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Car Accident Lawyer FAQ


Can I file a lawsuit myself?

According to our New Hampshire car accident lawyers, yes, you can file an insurance claim by yourself without an attorney and deal directly with the opposing insurance company. The benefit is that you will not have to pay a contingency fee. With that said, clients come to us after suffering through a car crash and then dealing directly with the insurance adjuster on their accident claim. They get a low-ball offer that is dramatically lower than what we have been able to obtain. While there is no guarantee that those circumstances will apply to you, however, this has been our experience.

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Do the insurance companies take advantage of claimants?

Most times, insurance adjusters will swiftly reach out to an injured party to discuss their accident claim after the car crash. They do this before the injured party retains a car accident lawyer. You will see them offer a fast settlement before the extent of their injuries can be determined. They do this because once the case is settled you can’t unwind the settlement.

Moreover, we have also heard insurance adjusters provide inaccurate and misleading information concerning the car crash. They prey on the fact that most claimants don’t appreciate the collateral source rule and how liens work. Or the fact that most claimants don’t know what a case is worth. And on the fact that most claimants are not attorneys. They do not have the ability to effectively litigate their case if they don’t agree to their offer.

In short, this is an adversarial system. The insurance adjusters are not your friends. The playing field is not even. That is why it’s so important to work with an experienced a New Hampshire car accident lawyer. You could be leaving a staggering amount of money on the table if you try and negotiate your accident claim yourself.

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Who’s going to cover my bills in the short term?

If you have collision coverage, your insurance carrier will compensate you for the property damage caused to your vehicle following the car crash. Your insurance company will then be reimbursed, or subrogated, from the defendant’s BI carrier. The property damage claim is going to be different than the BI accident claim and there will be two different adjusters.

Like UM/UIM coverage, some people opt to obtain med pay. Our car accident lawyers explain that this coverage typically is in the amount of $5,000. It can only be used for medical bills. After it is exhausted, your health insurance is responsible for the bills. If you have no health insurance, you would pay out of pocket. The BI carrier is only responsible for paying out your claim when you are ready to settle.

When it does come time to settle, the BI carrier cannot take a med pay offset on your accident claim. Ostensibly, you can “double dip” on that $5,000.

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Car Accident Lawyer

What’s a health insurance lien?

Let’s assume you have private health insurance. If you injure yourself in your home, you go to the doctor’s office, and they would bill your insurance. Your insurance company does not get reimbursed.

However, let’s assume you are injured and you obtain recovery for your injuries. In these circumstances, your private health insurance company may have a lien on your accident claim. They must perfect the lien by giving you proper notice.

According to our New Hampshire car accident lawyers, you are under no obligation to tell your insurance company you have a pending personal injury case. It is on them to perfect their lien. Oftentimes they will find out that you have a pending case. When you go to the hospital there is a diagnostic code for “MVA.” When the bill is submitted, it triggers a red flag in their system. You will receive a letter asking if someone else was at fault and whether you have an attorney. You can’t ignore that letter. Since there is no diagnostic code for “slip and fall,” or “medical malpractice,” you may not receive a lien.

Public health insurance, such as Medicare or Medicaid, is another story. We are required by statute to notify a public health insurance carrier of the pending accident claim.

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How much is the health insurance lien?

When a hospital accepts health insurance, they have a contract allowing the carrier to adjust the bill down lower. Typically, private health insurance companies pay 40%, and public health insurance companies pay 30%. The reason that health insurance adjusts down the bills is because the medical industry inflates the bills. The medical industry accepts adjustments because they know they are never going to get dollar for dollar from a patient. Also, a patient would be reticent to even go to the doctor unless it was an absolute emergency.

The BI, they must credit the gross amount of the medical bills. The insurance industry considers this a windfall. But the courts allow injured parties to pocket the difference under what is known as the “collateral source rule”. Had the case gone to trial, a jury would deliberate on the gross bills and never hears about insurance.

Moreover, under the “unjust enrichment doctrine,” our car accident lawyers are able typically negotiate down the lien even further by 1/3rd. The rationale being that if the client did not pursue the claim, there would be no lien. The client is paying the attorney a 1/3rd contingency fee. Thus, the lien is reduced as well.

What’s an ERISA plan?

An ERISA is a self-funded health insurance plan. These are typically seen with clients that work for large companies. All the premiums go into a large pot. This is overseen by a third-party administrator. They are responsible for paying out submitted medical expenses out of those collective funds. An ERISA contrasts with a traditional insurance plan that pools premiums on a statewide, or even national basis.

