You were involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault and now you’re getting a $900.00 bill in the mail for an ambulance ride. Why should you have to pay it and what if you don’t have insurance? These are questions that our Erie, PA car accident lawyers get asked all the time, and they stem from how confusion laws concerning car accidents can be.
In Pennsylvania, one’s own car insurance ordinarily pays for medical treatment arising out of a car accident, regardless of fault. There are, of course, exceptions, but normally you aren’t forced to pay out of pocket and your health insurance company isn’t the primary payer unless the medical payments coverage on your policy is exhausted. If you receive a medical bill in the mail after a car accident in Pennsylvania, you should probably forward this bill to your own insurance company before writing a check.
That said, if you were injured in a car accident, this isn’t something you should be handling on your own anyway. Anything you do and any paper you sign could potentially jeopardize your rights to make a recovery for pain and suffering, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses you’ve incurred as a result of this crash. Before doing anything, you should contact a Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer immediately for a free consultation.
Our Erie, PA law firm helps injured victims obtain compensation for their injuries after a car accident. In addition to helping our clients obtain settlements and verdicts, we help facilitate medical payments through auto insurance as part of our representation. Additionally, we only charge our fee on a portion of the recovery we make. If we don’t get you a settlement, we don’t charge a fee. Anybody can afford our services. If you were hurt in an accident, call our office for a free consultation at 814-5-452-6232. We’re located a block west of the Erie County Courthouse and have been helping victims throughout Northwestern Pennsylvania since 1985.
I received a letter from Optum. What do I do?
After you get medical treatment for an injury rather than a chronic illness, it’s not uncommon to receive a letter from a third-party subrogation company, such as Optum (or The Rawlings Company, Equian, First Recovery Group, etc.), on behalf of your health insurance company. Optum (or one of these other companies) is probably calling you to find out how you got hurt. If your injuries possibly give rise to a personal injury claim or a potential lawsuit (for example, a car accident, a work injury, a slip-and-fall accident, etc.), Optum wants to know, because it’s their job to find out if your health insurance company might have a right to be reimbursed out of your settlement. If you received a letter from Optum after an accident, you should call our law firm immediately at 1-800-999-0750.
Should I reply to Optum’s letter or call them back?
Optum cannot make you sue somebody if you don’t want to sue them! That being said, you should still talk to a personal injury attorney before talking to Optum. You need to know your rights (and responsibilities) regarding this accident, your health insurance policy, your medical treatment, and your medical bills. Our personal injury law firm offers a free consultation that can be either over the phone or in person! Give us a call today at 814-452-6232.
DO NOT FORGET: If you were hurt because of someone else’s negligence, you should immediately give Optum’s letter to your attorney! If you have a lawyer, you should not be contacting Optum directly. You want your personal injury lawyer to know about Optum’s letter, because failure to properly consider your health insurance’s lien against your settlement could potentially have devastating consequences to both your case and your finances. The last thing you want is to settle your case for so little that you can’t pay back Optum, should they be entitled to some of the money!
If you were hurt in an accident but don’t have a lawyer, you should hire a personal injury attorney to contact Optum on your behalf. Our personal injury lawyers work on contingency and only get paid if we get you a financial recovery. We represent injured victims throughout Western Pennsylvania, from Pittsburgh, to Erie, and all the way to Bradford and Smethport.
What if I don’t want to sue the person who hurt me?
In Pennsylvania, Optum can’t make you sue somebody if you don’t want to sue them! That said, it is still a good idea to talk to a personal injury attorney before talking to Optum. You need to know your rights and responsibilities regarding this accident, your health insurance policy, your treatment, and your medical bills. Our law firm offers a free consultation that can be either over the phone or in person—you decide! Give us a call today at 814-452-6232.
