Frequently Asked Questions

What does “NO FAULT” mean?

No fault does not mean no responsibility.  No fault means that you have $10,000.00 of health insurance or disability insurance in your auto policy regardless of who caused the accident.  For example, you can run into a tree and be seriously injured and your own insurance company will pay your medical bills and for your time off work up to $200.00 a week.  You can also buy more than $10,000.00 of no fault.

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What should I do, I have been in an auto accident?

First, go to a hospital or an Urgent Care and get treated.  Second, call an attorney.  Third, do not speak with the insurance adjuster or the person who was at fault until you speak with a lawyer.  I strongly recommend that you not give a statement about the accident over the phone with any insurance company until you speak with a lawyer.  Next, call your own auto insurance company and ask them to send you an application for personal injury protection benefits/basic reparation benefits which is the application you need to get your medical bills and time off work paid for.

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What doctor should I go see?

If you have injured your neck or back, you should go see an orthopaedic surgeon, a neuro-surgeon or a chiropractor.  You should also go see your family doctor who will likely get you in quicker than any other doctor.  If you are having a lot of pain and problems after having been to the emergency room, go back to the emergency room.  Do not ignore your injury, do not believe that you will get better and put off seeing a doctor.

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Can I sue my mother/father/brother/spouse?

Yes, you can.  Do not let the insurance company convince you that you cannot sue the negligent driver whoever it is.  The insurance provides coverage for your injuries, pain, suffering and even inconvenience no matter what. 

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What if the person who hit me does not have auto insurance?

First in Kentucky, you have uninsured auto insurance; that is a requirement.  You have at least $25,000.00 of coverage if you have auto insurance yourself.  Thus, your own auto insurance will pay up to $25,000.00 for injuries caused in the accident by the uninsured driver.  I hope your insurance agent was fair to you and sold you more coverage than the minimum $25,000.00 of coverage for uninsured insurance.  Uninsured and underinsured insurance is insurance that you buy for yourself.  I strongly encourage everyone I speak to, to buy as much uninsured and underinsured and no fault benefits as you can afford to purchase.  It is really inexpensive.  It is insurance that you buy for yourself.  Don’t let your insurance agent only sell you minimum coverage or worse sign a waiver that eliminates uninsured and underinsured coverage.  Do not agree to a $1,000.00 deductible on your $10,000.00 fault benefits either.  The cost savings is not worth what you give up.

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What should I do when I have been in an accident?

First, call the police.  Second, if you are not to seriously injured collect the names of people who are at the accident scene, try to get phone numbers.  Write down license plate numbers.  Go to the hospital.  Get a business card from the police officer.  Make a note of the tow truck companies who come to the scene.  Take pictures of the cars on your cell phone.  Call a lawyer.

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When do I need a lawyer?

You need a lawyer immediately.  You need a lawyer even if the accident was your own fault.  The reason you need a lawyer even if the accident was your own fault is to make sure your insurance company pays you for the damages to your car, to make the insurance company pay for the care and treatment of your injuries, and to make sure you are treated fairly.  Insurance companies are in the business of making money not spending money.  The insurance adjuster you speak with is not your friend.  He is working for the insurance company.

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My insurance company is not paying for the full cost to repair of my car. I owe more money than the insurance company has offered to pay. What should I do?

If the accident was not your fault, the insurance company may try to get away without paying full damages.  You should call a lawyer.  You are entitled to the fair market value of your car.  You are also entitled to the loss of use of your car.  That means you are entitled to a rental car from the insurance company of the driver who hit you.  You are entitled to a rental car of equivalent size and value of your car.  If you drive a full size car, you are entitled to a full size rental car even a van not a mini-car.  You should obtain copies of advertisements from the newspaper, from the auto dealers and from the internet on Ebay or other such source for cars comparable to yours that are being offered for sale.  That is how to establish the fair market value of your car.  You may look at Kelly Blue Book or the NADA.  You can also call the property valuation administrator’s office and ask them to look up the value of your car for you which is the taxed value of your car. 

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I am not getting better, what should I do?

If you have not seen a doctor already, you need to see a doctor.  If you hurt your back or neck, or any place else, see your family doctor.  If you have been to your family doctor and he keeps telling you that you will get better in a few weeks, but you are not, go see an orthopaedic doctor, neuro-surgeon or chiropractor.  You do not need your family doctor to refer you to a specialist.  If you see a chiropractor and are not getting better from being treated by the chiropractor, move on to a neurologist or orthopaedist or visa versa.  Some people get better by doing physical therapy.  Some people get better using a chiropractor.  Some people get better using a pain management/anesthesiologist by getting trigger point injections.  There is no rule.  Try each one for a while and see if any help.  But you must go to a doctor.

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Am I in charge of how my insurance/personal injury protection money is spent? Who controls the payment of my medical bills or lost wages? Can I use my health insurance for medical bill payment and my auto insurance for lost wages?

