How do we protect ourselves if my wife and daughter were rear-ended in a car accident and their injuries get worse later?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How do we protect ourselves if my wife and daughter were rear-ended in a car accident and their injuries get worse later?

They were sent to the hospital and were checked out and released with lots of pain but X-rays did not find any reason to keep then. The other driver was at fault and our car will be totaled. Should we contact a lawyer to handle all of this for us?

Asked on December 3, 2015 under Personal Injury, North Carolina


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It would be advisable for your wife and daughter to be represented by a personal injury attorney.  They have separate personal injury claims.
They can protect themselves if their injuries worsen by NOT attempting to settle their cases until they have completed their medical treatment and have been released by the doctor or have been declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary which means having reached a point in their treatment where no further improvement is anticipated.  If they still have pain or other residual complaints after completing their medical treatment, that should be documented in the medical reports, and will result in compensation to include the estimated cost of future treatment.
They should obtain their medical bills, medical reports and if applicable documentation of wage loss upon completion of medical treatment and release by the doctor or after being declared permanent and stationary.  Their claims filed with the at-fault party's insurance carrier should include those items.
Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of their injuries and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  If their cases are settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.
If one or both are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance company, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party.  If your daughter is a minor, you or your wife will need to be appointed guardian ad litem to file a lawsuit on your daughter's behalf since a minor cannot file a lawsuit herself.
If the cases are NOT settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, the lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitation or your wife and daughter will lose their rights forever in the matter.
The property damage claim on your vehicle is separate from the personal injury claims.  You can probably settle the property damage claim yourself or you can have the attorney do it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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