Frequently Asked Questions

As a client once told us, “Carpey Law is the information resource for accident victims in Pennsylvania.” We live by that every day, and we kept that in mind when designing this website. Attorney Stuart Carpey’s mission is to empower people to make informed decisions about their legal case. Below are some of the questions we at Carpey Law hear the most from clients and prospective clients. We have divided these questions up into categories to make it easier to find what you are looking for. Navigate the links below to view the FAQ pages for each category.

Car Accident | Personal Injury | Medical Malpractice

Car Insurance Coverage and Savings

  1. If I have full coverage on my car insurance policy, am I protected?
  2. If a friend borrows my car and is involved in an accident in Pennsylvania, does my insurance company pay for any damages?
  3. Can a car insurance company who represents the driver of a car who hit me deny payment to my doctor for my whiplash injury, when they accepted responsibility for their insured by paying for the repairs to my car and by paying for a rental car while my car was in the shop?

Liens and Lienholder’s Rights

  1. What is a Lien?
  2. What are Medicare liens? What are my rights of reimbursement?

Recoverable Damages in a Car Accident

  1. Following my Pennsylvania car accident, I could only return to work part-time. Am I eligible to recover money for lost wages?
  2. How much time will it take for me to recover damages in my Pennsylvania car accident case?
  3. Can I get money back for prescriptions that I’ve paid?

Repairing Your Car After an Accident

  1. The insurance company gave me a list of their Direct Repair Shops. Do I have to use one?
  2. The insurance company told me if I use a shop of my choice, I may have to pay more for repairs and may not get a lifetime guarantee. Is that true?
  3. Are there differences in repair estimates from one shop as compare to another?
  4. What are some important points I should look for in a repair facility?
  5. Will the insurance provider for the other driver cover the cost of my car repairs?

Choosing a Car Accident Attorney

  1. How should I prepare for my first meeting with my Pennsylvania car accident attorney?

Car Accident Settlements

  1. A friend of mine was in a car wreck and broke her arm. She said she got a lot of money. Will my case be worth as much as hers?

Liability in a Car Accident

  1. I was recently involved in a car accident which was caused by an equipment failure on the other driver’s car. Would this accident be considered the fault of the driver (car owner) or the car manufacturer?
  2. Something flew from a truck and struck my vehicle. Are there laws against improperly securing loads?
  3. The driver who hit me failed to stop at the red light / stop sign but is saying that he did stop. How do I prove that he is lying?

Protecting Yourself During a Car Accident Case

  1. What is a medical release? Should I sign one offered by the other driver’s insurance company?

Car Insurance Coverage and Savings

If I have full coverage on my car insurance policy, am I protected?

No. Full coverage is a misnomer. It means nothing. All you can be assured of if you purchased full coverage is that your insurance agent sold you the cheapest coverage he or she could. It does not mean you purchased full tort coverage. Ordering a policy from an insurance company online is also fraught with dangers. Full tort coverage means that if you or a family member are in any kind of car accident, and any kind of accident having to do with a “motor vehicle” (like a bus, truck, motorcycle, or even if you are pedestrian or on a bicycle and hit by a car), you have unrestricted access to proceed with a claim against the at-fault driver. Limited tort means that you and your family are much more restricted in your ability to get compensated for your injuries. There are exceptions to the limited tort problem, but generally, if you have a limited tort policy your injuries must be quite series to have access to the court system to protect your rights. Also, full coverage does not mean that you purchased uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage. These kinds of coverage protect you in the event the at-fault driver failed to insure his or her car or failed to carry enough coverage.  The point is that buying an auto insurance policy can be somewhat complicated. It is best to get as much information as you can about the kinds of coverage you need before agreeing to any policy.

If a friend borrows my car and is involved in an accident in Pennsylvania, does my insurance company pay for any damages?

Yes, unless your friend had his own insurance coverage, in which case his/her insurance coverage will be used. Also, your insurance company will not pay for any damages unless your friend had your permission to use your car. This is known as “permissive use” in insurance jargon. The kinds of damages the insurance company has to pay can vary as well. If your friend as at fault in the accident, then the insurance company may have to pay out of the liability portion of your policy for physical damages to anyone injured. So too, if there is property damage to the other driver’s car, by way of example, your insurance company would have to pay for that.

