Dec 2023 should end as the most wonderful time of the year. We all know last week’s rain brought us slippery roads…and that means auto accidents, hospitalizations and get well flowers. If you were in an accident over the holidays, there are 12 key tips to increase the value of your accident claim. These tips allow you to be fairly compensated, by the at faults parties insurance company. Put this information in a safe place.

  1. Stop, take pictures and gather info at the scene:Accident victims must stop and exchange information. Cell phone pictures of both cars, all occupants, the scene and statements of the at fault driver and wits, to help to establish causation and before they revise their statements. Call the police, even when there are no apparent injuries so they can gather info and prepare a report. You are not a lawyer or doctor, so don’t admit fault or say you were not injured.
  2. Do NOT give a statement:Statement are evidence, so get your lawyers permission first. If the other driver is uninsured or lacks adequate insurance, then your insurance company will pay under YOUR OWN UM policy. However, they will defend as if they are the insurance company for the other driver. REMEMBER SILENCE IS GOLDEN AND HANDCUFFS ARE SILVER. Don’t expose yourself to liability by saying something or having them THINK they heard you say something you didn’t say!
  3. Take down your social media. Insurance companies watch your Facebook, Twitter and social media posts that show you playing sports, talking about the accident or on a vacation. These arguably suggest you are OK or not getting medical treatment. In addition though you told the doctor you could not sit for long,you did for the trip and you were able to lift luggage etc.
  4. Get medical treatment asap:Many Victims do not realize the severity of their injury and do not seek immediate treatment. Later, they realize the pain they are experiencing is accident related. Some victims do not take an ambulance because they have to pick up their kids or because they are concerned about the hospital and ambulance costs. Absent immediate medical treatment, insurance companies argue if the victim was really injured they would have sought immediate medical treatment.
  5. Do NOT give your medical providers medical insurance/Medicare/Medicaid information:Once Medicare/Medi-Cal is notified, it takes 6-12 months to get them to respond to lien payment information…without which the case will not be settled. New laws now control what bills can be presented to the jury, as out of pocket costs, for which the client is responsible.
  6. Contact a Lawyer immediately:If not represented, the insurance company can contact you. Your lawyer will never know what you said or “what the adjuster/investigator thought s/he heard.”
  7. Your lawyer will assist in gettingyou medical care on a lien: Most doctors don’t know how to prepare a med/legal report as it was not taught in most medical schools. It is essential to obtain maximum recovery. As a faculty member, I lectured on How to Write a Medical/Legal Report to the International College of Orthopedic Surgeons at their yearly conferences. This report is almost as important as the reported injuries.
  8. Physical Therapy: A family doctor often suggests you go home, take a hot bath,aspirin and return in a month. Lawyers should urge clients to list all injuries from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet…and to take that to each doctor’s appointment.
  9. Use your lawyer’s body shop:Insurance companies recommend body shops with whom they have a working relationship and who agree to keep the damage estimates low. When settling the case, the adjuster argues that since the PD was low, how could you be injured. The last thing a lawyer wants is for his client to get his friend to fix the car cheaply.
  10. Purchase high insurance limits:Unfortunately, many CV neighbors have no insurance or inadequate limits. If so, we make an uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage claim with your carrier. Thus YOUR limits are important.
  11. Purchase Medical Payments coverage: Irrespective of fault, you can present a claim under the med pay section of your policy,to pay your medical bills.
  12. Follow your lawyers’ instructions:Agree to go to trial when necessary, to maximize the value of your case.

Do not sign anything without talking to your lawyer. It could be a release or authorization to obtain your medical records. Don’t trust the adjuster who says “if you have further problems, they will take care of it”.

My practice is focused on people and protecting their consumer rights. We deliver results, not false promises, and get top dollar on our cases. When the case is successfully concluded, our clients tell us we were courteous, professional and caring and that we “DID TURN WRONGS INTO RIGHTS”.

Dale Gribow, Attorney at Law, has been a well-respected “Boutique Concierge” PI/DUI Palm Desert Firm for 50 years, with over 20 “TOP LAWYER”AWARDS,  4 “Dale Gribow Days”; 8 “Man of the Year” Awards (City of Palm Desert, City of Hope and California Senate)…and awarded Mr. Charity.