By Dale Gribow
Contrary to popular opinion, many lawyers do have a heart. I truly feel like crying every time I reject a victim’s case with big injuries. Unfortunately most victims focus on the injury, especially when they are rear ended and clearly not at fault. A good lawyer must evaluate any harmful negative factors like: admitting partial liability at the scene; no immediate medical treatment; treating with a family doctor who does not know how to write a medical legal report; low property damage; prior accidents; not having auto insurance; not contacting a lawyer right away; social media showing the victim playing sports for months while complaining of an injury. One of the biggest problems is when the potential client talks to the adjuster. It is not what the client told the insurance company but what the adjuster THOUGHT was said.
During my weekly “Accidentally Yours” radio show, for years I advised victims to only hire an attorney who had been an accident victim who had experienced the pain and loss of enjoyment of life the client had or will experience during treatment. Sadly many lawyers that have not been in an accident do not have the empathy for the victim who is seeking their guidance. They do not understand what the victim is going through.
Having practiced for 30+ years and been an accident victim that treated with chiros, orthos & physical therapists, I know what it is like to not be able to hold your baby or grandchild after the doctor says not to lift anything over 15 lbs. I remember not being able to lift trash cans or luggage or do anything around the house. This resulted in constantly being in pain and in a lousy mood.
We are all like a 12 oz. bottle the holds our 12 ounces of stress and responsibility. After an accident the extra stress causes the victim to try to fit 24 ounces of stress into the 12 oz. bottle resulting in an overflow. When it does we take out our stress on our spouse and kids and this is why so many accident victims have trouble with their marriage post-accident.
Since Thanksgiving I rejected 7 PI cases with good injuries. One did not call the police or get the names of witnesses because the other driver accepted liability at the scene and they felt ok at the time. That driver later changed their story and fault became liar’s poker because there was no witness.
Several did not seek medical attention and refused the ambulance because they did not have the money for the ER and ambulance. The potential client did not understand the auto insurance for the at fault driver would be responsible for these bills and that their lawyer could get doctors on a lien to treat them. An experienced lawyer does not want to accept a case with any of these factors thus knowing their client may not be happy with the results.
In the fall of 2016, a Monterey CC resident came in with what would have been a great case, TWO MONTHS EARLIER…when it happened. To her credit she had Blue Cross and went to Eisenhower, but did not have any follow up medical treatment. She also talked to the adjuster several times.
In addition with a prior accident, no matter what we argue to the insurance company or jury it would be a challenge to convince them that today’s complaints were not from that old accident. When there is a delay in treatment the insurance adjuster would ask “Mr. Gribow, how do we know that she did not recently slip in the shower or at the pool or fall playing tennis and then tried to tie them into this new case.
When a client talks to the adjuster we will never know the harmful things the client innocently said. The worst thing that can happen is learning of admissions to the adjuster in the middle of trial. The adjuster could testify the client denied injuries right after the accident and BEFORE the client hired a lawyer. The implication being the client only filed and sought medical advice because of his lawyer.
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-(Accidents) 2011-17
“TOP LAWYER” Inland Empire Magazine Nov, 2016
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