Why you ask would that be true? Doesn’t the Insurance Companies treat all accidents cases the same? Don’t they just multiply your medical bills by 3?
A lawyer directs you on what to do to support your accident claim, to get fair value on your case, and not be low-balled. If the police did not go to the scene, your lawyer will coordinate a desk report at the police station.
If the police did make a report, maybe it is not accurate and pegs you as being at fault or 50% at fault. Often your lawyer hires an Investigator to gather evidence to share with the police to get the report amended. If the case is worth $100,000 and you are 50% at fault you will only collect $50k. Since the lawyer gets a traditional 1/3, s/he has a vested interest in your getting the most money possible.
Your lawyer will instruct you on what information is needed and get wit statements and pictures of the scene. The bottom line, “HIRE A LOCAL LAWYER ASAP,” so evidence does not get cold or destroyed.
Most clients don’t realize how important it is to be honest with their lawyer. When your lawyer asks if you had any prior accidents, be honest. With computers, it is easy for the insurance company to search your name for your driving and criminal record.
Likewise you must be honest with your doctor too. Be sure your doctors each get ALL of your medical problems, write them out. Go to your computer and list everything that hurts from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes.
Give that sheet to each doctor so they can incorporate the information into your medical file. All to often the nurse or medical assistant misreads the doctors notes and leaves out, either his info on how the accident happened, or all of your medical problems.
With respect to your doctor visits, don’t miss appointments or have gaps in your treatment. The attorney for the insurance company, and their doctors, are going to argue you were not hurt that badly because you were not treating. The insurance adjuster knows all jurors will expect an accident victim to treat on a regular basis and for each problem, without missing appointments. Otherwise the question, “how bad could they have been hurt” will be asked?
Your lawyer will also review your insurance information to see what the maximum recovery could be on this case. If the other driver did not have much insurance s/he will know to make a claim against your underinsured motorist portion of your policy. Your lawyer will likewise encourage you to increase your limits for the future.
With respect to fixing your car, you do not want to go to the body shop that your insurance company recommends. Nor do you want to go to your next door neighbor who will repair $7500 of PD for $2500. Doing the repairs as cheaply as possible will hurt your case.
The attorney for the ins co will later argue, the damage was not that much. You also could wind up with an body shop that does not pound out the dent but rather uses bondo to hide it. In addition if they don’t put the car on a hoist, one can’t see the damage to the undercarriage.
When the PD is low the adjuster is inclined to low ball you on a settlement. The insurance companies hire biased experts, to pay the victim as little as possible. They traditionally DENY, DELAY AND UNDERPAY CLAIMS
A good lawyer should never let their client talk to the insurance adjuster. Legally, once a lawyer is retained the adjuster can’t talk to your client. I advise my clients to tell the adjuster, before the co knows I have been retained, to say they would be happy to talk to them but their lawyer has asked them not to do so without permission. Ask the adjuster for his/her name, and explain that after you call for approval, you will call them back. That way you are the good guy and the lawyer is the bad guy for not allowing the plaintiff to talk.
Remember that Silence is Golden. It is not only what you say BUT what the adjuster or officer THOUGHT HE HEARD YOU SAY. DON’T GIVE A STATEMENT TO ANY INSURANCE COMPANY WITHOUT YOUR LAWYER’S OK.
Your lawyer will encourage you to get immediate medical attention. S/he will explain why you should have taken the ambulance to the hospital rather than driving there yourself.
You should never HANDLE THE CASE YOURSELF: Don’t initially handle the case. Getting a maximum recovery is a “work of art”. Don’t put your bills through Medicare or Medi Cal. There are many reasons, but just don’t do it.
DON’T TREAT WITH the WRONG DOC: Don’t use your regular doctor! Instead consider one your lawyer suggests; one that you had not seen before. Your regular doctor’s file has all your prior complaints and injuries and we all have skeletons in our closet…things you do not realize are skeletons. The insurance company will interpret the following as a skeleton: prior accidents; seeing a shrink (that does not play well in front of some jurors unless you see the doc for this accident); an STD; an abortion (without sharing with your spouse); an alcohol or drug issue etc.
It is important you SEE A DOCTOR EXPERIENCED WITH PREPARING MED/LEGAL REPORTS in addition to being a good physician. The doctor’s description of your pains is critical. That is why for years I lectured to the International College of Surgeons at their annual conference on “How to Write a Med/Legal Report”.
DON’T HIRE AN OUT OF TOWN LAWYER: Though good lawyers, they will not know the local judges and court personnel (clerks and bailiffs) and a lawyer can often get a lot of info from them…if they are friends.
DON’T POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA (FB): Don’t post that you’re feeling great or running to play tennis or golf. The insurance company will argue if you were well enough to play a sport you couldn’t be hurt that badly. Social media is the biggest advance for insurance companies who no longer have to hire private investigators. They learn from your daily posts how you are doing and that could be the kiss of death for your case. Take down your social media until the case is over. The insurance company can learn your friends and have investigators talk to them and learn how healthy you are. Your friends may assume you are ok because you do not complain.
You must realize that insurance companies do whatever they can to pay less money on a case… AUTO, HURRICANE, FLOODS, FIRE… IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE. They are not your good neighbor and they will not give you a piece of the rock.
Representing the Injured and Criminally Accused
“TOP LAWYER” – California’s Prestige Magazine, Palm Springs Life (PI/DUI) 2011-20
“TOP LAWYER” – Inland Empire Magazine 2016- 2019
PERFECT 10.0 AVVO Peer Rating
“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”
If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow at 760-837-7500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.