In Pennsylvania, the “household exclusion” is a clause that insurance companies began using in the 1990’s in auto insurance policies to limit the amount of uninsured motorists (UM) and underinsured motorists (UIM) coverage they had to provide after claims made by their insureds after a car accident. Under the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL), any relatives who live in the same residence could seek benefits from policies issued to other “resident relatives” in the household. While the MVFRL clearly stated this, insurers used these clauses to deny claims against the policies of the other household members that would have been permissible under the MVFRL.
While the language of the exclusion could vary, it essentially prevented injured household members from seeking underinsured motorists benefits from other policies applicable in the household, unless they were insured under the same policy. As an example, suppose mom and dad each have a vehicle and they are insured under a policy with Erie, which includes stacked UIM benefits. Their daughter, a college student still has a permanent residence in the household, and she has her own car which is insured with Progressive.
By applying the household exclusion, Erie could deny any claim against the parents’ UIM coverage if daughter was involved in an accident while driving her own vehicle because their vehicles were insured under a different policy from their daughter. In fact, if a parent was in daughter’s vehicle at the time of the accident, they would most likely have not been able to file a claim against their own UIM coverage.
In January 2019, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion in Gallagher v. Geico Indemnity Co., which held that household exclusion clauses were no longer enforceable in Pennsylvania as they were contrary to the express provisions of the MVFRL. Hence, a person seriously injured in an auto accident has a right to seek benefits from the policies of any resident relatives at the time of their accident. This can involve complicated legal questions regarding “residency” and damages and you should seek legal advice in attempting to pursue such a claim.
In fact, if you were in an accident within the last 4 years, and you were advised that you could not pursue a claim against UM (uninsured motorists) or UIM benefits because of the applicability of a household exclusion, you should contact our car accident lawyers immediately, as you may still be able to pursue claims for additional UM or UIM benefits. Our office offers free consultations and doesn’t take a fee unless we make you a recovery.
I received a letter from The Rawlings Company. What do I do?
After you get medical treatment for an injury, it’s not uncommon to get a letter from a third-party subrogation company, like The Rawlings Company (or Equian, Optum, First Recovery Group, etc.), on behalf of your health insurance company. The Rawlings Company is most likely reaching out to you to discover out how you got hurt. If your injury possibly gives rise to a personal injury claim or a potential lawsuit (for example, a car accident, a work injury, a slip-and-fall accident, etc.), The Rawlings Company’s job is to find out, because your health insurance company might be legally entitled to reimbursement out of your personal injury settlement or verdict. If you received a letter from The Rawlings Company after an accident, you should call our law firm immediately at 1-800-999-0750.
Should I respond to The Rawlings Company’s letter or call them back?
Whether or not you’re legally required to respond to The Rawlings Company after getting their letter is going to be written in your insurance policy with your health insurance company. In all likelihood, this is a document you probably never read. With that in mind, if you weren’t hurt in manner as to give rise to a compensable legal claim, you’re probably safe to call and let them know, at which point they should leave you alone.
If you were hurt in an accident that gives rise to any type of legal claim, you should immediately give The Rawlings Company’s letter to your attorney! If you already retained a lawyer, you should never contact The Rawlings Company directly. Additionally, you want your personal injury attorney to know about The Rawlings Company’s letter, because any failure to consider your health insurance’s lien against your settlement might have catastrophic consequences to both your case and your finances!
If you were hurt in an accident (at work, in a slip-and-fall, in a car, et cetera) but don’t have a lawyer, you should hire a personal injury attorney to contact The Rawlings Company on your behalf immediately. Our personal injury lawyers work on contingency and only get paid if we get you a financial recovery. We represent injury victims throughout Western Pennsylvania, from Pittsburgh, to Erie, and all the way to Bradford and Smethport! If you’re not from Pennsylvania, we might be able to help you find a local lawyer who can helo.
What if I don’t want to file a lawsuit against the person who caused my injury?
The Rawlings Company cannot force you to sue somebody that you don’t want to sue. However, it’s always a good idea to at least speak with a personal injury attorney before you talk to The Rawlings Company. You need to know your rights and responsibilities regarding this incident, your medical treatment, and your medical bills. Our law firm offers a free consultation that can be either over the phone or in person—you decide! Give us a call today at 814-452-6232.