Can a car insurance company who represents the driver of a car who hit me deny payment to my doctor for my whiplash injury, when they accepted responsibility for their insured by paying for the repairs to my car and by paying for a rental car while my car was in the shop?

Insurance companies in Pennsylvania injury cases often try to save money by not paying accident victims. But here’s the real story: the insurance company for the other driver is not obligated to pay you anything! If they make an offer to settle your injury case, and how much they offer depends on a multitude of factors.

In a Pennsylvania car accident case, the other guy’s insurance company does not have to pay you medical bills. Your insurance company pays your medical bills. The other insurance company is required to defend their insured in any lawsuit that you file against the other driver, and “indemnify” their uninsured up to their insured’s policy limits-that means they will pay a verdict up to the amount of insurance coverage that their insured purchased. They do not have to settle your injury case before trial, although in many case insurance companies may be willing to settle personal injury cases, including whiplash cases. If you would like more information on this subject, you should consult an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer in your area (read the article on our website also) and decide whether it is best to settle your Pennsylvania personal injury case or whether it is best to go to court against the other driver.


Liens and Lienholder’s Rights

What is a Lien?

A lien is a property interest that a health insurance company, or the state or federal government, has against the proceeds of a personal injury settlement or verdict. Various governmental entities can also assert liens for money previously paid to individuals who later obtain a settlement or verdict. Those entities can be, for instance, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare for child support, cash assistance, or medical assistance. Other entities can include Medicare and Medicaid. Workers compensation carriers always have a lien against the proceeds of a settlement or verdict. There are specific rules that apply to all liens, including how they can be asserted in a personal injury case, and how they can be resolved.

What are Medicare liens? What are my rights of reimbursement?

First of all, attorneys are obligated to communicate with the Department of Public Welfare to find out what they claim they paid on behalf of our clients. An attorney then has to distinguish what The Department of Public Health say they paid vs. what is not related to the cause. For example, The Department of Public Welfare may provide a list of 10-20 medical providers and the bills correlated with those medical providers that the Department of Public Welfare say they paid on behalf of the injured client. The attorney then should look through the medical records and bills to determine what was related to the accident and inform the Department of Public Welfare. The attorney should then wait until the Department of Public Welfare responds to the information that was provided to clarify that the bills were in fact unrelated. Once they do that, they also send an updated list that both sides agree was paid on behalf of the client. The attorney is then obligated to provide the Department of Public Welfare with all of the information that they ask for about the case. They are obligated to inform them what the litigation expenses are. The Department of Public Welfare then goes through a calculation by which they reduce their lien or the amount of money they say they’re entitled to be paid back. Attorneys have to get that approval from the Department of Public Welfare before they are permitted to disburse funds to the client following the case.

 


Recoverable Damages in a Car Accident

Following my Pennsylvania car accident, I could only return to work part-time. Am I eligible to recover money for lost wages?

Yes. If injuries from your Pennsylvania car accident have caused you to take time off from work, then it may be possible for you to recover damages for the difference between your normal, full-time hours and your current, part-time hours. It is important, however, to prove that your injuries were responsible for your time off from work. To prove this, you will need a note from your doctor which offers insight into why you needed to take time off.

How much time will it take for me to recover damages in my Pennsylvania car accident case?

It is understandable that you want to know when to expect your case to end. You have mounting medical expenses, lost wages to worry over, and property damage to pay for. To be compensated to the fullest, and as soon as possible, the best idea is for you to speak to a Pennsylvania car accident attorney immediately. Every personal injury case is unique, and the time it takes to complete a case and recover damages depends on many factors, all of which you will discuss with your attorney. Throughout the process, be honest and detailed in your account of your accident.

Can I get money back for prescriptions that I’ve paid?

Yes. Payment for prescription medicine and devices are reimbursed directly to you if you’ve paid the pharmacy directly. The bills get submitted to your own insurance company and they will issue a check to you for reimbursement.

Repairing Your Car After an Accident

The insurance company gave me a list of their Direct Repair Shops. Do I have to use one?

No. You are the vehicle’s owner and can choose any repair facility. Your insurance company cannot require you to go to any particular shop.

The insurance company told me if I use a shop of my choice, I may have to pay more for repairs and may not get a lifetime guarantee. Is that true?

No. All repair shops work with the insurance company to negotiate the proper repair of your vehicle.

