Car Accidents

Seattle School Zone Times and Safety

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There is not greater cause than to keep our children safe as they learn to integrate into our society and learn the dangers of society. School zone safety mechanisms are such causes.

We make 20 mph speed limits in school zones so people can safely stop when an unexpected child runs out into the middle of the street because they were chasing a ball, running to their parents, or playing tag. Children in grade school, especially, are learning basic life skills and may not be aware of the true dangers of walking or running around busy school streets.

Seattle has so many school zones that you may miss them if you are driving in an area that you are not familiar with. This could lead to a $234 ticket by camera or by police officer, if you are driving over 20mph while the flashing lights are on or children are present.

For the 2017-2018 school year, Seattle school districts changed some of the usual hours for schools. Instead of grade schools starting at 9am and going until 3pm, most grade schools are now starting at 7:55am and going until 2:25pm. However, on Wednesdays, schools have early releases at 1:10. This means that the school zones will go on earlier and you may be caught unaware if you are not careful.

Most Seattle middle schools and high schools changed from 7:45am starts and going until 2:15pm to 8:55-3:45 and getting out at 2:30 on early dismissal Wednesdays. For a complete list of school schedules, check out the Seattle school districts site here.

The reason for the change in times was because of studies showing that younger children are wide awake early in the morning while teenagers and other young adults need more sleep in the morning.

According to the Seattle school districts website, School zone cameras and flashing warning signals generally start 40 minutes before a school starts and lasts until about 10 minutes after school is to start. Additionally, the school zone cameras and warning signals start 10 minutes before school gets out and ends 30 minutes after school ends.

No one wants to see their child or anyone else’s child hit by a car. There is no more of a horrific scene than to see your young, innocent loved one struck by a car. Car accidents are devastating events that are easily preventable with care and attention for those around you. Drive safely and anticipate others. Drive slow in school zones for your children and other children’s safety and well being.

Andrew CherinSeattle School Zone Times and Safety
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Seattle Car Accident Injury Case with Pemco

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If you are injured in a car accident with someone who has Pemco insurance, here are some things you should know before settling your case.

Pemco is in the business of making money.

They are not in the business of handing out money they don’t have to. If you are injured in a car accident and representing yourself, you are going to be fighting an uphill battle. They have the money and you have not experience negotiating about how much an injury case is worth. Therefore, they are only going to offer and pay you what they want to pay you, not what you deserve.

Pemco is only going to pay for your medical bills once you settle with them.

This can be problematic for people that do not have a lawyer and do not have PIP insurance. PIP insurance is an auto policy that you can purchase that will pay for your medical bills while you wait to settle your case with Pemco.

What can you do if Pemco is not paying for your medical bills?

Pemco will generally only offer to pay for your bills right now if you qualify for their PIP insurance under the defendant’s policy. Generally, the only way you can qualify for their PIP insurance is if you were hit by their insured while riding a bike, walking across a street, or as a passenger of their insured. You can use your PIP insurance, medical insurance, or pay back your medical providers on a lien out of the settlement.

Do not settle your car accident injury case with Pemco until you are fully healed or the extent of your injuries are known.

Pemco will pressure you into settling your case early by telling you that they will not pay anything more so you better take the money they are offering now even though you are not done with your medical treatment. Tell them you do not want to talk to them until you are fully healed. In Washington State, you have three (3) years to settle your case so there is generally a lot of time to heal after a car accident and not feel pressured to settle by Pemco.

How much is your case worth against Pemco in a car accident in Seattle?

Generally, you are entitled to pain and suffering, medical bill compensation, and lost wages, among other things. The best way to maximize the value of your case against Pemco is to hire a Seattle car accident injury lawyer. Hiring a lawyer does not mean that you will have to file a lawsuit, contrary to many beliefs. It does mean maximizing your case value by have an lawyer who only negotiates car accident injury settlements, negotiate your settlement and lower your medical bills.

Hiring a Seattle personal injury lawyer is easy and costs you nothing.

Personal injury lawyers are paid out of the settlement and studies show that people that hire a car accident injury lawyer for their case put twice as much money in their pocket as those who do not hire a lawyer and try to settle on their own, even after lawyers fees are taken out.