Signing a Medical Authorization for the Insurance Company after an Accident
As Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers, our new clients frequently ask us if they must sign a medical authorization for the insurance company after a car accident, after a work injury, or after a slip-and-fall accident. Given the numerous types of insurance claims out there, there is no universal answer, which is why it is always best to call an attorney to discuss your rights before giving the insurance company what they want. Sometimes the insurance company is entitled to a medical release or authorization, and sometimes they’re just trying to pressure you to give them more than they’re permitted by law. If an insurance company is requesting that you sign an authorization for your private medical records, you should call our law firm at 1-800-999-0750 to speak with an attorney for free.
Medical Authorizations and Insurance Claims for Negligence (Car Accidents, Slip-and-falls, etc.)
In Pennsylvania, if you’re making an insurance claim for compensation, lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, et cetera, against someone else’s insurance company, you do not normally need to sign an authorization for the other insurance company to fish through your medical records to look for reasons not to pay your claim. That said, the insurance company does need relevant medical records to determine the extent of your injuries and fairly evaluate your claim. With this, there is a delicate balance that must be struck, which is why you should always hire a personal injury law firm to represent you in your case. Our lawyers front expenses for medical records (which can cost hundreds of dollars), review your records, and provide the insurance company with reasonable, relevant medical records to support your claim. When the insurance company fights for more and starts issuing subpoenas, we fight to protect your privacy. If an insurance company is requesting that you sign an authorization, you should call our law firm at 1-800-999-0750 to speak with an attorney for free. Not only will we protect your privacy, we’ll help you fight for a fair outcome.
Medical Authorizations and First-Party Insurance Claims (PIP, MedPay, UM/UIM Benefits)
In Pennsylvania, when you’re making a claim for your own insurance coverage, completely different rules might apply. In many insurance policies, individuals seeking their own first-party coverage (like Personal Injury Protection / PIP, Med Pay, Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Benefits) contractually agree to provide their insurance company with executed authorizations such that their own insurer can gather whatever records they deem “reasonable” and “necessary.” While this discretion isn’t infinite, it is extremely broad. Failure to comply, in some instances, can result in a denied claim or worse. If your own insurance company is requesting that you sign an authorization, you should call our law firm at 1-800-999-0750 to speak with an attorney for free. We’ll review your policy and make sure your rights are protected.
Medical Authorizations and Workers’ Compensation Claims
In Pennsylvania, after a work injury, it seems like everybody wants to comb through your medical records to blame your injury on something (or someone) else. Even without you signing an authorization, treatment paid by workers’ compensation is normally exempted from HIPAA, which permits your medical providers to give your work-accident-related medical records to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier along with your accident-related bills. This exemption, however, isn’t unlimited. You do NOT need to sign authorizations for Nurse Case Managers (and, if you have been contacted a nurse case manager, you should read this article and call us immediately) and workers’ compensation insurance carriers are not permitted to embark on fishing expeditions throughout your entire medical history. Such behavior is especially important to avoid, given the close relationship between the workers’ compensation carrier and your employer. Why should your boss get to know about your medical history? If a workers’ compensation insurance company is demanding that you sign an authorization, you should call our law firm at 1-800-999-0750 to speak with an attorney for free. We’ll help protect both your privacy and your claim.
What should you do?
Regardless of what’s going on, if you’ve been injured and are dealing with an insurance adjuster who is pressuring you to sign an authorization for the insurance company to gather your personal medical records, you need a lawyer now. Call our personal injury law firm at 1-800-999-0750 for a free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.
With the 2019 Roar on the Shore event being moved from downtown Erie, PA to North East, PA at the Lake Erie Speedway, our Pennsylvania motorcycle accident attorneys anticipate an increase in the number of motorcycle accidents and injuries during this year’s event. Although we hope this projection proves to be untrue, it is an inescapable concern.
