My car is totaled in a Chicago auto accident and I owe more than what it’s worth

Chicago auto accident


What happens if your car is totaled in a Chicago auto accident and you owe more than it’s worth? Be prepared to pay. But there is a way to protect yourself. Call my office for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Intro

According to an article on insurance.com, Experian Automotive said around 86 percent of new car buyers finance their vehicle and the average new car loan is about $30,000 for roughly 68 months. So, people are financing millions of vehicles. As such, drivers in Illinois who get in a Chicago auto accident are often faced with paying money owed on newly purchased vehicles that are involved in accidents.

Example

You purchase a car for $30,000. You put $1,000 down and you finance $29,000 through a bank or the auto dealership’s finance company. A few months later you are involved in an accident and your car is totaled. You file a claim with your auto insurance company and they determine that the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle is $27,000. What happens?

Your auto insurance company will write a check to your finance company for the ACV of your vehicle and you owe the remaining balance outstanding of $2,000. It’s unfair, you did not cause the Chicago auto accident. Yet you are still on the hook for the balance outstanding.

Gap Insurance

The only way you can protect yourself from this situation is to purchase Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) insurance. In the situation above, your GAP insurance would have covered the difference between what your vehicle is worth and what you owe.

You can purchase GAP insurance when you purchase your vehicle from the dealership or you can likely purchase it from your auto insurance company.

If you don’t have GAP Insurance

How do you pay the balance owed if you do not have GAP insurance? Generally speaking, my clients in this situation have been able to continue to make their monthly payments until the balance is paid off. You may also be able to contact your finance company and figure out an alternative payment arrangement.

That’s little solace to someone who just lost their investment in a vehicle including their down payment, has to pay money for a vehicle they can’t drive and may not have money for a down payment on a new vehicle.

If you want to fight it

If you are unhappy with your auto insurance company’s valuation of your vehicle, you do have the option of contesting the valuation of your vehicle. You can try to get your own appraisal from a resource like Kelley Blue Book. That probably won’t work and as such, you will likely have to hire an appraiser to provide a new appraisal to give to the insurance company.

If that doesn’t work, you will have to demand arbitration from your insurance company. If you are dealing with the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident, your only option would be to file a lawsuit.

Do I need an attorney?

Most personal injury attorneys won’t get involved in a matter that only involves property damage. It’s not that I don’t want to help. However, as a Chicago auto accident attorney, I represent people who suffer injuries in auto accidents.

Regardless, I am happy to speak with you about how to proceed with your claim against the insurance company. Call me for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Who pays the medical bills after an auto accident

Who pays the medical bills after an auto accident?

If you were injured in a car accident in Illinois, you may wonder who pays the medical bills after an auto accident? Continue reading to find Auto Accident ILout who will pay your medical bills or contact me for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Warning

There are several ways to pay for medical bills after an auto accident. But before we discuss that, I want to advise you of a common misperception people have. The auto insurance for the driver of the vehicle that hit you will NOT pay your medical bills until your case settles.

As such, there is no sense in telling your medical providers to bill that driver’s auto insurance. That is a sure way to have your medical bills go to collections. It’s very unfair. You were not at fault for the accident. Still, you are the one responsible to confirm who pays your medical bills after an auto accident. As such, we recommend using one of the following means to get those bills paid.

MedPay Insurance

What is medpay? Medpay or medical payments coverage, is a clause within many auto insurance policies. It is optional coverage in Illinois so not everyone has it. You will usually contract with your auto insurance company for them to pay the first $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000 of your medical bills, regardless of fault.

I’ve read a lot online that people don’t recommend purchasing medpay. I disagree completely. For the few dollars a month medpay costs, it is a valuable thing to have if you get in an accident. Many people cannot afford to pay their deductible or co-pays which are so high these days. Medpay can cover that for you. If you don’t have health insurance at all, medpay is an option for getting your medical bills paid, again, regardless of fault. Finally, unlike health insurance which might pay 80% of a medical bill leaving you with the balance, medpay will pay 100% of the bill.

Health Insurance

I always tell my clients when they get any kind of medical treatment, tell your medical provider to bill your health insurance (but for bills paid by medpay).  There are many advantages to using your health insurance to pay your medical bills, the main one being is that your health insurance company such as Aetna or Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, will likely have contracted rates with your medical provider. As such, Aetna will only have to pay their contracted rate for a bill rather than the whole rate.

So, for example, if you get a bill for $10,000 for an emergency room visit. Aetna will pay $5,000 of that bill and the rest will be written off by the medical provider.

You’re not completely off the hook, however. You may still have copays or a deductible that needs to be paid. Also, your health insurance company expects to be reimbursed for the money they paid on your behalf out of the proceeds of your settlement/recovery.

Still, using your health insurance to pay your medical bills after an accident is the best way to keep your medical costs down and get your bills paid.

Liens

Liens provide an interesting wrinkle to the issue of who pays the medical bills after an auto accident. A lien in this context basically means that when you recover from the injuries suffered in your accident, you are obligated by law to pay back your lien holders. These could include the ambulance company, emergency room, your physician etc.

