injury claim to the insurance company, we work hard to make sure the insurance company includes a monetary amount to cover the pain and suffering you experienced because of the accident.

I obtained a police report, but the insurance company still has not made a decision in my favor, why?

Police Reports are very important, but they are just one of the factors insurance companies look at when making a liability decision. Police reports provide information on the driver that hit you and who owns the vehicle. Even with a favorable police report, the report is used for investigation purposes, unless the police officer personally witnessed the accident. The insurance company will want to speak to all involved parties, witnesses, and examine the accident scene including property damage before it will make a final liability decision. Insurance investigations can take at least 30 days, sometimes longer.

How are bodily injury claims evaluated by insurance companies?

There is no set formula but more insurance companies are moving toward computer programs to determine what to pay to settle an injury claim. The computer program will evaluate what the reasonable and customary charges are for the services performed by the medical provider in the area. If the charges exceed what the average charge is in the area, the insurance companies will reduce payment of the bills. In addition, the insurance carriers will look at an estimate of time that it believes a person should heal for a particular injury. If your treatment exceeds this estimate, then insurance companies will generally stop payment at this pre-determined point. For the most part, the insurance companies are not looking at your claim based on who you are and what your particular situation requires.

This is the vital role that an attorney plays. We fight to get you compensated for all of your treatment and to make sure that you are reimbursed for treatment that heals you and makes you better. We seek reimbursement for treatment up until the point that your doctor determines there is nothing further medically that can be done. We also fight for compensation based on your personal life and situation.

How much can I expect to receive at settlement or trial?

We do not know.   This is the honest answer.  When you are first in an accident, you do not know how severe your injuries are or what the exact treatment will be.  The settlement or trial verdict will depend on your injuries, the treatment you have received, and any permanent issues you may have or expect to have in the future.  Examples of permanent injuries may include scarring, rods placed in your arm or leg, or your inability to do physical or mental activities that you could do prior to the accident.  Once your treatment is complete and an offer is made, the firm will meet with you to discuss your medical records and bills and to go over how you are doing.  We will make a recommendation to you about the value of your claim at that time.  Should your case go to trial, we will go over any offers as they are received after a lawsuit is filed or at a mediation.   

A family member told me I may have medical coverage on my automobile insurance policy, what is it?

Medical coverage on your own insurance policy is also called no-fault coverage because you are eligible for it regardless of who caused the accident. Whether you have this coverage depends on both the car policy and the state you live in. We will look into whether the car you were in carries this insurance. In addition, if you were a passenger in someone else’s car, we can look to see if you carry it on any car or cars that you may own. There are time requirements in which you are eligible to obtain PIP and for this reason, it is good to contact counsel immediately after an accident so you do not lose out on these benefits.

In Maryland and DC, no-fault coverage is called PIP which stands for Personal Injury Protection. In Maryland, it is often offered in coverage amounts of $2,500, $5,000, and $10,000. You can use PIP to pay for medical bills and/or a percentage of your lost income. Another benefit to using PIP is that there is no subrogation in Maryland, which means that your automobile insurance cannot ask you to reimburse it for what it paid toward your medical bills or wages should you recover from the responsible person for the accident.

In DC, the coverage is generally offered in larger amounts. It may also cover medical bills, lost wages and funeral expenses. DC law is stricter than Maryland law and in most circumstances only allows you to elect PIP if you do not pursue a claim against the responsible person. Furthermore, there is potentially a right of reimbursement or subrogation in DC depending on your automobile policy.

In VA, the coverage is called medpay. It covers only medical bills. You may also have elected to purchase a benefit for lost wages or income as well. In Virginia, lost wage income is generally paid at a set amount per week regardless of your salary. You are allowed to stack in Virginia. This means that depending on the number of cars you own, you may be eligible to add the benefits together to allow you more no-fault medical and lost wage coverage.

If you are a pedestrian hit by a car, different rules may apply depending on the place where the accident occurred and the residence of the driver that hit you.

What if the driver that hit my car does not have car insurance or enough car insurance?

Most car insurance policies carry Uninsured Motorist coverage, which covers you if you are hit by an uninsured driver. In addition, most car policies also carry Underinsured Motorist coverage which covers you up to a certain amount over what the responsible party has should it not be enough.

You will want to first look at the policy of the car you were in. The owner and/or driver of the car you were in may have car insurance policies that may cover your injuries. If you were not the owner or driver of the car that you were in, then you will want to look at your own car policy or those of people related to you that you live with. You will also want to look at any automobile policy in which you are a named insured. All of these policies may potentially cover you for your losses.

Is there a set time frame in which I must bring my claim?