Andrew CherinSeattle Car Accident Injury Case with Pemco
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What to do after being injured in a car accident?

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If you have been injured in a Seattle area car accident, you can quickly become overwhelmed with paper work from your insurance company and the defendants insurance company. You may have a lot of questions such as: Who should repair your car? Who should pay for your medical bills? Whose claim number should you use to give to your chiropractor or physical therapist?

Who should repair your car?

Generally, you can go with the defendant’s insurance company to repair your car and you will generally be treated fairly. However, there are a couple conditions for this statement. If your car has minimal damage, you may want to consider having your own insurance company cover the damages to your car.

The reason for this is because you do not want the other company to get the advantage of seeing your car when you can’t see their car’s damage, which may show much more than the damage to your car. Bumpers are solid and made to absorb impact but front ends of car are generally not as well protected, so your car may show little to no damage while their car shows a lot, which can be misleading showing a low impact. Low impact cases will limit the value of your case without a lawyer.

Another reason, is if your car is fairly new with very little mileage on it. If your car has very little mileage and is less than one year old, you are entitled to a diminished value claim which can be worth a few thousand dollars. You will want to have an attorney representing you for this portion of your case if you have a new car.

What claim number should you give your medical providers?

You should never give the defendant’s claim number to your chiropractor, physical therapists, etc. This gives the defendant insurance company and early view of your case and may increase phone calls pressuring you to settle your case. Only give your PIP claim number or medical insurance information to your medical providers.

Who should pay for your medical bills?

The defendant’s insurance company will pay for your medical bills, eventually. However, they will not pay for your medical bills up front unless you are hit by a car as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or were riding passenger in a car that was at fault for a collision. You must wait until you are fully healed and then the defendant’s insurance will settle with you for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering in one lump sum. They will never pay for you medical bills as you go and your bills will be sent to collections.

Who pays your medical bills right now then?

You have a couple of options to pay for your medical bills including your auto insurance policy persona injury protection plan, medical insurance, or pay them back on a lien basis out of the settlement.

Personal injury protection is an auto insurance policy that you can elect to have or not. Generally, it is $10,000 but some people elect to pay a little more for higher limits. Personal injury protection will cover your medical bills and lost wages. You do not need to have a referral from a medical doctor to see a physical therapist, chiropractor, etc., when using PIP, although it may help with your overall case.

Chiropractors can refer you to physical therapists, take x-rays, refer out for MRI’s, and refer you out to specialists. This is why starting with a chiropractor can be an excellent first stop to start your healing process after a car accident.

Medical insurance can be used for your car accident injury case to pay for medical bills right now while you are waiting to settle your case. Medical insurance often covers large hospital bills and other doctors’ appointments. However, medical insurance is not taken by some chiropractors. Additionally, most insurance plans do not include massage therapy or acupuncture, two types of therapy that really help people injured in car accidents heal faster.

Medical liens are a good option for those who do not have personal injury protection on their auto policy nor have medical insurance that is accepted by chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, etc. Most medical providers will allow you to obtain medical treatment on a lien basis as long as you have an attorney representing you for your car accident injury case. The medical providers will want you and your attorney to sign a lien that guarantees payment out of the settlement.

If you have any questions about your car accident injury case, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for a free consultation (206) 850-6716 or andrew@lawcherin.com. Hiring a personal injury lawyer does not mean filing a lawsuit but does mean maximizing the value of your case. Most cases do not need to go to trial but can be settled outside of court and usually within a couple months of you completing your treatment.

Andrew CherinWhat to do after being injured in a car accident?
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Can honking your horn get you a ticket?

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The other day my wife told me that she saw a Facebook post from a local mom’s group that someone had gotten a ticket from Seattle police for honking at someone to move on a green light. I was somewhat surprised that the person was given a ticket, as I am sure you are as well. The Facebook group said that you are only allowed to honk in emergency situations.

The law in Seattle for honking your horn is found in RCW 46.37.380. It states that the driver of a motor vehicle shall when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation give audible warning with his or her horn but shall not otherwise use such horn when upon a highway.

