This is in North Carolina.
BACKGROUND: Dec. 1, 2006 I was rear-ended by a truck and pushed into another vehicle, police report stated impact speed was about 35mph. The crash totaled my 2000 Dodge Intrepid, but the property claim has already been settled. I was not found at fault, and the driver who hit me was issued a citation with failure to reduce speed and at-fault for my vehicle and the truck ahead of me. His airbag deployed.
I was a 26yr old hobbyist bodybuilder and a student in great shape before this accident.
I sustained a herniated disc in my neck (pain!), experiencing numbness in my hands, severe headaches, excessive thirst, insomnia, fatigue. I had to see a hand specialist who referred me to physical therapy for my right wrist. The chiropractor spent about seven months and $6k trying to help me, and then referred me on. I also have an aggravated congential condition in my lower back that I was previously unaware of (part of the vert shifted toward spinal column due it not being attached). I have been diagnosed by a Neurologist as currently suffering from post-concussive syndrome and am currently under treatment. I have also been diagnosed with trauma-induced Diabetes Insipidus (pituitary damage) by an Endocrinologist and am currently under treatment. The neurologist and endocrinologist have both determined that my conditions are most likely permanent.
My PCP, et. al. have put me on anti-anxiety, pain meds, muscle relaxers, sleep aids, they've thrown the pharmacy at me. I was a full time student at the time the accident occured, but I have done little but stay at home and hurt for some time. I have not been able to seek employment, even though it was my intent, I was crippled by pain and am only recently getting that under more control.
I imagine I have a strong case against the insured for a hefty sum. I will need most of the money simply to pay my future medical expenses. I do have health insurance, but my benefits are running out because I paid for them out of pocket (limited payable benefits per annum), and $800+ in meds a month plus all the MRIs, specialist visits, etc. has depleted my benefits to within a few hundred dollars. I have personally invested $7k in uncovered expenses not counting premiums, mileage, or any other little details. Just the two medications from the Neuro and Endo are almost $500/month.
Question 1: What should my next step be? I cannot afford to even be sick because my benefits will be shortly exhausted by this accident. I feel like there should be some compensation to my health insurance company even though the representative I spoke to said they would not attempt to collect against my settlement when I offered to reimburse them. I wish I understood subrogation better, but sadly it is greek to me. Can I recover more than just my copays in order to have my health insurance available to me if something else happens before the end of the year when my benefits refresh? My total medical bills are around $20k+. Should I ask that the insurance company reimburse me partially while I'm still undergoing additional treatment and diagnosis, or should I get this settled before I axe all my savings? Is it even reasonable to desire the cushion of protection that my health insurance provides me be available for other things that might happen aside from this accident?
Question 2: Is there any way I can discover the amount of insurance the at-fault party has? I have their policy number and contact info, he is insured by Farm Bureau. I honestly don't want to get a lawyer unless I can be relatively sure to benefit from it. If he has minimum liability, for instance, I will need every dime of that money. I am confident I can secure it.
Question 3: If the at-fault party is underinsured, what is the next step for suing him personally? Is it generally part of a lawyer's personal injury work to persue that or would that be a totally seperate issue. ex. Sue Farm Bureau then Sue 'Careless B. Friendly?'
Thanks in advance,