By Dale Gribow
Super Bowl drinking resulted in many alcohol related accidents. However an accident does not mean the insurance company will make a fair settlement offer. You did not win the lottery because you were rear ended. Many potential clients do not understand why their case is not as valuable as their neighbors.
Follow these 12 steps and settle for more money.
1. Take cell phone pictures and video of both cars/ injuries and statements of all parties before they talk to their insurance company or lawyer and revise what happened.
2. Call the police even when there are no apparent injuries as the traffic accident report will provide information on all parties, witnesses and liability.
3. Do NOT give a statement without your lawyer’s permission as it is evidence. If the defendant is uninsured or lacks adequate insurance, your company will be responsible under UM/UIM and what you told them could come back to haunt you. Remember to ask the other driver for his driver’s license and Insurance info. Along these lines you should TAKE DOWN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA. The insurance companies watch Facebook and Twitter posts which may show you playing sports or talking about a vacation. This suggests you are OK and not getting medical treatment and that you are able to lift your luggage.
4. Get medical attention immediately, either by ambulance to the Hospital or Urgent Care. Some victims do not take an ambulance because they have to pick up their kids or are concerned about hospital and ambulance costs. Otherwise the insurance company argues, if the victim was really injured s/he would have sought immediate medical treatment.
5. Do NOT give the hospital Medicare/ Medicaid information: Once Medicare/Medicaid is notified it takes 6-12 months to get them to respond to lien payment information. In addition there is a new law that the only medical bills the jury can consider are those not paid by insurance, Medicare/ Medicaid. If Eisenhower charges $50,000 and accepts $9,000 from Medicare with the patient responsible for $1,000 we can only submit $1,000 for the jury to consider. Thus we may get settlement offers of less than $5,000.
6. Contacting a Lawyer immediately prevents the insurance company from contacting you for a statement. Your lawyer never knows what you said or what the investigator thought he heard you say.
7. Your lawyer helps you obtaining the right medical care on a lien: Doctors are not taught how to prepare a med/legal report which is needed to collect the full case value. For years I lectured on “How to Write a Medical/Legal Report” to the International College of Surgeons at their yearly conferences. The doctor’s report is almost as important as the injuries.
8. Go to your lawyer’s body shop not the Insurance Companies who gives a low estimate. Adjusters argue if the property damage is low, then how could the victim be injured? The last thing a lawyer wants is for his client’s friend to repair the car cheaply.
9. You need high auto liability and UM/UIM coverage because many drivers have no insurance or inadequate limits. IF that is the case we contact your carrier and make an uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage claim….even if you were walking or on a bike. If you have a $100,000 policy and the D driver does not have any coverage 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 amount from the other carrier and then make a claim against your $100,000 UM coverage.
10. Be sure you have Medical Payments coverage because 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.
11. Follow all Lawyers instructions and agree to go to trial when necessary. With some cases 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 fear of what would be in the med report: an abortion they did not tell their husband about; illegal drugs listed in med report; their treatment with a psych and or an affair with another person and a venereal disease.
12. Do not sign anything as it could be a release…or 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.
If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow at 760-837-7500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“TOP LAWYER” – Palm Springs Life-(Accidents) 2010-17
“TOP LAWYER”- Inland Empire Magazine Nov., 2016
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