Since the law states that you can use your horn when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation of driving it is up to someone’s interpretation whether you were using it to make someone safe. Therefore, the judge could review the infraction and determine whether someone was acting reasonably when they honked their horn at another person who was not going on a green light. The person’s argument could be that because the light was green, they would fear that someone may rear end them if they do not start moving soon.

The law does not state that it has to be an emergency, it only states that honking the horn will insure safe operation of the car. What is safe operation of the car? Safe operation of the car could be anything, really. It could be to warn someone not to turn into them that may not see you in their blind spot in order to avoid a car accident. It could be to make someone aware of you that is trying to turn right in front of you.

What it is not, however, is something that is from road rage. You cannot honk at someone because they cut you off for incessant amount of time. One honk warning them that they might hit you should be ok. Blaring on the horn is not ok after that point. This probably also means that you cannot honk at your friend to come out of the house because you are here. Basically, you cannot honk your horn for anything other than to warn or make other drivers aware of what you are doing or what they are doing to keep each other safe, seems like a reasonable interpretation of the statute.

 

 

Andrew CherinCan honking your horn get you a ticket?
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Common Courtesy Wave Could Lead to Trouble

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The other day a man was driving his car trying to turn left across traffic. A woman stopped to let him across because traffic was congested She motioned him to come through the intersection but another car came flying up in the lane next to her and hit the guy trying to turn left. Who is at fault for a situation like this?

Obviously the driver who was taking a left has to yield for oncoming traffic so he is liable at first glance, but what about the woman who signaled him across? Shouldn’t she take some blame by so adamantly waving him across in a way saying, “traffic is clear buddy, you better hurry up and take my nice gesture”? Or should the guy be 100% liable as he should have gone slow and checked the next lane? What if he couldn’t see very far down the next lane?

In general, the person waving another person through an intersection has no duty to the other driver to keep them safe from harm but only to make sure they do not hit the other person. However, once the driver signals to the other driver to come through their intersection, this person may be undertaking a duty to the driver they waved through the intersection.

The case would hinge on how much of a duty the court viewed the woman who signaled the man through the intersection has by the wave. If the wave was an emphatic one that made it appear that there was no more traffic and the coast is clear, a court may find the woman has undertaken a duty to act reasonable with the safety of another driver she has now signaled. However, if the court found that the wave was just a signal to the other driver she is letting him through but not that there is more traffic coming, this could alleviate her responsibility for the car accident.

The moral of the story is to be extra careful when waving cars through an intersection when you do not have control over drivers that are behind you and lanes that are next to you. You may be at fault for waving someone through an intersection or into traffic that you otherwise would not have been.

Andrew CherinCommon Courtesy Wave Could Lead to Trouble
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Drunk Driving Car Accidents

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Being injured in a Seattle car accident with a drunk driver can have life altering consequences. In the flash of an eye, the drunk driver can seriously alter the course of someone’s life and their family’s lives as well.

Drunk driving is a serious issue even today with all of the potential ways to get home besides driving themselves, like Uber, Lyft, Lightrail, the bus, etc. There are too many options to make the excuse that someone had to drive home from the bar or club when they were drunk. This excuse is inexcusable.

How to recover against a drunk driver?

If you are injured in a car accident with a drunk driver, you can make a claim against their insurance company. The minimum limits on insurance coverage in Seattle is $25,000, hardly enough to even cover one hospital bill.

With some statistics showing nearly 50% of people driving around with bare minimum or no insurance coverage, everyone should get uninsured or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage added to your policy today. UIM insurance stands in and covers the additional damages that you suffered that were not covered by the policy of the drunk driver. This can cover lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, etc. Depending on how much coverage you buy, this could significantly help you if you are hit by a drunk driver.

What if the defendant and your UIM insurance is not enough?

Drunk driving car accidents cause drastic injuries that can have $500,000 in medical bills alone. If you or the defendant don’t have combined car insurance policies of $1,000,000 or more, you probably are not getting completely compensated for your injuries.

In the likely event that there is not enough insurance coverage to go around, you may have to look for other avenues to obtain compensation for your injuries. If other cars were involved, you may have another avenue to pursue that car’s insurance coverage.

