- posted: Nov. 19, 2014
Susan from Palm Springs asks: Over the last year you have stated that law is an information gathering game. Why is that true for an auto accident? In my radio show "Accidentally Yours" I informed my listeners it is important to memorialize everything in order to gather information your lawyer will later need. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the damage to both cars involved, your observable injuries, and the accident scene. In addition provide the date/time/location of the accident and the name, address, phone number and emails of all witnesses and give it to your lawyer. This will be very helpful to later prove liability.
You should immediately go to the ER or Urgent Care to check you out. When injured going by ambulance is better than your driving to the hospital, as it validates the seriousness of the injury and provides the information your lawyer will later need to get you a fair settlement. Unfortunately many accident victims are concerned about spending their money for the hospital, ER or an ambulance because they do not realize they should get it back in the settlement.
The documentation and information discussed herein is necessary to increases the value of the case so that you recover the full value for your injuries. If you do not go to the doctor/hospital/urgent care the same day, many lawyers will not accept your case. Not contacting a lawyer right away is another reason to reject a client that calls 10 days later.
The victim who talks to the defense lawyer puts his potential lawyer at a disadvantage as it provides INFORMATION to the defense. A client does not always remember what they told the adjuster and it is not just what they said but what the adjuster THOUGHT he heard them say.
Antonio from Indio asks: Why do you suggest taking down your social media? Social Media is here to stay and is the latest trick used by the defense in both accident and DUI cases. The adjuster or defense lawyer will Google you and go to your Facebook to get information on the injured party. They may contact your Facebook friends to get negative information about you.
For instance IF you post you were just in an accident and thus were 1 hour late for golf or tennis it arguably suggests you were not hurt that badly. If you blog/post about going dancing, to the beach or on a ski vacation while you are still seeing a doctor this might suggest you were ok and thus faking your injuries.....or so the defense would argue. We all know one can be injured and still play tennis or golf, but with some pain.
Dave from La Quinta asks: After my accident I waited a week to see my family doctor who said "go home and soak in a hot bath and come back in a month or two." The next month he said the same thing and I returned 2 months thereafter. After 3 visits over 6 months I was discharged with a bill of $600 and the insurance company is only offering me $1000. Isn't my case worth a lot more since I was in pain for 6 months and am still hurting? If you don't see a doctor within a very short period of time, the value of any future treatment is lowered substantially and the case may not be financially worthwhile for an attorney. In other words, the insurance company would argue that if you were really injured you would have taken a bus, got a ride from a friend or walked to get medical attention at a county medical facility.
Let the doctor give you a full exam. It is often a good idea to see a doctor you have never seen before so there are no skeletons in your closet when this doctor prepares a medical report. In addition you need to treat with a doctor that knows how to write a medical/legal reports. I have lectured on that subject at medical conferences and there is a big difference between saying I have seen Dave and there is a 50% chance he will be fine versus I have seen Dave and there is a 50% he will have further problems.
When you delay treatment, the insurance company will argue the treatment you finally received may not have been from this accident. For instance, how does the adjuster, judge or jury know if the problems for which you were treating, were from the accident. Maybe you slipped and fell while running around the pool or fell in your shower.
The insurance company considers that you may have said to yourself, "I was in an accident a few weeks ago, so, why shouldn't I say this injury was from the auto accident?" The insurance company assumes that everyone is lying and trying to take advantage of them to cash in. If the insurance company has a 10% to 30% chance of convincing a jury of this argument, then the value of your case is diminished by 10% to 30%. The longer you wait to treat, the more your case is damaged by these possible defense arguments.