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Dale Gribow Feb. 27, 2015

OK so PS did not have much flooding but we did have May showers. We all know they bring April flowers or something like that. Showers bring slick roads... which leads to more accidents. We have all heard the admonition that the first shower of the season means slick roads which means more accidents.

If you have been in an accident be ready to face a jungle out there. You will not know what to do and when to do it to protect your rights as an accident victim. As a matter of fact we have more DUI fatalities in PS than anywhere else in California PER CAPITA.

So what do you do if you or a loved one has been in an accident?

The first thing is to get the police to take a traffic accident report. That report coupled with your immediate medical attention is very important to support you were injured. Next use your cell phone to take pix of the damage to both cars; your observable injuries and those of the other parties and try to get witnesses statements.

Documentation is the name of the game. Get a three holed notebook, like the one you used in school, to summarize all the facts of the accident. Include the name, address, cell and email of all parties and witnesses. 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.

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 include your symptoms in the resulting medical report. That is why you should see a doctor (you have not seen before) 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.

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, were you unable to lift your two year old child or grandchild etc.

Do NOT admit liability or talk to the other party's 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.

The reality is that a case has a different value for different people. My first job was with an insurance defense firm and I had to write a summary for the insurance carrier of each claimant who came into the office. I explained how they were dressed, whether their clothes were pressed and whether their nails were clean and shoes were shined etc.

Please understand you will not be treated fairly by the insurance company without an attorney. In California we previously had "bad faith laws" that required the insurance company to deal fairly with the claimant, but in reality that is long gone.

The contingency fee used on all accident cases levels the playing field so that you can afford to hire the best. This lawyer will 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. 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 and or defense attorney will have for the attorney.