>> This is Fox6 WBRC LawCall
>> Tiffany Bittner: Welcome to LawCall We’ve got the answers to your legal questions. Here’s what’s coming up tonight. In our caller segment, we’re talking about fighting the insurance company. What can you do when a company that’s worth millions, maybe billions of dollars wouldn’t take you or your claim seriously? What if you can’t even get them to pick up the phone? We’ll take your questions. Give us a call at 855‑LAW‑1955. Plus, maybe your insurance company is actually ready to pay your claim. But should you accept their settlement? We’ll explain why you may need to wait. But first, personal injury attorney Kirby Farris is here to take a look at one of your e‑mail questions. And tonight’s question comes from Zelda. She writes saying I was rear ended at the mall while I was Christmas shopping. And the guy just drove off. My neck was hurt and the back of my car needs repairs. What can I do?
>> Kirby Farris: Great question, you would think it has a simple answer. Your property damage would have to be handled by your own insurance company. Now your medical expenses are a little bit different. There’s a portion of your auto insurance policy called med pay and that will kick in to pay part of your medical expenses. Once they’re exhausted it will go toward your policy. So, good news is you will have coverage for that but it will all be under your own policy.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Thank you for your e‑mail questions. For more information you can go to www.deliveringjustice.com or www.myfoxal.com fox and click on the LawCall link there.
>> Tiffany Bittner: In tonight’s side war, Ken Riley explains why you may want to wait before accepting a settlement from your insurance company.
>> Ken Riley: So you were in a wreck and the insurance company is offering to send you a check. Should you accept their offer and agree to settle? While your financial situation after a car accident makes it tempting to accept a check from an insurance company, sometimes the amount isn’t even enough to cover your bills or compensate you for your injuries. You need to know when you’re agreeing to and what your options are. If you’ve been injured in an accident and have been contacted by the other party’s insurance company, contact an experienced trial attorney before you sign any release. A lawyer can go over your particular case and determine what it may be worth. A lawyer can also help you navigate the complicated process and deal with the insurance adjustor so you can concentrate on getting better. If you have a question, send it along to lawcalltv.com.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Welcome to LawCall, it’s good to see you. We hope you’ll call and participate with the show, that’s what we are here for. Tonight we are talking about fighting the insurance company. If you’re wondering if you have a claim or there’s a situation with your insurance company, tonight is a perfect opportunity to call and ask the attorneys for advice on your particular situation. It’s free, painless, so get the calls coming in. We have Bob Prince in the house.
>> Bob Prince: So it’s free when they call in. Do they get what they pay for?
>> Tiffany Bittner: Every bit. Bob, we have Rachel and she wants to talk to us tonight. So hey Rachel
>> Caller: How are you this evening?
>> Tiffany Bittner: Good, thank you.
>> Caller: Can you hear me okay?
>> Tiffany Bittner: We can but there’s a little bit of an echo. What is your question?
>> Caller: My question is my homeowner insurance. I have flood damage. And when the adjustor came out to do the assessment, he marked damages off. What can a homeowner do to help themselves from being taken advantage of by the insurance company not wanting to pay?
>> Tiffany Bittner: She’s talking about our insurance company coming out to the house, they left off some of the damages and they’re not wanting to pay.
>> Bob Prince: They just didn’t record the damage?
>> Tiffany Bittner: Right. She’s trying to get it fixed and they don’t want to pay.
>> Bob Prince: Well they have to pay it. She he can get an independent adjustor to come.
>> Tiffany Bittner: She initially has to pay for that adjustor come out?
>> Bob Prince: Yes. But they take it on a percentage at times. If the loss is 100,000, sometimes they will take it for one and a half percent. She may not have to pay any upfront money. Or she can get a lawyer like Kirby’s firm and they wouldn’t have any up front expenses.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay. We have another caller. Hey, there.
>> Caller: I was involved in a hit‑and‑run. And the insurance company gave us the run around about filing a claim. And I’ve had to come out of pocket to fix parts.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Could you make that out, Bob?
>> Kirby Farris: I think that I can hear this with that little echo going on, we apologize for that. But very similar to the question we had e‑mailed in today. In a hit‑and‑run situation your own insurance company is supposed to take care of your property damage. In addition to that if you’ve got personal injuries you have something on your policy called under insured, uninsured motorist coverage. That is designed to kick in to take care of your bodily injures in the event something like that happens so your own insurance company is supposed to take care of your car and your personal injuries in that circumstance.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay. We have Beverly on the line.
>> Caller: Hi.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Hey, what is going on?
>> Caller: I’m calling to find out on what I’m supposed to do when I give the insurance money for a homeowner’s policy ‑‑
>> Tiffany Bittner: Beverly, I apologize. We cannot make out ‑‑ Can you try that one more time?
>> Caller: I gave an insurance agent money for a former policy and never received the policy.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay. She gave money to an insurance agent for a policy and never received the policy.