Although the Lake Erie Speedway appears to host a number of vendors to keep guests occupied, a large number of bikers will be traveling from North East to downtown Erie, PA to visit Erie’s many attractions, bars, and hotels. Given the nature of the event, we similarly expect a number of people to be traveling between the two locations after drinking, which always creates an increased risk of accident, injury, and wrongful death.
Regardless of the move, with 160,000 bikers and motorcycles brought to one location, there are bound to be accidents. If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle accident, be sure to do the following:
- Save your receipts and medical bills;
- Take pictures of your bike and your injuries;
- Document your lost wages;
- Contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney immediately;
- Do not talk to any insurance companies first.
Additionally, be aware that, in Pennsylvania, injured bikers (and their passengers) aren’t bound by “limited tort” and can always pursue a claim for pain and suffering. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Erie, PA, call our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers for a free consultation.
I received a letter from Equian, Rawlings, Optum, First Recovery Group, etc. What do I do?
After receiving medical treatment for an injury, it’s normal to receive a letter from a third-party subrogation company, such as Equian (or The Rawlings Company, Optum, First Recovery Group, etc.), on behalf of your health insurance company. Equian (or one of these other companies) is contacting you to find out how you got hurt. If you were hurt in such a manner as to create a personal injury claim or a potential lawsuit (for example, a car accident, a work injury, a slip-and-fall accident, etc.), Equian wants to know, because your health insurance company might have a right to be reimbursed out of your settlement. If you received a letter from Equian after a Pennsylvania car accident or personal injury, you should call our law firm immediately at 1-800-999-0750.
Should I respond to Equian’s letter or call them back?
Whether you have a duty to respond to Equian after receiving such a letter is going to be spelled out in your insurance policy with your health insurance company—a document you probably never read. If you weren’t hurt in any sort of accident, you’re probably safe to call and let them know, at which point they should stop sending you letters.
If you were hurt in an accident that might be someone else’s fault, you should immediately give Equian’s letter to your attorney. If you have a lawyer, you should not be contacting Equian directly. Additionally, you want your personal injury attorney to be aware of Equian’s letter, because failure to properly consider your health insurance’s lien against your settlement can have devastating consequences to both your case and your finances.
If you were hurt in an accident but don’t have an attorney, you should hire a personal injury attorney to contact Equian on your behalf. Our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers work on contingency and only get paid if we get you a financial recovery. We represent injured victims throughout Western Pennsylvania, from Pittsburgh, to Erie, and all the way to Bradford and Smethport.
What if I don’t want to sue the person who hurt me?
Equian can’t make you sue somebody if you don’t want to sue them. That said, it is still a good idea to talk to a personal injury attorney before talking to Equian. You need to be aware of your rights and responsibilities regarding this accident, your treatment, and your medical bills. Our law firm offers a free consultation to injured Pennsylvanians that can be either over the phone or in person—you decide! Give us a call today at 814-452-6232.
You should always call the police after a car accident
As Erie, PA car accident lawyers, we frequently get asked, “should I call the police after a minor car accident?” Without knowing anything else about the crash, we can confidently state that you should always call the police after a car accident, even if the damage to the vehicles was minimal and if even if you think nobody was hurt. As you sit there in the moment, you simply aren’t equipped to properly assess the situation. Police are. Let the experts do their work. Sometimes you don’t know you’re hurt until later that day, after your adrenaline wears off. Sometimes, people that admit fault on the scene later lie to their insurance companies. You need a witness.
Why should I call the police after a car accident?
The most important thing the police do after responding to a car accident, after making sure everybody is okay, is protecting evidence. The police will gather insurance information, get statements, and attempt to piece everything together while the accident scene is fresh and before things have been tampered with or moved. This helps keep all the parties honest: too frequently, at-fault parties will admit fault on the scene of the accident, only to later deny fault to their insurance companies after they’ve went home. You simply cannot rely on people to be honest. Moreover, it’s good to have an independent witness (the police officer) on the scene to remember what everyone told them.
