Summer is here but there are more parties than usual as we are all looking for a reason to get out and PARTY! The Coachella and Stagecoach concerts are around the corner. This means more people will be on the road …that have been drinking. Thus expect more auto accidents.
I use to have a radio show entitled “Accidentally Yours” where we discussed what to do if you were in an accident. The first thing I suggested on each show is that “people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan”. Thus you should consider now, while you are not stressed from an accident, which lawyer you would call and which hospital would be the closest for you. Keep that lawyers information handy just as you would the information for a plumber or electrician.
If you or a loved one are involved in an auto accident the first thing you should do is to call Riverside County Sheriffs. Do whatever you can to get them to take a traffic accident report. Having a police report coupled with your seeking medical attention at a hospital or ER right away is very important to support the fact you were injured. Next use your cell phone to take pix of the damage to both cars; the other party and witnesses and any injuries you received that would show up on a photo.
Documentation is the name of the game for a PI case. Get a three hole notebook, like the one you used in school (or your computer), to summarize all the facts of the accident. Include the name, address, cell and email of all parties and witnesses. Then start with the top of your head and work down to the bottom of your toes and list what hurts you. Do this each day as there may be new pains every day. Also include your loss of enjoyment of life. That way you can take the notebook to the doctor and not forget to tell him/her all of your medical complaints. Include in your summary what were you NOT able to do because of the accident? For instance did you have to cancel a party you were throwing or attending? Did you cancel a vacation? etc.
If you do not relate all your medical symptoms to the doctor it is as if you did not have that symptom. You need the doctor to put your symptoms in the resulting medical report. That is why you should see a doctor that knows how to handle a med/legal case and prepare a proper report. If the medical problem is not in the report you will not be compensated for it.
I always suggest you see a doctor you have not seen before. Otherwise when the insurance company subpoenas your medical records from that doctor, it may show things you do not want others to know.
Be sure you do NOT admit liability or talk to the other parties insurance company. You are best advised not to talk to your own insurance company until you have retained a lawyer. If the other side does not have auto insurance or enough insurance, you will be presenting an uninsured motorist claim and your insurance company becomes the entity from whom we look to collect. The insurance company will size you up when you personally make a claim. Initially they assign a nice adjuster to your file and later transfer it to a less understanding adjuster.
If you talk or meet the adjuster they will try to pump you for information. Living in the desert it is common to be asked if you are a golfer or a tennis player. They will try to elicit from you when you last played. If you were well enough to play a sport they will later argue you were not injured like you claimed to your doctor. In addition when they come out to look at the property damage they might say they want to take a picture of the damage to the car and at the last minute ask you to stand next to the car and point to the damage. Sometimes that involves bending to point to the dent and right before they take the picture they say “smile”. Now they have a picture of you bending and smiling when you are complaining your pain is so bad you cannot bend and certainly would not be smiling.
Please understand you will not be treated fairly by the insurance company without an attorney. They will not be your friendly neighbor nor give you a piece of the rock. In California we use to have “bad faith laws” that required the insurance company to deal fairly with the claimant, but in reality that is long gone.
Remember you can always change your attorney because the attorney works on a contingency fee and they do not earn that fee until the case is settled. The new lawyer will compensate the first lawyer for his/her time out of the money THEY collect for legal fees. The contingency fee levels the playing field so that you can afford to hire the best. This lawyer will also assist you in finding a medical provider who will treat you on a lien basis. Thus you do not have to pay for treatment as it is incurred but rather after the case settles.
When selecting a lawyer, look at the AVVO legal rating system and choose a lawyer who is rated 9.0 or higher. Also look at their Martindale Hubbell rating. A perfect rating is AV. A for legal ability and V for very high ethics. In addition, look for a lawyer who has been recognized in the community such as having Palm Springs Life Magazine list him/her as a TOP LAWYER. The lawyer’s involvement in the community also is important because it is symbolic of the respect the insurance company will have for the attorney.
DRINKING AND TEXTING BOTH CAUSE ACCIDENTS OR MAKE A DRIVER LESS LIKELY TO AVOID AN ACCIDENT, THAT WOULD NOT BE THEIR FAULT. BEING INTOXICATED IS JUST AS SERIOUS AS BEING INTEXTICATED. A DRIVER MUST DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO AVOID AN AT-FAULT ACCIDENT. THE BOTTOM LINE IS “DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE OR TEXT AND GET A DUI OR ACCIDENT… CALL A TAXI, LYFT, OR UBER….THEY ARE A LOT CHEAPER THAN CALLING ME”
Ideas for future columns contact Dale Gribow 760-837-7500 or email@example.com.
Legal Representation Of The Injured and Criminally Accused
“TOP LAWYER” – California’s Prestige Magazine, Palm Springs Life (PI/DUI) 2011-21
“TOP LAWYER” – Inland Empire Magazine 2016- 2019
PERFECT 10.0 AVVO Peer Rating and AV Martindale Hubbell Rating