In a drunk driver accident, your lawyer will negotiate a settlement. This post addresses common questions regarding payment of the personal injury settlement for a drunk driver accident here in midtown Atlanta and Fulton County. Here are some quick facts: (1) a personal injury settlement is typically issued in one lump sum payment; (2) the insurance company typically does not schedule payments for on-going medical treatment for a personal injury action or dui accident; (3) the client must pay-off any medical bills from the total sum collected from her personal injury settlement.
A settlement is paid in one “lump sum” payment. Assuming a settlement is reached for a claim involving a drunk driver accident, the insurance company issues one payment at the conclusion of the case. At least, that is the practice here in midtown Atlanta, Decatur, Fulton County and Dekalb County. This payment is determined by the figure the personal injury lawyer and insurance company negotiate. The personal injury lawyer and insurance company negotiate over their opinion as to the value of the DUI accident claim. The value is determined by a number of factors and is a forecast of what a Fulton or Dekalb County Jury would award under similar facts. The location of the jury depends on where the at fault driver resides at the time of the DUI accident and is referred to as “venue” (or place of trial).
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On going medical treatment. The insurance company typically does not schedule payments for on-going medical treatment. In my experience, insurance companies only settle with the personal injury lawyer at the end of the case for one figure, which reflects the total value of the DUI claim. The insurance company does not schedule payments so that the injured party in a drunk driver accident may use that money to pay for on-going medical treatment. The reason for this is because insurance companies only want to pay once they have determined that their insured (the at-fault driver they represent) is truly responsible for the accident. This is equally true for accidents caused by drunk and intoxicated drivers. The insurance company investigation may take many months. Additionally, the insurance company typically wants to confirm the necessity for medical treatment and the extent of treatment. They are very suspicious creatures and will not simply take the client’s word that he requires (say) five physical therapy visits per week for a period of three weeks.
Medical bills must be paid from the settlement. The client must pay-off any medical bills once he receives a personal injury settlement from the insurance company. In my experience, this is the practice here in midtown Atlanta and Fulton County. Other areas of Georgia are likely the same. This is also true for the drunk driver accident claim. This assumes that the client has no health insurance which would have paid for his medical treatment. Assuming that to be the case, the client will either have to pay for the medical treatment “out of his pocket” (the client pays for medical treatment with his own money) or locate a doctor who is willing to treat on a “lien” (a doctor willing to treat with no out of pocket payment from the client or any payments from health insurance). Finding a doctor to treat on a lien is difficult since doctors, like most any professional, desire to get paid up front when they render their medical services.
Be very wary of cheese ball lawyers (lawyers who advertise heavily and focus on a volume practice; mega volume law firms are included in this group) who will seek to steer their clients to friendly chiropractors (chiropractors who have a heavy stream of client referrals from a personal injury lawyer). The chiropractor in this scenario will treat on a lien with no out-of-pocket payment from the client. Often, the chiropractor will run-up excessive treatment which the client will ultimately have to pay from his settlement. This often leads to the situation where the cheese ball lawyer and his friendly chiropractor end up with the lion’s share of the settlement, leaving the client with only a small fraction of the total.