By Dale Gribow
Many clients do not know their policy limits or cannot find their policy. Find it and know what is in it and keep it in your glovebox. If the at fault driver does not have coverage or enough, we make an uninsured motorist (UM) claim. It is important to note that a medical provider is primarily concerned about getting paid for his/her work as does a hospital or urgent care. If the injured party cannot find their policies they often must resort to using a credit card to pay for treatment. An experienced lawyer can often get treatment on a lien.
Typically, no one tells the victim that they should immediately go to the ER to document the injuries. They should also prepare a summary of their injuries. They should write down all their symptoms/injuries by starting with the top of their head and moving to the bottom of their toes.
Additionally, the victim should see a medical provider they have not seen before. This is because their current medical providers have records that document prior injuries, alcohol or drugs issues, psych referrals, STD’s, abortions etc. Though these records may have nothing to do with the accident, many jurors will incorrectly think less of the victim because of these.
Take down social media after an accident. The last thing you want is for the insurance company to find client’s posts of their playing tennis, golf, running in a marathon while they complain they cannot do anything because of the pain.
Because of the mistakes and challenges herein it is hard to maximize the value of an accident case and these cases often result in a smaller settlement. As a result many lawyers reluctantly reject these cases.
The most successful cases have the following in common…which establishes liability and damages. STOP and take pictures and gather info at the scene:
The law requires the exchange of information. Pictures of both cars and occupants will help to prove the severity of the accident. Use your cell to take pictures of both cars and any observable injuries to all parties. Use your cell’s video to get statements from all parties and witnesses, before they talk to their insurance company or lawyer and revise what happened.
1. Call the police even when there were no apparent injuries:
The traffic accident report will provide information on all parties, witnesses and liability showing who was at fault. Do not admit fault to the police. If the police do not arrive you must get the above info yourself. Remember Silence is Golden.
2. NO statement to anyone… at this stage as it is evidence.
3. Get medical attention immediately, either by going by ambulance to the Hospital or Urgent Care.
4. Do NOT give the hospital your insurance/Medicare/ Medicaid information until you talk with their lawyer.
5. Contact a LOCAL Lawyer:
Without a lawyer the insurance company can contact you and try to get a statement. Your lawyer will never know what you said or what the adjuster/investigator thought he heard you say. Ask your lawyer for assistance in obtaining medical care on a lien with a doc who knows how to write a med/legal report:
6. Go to your lawyer’s body shop:
Insurance companies recommend body shops with whom they have a working relationship and who agree to keep the estimates low. When settling the case, the adjuster argues since the property damage is low then how could the Victim be injured. The last thing a lawyer wants is for his client to get his friend to fix the car cheaply.
7. Get high auto liability and UM coverage:
Many locals have no insurance or inadequate limits. IF so to protect you we contact your carrier and make an uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage claim. If you have a $100,000 policy and the D driver does not have coverage then a UM claim against your carrier can be made for up to $100,000. Likewise if the defendant has a $15k policy we can collect that from the other carrier and then make a claim against your $100,000 UM coverage to collect $85,000.
8. Be sure you have Medical Payments coverage:
No matter who is at fault you can present a claim under the med pay section of your policy for up to that amount of money to pay your medical bills. With $25,000 of med pay coverage you can collect up to $25,000 from your own policy no matter who is at fault.
9. Follow your lawyers’ instructions and agree to go to trial when necessary.
Sometimes the attorney has to threaten or go to trial to get the true value of a case from the defense. I have had cases where my client refused to go to trial because of an abortion they did not tell their husband about. Likewise illegal drugs in the med report or a venereal disease let alone their referral to a psych or notes of an affair.
10.Do not sign anything:
The paper you sign could be a release…or just an authorization to obtain your medical records. Do not trust the adjuster who says if you have further problems they will take care of it.
DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE, CALL A TAXI, LYFT OR UBER………THEY ARE A LOT CHEAPER THAN CALLING ME … LAW ENFORCEMENT WARNS “DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER
If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow 760-837-7500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“TOP LAWYER” – Palm Springs Life (DUI/ACCIDENTS) 2011-2017
“TOP LAWYER”-Inland Empire Magazine Nov, 2016
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