Bars and restaurants can be liable for their drunk drivers

However, a more likely source of recovery is the bar or bars that the defendant who was drunk driving got hammered at. Bars are liable for over serving alcohol to people that are obviously intoxicated. The reason is that bars are making money off of selling lots and lots of alcohol, often taking advantage of people who are too drunk to understand when they have had too much to drink.

The state of Washington, like many other states, believes that bar owners and serves should prevent people from getting too drunk to drive. In Washington state, the legal blood alcohol limit is .08, which can be as little as two alcoholic drinks. Many people drink far more than two alcoholic drinks when they frequent a bar.

To make bar owners and servers more responsible so they don’t take advantage of drunk people and to keep drunk drivers off the road, the state of Washington created a statute which holds bars responsible for their patrons who get too drunk and hit someone while drunk driving. This is called the dram shop statute.

What is the dram shop statute?

The dram shop statute states that bars must refuse to serve people that are obviously intoxicated or they will be responsible for injuries that are caused by the drunk driver. The state requires training for bar tenders to detect over intoxicated patrons.

Bars are jointly and severely liable for the injuries caused by drunk drivers that got drunk at their bar. This means that the bar can be responsible for 100% of the damages that are caused despite the other person’s fault in driving drunk.

Bars in Seattle are generally required to have a minimum of $1,000,000 in liability insurance for these very reasons.

Dram shop cases are very tough and require a lot of investigation to determine that someone was over served while at a certain bar. However, most people go to bars or clubs with friends. There will be witnesses to see how drunk someone was at the bar or club and someone saw them continue to be able to buy drinks besides obvious signs of intoxication.

Witnesses are hard to find and their testimony may become vague or clouded over time. For these reasons, it is important to hire a Seattle personal injury lawyer as soon as possible in order to collect and preserve vital evidence to your injury case. Call today for a free consultation (206) 850-6716 or email andrew@lawcherin.com

Andrew CherinDrunk Driving Car Accidents
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Tailgating causes traffic not slow drivers?!

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I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal from October 12, 2016 that stated that driving slow and steady in traffic is better at relieving traffic than tailgaters who are actually causing traffic jams.

The article was written around a theory by Seattle engineer William Beaty. Mr. Beaty theorized that by driving slower and leaving a gap in front of you, you can maintain your speed while allowing others to merge or exit in front of you as they please, easing bottlenecks.

The theory is that traffic jams are created when people who are not in the exit lane but need to get into the exit lane merge over at the last second but are blocked by people not allowing them in by tailgating. This causes the lane that the person trying to exit to slow down because the late merging car needs to get over first before they can go around them. This can push traffic back for miles depending on how congested traffic is at the time.

People that tailgate leave no room for people to merge into an exit lane or from an onramp, slowing down traffic behind that car. This pushes traffic back, when had they let the car merge into their lane, traffic in the last minute exiter or merger could continue to move freely without braking.

The theory is that if everyone left space for others to merge over or let people merge over as soon as they want, traffic would freely flow, assuming that everyone is driving at the same speed. Speeders, tailgaters, last minute decision makers are the ones that are actually causing traffic jams, not the slow steady moving traffic people.

Tailgating causes car accidents when the car in front of them unexpectantly has to slam on their brakes. This causes a rear end car accident and injuries to the person and backs up traffic for miles as the cars have to pull over to the side of the road or sit their waiting for ambulance, tow trucks, and or police to arrive. Car accidents can block multiple lanes and even the whole freeway depending on how severe the injuries suffered in the car accident are.

Seattle already has some of the worst traffic in the US and it is only getting worse with some estimates stating 250 people are moving into the city every day. We do not have the best bus, light rail, or train system set up to handle the large amount of people that have to commute into Seattle every day so we must learn to be better drivers and avoid car accidents as much as possible.

Popular thought is that people need to speed and shorten distance between cars in order for traffic to continue to flow. This new theory comes counter to popular thinking but could work, if everyone maintained speed and did not accelerate, allowing others to merge in front of them so that traffic continues to flow with no one hitting their brakes.

