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708 N. Locust, Suite B, Pittsburg, Kansas 66762
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It is important to immediately speak to an attorney about your rights and responsibilities. Certainly do so before ever speaking to the other driver’s insurance company, and do not give a recorded statement. Insurance adjusters not only want to gain information, they want to hurt your case so they can pay you less money. The earlier you speak to an attorney the better, so that evidence can be secured. You also need to give notice to your own insurance company. The attorney will set up a file with both insurance companies, and then monitor your medical treatment and progress. Settlement negotiations cannot begin until you are done treating, or at maximum medical improvement. This is so the exact nature and extent of your injury and damages are known, because once you settle your case you cannot go back and seek more money if there was some injury or other damages that were not known at the time of settlement, or develop later. Once treatment is finished, the case should settle fairly quickly. If not, a lawsuit will need to be filed. Claims are either resolved between the parties by voluntary settlement, and if not settled then proceed to a jury trial, where the jury decides if the other person’s insurance company pays, and how much.No-fault insurance was created by the legislature to provide some limited benefits to injured motorists. Your own insurance company will pay no-fault benefits if you are injured in an accident, regardless of whether someone else is at fault, you were at fault, or no one was at fault. An auto accident claim cannot be settled until the individual is done treating, which can be many months in some instances. Before no-fault insurance was created, the injured motorists had no access to benefits such as medical bills or lost wages until treatment was finished and the case settled. No-fault insurance was created to assist during this period of time. When you recover from the other person’s insurance company, you usually have to pay back the benefits paid by your own company out of the settlement proceeds. There are exceptions, and an attorney can help to reduce and sometimes eliminate the lien your insurance company has on the settlement proceeds.Uninsured motorist coverage is designed to provide you with insurance coverage in the event you are injured by a driver who has failed to purchase liability insurance. Ordinarily, the uninsured limits will be the same as the liability limits you purchased. For instance, if you have purchased liability limits of $100,000 per person, this means that your insurance company will pay up to $100,000 if you injure someone else. Because you have followed the law and purchased insurance, you also protect yourself to that same extent, in the event that you are injured by someone who has no insurance. That is why you should not purchase minimum limits, rather should purchase the highest limits you can to protect yourself. You can usually increase your limits dramatically by only a few dollars a month in increased premium.In Kansas, adults ordinarily have two years from the date of the automobile accident within which to file a lawsuit. If you fail to have your lawsuit on file within that period of time, you are forever barred no matter how meritorious your claim. There are some exceptions where the statute can be tolled. Minors have up to one year after turning 18 within which to file their claim, but this cannot exceed eight years from the day of the accident.There really is no “average length of time”. The key is not how long it takes from the date of the accident to settlement, rather how long it takes from the time medical treatment is finished, or maximum medical improvement has been achieved. Prior to that a case should not be settled, because you do not know the full nature and extent of your damages. Once my clients are finished treating, I aggressively attempt settlement for a couple of months at most. If I have not settled the case, or made significant progress in that regard, I will go ahead and file the lawsuit as that process takes some time.