>> Kirby Farris: I would report them to the insurance commissioner of Alabama. All of the insurance companies have to go through them, get their rates a proved and say I didn’t get a policy. If you’ve got a claim, you can make them pay it. How about that? If they don’t send you that policy they don’t get to ‑‑ the defense in that thing are gone.
>> Kirby Farris: Bob, don’t you see that a lot?
>> Bob Prince: Sure.
>> Kirby Farris: You can get into a real bind.
>> Bob Prince: You can. But if you get to a lawyer, they give up a lot of their defenses because if that policy is not sent to you, you’re in good shape if you’re filing a claim.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We are going to take a break. When we come back we will be talking more about Fighting the insurance company. So give us a call. We’ll be right back.
>> Fox6 WBRC LawCall with award‑winning broadcaster Tiffany Bittner. And from the Birmingham law firm of Farris, Riley & Pitt, personal injury attorney Kirby Farris, a proven advocate known for his aggressive courtroom skills; personal injury attorney Ken Riley, proven, practical, professional, recognized by Birmingham magazine as one of Birmingham’s top attorneys; and personal injury attorney Brett Turnbull, with numerous recoveries of over $1 million. Plus, legal insight from Tuscaloosa attorney Bob Prince, of Prince, Glover & Hayes. Plus guest attorneys from across Alabama. Your rights, your calls, live.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Tonight we are discussing the legal system when it comes to insurance companies. So if you’re home and you’ve got a problem or an issue going on with your insurance company, feel free to give us a call. We are not here to say all insurance companies are bad. We are just trying to help those dealing with specific troubles to night. Don’t think we are turning our backs on insurance companies. I have several friends that work had the insurance industry. We have Scott on the line from Tuscaloosa tonight. Hey, Scott.
>> Caller: Hey. I have a question. I lost use of a finger at work. It’s been probably 12, 13, 14 years ago. I’ve actually lost two joints at the time but as, you know, through rehab, I got one of them back. But I still lost use of a joint. Is there a time frame on loss of use?
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay.
>> There’s certainly a time frame on workers’ compensation claims. I’m afraid after 12 years it’s gone. If you happen to re‑injure that, you can make a claim for that. So you’re not out of the woods yet but on that initial injury I’m afraid he is, Kirby.
>> Kirby Farris: I agree with that, bob.
>> Kirby Farris: Connor is our next caller. Hey, Connor. Hello? Hey, Connor?
>> Caller: Hello?
>> Tiffany Bittner: Hey, there.
>> Caller: Yeah.
>> Tiffany Bittner: All right. Go ahead.
>> Caller: Yeah, I was calling because I had an accident (indiscernible)
>> Tiffany Bittner: I got you had an accident in May. What was the second part?
>> Caller: They didn’t let me get a car because they said I was in Boston and I didn’t have the money to get it.
>> We are having trouble with our phones, Connor. I’m so sorry. Try that one more time.
>> Caller: I was saying I had an accident the other night.
>> Yes, sir.
>> Caller: So I called my insurance company. I needed to rent a car.
>> They wouldn’t give him a rental car.
>> I heard that it time.
>> Kirby, you got it?
>> Kirby Farris: Here is the deal. Your insurance policy is going to govern that. The other driver if you have a wreck and it’s their fault, they have got to pay you the fair rental value of your car whether it’s repaired or totaled. So you get to a lawyer, if they wouldn’t give it to you I bet you somewhere in your policy you have a right to either that or the rental from the other driver. So get to a lawyer. You have a claim.
>> Tiffany Bittner: I think it was mentioned about U.M.I., folks asking about getting hit but someone who doesn’t have insurance.
>> Bob Prince: The first thing I’m going to say is you buy liability to protect the other driver. What about the family in the car with you? That’s what uninsured motorist coverage it for. Let’s they say only have $25,000, which is the minimum but your daughter or wife or husband is severely injured in a wreck, you only get $25,000. You can look to your own insurance company uninsured motorist. Get your policy out. Look at the page that has all your coverage. Call your agent. It’s some of the cheapest insurance there is. You’re protecting your family. So there are a lot of rules about it but don’t ‑‑ you can get it in Alabama unless you sign a waiver. Don’t sign a waiver. That stuff is important because it’s for you and your family.
>> Kirby Farris: That’s right, very important and very expensive.
>> Let’s hear from Georgia tonight.
>> Caller: I have insurance through the mortgage company and I paid my mortgage company and they’re still forcing me to keep that homeowner insurance.
>> Tiffany Bittner: I think she’s saying she paid her mortgage off.
>> If she paid the mortgage off they can’t force you to take the insurance so you need to get to a lawyer immediately if you already tried to get it off, they can’t do that.
>> That’s exactly right.
>> Tiffany Bittner: All right. Let’s hear from Brenda in Birmingham tonight.
>> Caller: Hello, this is Brenda Madison. My question is I have this insurance company. I’m wondering why does it have liability on the top of my statement but I do have ‑‑ they’re telling me I have full coverage.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay. Do you understand?
