- posted: Oct. 31, 2014
An accident does not mean you will receive a fair settlement offer from the insurance company. You did not hit the lottery because you were rear ended. Many potential clients do not understand why their case is not as valuable as their neighbors.
The most successful cases have the following 12 things which help to establish liability and damages which are the two essential elements of an accident case.
1. The Victim took pictures at the scene: Pictures of both cars and occupants will help to prove the severity of the accident. The cell's video app allows you to get statements from all parties before they talk to their insurance company or lawyer and revise what happened.
2. The Victim called the police: The traffic accident report provides information on all parties, witnesses and liability ie who was at fault.
3. The Victim does NOT give a statement: All V's are well advised to not give a statement to anyone without their lawyer's permission as the statement is evidence. If the defendant does not have insurance or adequate insurance then your insurance company will take over under UM and things you told them could come back to haunt you.
4. The Victim sought medical attention immediately, either by going by ambulance to the Hospital or Urgent Care: Many Victims do not realize the severity of an injury and do not seek immediate treatment. Later they realize the pain they are experiencing is accident related. Some victims do not take the ambulance because they have to pick up kids or because they are afraid of the hospital and ambulance costs. Without immediate medical treatment many lawyers are not interested in the case. This is because the insurance company argues if the victim was really injured they would have sought immediate medical treatment.
5. The Victim did NOT give the hospital their insurance/Medicare/ Medicaid information: Once Medicare/Medicaid is notified it takes 6-12 months to get them to respond to lien payment information. In addition there is a new law that the only medical bills that can be considered by the jury are those not paid by any insurance or Medicare/ Medicaid. Thus if Eisenhower has a bill of $50,000 and they have an arrangement with Medicare etc to accept $9,000 as payment in full with the patient then responsible for $1,000. We then only have $1,000 to submit to the jury. A few years ago that $50,000 bill would result in a $150,000 settlement offer. If $1,000 is all the V has to pay we will get settlement offer of $2500 to $3500.
6. The Victim contacted a Lawyer immediately: If the V is not represented by counsel the insurance company can contact them and take statements. The lawyer will never know what the victim said or what the investigator thought he heard the victim say. With a lawyer there is less of a chance for a "mistake" by the insurance company.
7. The V asked the lawyer for assistance in obtaining medical treatment: Most doctors do not know how to prepare a med/legal report and that is essential to obtaining the full value of the case. For years I lectured on this subject to the International College of Surgeons at their yearly conferences. The doctor report is almost as important as the injuries they list. Ordering Physical Therapy rather than having the V sit in a hot bath is crucial too. A lawyer should urge the V to list all injuries from the top of their head to the bottom of their toes and to take that list to each doctor's appointment. All that information should be shared with each medical provider.
8. The V went to the lawyer's body shop: Insurance companies recommend body shops with whom they have a working relationship and who agree to keep damage estimates low. When settling the adjuster argues since the damage is low then how could the Victim be injured. The last thing a lawyer wants is for his client to get his friend to fix his car cheaply.
9. The Victim had high auto liability and UM: In the desert many of our neighbors have no insurance or inadequate limits. IF so we contact your carrier and make an uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage claim. If you have a $100,000 policy and the D driver does not have coverage a UM claim against your carrier can be made for up to $100k. Likewise if the defendant has a $15k policy we can collect that from their carrier and then make a claim against your $100k UM coverage.
10. The V has Medical Payment coverage; No matter who is at fault you can present a claim under the med pay section of your policy for up to that amount of money to pay your medical bills. With $25,000 of med pay coverage you can collect up to $25,000 from your own policy no matter who is at fault.
11. The Victim agrees to go to trial when the attorney recommends that course of action: With some cases the attorney has to threaten or go to trial to get the true value of a case from the defense.
12. Do not sign anything: The paper you sign could be a release...or just an authorization to obtain your medical records. Do not trust the adjuster who says if you have further problems they will take care of it.
Dale Gribow has been selected every year as a "TOP LAWYER" by Palm Springs LIFE, and is also AVVO PEER rated SUPERB by fellow attorneys. Gribow has been named Man of the Year 7 times by both The City of Hope and the City of Palm Desert.
For more than 30 years, Dale Gribow Attorney at Law has been committed to protecting client's civil and constitutional rights. Regardless of whether the matter concerns a Serious Accident, DUI, Business, Real Estate or Estate Planning issue every case is diligently handled with the utmost of respect and care. The Gribow firm offers clients decades of experience and success, thus making Gribow the attorney of choice for thousands of clients.
If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow Attorney at Law at his NEW number 760-837-7500.