The ERISA pot is much smaller than that of a traditional insurance pot. So, no negotiation is allowed.

Car Accident Lawyer

What if there’s no BI coverage? Or if the coverage is not enough?

Our New Hampshire car accident lawyers explain that there is no requirement to obtain automobile insurance in New Hampshire. Sometimes, we will receive a case inquiry involving a defendant who does not have any bodily injury (BI) insurance coverage. How will you know if there’s no coverage? If you are involved in a crash, the responding officer fills out an accident exchange form. That identifies the name and address of both parties and the name of their insurance company, if any.

For our car accident lawyers to take one of these cases, we need to explore whether there is uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Most people with their own auto insurance opt to pay the slightly higher premium to obtain UM coverage. The coverage covers the injured party if the defendant was uninsured or if there was a hit and run accident.

UM coverage is synonymous with underinsured (UIM) motorist coverage. Say the defendant only has a $25,000 BI, and you have $50,000 in UIM. You would be able to seek recovery for the remaining $25,000 through your UIM policy. New Hampshire does not allow “stacking” insurance policies. You couldn’t get the full $50,000 UIM policy on top of the $25,000 BI policy. You can only get the difference between the two. If the BI policy happens to be greater than the UIM policy, there would be no available UIM coverage. Seeking recovery through your UM or UIM policy will have no impact on your premium rates.

What if I’m not the type of person to sue?

Our New Hampshire car accident lawyers hear this all the time. There is nothing more that an insurance company loves than someone who takes this approach. Why? Because if you do not pursue your claim, the insurance company keeps the money for themselves.

The way the insurance industry works is as follows: The company collects billions of dollars in premiums and invests it. Even a 3% return on $1,000,000,000 is $30,000,000. Not bad.

The longer the money is invested, the higher the return is. Like a bank, an insurance company must have a certain amount of cash on hand to pay out car crash claims. At the beginning of the claim process, they have to set a cash reserve. This is what they might have to pay in a worst-case scenario.

Moreover, it is important to understand that at the beginning of a case you are just filing an insurance claim. You are not suing the defendant yet. The defendant doesn’t even know what the case settled for in the vast majority of cases.

Even if the case does have to go into litigation, our car accident lawyers are merely going after insurance coverage. Not only that, but the insurance adjuster calls the shots and pays for the defendant’s attorney. Rarely is the defendant involved in the decision-making process. In fact, the insurance adjuster prefers to keep them out of the process because they want control over the outcome when a car crash claim is presented to them. Afterall, they are the ones who pay. 

How long do I have to bring a case?

For a negligence case, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of injury. An injured party has three years to negotiate their claim with the insurance company. If a settlement is not reached, the claimant must file a lawsuit before that three-year time period elapses. With a minor, the SOL is suspended until the minor reaches 18 years old plus two years.

How long is the claim process going to take?

It depends on how long the client requires medical care following the car crash. Sometimes they only need a month. Or two years. Sometimes, they go all the way up to the statute of limitations. The firm’s New Hampshire car accident lawyers explain that if the case is pre-maturely negotiated, money is left on the table. Insurance companies love it when the claimant rushes the case because they can take a discount.

When the client’s injury is permanent, we do not have to wait until the end of the SOL. Our car accident lawyers can obtain an expert report quantifying a permanent partial impairment rating. The American Medical Association (AMA) Guidelines rate clients who reach a level of maximum medical improvement (MMI). The expert can also give an opinion on the duration and cost of future medical care.

Whenever you submit soft costs (projections) that invites the insurance adjuster to negotiate within a grey area.

What is my case worth?

The firm’s New Hampshire car accident lawyers get asked this question all the time. It is extremely difficult to provide a client with an accurate estimate of what a case is worth. Particularly at the beginning of the case because you don’t know the extent of the injuries sustained in the car crash yet. With that said, according to our team of car accident lawyers, the following are important factors.

What are the hard costs? These include medical bills and lost wages. How bad was the property damage? Did the client require ambulance transport to a hospital? How long did the client treat for?

Was the injury permanent from the car crash? If so, what was the permanent partial impairment rating? What is the insurance coverage? An insurance company has a fiduciary duty to protect the personal assets of their insurance.

We encourage you to review some of our results. They can give you some perspective on what your case may be worth. Prior results do not guarantee future outcomes, but it is nonetheless informative.

Before the car accident lawyer makes a settlement demand, we have an in-depth conversation with our clients. We discuss what we believe would be an appropriate settlement range for this accident claim, client expectations, and formulate a negotiation strategy.

It typically takes 30 days to commence negotiations.