>> I didn’t hear the question but I heard her say her statement has something about liability but she has full coverage. That’s an interesting term. I never know what they’re talking about when an insurance agent tells you that because you’ve got these different coverage and there’s such a thing as full coverage. You pay for the insurance. Let’s say I can buy $25,000. That’s not full coverage so it’s a term that’s misleading. But if you think you have other coverage like comprehensive, uninsured motorist and it only says liability, you need to get to a lawyer because it sounds like they’re misrepresenting you on what you’re buying.
>> If you’re just tuning in, we are discussing fighting the insurance company. We’ll be right back.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Here is our upcoming docket. December 13th will be Ask Us Anything! December 20th will be D.U.I. related phone calls and questions. December 27th will be trucking accidents. As always we hope you’ll join with us our calls for questions. Bob Prince is onto night. He’s with the law firm of Prince, Glover & Hayes in Tuscaloosa. You can call his office at 800‑536‑1105 or www.princelaw.net. And Kirby Farris is with the law firm of Farris, Riley & Pitt, he’s here in Birmingham. You can call his office at 205‑324‑1212 or find him at www.deliveringjustice.com. If you’re watching and you have a question or maybe a comment of something that’s been said, give us a call at the number right there on the screen. We have Kathy and we are going to try to hear from her. Hello.
>> Caller: Yes, my husband was involved in an accident years ago. And he does ‑‑ the claim was settled for the repayment of the accident, there was a bodily injury. When it went to court they said later if he had problems with his body he can go back to the doctor. How does that work?
>> Tiffany Bittner: Kirby? Her husband was involved in an accident some years ago and they settled the case but told him if he had other injuries you can go back to the doctor.
>> The only setting wherein ‑‑ where I know that can be true is a workers’ compensation case. You’ve got to see a personal injury lawyer when you have that kind of case, those things have to be accounted for. In a work comp case if you have injuries that manifest later or give you problems later, you can look back to the comp carrier and they are supposed to take care of those bills but only in work comp case.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Share your thoughts on the things folks need to know when settling a case.
>> When you settle a case, any kind of case, the thing that you have to understand is that that is a final settlement. Once you put your name on that document, you can’t bring any other claims. If you have future medical problems, if you have future lost wages, all those things are lost to you if they’re not made part of that settlement. So that’s why when you’re in a situation where you’re about to settle a case or considering settling a case you really get to talk with a lawyer because if you’re not covering all your basis then you can wind up in a very difficult situation. I tell my clients this all the time. Where we don’t want to be is to settle a case and then have a phone call from my client six months later saying I’ve got to get next surgery.
>> Tiffany Bittner: You have to think ahead to what the future may hold.
>> Especially if you’ve been off work a few weeks or months then you’re in a difficult situation but especially in a case where you’ve been injured you really need a lawyer’s guidance to get through that. The farmer says you get one bite at the apple
>> That’s true.
>> Let’s hear from Carroll in midfield. Hello.
>> Caller: Hi. I have a question about my homeowner’s insurance. I’ve lived in my home since 1988. And I got hurt on the job and I ended up on disability. So I would get maybe a week or so behind. I never filed not one claim on my homeowners. And all of a sudden they sent me a later, it’s been several years ago, they sent me a later and sent me back $170 and dropped my homeowner’s insurance.
>> Tiffany Bittner: How does that work?
>> Unfortunately they can do that. Some companies after the tornados came through they quit business in Alabama. An insurance contract is a contract. At the end of the year they can switch clients or drop you. Not whether you file a claim or not whether you do anything wrong. They can just say we don’t want to insure this person. It’s just a contract. So I wish it wasn’t that way but it is.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Is it the same with rate increases, too?
>> Sure. They can’t change the rate on you in the middle of the contract. But at the end they can say we will insure you but it’s only at a higher rate.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Let’s hear from Don tonight. Hey, Don.
>> Caller: Hello. I have a question.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We are here for you, go ahead.
>> Caller: Okay. I had damage in my house. When it was damaged the insurance company came out and filed a claim and paid me a check for part of the roof to get the material and said they will pay me the labor later. Well I want to know where the deadline is at about two days they said I went over two days and I didn’t know the date was set up that way. I was supposed to have full replacement and they wouldn’t give me the other part of the money. It’s been time since this happened, probably about 6 or 7 months back now but I was wondering, is that really, that was it?
>> You know, I would love to see your contract because unless it specifically says you’ve got a limited time to complete that claim which I have never seen in one, then you got a case. They can’t do that. Breach of contract is six years so during that six years if they have breached it at any time any point you can sue them. On an insurance claim a lot of times you don’t even find damage until later. It’s on going. You need to see a later.
>> All right Bob Prince and Kirby Farris. Make sure you call their office tomorrow if you need more help with your situation. Have a great night. We will see you next Sunday right here for LawCall.