First, you are in control.  You can tell your auto insurance company what to pay and what not to pay.  You can use your health insurance to cover your medical expenses.  You can use your auto insurance to cover your lost wages.  You must take control immediately.  It is important to have a lawyer assist you in controlling the payments.  You want to make sure you get all the treatment that you need and that you have money to live off of.

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What does my auto insurance/no fault insurance pay for?

The auto no fault personal injury protection (PIP) will pay for your medical expenses and lost wages up to $10,000.00 if you have the basic minimum policy.  Doctors like this insurance coverage.  If a doctor bills $100.00, he is paid $100.00.  It is different than health insurance.  The doctor bills a $100.00 to a health insurance company he/she, may only get paid half or less of what was billed.  Do not let the doctor’s office force you to use the auto insurance though if you have health insurance.  This is an important point and should be discussed with a lawyer.  You may need this $10,000.00 to pay for lost wages.  This is very important.

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What if the other person was at fault, but I was at fault also?

In Kentucky, we use pure comparative fault.  You can be 90% at fault and still recover for the 10% of the accident related injuries.  For example:  If a jury determines that the accident was 50% your fault, but 50% the other person’s fault and gives you an award of $10,000.00 you don’t’ receive $10,000.00 but receive 50% or $5,000.00.

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The insurance adjuster and police officer told me that Kentucky is a no fault state, do I lose my right to sue for my injuries?

It is very common for insurance adjuster and police officer to tell a person that Kentucky is a no fault state implying that there is no remedy for injuries caused by an auto accident.  This is not true.  No fault means you have health insurance in your auto policy.  Every person in Kentucky gave up their right to sue if they did not incur a $1,000.00 in medical bills or suffer a permanent injury or fracture to a weight bearing bone.  This condition though rarely applies.  If you have been to the hospital as a result of the accident, you have probably already incurred more than a $1,000.00 in medical bills.  An injury to the muscle in your back and neck can also be permanent.  A scar is permanent.  You have the right to recover for injuries in accidents in Kentucky.  “NO FAULT DOES NOT MEAN NO RESPONSIBILITY.”

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Why wasn’t the driver who caused the accident given a citation for causing the accident?

In Kentucky, the police do not determine who was fault in an accident.  That is why they say Kentucky is a “no fault state”.  The police do not give tickets to the person who caused the CRASH.  An auto crash is usually not a criminal investigation therefore the police do not file any charges.  This is different than many states.  For example, in Ohio a police officer will determine who caused an accident and give a ticket for disregarding a traffic light, stop sign, improperly changing lanes, by not maintaining assured clear distance or for careless driving for example.  Kentucky police do not do that.  Kentucky police will only give a citation if they actually witness the wreck.

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Why don’t’ Kentucky police issue tickets in car wrecks.

In Kentucky, the police officer generally does not do a very thorough investigation of the accident.  That is why it is important for you to collect names and phone numbers at the accident scene.  A prompt call to a lawyers should result in that lawyer hiring an investigator to obtain statements from the witnesses.  The police look at car accidents as civil matters not criminal unless, of course, someone is killed then they will do a full reconstruction of the accident.

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When will the insurance company settle my case?

Do not settle your case.  You are in control of your case.  If a lawyer wants you to settle your case for less than what you think it is worth, call a different lawyer.  Lawyers are allowed to consult with you, even if you already have another lawyer.  There is a big difference between a settling lawyer and a trial lawyer.

An insurance company will settle your case when you make an offer.  Insurance companies, these days, send insurance adjusters to your home very quickly after an accident to get a statement and to make an offer.  If you are hurt, do not accept the offer.  Injuries in auto accidents frequently take a long time to recover from and some times are permanent.  Do not take money because you need the money.  Do not take the money because the insurance adjuster indicates it is a fair amount. 

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The lawyer says I should settle my case, but it is not enough, what should I do?

Do not settle your case.  You are in control of your case.  If a lawyer wants you to settle your case for less than what you think it is worth, call a different lawyer.  Lawyers are allowed to consult with you even if you already have another lawyers.  There is a big difference between a settling lawyer and a trial lawyer.

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How should I know what lawyer I should hire?

You should hire a lawyer who has experience in handling auto accident cases.  You should hire a lawyer who has a trial court record of trying cases to juries.  The insurance companies know the difference between a trial lawyer and a settling lawyer.  If a lawyer always settle cases and never tries them, the insurance company knows this.  Hire a lawyer with experience and a lawyer who can show you cases he has tried to a jury.

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What is my case worth?

There is no given rule about the value of an injury.  The best way to appraise and tell the value or the worth of your case is to let a jury decide.  Generally, though, insurance companies evaluate cases and experienced lawyers also evaluate cases and assist in determining what the case is worth based on past experience.  However, you are in control of what your case is worth.  If the insurance company is not offering enough money, don’t’ take it.  Let a jury decide.

