What to do after a car accident if I don’t have health insurance?December 28, 2020
Q & A: How much does working with Hancock Law cost?February 9, 2021
This is a case study about the journey of a Hancock Law client. Actual client names are being protected for their privacy; the names used in the blog post below are pseudonyms.
John’s wife, Bonnie, had just left the home. She was no more than two miles away to run an errand, when he got the dreaded call: Bonnie had been in a horrible car accident. When John got there, he was met with the scene of an accident that included his wife’s car flipping and rolling, and she was now being airlifted from the site of the crash to a hospital. As he stood there, watching her get put in a helicopter, he remembered he had Kenneth’s number in his phone. “Hi. Umm, I don’t know if you do this, but my wife is being put on a helicopter, do you know a guy?” Turns out, he had called exactly the right guy.
The car accident
Bonnie had just left home to run an errand. She was at a 4-way intersection; her lane of travel did not have a stop sign, but the other lane did. Bonnie was crossing the intersection and the driver in the intersecting lane should have stopped, but he either didn’t see the sign or was trying to beat it – at any rate, he crashed right into her. Her car flipped, spun and rolled. She was trapped in the car and ultimately, once emergency crews arrived, she had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital.
Thus began a whole year of medical treatment: surgeries, orthopedic specialists, neurosurgeons, physical therapists and a whole slew of doctors. She was blessed and fortunate to have survived, but the road ahead was certainly not an easy one.
Prior friendship and rapport
John was a client of ours from a few years ago. He was a referral from another attorney, and Kenneth had helped him on a small car issue; it’s the kind of a case we at Hancock law don’t necessarily specialize in, but are happy to help out when it comes to friends and referrals. Even though it was a brief amount of time that John and Kenneth had worked together on that previous matter, and it had been a few years since then, they had a good rapport.
Fast forward a few years to what was possibly the scariest moment of John’s life, with his wife being put into a helicopter and her car a wreck, John reached for his phone to call Kenneth – he wasn’t sure if Kenneth himself could help, but he knew he would need support in navigating the complicated and often painful process of getting medical care and dealing with insurance companies. His instinct was to get a friend- and even more importantly, a professional – on his side to help him through it.
Turns out, John had come to exactly the right place: car accident cases are our speciality, making up the majority of our work.
The benefits of getting us on the scene early
Typically, our clients call us about twenty-four hours to a week after the accident, or when they realize they’re being inundated with calls from the insurance company and paperwork to take care of. In John’s case, because he called right away, virtually within minutes of the accident, we were able to jump in immediately and take the calls and paperwork off of his plate. The first thing we did was send out Attorney Representation Letters to the insurance companies, this way John didn’t have to deal with a single phone call. Instead, he could be with his wife in the hospital and focus on her medical care; without argument, the most important task.
While Bonnie was recovering, we were fielding the calls from the insurance companies involved in the case and diligently documenting and collecting everything that would eventually be needed like police records and discharge paperwork from every medical professional who treated Bonnie. This required virtually no input from Bonnie and John. This kind of work is our specialty and it’s our pleasure to take this minutiae out of our clients’ hair.
A hallmark of Kenneth’s work style is in-person meetings – he’s a talker, and there’s nothing he loves more than the time he gets to spend interacting with clients. When taking on a case, Kenneth usually spends an hour and a half to two hours meeting with the client discussing everything. He likes to explain what the client can expect in terms of timeline and the Hancock team, and what it’s going to look like with health treatment and work and kids, all depending on each client’s unique circumstances, of course.
Throughout the process of working together, this personalized attention moves to frequent check-ins from our team; we consider it very important to always keep you abreast of any developments and movements in your case. We’re a small team, by design, and we pride ourselves on the individual attention we’re able to provide each client.
Medical care and treatment is most important
In all cases, Kenneth is very intentional about not controlling how people treat and live in the middle of their accidents. We never, ever tell people “You need to see doctor XYZ” or, even worse, “That’s not a good enough diagnosis, go see this other doctor, she’ll give you the diagnosis we need”. That’s slimy and unethical, and unfortunately very common at the larger firms. We take no part in this. Our clients’ most important task when working with us is to go and get the medical care they need, listen to their doctors and take care of themselves.
The start of the process: collecting and documenting
Typically, in the first 30-60 days of working together, clients hear from Hancock Law rather frequently; they’re getting copied on every letter that leaves the office, and there are follow up questions and check ins to see how you’re doing. This is not a fast process; we do not churn through cases and people.
In Bonnie’s case, because her medical treatment itself took about a year, so did the first part of working together. While Bonnie was getting treatment, our team diligently collected documentation from her doctors and medical team, and communicated with the insurance companies involved in the case.
When Bonnie got the all clear from her doctors, our team assembled what’s similar to a final report – with all final medical records, a final batch of bills, with everything tallied up and put together into what is called a Demand Package that is then sent out to the insurance company.
The insurance company’s offer and the decision to pursue a lawsuit
In Bonnie’s case, the offer from the insurance company was woefully insufficient (they offered nothing at all), so Kenneth had Bonnie and John come into his office for a risk assessment discussion. In this meeting, Kenneth outlined the general risks and benefits of a lawsuit, as well as the risks and benefits in their particular case. It’s important to Kenneth that clients make decisions not only from a place of passion, but also knowing the risks and having the advantage of Kenneth’s years of experience in their decision making.
For Bonnie and John, this meeting was more of a formality: Kenneth, Bonnie and John were on the same page about the need to file a lawsuit.
Our team filed the lawsuit within 10 days of our meeting with Bonnie and John.
Getting clients the settlements they deserve
Generally, clients choose to press forward with a lawsuit for one of two reasons: if the insurance company offered an amount that’s unreasonably low or if the insurance company offers nothing at all. Our goal in every case is to get a number that would make the client happy to resolve the case, and we have the experience to know the difference between a fair offer and a lowball offer from an insurance company. We can’t put people in jail and we can’t put insurance companies out of business; we get money for our clients, and sometimes filing a lawsuit is what we have to do to get the best amount of money under the client’s unique circumstances.
The lawsuit and, eventually, a favorable settlement and payout
In the first ninety days after deciding to press forward with a lawsuit, Bonnie and John’s involvement was more intense; they weren’t necessarily doing anything, but there were discovery requests from the insurance company to respond to, more document requests and the need to sit for a deposition. Oftentimes, requests like these can be the insurance company trying to call a bluff or push someone into giving up because of their exhaustive demands. In this case, Bonnie never even got to sit for a deposition, because a few months after filing suit, the insurance company paid out and settled the case with a dollar amount that was acceptable to Bonnie and John, and that Kenneth felt was very fair.
All in all, the settlement took about 3-4 months from the time suit was filed. In the world of litigation, this is actually very fast, as there are usually long delays with requests for more paperwork and just the general time delay of swapping paper.
Once the settlement offer was made, the funds were received in about 30 days.
If you need help weighing your options following an accident, contact us. No matter how big or how small your case may be, Hancock Law can help you to receive the settlement you deserve.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information provided in this blog is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice nor as creating an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different and legal advice cannot be provided by Hancock Law unless/until we meet to discuss the particulars of your case. Whether an attorney-client relationship exists can differ on a case-by-case basis, but at Hancock Law we consider such a relationship to exist only upon a potential client’s request and our agreement to accept that representation.