Are there differences in repair estimates from one shop as compare to another?

While you may expect the cost of repairs to be very similar from one shop to another, estimates may vary greatly. Estimates between repair shops may vary for the following reasons:

  • Difference in the parts that are used in the estimate
  • A lower initial estimate may not have included all the necessary work. Once the car is taken apart during the repair process, the insurance company is called to look at the vehicle in order to authorize the payment of additional work.
  • Differences in labor rates between repair shops

What are some important points I should look for in a repair facility?

Make sure the shop has the proper equipment:

  • Unibody frame repair bench;
  • Three dimensional measuring system;
  • Compression resistance spot welder to duplicate factory welding techniques;
  • Computerized four wheel alignment machine to complete the repair by discovering damage to the suspension system that was caused indirectly by the accident;
  • Proper paint mixing that is able to color match your vehicle; and,
  • Factory, ASE, certified or I-CAR trained technicians.

Will the insurance provider for the other driver cover the cost of my car repairs?

Sometimes the other driver’s insurance company will cover the cost of repairs to your car or other automobile. However, this does not always happen. For example, if the cause of the accident is disputed the other driver’s insurer may not want to pay for your repairs.
You can, however, have your own insurer cover the cost of repairs if you have purchased “collision coverage” as part of your insurance plan. It could work out better this way. Your insurance provider may actually offer a better repair service than the other guy’s.

Choosing a Car Accident Attorney

How should I prepare for my first meeting with my Pennsylvania car accident attorney?

To best prepare for your first meeting with your Pennsylvania car accident attorney (which is a very important meeting) you should gather anything and everything pertaining to your case. This includes:

  • Medical reports describing the injuries you sustained during your accident
  • Police reports (if you have them)
  • Estimates regarding damage to your property
  • The names/addresses of people who witnessed the accident
  • Any photos you took at the crash site
  • The name of doctor(s)
  • A privacy waiver which allows your attorney to speak with your doctor about your injuries

 


Car Accident Settlements

A friend of mine was in a car wreck and broke her arm. She said she got a lot of money. Will my case be worth as much as hers?

Each case is different, and must be evaluated from a point of view of what the medical records say about the injuries, and what your doctor can say about your injuries when asked to do so in court. It is extremely important in an accident case to know how the injury affected the injured person’s life, and whether the injured person missed time from work or was debilitated in some other way. All of these factors go into evaluating a case. Since everyone is different, and not all injuries are exactly the same, the value for each case has to be different.

Liability in a Car Accident

I was recently involved in a car accident which was caused by an equipment failure on the other driver’s car. Would this accident be considered the fault of the driver (car owner) or the car manufacturer?

Often, equipment failure is found to be the fault of the car owner as he or she likely did not provide adequate maintenance to the car. However, equipment failure sometimes occurs spontaneously and did not result from inadequate maintenance. In this case, specifics are necessary and you should contact an attorney to discuss the situation.

Something flew from a truck and struck my vehicle. Are there laws against improperly securing loads?

Yes. Truck drivers are required by law to secure their cargo, as well as all other equipment on the truck. They must also perform periodic inspections of the cargo to ensure that is still secure. If you have been in any way injured in an accident due a truck driver’s failure to secure his or her load, you may be entitled to compensation.

The driver who hit me failed to stop at the red light / stop sign but is saying that he did stop. How do I prove that he is lying?

If the situation devolves into finger-pointing, it is best to be as detailed about the accident with the police and let them make their assessment of the accident. Crash site investigators are trained in determining the cause of an accident. They should be able to weigh in. However, if for some reason the crash site investigators cannot determine conclusively who caused the accident, you should seek the advice of a Pennsylvania accident attorney. Your attorney can do some leg work, interviewing witnesses, obtaining any surveillance footage, and hiring more crash site investigators.

Protecting Yourself During a Car Accident Case

What is a medical release? Should I sign one offered by the other driver’s insurance company?

When the other driver’s insurance company asks you to sign a medical release following a Pennsylvania auto accident they likely want to pore through your medical history and find any reason why your injuries were caused by something other than the accident. It is generally not a good idea to sign a medical release — especially not before consulting with an attorney. Signing a medical release can also be problematic if, after signing the release, more injuries develop that are related to your Pennsylvania auto accident. It is a good practice to never sign a medical release from the other driver’s insurer without first seeking advice.


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