Ask your lawyer to use a focus group to assist in evaluating your case.  A focus group is a group of twelve to eighteen people who are given a summary of the facts of your case and of your injuries and then collectively provide input as to what they think the value of the case is.  This is usually good guide.  The focus group acts in much the same way a jury operates.

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What if I was in an accident and the car who hit me and caused the accident left? Can I recover for the injuries?

The answer is “yes.”  If the car hit your car or hit you and left you can recover from your own auto insurance company.  This would be an uninsured claim.  Do not let your own auto insurance company tell you that you cannot recover for your injuries, but this can be complicated especially if no one else witnesses the accident so you should call lawyer.

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Can I sue my insurance company when they refuse to pay?

Yes, you can.  Insurance companies have an obligation, by law in Kentucky, to negotiate in good faith and to make a fair settlement offer to you.  If they do not act fairly or reasonably, you can sue them for bad faith and violating the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act.

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I have a headache and don’t remember the accident, what should I do?

Head injuries and brain injuries are very common in auto accidents and are frequently undiagnosed.  If you lost consciousness or do not remember parts of the accident, you probably did hurt your brain.  These are called “closed head injuries.”  Doctors frequently ignore them or mis-diagnose them.  You need to be persistent in your complaints.  If you are sensitive to light, have lost part of your memory of the events of the day, have a headache, feel pressure in your eye or have difficulty focusing, you have likely suffered a brain injury.  You need to go to a neurologist or neuro-psychologist.  You may even want to go to an ophthalmologist to have him look at your optic nerve for evidence of swelling.  You should also go back to the emergency room if the pain persists.  You may insist on an MRI or a CT scan.  You may even insist on having imaging contrast used for the MRI or CT scan to help diagnose what is going on. 

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My Mom/Dad were killed in an auto accident, what can I do?

Kentucky recognizes loss of consortium claims.  This is the loss of the companionship, aid, assistance, society, services and love of your family member.  Just because you were not involved in the accident does not mean you do not have a claim.  This is a very serious claim and should be handled that way.  You need to call a lawyer.

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My child was killed in an auto accident, what can I do?

A parent has a loss of consortium claim for the loss of the companionship, aid, assistance, society, love and services of your child.  You should call a lawyer to help you with this claim.  This is a very serious claim.

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What if I don’t have auto insurance, but the accident was not my fault?

You still have the right to pursue the claim against the other driver for the injuries you have from this accident.  The difference is that you have lost the right to recover the first $10,000.00 of personal injury protection (PIP) benefits.  This means you have no automobile insurance to pay for your medical bills.  However, if you have health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid you can still get your medical bills paid for.  This does get complicated and you should call a lawyer.

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Who has the right to sue on my behalf for the loss of my parents in an auto accident?

The administrator or executor of the estate has the right and authority to file the lawsuit.  If you are eighteen or older, you will qualify to be the administrator or executor of the estate.  If you are a minor, the person who is appointed as a guardian of you has the right to hire a lawyer and protect your interest.   This is usually an older brother or sister or an aunt, uncle or grandparent.  You also may have the right to have input in who is going to care for you and protect you and represent you depending on your age in this case.

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Who has to pay my medical bills?

You own auto insurance has to pay your medical bills usually up to $10,000.00.  However, you can use your health insurance to pay for your medical bills and use your auto insurance to pay for your lost wages.  The insurance company must be notified of this election immediately or the insurance company may spend all the money on your medical bills.  This is a very important decision and a lawyer should help you.

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Am I entitled to my lost wages?

Yes, you are entitled to your lost wages.  You can collect up to $200.00 a week from your own auto insurance.  You can collect any disability insurance that you may have through your employer as well.  At the end of the case from a jury trial or settlement, all of your actual lost wages will be considered and be recovered.  The legislature set the cap at $2,000.00 over 30 years ago. 

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Do I have to pay my auto insurance company back for the medical bills they paid?

As a general rule, the person who caused the accident their auto insurance has to pay back your auto insurance company for the bills they paid.  It does not come out of your pocket.  You do not have to pay them back.  The other person’s auto insurance also has to reimburse you for your lost wages and for your pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience and other losses that you may have sustained in the accident.

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Do you have to pay your health insurance back for medical bills they paid as a result of the accident?

Yes, you do.  In fact, if your health insurance is through your employer (an ERISA Plan), you may have to pay them back 100% of what they paid.  Technically, health insurance companies are entitled to the first dollar before even attorney fees and the cost of the case are paid.  Though, most health insurance companies will negotiate a settlement for less than the 100%.  If you had Medicare or Medicaid, they are also entitled to be paid back.    A lawyers should help you negotiate this part of your case.

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