What Is Your Financial Responsibility?
Motor vehicle accidents cause many hardships. In a matter of seconds, your life can be changed for the worse, temporarily or even permanently.
It costs money to repair or replace your car and to obtain temporary transportation
If you do not have your normal means of transportation you will be stuck renting a car at considerable cost or you will have to rely on friends and family for rides. Buses can help if you are lucky enough to live on a bus line but it is hard to get everywhere you need to go relying strictly on public transportation in Nebraska. In many large cities like Washington DC, Chicago or New York, it is impractical to drive and store a car. In those places, many people chose not to own a car. Things are a lot different here. There are no subways in Nebraska. Most people depend on their cars to do many things. Rental cars typically cost about $25 per day for the rental fee. If you did not have full coverage insurance of your own, that is insurance that includes collision coverage, you will have to pay for optional insurance coverage at a cost of $25 or more a day.
In Nebraska, the Department of Insurance does not require insurance companies to pay for insurance on a rental car. Some will pay the full cost of a rental but usually only for a short period of time. If you have full coverage insurance on one of your own vehicles, it can usually be used to cover a rental vehicle. This varies from company to company and you should consult with your insurance agent before making the decision about whether or not to get the optional insurance from the rental agency. It is always important to discuss what the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay for with their adjuster when renting a vehicle. You do not want a surprise bill of several hundred dollars when you turn the car in.
Lost Wages can cause serious financial hardship
After even a small accident you may need to take a few days off from work. That means a short paycheck for anyone who works for an hourly wage or who do not have good sick leave benefits. I usually encourage clients to go back to work as soon as it is appropriate to do so. Sometimes you have no choice about working. If your doctor says that you cannot work or you cannot do the lifting or standing that is required by your job you need to abide by their work restrictions. However, it is normal to work at the same time that you are getting treated. Often Physical Therapy or Chiropractic treatment will take two or three months, sometimes even longer. You certainly can’t take the whole time off from work.
In fact, you should try to minimize the impact on your job when you go to the doctor. That means planning medical appointments around your work schedule as much as possible. Nebraska is an at-will employment state. That means your employer does not have to have good cause to fire you. You should always keep your employer informed about your treatment after the accident. Let them know if you will need to miss time from work before your absence. If you lose your job it becomes hard to document lost wages and if causes great financial problems. The larger part of most claims usually concerns the severity of injuries, the treatment required, the pain and suffering involved and how well you recover from your injuries. In cases involving serious injuries, it is possible to miss a long time from working and you could even permanently be disabled and prevented from doing your job.
Medical bills can be very expensive
The medical bills usually range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even with good health insurance or vehicle medical payments coverage, you could be left with very large bills.
Often people are tempted to get loans from companies that use injury claims as collateral for a loan. It is a little like getting a loan to buy a car. However, injury claims are usually considered a little too speculative for loan companies to make loans based on injury claims. The only companies that make loans on injury claims are predatory lenders. They typically get you to agree to pay many times the amount that you borrowed just to get a small loan. I always advise my clients to avoid loan companies that want to give them a loan after an accident. Find another way to get by.
I also tell clients not to make agreements with their landlord or with anyone else that they will be paid from a settlement. Injury claims do not always move as quickly as we would like them to. You can set yourself up for problems if you try to spend your money before you receive it. It is often hard to predict how much money you will get or exactly when you will get it.
Do not ask your Attorney for a loan
It is a violation of the Nebraska ethical rules for an attorney to give a loan to a client. It would be a very bad business practice for us to give loans and it could get us disbarred. I get asked about this subject nearly every week. Don’t bother, we can’t do it.
It is always a good idea to try to keep your finances in order even when you have unexpected problems from a car accident. If you keep the bills paid you will be in a position to come out ahead financially in the long run.