By Dale Gribow
As a matter of fact ALL parties and especially holidays, can lead to a Black and White police unit. A B&W rolls on the scene whenever there is a DUI or an Accident. Drinking affects your reflexes and thus you could be driving and not stop in time for a red light or stop sign. When you notice to late that the car in front stopped and you rear end the car, your late actions cause a police officer to respond.
When the officer stops you, they smell the alcohol on your breath and you are dealing with a DUI on top of a possible accident. A DUI caused accident allows the victim to potentially collect punitive damages to punish the driver.
When an accident victim thinks they will be ok in a day or two and/or talks to the insurance adjuster before seeing a lawyer, they are damaging their case to the point that many lawyers will not accept their case. Victims are often afraid of getting in an ambulance or seeing a doctor and running up bills. The victim does not realize the at fault parties insurance company will pay for these bills. Most drivers have medical payments coverage in their auto policy and or Health Insurance that will also pay up to the purchased limits/coverage.
Many prospective clients do not know their policy limits or cannot find their policy. It is important to know this information because the other driver may not have insurance. If so, we would present an uninsured motorist (UM) claim against our clients own policy…if s/he had UM or UIM coverage. It is important to note that a medical provider, like any business, is primarily concerned about getting paid for their work… just the same as a hospital or urgent care facility.
If the injured party cannot find their policies they often must resort to using a credit card to pay for treatment until they learn of their coverage. An experienced lawyer can often get treatment on a lien where the doctor gets paid AFTER the case settles.
Insurance companies love holiday claims because claimants do the wrong things that ultimately reduce the value of their claim. This is because often cannot find a doctor or lawyer with whom to talk for a few days. For instance, new claimants may call the insurance company and say things they should not have said. On the other hand, the adjuster may write down things they think they heard the party say. The most important thing the victim can do is to take pictures of their injuries and of their car. They should also take video recordings of the witnesses’ statements with their cell phone camera. They should also take pictures of the other driver’s insurance policy and driver’s license.
In these scenarios, typically no one has advised the victim that they should see a doctor right away to document the injuries, let alone have the victim prepare a summary of their injuries. When preparing this summary, the victim should write down 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/ drugs issues, psych referrals, SDT’s, abortions etc. Though these records may have nothing to do with the accident, many jurors will incorrectly think less of the victim on account of these issues.
As a PI and DUI lawyer, I always advise my clients to not post anything on social media following the accident. The last thing you want is for the insurance company to find a client’s posts of their playing tennis, golf, running in a marathon etc. while they are allegedly complaining they cannot do anything because of the amount of pain they are encountering.
Because of the mistakes and challenges listed above it is harder to maximize the value of a holiday accident case and these cases often result in a smaller settlement. As a result many lawyers will be reluctant to accept these cases.
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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