With respect to the handling of the property damage, you should never talk to the defendant’s adjuster about the facts of the accident. If we OK it then only discuss the repair of your car. This also applies to your company’s insurance adjuster, if the other party did not have insurance, and we are pursuing an uninsured motorist claim.
Insurance companies will often try to get you to go to their body shop. This is often because their body shop will try to do the work for a lesser amount. This is because they are getting a volume of business from the insurance company. Sometimes these body shops cut corners at your expense. It’s not in your best interest to have a lower property damage because as I have explained many insurance companies will not settle cases with a low property damage.
In 2012 it is more important than ever, that we try to get full value on the property damage. This problem with low property damage was not present in previous years, but in the last few years, having a case with low property damage often results in a defense verdict – EVEN WHEN YOU ARE REAR ENDED! Though this is hard to believe, the most recent jury verdicts support this stupid result.
As a personal injury litigation law firm, we subscribe to several different jury verdict publications that tell us the facts of every case that has gone to trial in Southern California. It tells us the name of the plaintiffs, doctors, lawyers, judges, property damage and injuries, how much the plaintiff demanded, what the defense offered and what the jury awarded. By reading these verdicts, we come across case after case where THE CLIENT IS REAR ENDED WITH LOW PROPERTY DAMAGE AND A RESULTING UNFAVORABLE VERDICT.
I find it helpful to treat each case as if that case were going to go to trial, though only 10% of the cases are actually tried. If the case goes to trial, it will take place several years from now and your memory today is better than your memory will be in 2, 3 or 5 years. If you have to go to trial, you can refresh your memory while you are on the witness stand by reading something that you have prepared. That is called refreshing your memory and under the law, “past recollection recorded” is an exception to the Hearsay Rule. The court will not allow you, while you are on the witness stand, to read something that our office (or your spouse) has written down. This is true even though you have dictated that information to us or them. That is called “hearsay.” Thus, I suggest very strongly that you personally keep the diary and not your spouse or other family member.
I am often asked, “Why are you a better attorney than the next attorney?” I was an A.V. Rated Attorney for many years (which is the highest rating you can get nationally); I graduated pre-med/pre-law from U.S.C.; I have focused on Personal Injury cases for over 30 years; I worked for an insurance defense firm and I spent 5 years with the county as a trial attorney. When I moved to The Greater Palm Springs area, I was one of two attorneys in this area of law listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers for the Coachella Valley. In addition I have been profiled in Palm Springs Life Magazine 2011 as a TOP LAWYER and again in June 2012. I have also been honored with a superb AVVO legal rating of 9.7 out of 10 and have been Man of the Year 6 Times including the City of Palm Desert and the City of Hope. In addition Dale Gribow Day has been declared 4 times
However, I honestly believe the single most important factor was that I, too, was rear-ended. I saw an Orthopedist, a Chiropractor, an Acupuncturist and a Physical Therapist. Thus I am sensitive to what my clients are going through. When I was rear-ended, I described my head as feeling like a bowling ball and my neck felt like a piece of spaghetti. I use to have to put my hand behind my head as I pushed myself up from the bed in the morning because my neck was too weak. Thus, I can relate to the pains of injured victims.
I remember all too well what it was like to have a fear of driving. I remember that every time I came to a stop I would look in the rear and side-view mirror to make sure the car behind me was going to stop. Whenever I would hear brakes screech, I would tighten up my neck and shoulder muscles thinking I was going to get rear-ended again. Don’t be surprised if this happens to you. If it does, write it down in your diary and tell your doctor and my office about it.
My entire life was thrown upside down after my accident and whatever responsibilities I had one second before the accident I still had. On top of those responsibilities I now had to worry about getting my car fixed, fighting traffic to get to a doctor and being annoyed by waiting in the doctor’s waiting room for extended periods of time. Then I had to deal with the insurance company to get a car rental. You may have similar problems. On top of this you have to deal with going to a lawyer’s office and remembering all the things I am sharing with you.
I often make the analogy that your life is similar to a glass of water that is almost filled to the brim. One second before the accident, your glass of life’s responsibilities was almost full and now you are adding a lot of extra stress into that glass in the form of dealing with the car rental company, dealing with the car repair, dealing with the doctor, dealing with the lawyer, and thus causing it to “spill over”. All those things may cause you to be uptight and to lash out at those that mean the most to you.
I have found over the last 30 years that when one “spills over” with pressure it often affects the relationship between the husband and wife or parents and kids. When you are upset with your pain, etc., one often has a tendency to lash out at those closest to them. An innocent question of “Did you have a good day?” could result in a situation where someone barks at you asking “how could I have had a good day, I’m in pain.”
This Part 4 of a 7 Part Series to be continued next week.

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