Andrew CherinTailgating causes traffic not slow drivers?!
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Should you call the police after a car accident?

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If you are injured in a car accident, you absolutely should call the police to come to the scene of the crime. Many people believe that they don’t have to call the police and they shouldn’t call the police because it will take too long for them to get there and the other person seems like a nice person.

While most people are good and honest people, some people will try anything they can to get out of owing something to someone, including a car accident that will go on their record, a ticket, and increased rates. They may try to lie about how the car accident happened or lie about their name and insurance information. Police will not stand for this and get the correct information for you.

If you do not call the police to the scene of a car accident, you are setting yourself up for a he said she said battle. This can end badly for you if you are injured in a car accident but there were no other witnesses and they create a story that sounds good, especially if you rear ended them or it was a T-bone type car accident.

Generally, when someone rear ends another person, they are at fault for the car accident and subsequent injuries that are caused. However, there are situations where someone pulled out in front of them or merged into their lane that caused a rear end car accident. These situations need witnesses to prove who caused the car accident.

Calling the police to the scene of a car accident is in your best interest if the other person caused the car accident. Police can document the scene of the car accident, take down witness reports, and take down insurance information for each party.

The other person will not run when they hear the police are being called and you have their license plate number. Saying that you are calling the police to the person that caused the car accident creates a need for them to stay at the scene. This is because if they try to flea the scene, they could be charged with a felony for hit and running, depending on the damage that they caused.

Getting witness statements and phone numbers is vital to any car accident injury case. Without independent witnesses, those people not related to you or friends of yours, you will have a battle of he said she said, even when police come to the scene. It is very important that at the very least, you flag down the person driving near you to get their phone number. You may never have to use it but their information can be vital to prove what really happened in a car accident.

Andrew CherinShould you call the police after a car accident?
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Why you should use your insurance in a car accident?

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I have heard it a thousand times, people believe that it is not good to use their own insurance in a car accident injury case. They want to go through the other party’s insurance to repair their car. This is not a good idea, especially if you are injured in the car accident.

You have car insurance for this very reason, yet many people want to not get their insurance involved because they believe that their insurance premiums will go up to a point where they cannot afford.

New flash: your insurance company will get wind of your car accident one way or another. Insurance companies like to talk and chances are the defendant’s insurance will report that you were in a car accident. Your insurance will get wind of it one way or another.

If your insurance company wants to raise your rates because you were injured in a car accident caused by someone else, that is a problem with the company and not you. You should find another company if this is the case. How dare you use your insurance for something that you pay a premium to them every month for! Trust me, there are many insurance companies out there that want your premium every month and they will charge you less than what your insurance company charges.

Here are the three reasons you want to use your insurance for a car accident injury case:

  1. Your insurance company has an obligation to treat you fair: This means that they cannot play games with evaluating you and your injuries. The other insurance company has no obligation to you and will try to convince you to drop your claim against them or diminish it as much as possible.
  2. The other insurance company will get an unfair look at your car damage and not give you the same courtesy: Often times in a car accident, the car that rear ends another car often has much more damage then the car that they hit. This is because rear car bumpers are generally much sturdier than the front bumper, which also house the hood and lights. If they have your damages and your car didn’t suffer much, they may try to claim a low impact case without revealing their insured’s major damages, which can pigeon hole your case and make you settle for much less than you deserve.
  3. You pay a lot of money in premiums to cover your car repair and medical damages with PIP premiums, why not use it? You should go through your own insurance company to pay for your medical bills because the other insurance company will not pay for your medical bills until you settle your case with them. This means that your hospital bill will go to collections and you may not be able to use your medical insurance to cover physical therapy, chiropractor, and massage therapy that you need. However, PIP covers all of these expenses immediately so that your bills do not go to collections and you can get the treatment you need now.
  4. PIP puts money in your pocket: If you use your PIP to pay for your medical bills and hire a Seattle personal injury lawyer to represent you in your car accident injury case, you will get more money in your pocket. This is because your car accident injury lawyer will be able to lower the amount you owe back in medical bills to insurance companies if you use your own PIP, which you wouldn’t get if you didn’t have a lawyer. The other insurance company would just pay back the other insurance company directly for the bills.

