Today I’ll share three things every injured Vermonter should know. And at the end I’ve got a bonus tip, be sure to read the full article.
Avoid social media after your injury.
So the first thing you should know is that whatever you post on social media has the potential to destroy your injury case. So be careful. Now I’ve done a couple of videos on social media and personal injury cases in the past. You can see one of them right here.
Whatever you post online or anything that’s posted about you. And that is also publicly available, is going to be carefully reviewed by adjusters and lawyers. And if at all possible, they’ll try to use it against you.
This includes posts, videos, check-ins, or messages. Anything at all since your injury. And the thing is, insurance companies and defense lawyers, their favorite evidence is the kind of evidence that you yourself create. They’ll take your posts and your photos and they’ll try to weave a story so they can argue that either you weren’t hurt at all or that you’re exaggerating your injuries.
So you absolutely must make sure that for all of your social media accounts, your privacy settings are set so that they’re not publicly available and do everything in your power not to post anything online about the accident or your injuries.
Find all available medical insurance coverage
The second thing you should know is how you’re going to pay for your medical care and how that impacts your injury claim. This is another topic for which I’ve already done some in depth videos, which you can see here: Medicaid Video Medicare Video
No matter what else happens after a crash or a slip and fall I think the most important thing that you can do for yourself and for your injury claim is to take care of your health. Make sure you get all of the medical care you need and follow up with your doctor’s recommendations.
Whether it’s physical therapy, a consultation with an expert or even home exercises.
The more active you are in your own recovery the better it is for your injury claim. But paying for healthcare can be worrisome.
Vermont Medical Insurance after a car crash
Unlike in New York, Vermont does not have a no fault insurance system for people who are injured in car crashes. So you’ve gotta worry about paying for that healthcare yourself. Which means that unless you have insurance of some kind you’re gonna be the person who’s billed for your healthcare and you’ll be responsible for paying it.
Even if somebody else is at fault for the accident. Now, to be clear, the cost of medical care is an element of damages in a personal injury claim and it could be claimed and paid for as part of your case.
But you don’t get paid until you either settle the case, or there’s a jury verdict. If you have private healthcare, you should use it. And if you have out of pockets or deductibles keep track of those and share them with your lawyer if you have one. If you’re on Medicare it will be Medicare paying for your injury-related healthcare.
Same thing with Medicaid. But remember if Medicare or Medicaid paid for your healthcare, they’re going to want to be paid back at the end of your case. The same is true with lots of private health insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont.
Medical Payments Coverage
Sometimes you may have something called medical payments coverage, or MedPay that’s available to you. Either through your own insurance policy or if you’re injured on somebody’s property. The property owner may have coverage too.
This MedPay coverage can be anywhere from a thousand to $10,000 or more. And all you have to do is send them the bills and they’ll reimburse you for the expense.
In general, though, MedPay is my least favorite of all the insurance coverages that are available to injured people to pay for medical care, because usually they’re the most aggressive about seeking repayment dollar for dollar at the end of your case.
But just remember, that unless you’re paying out of pocket for your healthcare related to your accident or injury most health insurers are going to want to be paid back and may in fact have a right to be paid back out of your settlement. And you need to understand that when you’re looking at how much your case is worth.
You can have a valid claim if your partially at fault for your injuries
Important point number three. You can still recover even if you are partially at fault for your own injuries up to a point. Now I’ve also done videos on comparative negligence.
Now, negligence is the same thing as fault when you’re talking about an injury case. You have to prove negligence as part of your claim. If there’s no negligence or there’s no fault then there’s no claim. No matter how badly you were hurt.
But even if you can prove fault, the insurance company or their defense lawyer may try to prove that you yourself were at least in part at fault for your own injuries. And that’s what’s called comparative negligence.
And it can come up in any kind of case.
Whether it’s a car crash, a skier collision or a slip and fall. Crafty insurance adjusters or their defense lawyers will try to find some circumstance under which they can argue that you did something wrong to cause your own injury.
Vermont’s comparative negligence
Now, the thing to know here is that in Vermont, unlike some other states, you can bear some responsibility for your own injuries and still recover damages in a claim or in a jury trial.
In fact, there are many times where I’m talking to insurance adjusters and they wanna assign some percentage of blame to my client.
Usually I’ll tell them I don’t really care about the percentages. What I care about is the money. That’s the most important thing.
But the big concern is that if the injured person is too much at fault, they won’t be able to recover anything under Vermont law. That’s because Vermont has rules about what’s called modified comparative fault. Meaning that if the injured person is more than 50% at fault for their own injuries then they’re completely barred from recovering even a penny from the wrongdoer.
You could take a case all the way to trial. And if a jury finds you 50.1% at fault, you get nothing. Now compare that with states like New York, where as the injured person, you could be 99% at fault and still recover 1% of your damages.
So my suggestion is that if you’re representing yourself in a claim, pay attention, when an adjuster suggests that they wanna assign you 20 to 30% fault. Don’t get too hung up on the percentages. Make sure that you get the dollar amount that you think is fair.
If however, an insurance adjuster suggests something closer to 50/50, you may not get an offer at all. And in that case, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.
Finding the best injury lawyer in Vermont for your claim
Finally, my bonus suggestion for you Vermonters. How to find the best injury lawyer in Vermont for your injury claim. The fact is most people don’t have an injury lawyer that they know already.
So they wind up using Google and search something like “injury lawyers near me”, or “best car accident lawyer in Burlington.”
While that’s a good start, make sure you do your research.
Visit the website. Make sure the lawyer handles personal injury claims. Ideally it’s a lawyer that does exclusively personal injury claims and not a bunch of other stuff at the same time. Make sure the lawyer has experience handling the same kind of injury and the same kind of circumstances.
If you can talk to a prospective lawyer.
Find out if they’ve handled cases similar to yours. Ask what their experience has been. Find out if you can work with that lawyer remotely or if you’ll need to come to his or her office in order to get any work done.
Finally, you can check their reviews online as well. See if other injured people have had good experiences with this lawyer under similar circumstances. You’ll be able to see whether people get the care and attention they need from this lawyer. Remember that an attorney-client relationship is a relationship and you’ll wanna do a little bit of homework to make sure it’s the best fit for you.
So those are things I think every injured Vermonter should know heading into the claims process. If you would like to talk to Drew about your injury, claim, or lawsuit feel free to give our Burlington, VT or Middlebury,VT office a call. We can talk about your claim and you can see if we are the right law firm for you.