Posted 06 July 2012 - 11:02 AM
I am a teacher in South Carolina. I was in an accident in August 2010, when a pick up truck exited out of a hotel parking lot into oncoming traffic and struck my 9-day old vehicle. The woman was found to be at fault, and my vehicle was totaled in the accident. I since was able to settle ON MY OWN (I did hire a lawyer) for my vehicle and had it paid off by insurance and took a $350 loss on a car that I had not even made the first payment on. This was my first day on a new job, so I was resistant to miss work for fear that I would lose my job. I was taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance and missed the first day of school. When I spoke with my lawyer, they said they dealt with personal injury, so could not advise on pursuing payment for the lost vehicle. \r\n\r\nThe day of the accident, I was X-Rayed for injuries. I was wearing a seat belt and had bad bruising on my right hip, pain in both wrists from the airbag deploying, bruising and scrapes on my hands, a seat belt burn and bruising on my left upper chest, had hit and scraped my left knee on the dashboard, and had upper neck and back pain following the accident. I was found to have no broken bones, and was treated for whiplash and soft tissue injuries. After the accident, I continued to have pain in my neck/upper back, both wrists, and my knee. I underwent traction and PT for my neck, and still continue to get stiff neck pain that goes down into my upper back. My wrists were treated for a short time at PT, but the therapists stopped treatment because the exercises were painful to perform. I also had PT treatment to my left knee. I was eventually referred to an occupational therapist for my wrists, and MRI scans showed no tears. I underwent treatment to have the nerve in both wrists removed to treat the pain I was still feeling over a year after the accident. The second surgery to remove the nerve in my right wrist also turned up a ganglion cist that had developed likely from the trauma. I have a two inch scar on the top of each wrist, the second of which spread as it healed, so is dark and noticable. I also had surgery on my left knee to remove the plica because I was still experiencing pain in my leg, and the plica continued to swell and become inflamed after the accident. I now have permanent numbness in in a three inch circle on my knee that will never resolve. \r\n\r\nMy questions revolve around this case. I was told by the lawyer that I retained that I have three years to file suit in SC. I currently am having second thoughts about retaining the lawyer I have, because many questions are still not resolved, yet I have been asked to sign a consent form for her to pursue the liability from the at-fault driver and my underinsured benefits. The woman who hit me supposedly has $50,000 in liability insurance, but my lawyer said it has not been confirmed, and that is what the adjuster said was available. My insurance has $25,000 for underinsured liability. When I try to contact other law offices to ask questions, I am told they are not allow to discuss my case or consult if I already have a lawyer retained. \r\n\r\nMy concern is that my lawyer has not requested a permanent impairment rating, and I am an ARTIST, who uses my hands everyday. I also coached soccer last year, which requires me to use my knee daily in practices. What if my injuries become worse, or I develop more pain or disability from the injury? If my lawyer cannot confirm the liabilty the other driver has, why should I sign a consent to pursue the $75,000 total. Once I pay the legal fees, I am going to be left with about of third of the settlement if get the full $75,000 judgement. Should I file suit, and pursue beyond the insurance coverage? From research online, I know the at fault driver has property assets in North Carolina- her state of residence. My lawyer said it is hard to obtain judgements in SC and to collect on them. I underwent knee and wrist surgery at the same time because I could not afford the financial deductibles to undergo multiple surgeries, and did not have any time left to take off at my job. I was under extreme pain and suffering because I had to work through my recovery and could not take many of the prescribed medications while I worked, and could not afford to take any unpaid leave due to the accident. For two years, I spent many afternoons going to PT, doctor's appointments, and treatments. I just can't see how all of this can be settled with a walk away value that leaves me with a third of the settlement once all the medical bills my insurance wants repayment for, and the lawyer fees are covered. My lawyer is trying to convince me that going to court will only result in more fees and not a better settlement. I do not want to end up having issues in a year, and regretting an insurance settlement instead of pursuing a lawsuit against the individual. What am I legally allowed to pursue? How do I ensure I am getting a settlement that I deserve? What happens if I have disability?