If you have been injured in a car accident, you can give Chern Law Firm a call today for a free consultation. Cherin Law Firm charges on a contingency fee, which means that we do not get paid unless you recover money. We do not charge you out of your own pocket. We are paid out of the settlement that the insurance company pays.

Andrew CherinWhy you should use your insurance in a car accident?
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When to use your insurance and when to use the defendant’s?

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There seems to be a lot of misguided information and confusion around the topic of whose insurance you should use following a car accident injury case to pay for your medical bills. Mistakenly, many people don’t want their insurance rates to go up so they try to avoid using their car insurance policy as much as possible since the other person was at fault. This is bad and here is why.

The defendant’s insurance will not pay for your medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages, until you settle with them.

This means that the defendant’s insurance company will not pay for your medical bills until you come to a settlement with them, which should only be when you are fully healed and have completed all your medical treatment. There is one exception, this doesn’t apply to people who are injured while using a bike or as a pedestrian, which are entitled to the defendant’s PIP (personal injury protection) policy, which acts like medical insurance and pays for your medical bills. If you are injured in a car accident, you can only use your own PIP if you are the driver. If you were the passenger, you get to use the driver’s PIP as well as your own, if you have a separate policy.

In the mean time, who is paying for your medical bills?

Since the defendant’s insurance company will not pay for your medical bills suffered in the car accident, who is going to pay for your medical bills and stop them from going to collections? If you have a PIP plan with your car insurance, you should absolutely use it.

PIP pays for any and all medical treatment such as hospital bills, ambulance rides, emergency room bills, chiropractor visits, physical therapy, massage therapy, doctors visits, and more. Most people have $10,000 in PIP benefits but some have $35,000 or more. Check out your insurance policy or call your insurance adjuster to find out how much you have.

If you run out of PIP, you can use your medical insurance to continue paying for medical treatment so long as the treatment is covered according to your policy and the treatment provider is ok with using it.

Additionally, some medical facilities will allow you to pay them back out of the settlement and continue to get treatment after your PIP has been exhausted. However, most medical facilities will require you to have a personal injury lawyer represent you and have them sign an agreement that says they are entitled to be repaid out of the settlement for their treatment of you.

What claim numbers do you give to your medical providers?

It is important that you give your PIP claim number to all of your medical providers especially hospitals and ambulances who will send you to collections very quickly if they are not paid within a couple months of service. You should not give the defendant’s insurance claim numbers to your medical providers, as they cannot bill them and the claim will be rejected, which may make the medical facility send you to collections.

Give your PIP claim number to all of your medical providers at the outset of your appointments so that all billing goes through your PIP.

They were responsible, shouldn’t they pay?

Yes, and they will. The defendant’s insurance company will repay all medical bills that have been paid by your PIP policy, medical insurance, and those you paid out of pocket or are waiting to pay back on a lien. This will come out of the settlement in addition to compensating you for your lost wages and pain and suffering.

Using PIP puts more money in your pocket

All medical bills are subject to being paid back by the defendant’s insurance company and to whoever paid them. However, if you hire a car accident injury lawyer to represent you for your injuries, your lawyer will be able to reduce the amount of PIP benefits that you have to pay back by at least 1/3, putting that money in your pocket, instead of your insurance company’s pocket. This is because you hired a lawyer to represent you and attorney’s fee are usually 1/3 of the settlement. State courts have found it unfair for the PIP insurance company to benefit from your hiring of a lawyer, who obtains money for their repayment out of the settlement.

Scared of racking up too many bills?

If you are scared of racking up too many bills because you believe you may not be able to get them paid for out of a car accident settlement, you should contact a car accident injury lawyer today. The Cherin Law Firm offers free consultations and will answer all your questions about your case, case value, PIP benefits, etc. Additionally, the Cherin Law Firm is paid out of the settlement and charges 1/3 of the settlement, which never comes out of the client’s pocket. Therefore, anyone can afford our services but you cannot afford not to have a lawyer representing you against the insurance company who are professional negotiators.

Andrew CherinWhen to use your insurance and when to use the defendant’s?
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