This Sunday is Memorial Day, attracting a lot of tourists and traffic. I remember coming here every Memorial Day for the poolside parties at the PS Riviera Hotel and cruising Palm Canyon with water guns. Last weekend we saw checkpoints at Hwy 111 across from the Rancho Mirage Library. Their main purpose is not for DUI arrests, but rather to warn us to drive safely.

My Legal Columns and radio show were entitled, “Accidentally Yours”.  I often informed my readers/listeners to write down all the facts of how the accident happened. My advice is to list what was hurting, from the top of their head to the bottom of their toes. A lawyer needs this information, and your memory is better shortly after the accident than it is 6 months or several years later.

I advise my clients to use their cell phones at the scene, to take pictures of the damage to the cars, injuries, the other driver’s license, and insurance card etc. In addition, a driver should get statements from the witness and get the other driver’s statement. With today’s smartphones, this is easy to do.

When injured, drivers should seek a medical evaluation asap. An ambulance validates the injuries' severity and provides the information a lawyer needs to get you a maximum recovery. Unfortunately, often victims do not want to spend money on the hospital, ER, or ambulance. They don’t realize they will get it back in SPADES in the settlement, if they were not at fault.

Talking to the defense lawyer or adjuster puts one’s 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 the victim said, but what the adjuster/attorney THOUGHT s/he heard them say.

Clients should take down social media as it is the latest trick used by the defense in both Accidents and DUI cases. The defense will Google the victim in an auto crash, and check Facebook etc, to gather information on you. They may also 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 while treating, you post about playing a sport, going dancing, or on a ski vacation, this might suggest you were ok and thus faking your injuries…..or so the defense would argue. Obviously, one can be injured and still play tennis or golf, but with some pain.

It is harmful if you delay seeking medical help or seeing your own family doctor, who says “go home and soak in a hot bath and come back in a month or two.” The next month the doctor says the same thing and you return 1-2 months thereafter. After 3 visits, over 6 months, you were discharged with a bill of $600 and the insurance company offers $1000. Then you want to know why your case wasn’t worth a lot more since you were in pain for 6 months and still hurting?

The bottom line is that, “If you don’t see a doctor on a regular basis, the delay reduces the case value, and the case may not be financially worthwhile for an attorney. In other words, the insurance company will argue if you were really injured you would have found a way to get medical care.”

Ideally, you should see a doctor you have never seen before, so there are no skeletons in your closet when this doctor prepares a medical report. Mention of substance abuse, abortion, venereal disease etc are negatives to some jurors. In addition, you need to treat with a doctor that knows how to write medical/legal reports. If you delay treatment, the insurance company will argue the treatment may not have been from this accident and ask how do we know the treatment is from this accident?

Insurance companies think most claims are false. They ponder whether you slipped and fell while running around the pool or fell in your shower and then you thought, “I will say it is from my recent accident.” The bottom line is that adjusters are paid to downplay the severity of the accident and the amount to be paid to you.

Sooo, protect yourself and retain an experienced LOCAL PI lawyer!