Yes, cases have a set time in which suit must be filed or else you may lose your right to recovery. This time frame is referred to as the statute of limitations. It often depends on where the accident occurred, where the responsible party lives and the type of accident or injury. The time is set by state law and varies from state to state. It is important to consult with a lawyer to make sure you do not miss important time frames that may prevent you from pursuing your claim.

My car was towed, what do I do?

If your car was towed, it is probably in a private tow lot that charges a set per day storage fee.  If you have collision coverage, many times it is wise to have your own car insurance get your car out of the tow lot and take it to its own lot where fees are not charged.  You can then have the responsible person’s car insurance appraise your car when a liability decision is made.  If you do not have collision coverage, you will want to have the responsible person’s insurance company remove your car as soon as possible.  

How does an insurance company decide whether to repair my car or to replace it?

Under most car insurance policies, insurance companies have the option to look at whether the car can be repaired or replaced. If repairs can be made to restore the car to its pre-accident condition, then insurance companies will generally go this route. An appraiser will write an estimate for repairs that include the parts and labor. This estimate is given to either the body shop you choose or to one approved by the automobile insurance company to make the necessary repairs. There are certain requirements that insurance companies must follow, however, to determine if a car will pass inspection. If it will not, then the car will generally be evaluated as a total loss depending on state law.

An appraiser will come out to look at your car, take photos and inspect it. In evaluating the total loss value of your car, most insurance companies use a computer program that calculates value based on the details of your car, including everything from engine power to seat warmers. In addition, insurance companies look at what comparable cars are selling for in your area. Sometimes if you have made upgrades to the car recently, the insurance company may consider these improvements if documentation is provided.

My car has never been in an accident and now it has lost value, is there anything that can be done?

Yes, when a car is repaired, you can look into whether you can make a diminished value claim.  You can make this claim because your car is no longer able to be sold at the value it maintained prior to the accident.  We work with professional appraisers who evaluate your car based on the repairs made.  They also look at the type of car you owned and whether the car has been involved in any prior accidents.  After examining the car, the appraisers prepare a report.  The report will compare your car’s worth prior to the accident and after.  A dollar value is given to show the lost value.  You can then use this report to negotiate with the insurance company to pay you for the difference.

What should I drive in the meantime while my car is being repaired or while I look for a new one?

In either situation, the responsible person’s insurance company will generally provide you with a rental car. Rental cars are given for the time that the repairs begin to their completion. When a car cannot be repaired and must be replaced, an insurance company will generally provide a rental from the time that an offer is made up until the time you sign your car title over to the insurance company. In situations where the car is a total loss, most auto carriers allow rental cars for 5 days.

Someone told me to look if I have GAP Insurance, what is it?

GAP stands for Guaranteed Auto Protection.  GAP insurance helps out when your car is determined to be a total loss but you still have a car loan.  This type of insurance pays off the interest owed on your car to the lienholder.  When your car is considered a total loss, the insurance company will make an offer only on the value of the car not on what you owe.  This coverage protects you when the insurance company pays you for the car value but it is less than the amount owed.

What is subrogation?

Subrogation is a term used when insurance companies may seek reimbursement back from the party responsible for what they or you may have paid. Health insurance companies may seek subrogation for payment of medical bills at the time of recovery. Car insurance companies may seek subrogation for payment of property damage, your car deductible, rental expenses, tow and storage fees that it or you paid.

My pharmacy filled my medication incorrectly, can you help?

A pharmacy has a duty to give you the correct medication. Many times people do not know they are taking the wrong medication until they start to feel symptoms they never experienced before. Or their health begins to deteriorate for no explainable reason. You can bring a claim for the medical treatment that you would not normally have needed had you been given the correct medication. You also can seek compensation for how you felt differently and any limitations or permanent damage that resulted from being given the wrong medication. If you still have these items, it is important to keep the pill bottle and any incorrect pills that you were given. You will also want to retain the correct prescription written by your medical provider. Finally, the pharmacy should maintain a record of all prescriptions filled for you. It is helpful to get a copy of this printout that would include the medication filled incorrectly.

I believe I ate something that caused food poisoning, can you help?

Food poisoning can be caused by contamination in the storing and handling of food, improper washing, improper cooking or poor hygiene practices.  Should you suspect food poisoning, we strongly suggest that you see your medical provider immediately.  It is important to get a blood or stool test performed to confirm the specific type of poisoning you may have suffered.  You should also report the incident to the health department. The health department will look into whether there are other people who visited the restaurant or purchased the same food product and may have experienced similar symptoms.  If you can, write down all food you ate in the 48-hour period prior to your illness while it is still fresh in your memory.  If you kept the food that you suspect poisoned you, you may wish to get it tested by a lab.