Hospitals often file liens shortly after treating a patient so that they are assured of getting reimbursed for their services. Once they get paid by the health insurance company they will release their lien. Other providers may voluntarily enter into a lien agreement with you such as a chiropractor or physical therapist. In exchange for you and your attorney signing the lien, they agree to provide you treatment and hold off on billing you for the services until your case is resolved.

If you want more information on Illinois medical liens, check out the Illinois healthcare lien act.

Cash

Another option for paying your medical bills is to pay them up front with cash. This is seldom used of course, but it is an option to ensure your bills get paid.

Third party and uninsured motorist insurance

As stated above, the insurance company for the driver who hit you will not pay your medical bills until you settle or otherwise resolve your case. However, when you settle, one of the aspects of the settlement will be reimbursement for your medical bills.

So, for example, let’s say you are involved in a minor fender bender but you do go to the hospital. You have no other treatment and your emergency room bill is $3,000.

You enter into a settlement with the auto insurance company of $10,000. That settlement includes reimbursement for your $3,000 in medical bills. Meaning, that after you pay your medical providers and/or health insurance company back, you will be left with $7,000 (assuming you do not have to pay attorneys’ fees).

The same thing applies to uninsured motorist coverage. If you are hit by an uninsured driver, you will file a claim against your own auto insurance policy. The same analysis will then apply. If you recover $10,000 from your insurance company, you will have to pay back the $3,000 in medical bills from your recovery.

If you are involved in a car accident in Illinois and you want to know who pays the medical bills after an auto accident, contact Barry Zlotowicz at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Get Medical Treatment If You Get Hit In An Auto Accident

We’ve recently signed up several new clients who we urged to get medical treatment right away. Stories below.

Many of the new cases have been auto accident cases (not many people riding bicycles or motorcycles right now in Illinois). However, I’ve noticed a trend recently. Mainly, that many clients are calling us up and they have no idea what their injuries are. Their ankle hurts or their knee or shoulder. They went to the emergency room right after the accident (sometimes the morning after) and were checked out. However, they realized quickly that an E.R. doesn’t provide optimum care. They will stabilize you and get you out to a specialist. As such, clients are coming home from the hospital not knowing what is really wrong with them.

Then they make the mistake of talking with the insurance company, telling them everything, and possibly even settling for a small amount. This is a mistake.

Two clients that come quickly to mind include “Rory” who got rear ended in an accident down near Aurora, Illinois. His shoulder which had pre-existing issues was thrust forward. Rory is a vet so his medical care is awful at the VA. They put him off and put him off until a couple months later they realized he suffered a fracture in the head of his shoulder.

Another client “Lee” who we recently signed up was injured near Des Plaines, Illinois. He was feeling pain in his neck but didn’t act on it right after his accident. We encouraged him to get to a doctor immediately and here we are a few weeks (and a cervical MRI) later and he in fact has a bulging disc.

Both these guys would have suffered the short end of the stick if they didn’t pursue further medical attention. They might have settled their case for a nominal amount or they might have waited six months to get any treatment which only would have opened the door for the insurance company to argue “gap in treatment.”

The bottom line – get in an accident, contact an attorney and get medical treatment.

If you have a question about your accident, call me at 847-305-4105. Barry Zlotowicz

Who is responsible for my slip-and-fall injuries?

Slip And Fall Accident AttorneyProperty owners are responsible for providing a safe environment or warning visitors of hazards. When property owners fail to do this, accidents such as slip-and-fall injuries may result. These injuries often involve preventable factors, such as spills, poorly maintained floors or dim lighting. The victims of these accidents may be entitled to compensation. However, as any injury lawyer in Illinois can explain, visitors do not enjoy absolute legal protection.

Continue reading “Who is responsible for my slip-and-fall injuries?”

Despite the attention, sports are not the leading cause of brain injuries

Slip and Fall AccidentsBrain injuries cause about 30 percent of the injury deaths in the U.S. each year, and many survivors in Illinois suffer permanent disabilities and must rely on state services to meet basic needs. Any blow or jolt to the head that interrupts brain function is diagnosed as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A force penetrating or fracturing the skull may also cause a TBI.

Much of the media attention about brain trauma has focused on sports injuries. However, blunt force trauma, which encompasses sports injuries to the head as well as many other sources, comprises only 15 percent of TBIs. Data supplied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that falls and car accidents account for more than 50 percent of the overall number.

Continue reading “Despite the attention, sports are not the leading cause of brain injuries”

4 Driver distractions that have nothing to do with cell phones

 Driver distractionsWith all the media attention given to texting and driving, it is easy to dismiss other forms of distractions in the vehicle as insignificant. However, any activity that takes the eyes, hands or attention away from the task of driving is considered a distraction and can be potentially deadly. Driver distractions that pull attention from the road for two seconds double the risk of a crash.

Continue reading “4 Driver distractions that have nothing to do with cell phones”