Sometimes your insurance requires you to call the police after an accident
Although you’ve probably never read your entire car insurance policy, as personal injury lawyers, we have! If the person that hit you turns out to be uninsured, and you pay for uninsured motorist coverage, your Pennsylvania auto insurance policy almost certainly requires you to report the accident to the police as soon as you reasonably are able, else you risk your claim being denied. Making a police report immediately after the accident is the number one way to protect your rights under your insurance policy. The longer you wait, the easier it is to forget to make the report and the more likely your insurer is to deny your claim.
Police keep everybody safe
After an accident, it’s not uncommon for the at-fault party to become hostile and, sometimes, dangerous. Calling the police is a good way to keep everyone on their best behavior. When everybody knows the police are on their way, they’re less likely to do anything they might later regret.
What if the police refuse to respond to the scene of the accident?
If the police refuse to respond to the scene of the accident after you’ve called 9-1-1, it might simply be out of your control. Regardless, there will still be a record of your call and a brief report prepared at the station to satisfy your insurance company if the other driver turns out to be uninsured, as described above. This is normal—when they’re busy, police frequently won’t respond to the accident if nobody was injured. Just keep your cool, exchange insurance information, take pictures of the damage (and the license plates), and gather phone numbers of all the witnesses.
Do I need a lawyer after a car accident?
After a car accident, if you’ve been injured, you should call a Pennsylvania car accident attorney to protect your rights. Our personal injury lawyers have been representing injured victims in Pennsylvania since 1985 and can help recover your lost wages and medical bills. If you would like a free consultation, or just to talk to lawyer on the phone, call us at 814-452-6232.
For years, the insurance lobby has been spending millions of dollars to convince Americans that civil lawsuits are largely frivolous. This lobbying has been so successful, that most of our clients say things like, “I know most lawsuits are frivolous, but not mine—I’m really hurt.” The truth of the matter is, while there exist some silly lawsuits, most are legitimate and serve the greater purpose of protecting the public and compensating innocent victims.
Recently, the Trial Lawyers Association in DC released a simple video that helps dispel the myth of the “frivolous” lawsuit
Our Erie, PA personal injury attorneys have been helping innocent injury victims put their lives back together since 1985. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that there’s nothing frivolous about asking insurance companies to pay fair value for your lost wages, lost loved ones, and disabling injuries. Don’t be fooled.
After being injured, it’s important to stay local and hire an attorney that understands Erie County Pennsylvania. Despite how difficult of a task it may seem, finding a car accident law firm in Erie, PA doesn’t have to be hard! If you’ve done your research, you’ll notice that Bernard Stuczynski Barnett & Lager (also known as ErieInjury.com) consistently has five-star reviews across the board! We’re small enough that we’re able to give each of our clients extremely personalized attention, yet big enough that we spare no expense when it comes to handling your case. Need a top-dollar expert witness? We’ll pay for that. Need an expensive accident Reconstructionist to prove your case? We’ll front that expense, too. Is your case complex? Not a problem.
If you do your research and read our reviews, you’ll notice that our car accident law office is known for our personalized service: if you want to speak to your attorney, you’ll speak to your attorney—unlike some of the Pittsburgh firms that dabble in the Erie area, we do not simply have paralegals “work up” your case and act as your main points of contact! When you hire us, you’re hiring a personal injury lawyer to do 100% of your legal work. Excellent results require excellent representation.
Best Law Firm in Erie, PA
If you’re looking for the best law firm in Erie, PA, don’t take my word for it. Read our reviews and draw your own conclusions. If you speak to any of your prior clients, they’ll tell you to stop looking around and to give us a call.
What do I do next?
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, stop stressing about how to handle the bills and the insurance companies. We’ll take care of that so you can take care of yourself and your loved one. We make it simple. Worries about how you’ll have time to meet with us? We’ll come to you whenever it’s convenient, even if it’s after hours or on a weekend. We want to help. Call us at 814-452-6232 for a free consultation.