By Dale Gribow
1. NOT CALLING POLICE and gathering info & taking cell phone pictures of cars, CDL and Insurance cards:
2. WAITING TO LONG TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY resulting in evidence getting cold or destroyed
3. BE HONEST and DON’T HIDE PRIOR ACCIDENTS FROM YOUR LAWYER OR DOCTOR:
4. MISSING MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS OR GAPS IN TREATMENTS: Adjusters know jurors expect someone injured will treat on a regular basis without missing appointments. Otherwise jurors ask “how badly could they have been injured?”
5. INADEQUATE INSURANCE: Many CV locals DO NOT HAVE ADEQUATE OR ENOUGH AUTO INSURANCE. You need more than the minimum insurance on your car with elevated UM. Without more than $15k you are taking your life in your own hands. From December 2015 to NOVEMBER 2016 two of my clients died in separate accidents and the “at fault” party had $15k or NO insurance coverage AND my clients only had $15k.
6. PROPERTY DAMAGE: Don’t take your car to a friend’s body shop so that a property damage bill that should be $7000 is only $2500. An insurance company’s criteria for settling, is to look at your car’s property damage.
7. SILENCE IS GOLDEN: While talking to the police or adjuster remember this adage. It is not only what you say BUT what the adjuster or officer THOUGHT HE HEARD YOU SAY. DON’T GIVE A STATEMENT TO ANY INSURANCE CO WITHOUT YOUR LAWYER’S OK.
8. NO IMMEDIATE MED TREATMENT: Refusing to go by ambulance to the hospital because you did not want to incur an ambulance or emergency room bills with your limited finances hurts your case.
9. HANDLING IT YOURSELF: Don’t initially handle the case. Getting maximum recovery is a “work of art”. Don’t put your bills through Medicare or Medicaid. There are many reasons but just don’t do it.
10. TREATMENT WITH WRONG DOC: Don’t use your regular doctor rather than a new one that has not seen you before. Your doctor’s file has all your prior complaints and injuries and we all have skeletons in our closet. The insurance company will interpret skeleton items such as: prior accidents; seeing a shrink (that does not play well in front of some jurors unless you see the doc for this accident); having a venereal disease; having had an abortion (without sharing with your spouse); having an alcohol or drug issue etc.
11. A DOCTOR’S LACK OF EXPERIENCE WITH MED/LEGAL REPORTS: You want a doctor who is not only a good physician but is good at preparing MED/LEGAL reports. The doctor’s description of your pains is critical and that is why for years I lectured annually to the International College of Surgeons annual meeting on “How to Write a Med/Legal Report”.
12. OUT OF TOWN LAWYER: Though good lawyers, they will not know the local judges and court personnel (clerks and bailiffs) and a lawyer can often get a lot of info from them…if they are friends.
13. SOCIAL MEDIA (FB): Don’t post that you’re feeling great or running to play tennis or golf. The insurance company will argue if you were well enough to play a sport you couldn’t be hurt that badly. Social media is the biggest advance for insurance companies who no longer have to hire private investigators. They can learn from your daily posts how you are doing and that could be the kiss of death for your case. Take down your social media until the case is over. The insurance company can determine your friends and have investigators talk to them and learn how healthy you are. Your friends may assume you are ok because you do not complain.
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