What if I can’t afford to hire a lawyer?

Our car accident lawyers do not charge an hourly fee and there’s no up-front retainer payment. We work on a contingency fee basis. If we can resolve the case prior to filing a lawsuit, our contingency fee is 33.33% of the gross recovery. Our contingency fee if we can resolve the case in litigation is 40%. There is no fee unless we win.

Car Accident Attorney

What is my net recovery going to be?

A calculation of the net recovery is as follows. We get reimbursed our contingency fee and case costs. We pay out any liens, and the client receives the remainder as the net settlement proceeds.

The amount of our advanced case costs depends on the case. On smaller cases, our car accident lawyer cases costs will typically be negligible. On cases that require expert witnesses, our case costs will be slightly higher. With that said, we are generally able to retain experts for a reasonable flat fee. On cases that require litigation, case costs will typically increase in proportionally to the length of the case.

We work to strike a balance where we invest in the appropriate experts. The goal is to maximize the value of the accident claim in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

What am I going to have to do?

The client’s main responsibility in a car crash or accident claim is to follow their doctor’s orders and get better. We take the stress off your plate. We correspond with the insurance carriers, collect your medical records, draft a settlement demand package, and negotiate on your behalf. All cases are assigned to an attorney and a paralegal. Larger cases will involve a team of attorneys. All we ask, in the pre-suit stage, is to inform us on big-ticket items regarding your treatment.

We strive to make this process as smooth as possible so you get peace of mind. Afterall, you have already been through a traumatic car crash.

Am I going to have to go to court?

Most small accident claim cases get settled before a lawsuit. If you are not, our New Hampshire car accident lawyers can drive up the value of your case in litigation. The only time you must appear in court is for a trial. Approximately 95% of cases settle before trial. This means there will only be a 5% probability you will have to step foot in a courtroom.

New Hampshire has a mandatory mediation program. Before the case goes to trial, the parties participate in good faith settlement negotiations with a neutral party. Mediations are in half-day or full day sessions.

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What is litigation like?

In New Hampshire, the car accident lawyers complete discovery outside of the courtroom. There are two stages of discovery: written discovery and depositions. Written discovery involves turning over all the documents related to the case. These are Responses to Requests for Production of Documents. Also, providing written answers to questions concerning the case. These are Answers to Interrogatories. We are responsible for drafting the responsive documents and you are responsible for proving the information.

The client must give a deposition in a car crash case. A deposition consists of answering questions asked by the defense attorney under oath. Some depositions can less two hours or less. Some can last a full day. The length really depends on the complexity of the case. We will be present for your deposition to put you at ease. Our car accident lawyers object if there are any inappropriate questions. Additionally, we will spend a considerable amount of time preparing for your deposition. We want you to go into the process fully confident.

The only people at the deposition are the two attorneys, the deponent, and a stenographer. Depositions occur in one of the attorney’s conference rooms or over Zoom.

The New Hampshire court system moves very efficiently, trials are typically within 1.5 years.

What happens at mediation?

Our team of car accident lawyers will have an opportunity to provide the mediator with a memo. The memo distills the case down to its core issues and presents our arguments. The mediator will review the memo submitted from both sides to get up to speed on the case.

On the day of mediation, both sides will have an opportunity to do a presentation. For our more complex cases, we will compose a comprehensive power point presentation. The mediator will go back and forth between both rooms to narrow the gap between both sides. Settlement negotiations. involve a considerable amount of psychological game theory involved. We have taken negotiation classes at Harvard Business School. We take pride in our ability to obtain successful results in mediations.

Before an agreed upon settlement, we break down all the numbers. We want the client to know what their net recovery will be. They can make an informed decision on whether the settlement offer is acceptable in lieu of the risk of trial.

Is there anyway to invest the settlement proceeds?

For our larger cases, our New Hampshire car accident lawyers typically bring a structured settlement broker to our mediations. A structured settlement involves investing a portion of the net settlement proceeds into a guaranteed annuity product. We have seen net settlement amounts double and triple in value. This of course depends on the prevailing interest rates and the deferment period.

Personal injury settlements are tax free. The client can accept the tax-free settlement up front. They can invest it, but they will have to pay capital gains taxes on the growth. The insurance company funds the annuity. Therefore, it can grow tax free. Even at the time of distribution, the client will not have to pay any capital gains taxes on the growth. Effectively, there will be double tax protection.




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Professional and Empathetic Approach. I cannot say enough nice things about attorney Matthew Maalouf and his dedicated team at the Granite Law Group. My teenage son was involved in an accident that left him...


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