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TIPS ON WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT?

Dale Gribow Aug. 9, 2022

There are many important things to do after an auto, truck, slip and fall, or motorcycle accident. However among the most important is gathering all the info and not talking to the insurance company. If you are in pain, then you need medical attention. Go to the ER or any of the many Urgent Care centers in the Desert. Many are affiliated with our local Desert Regional or Eisenhower hospitals. Of course, our office can help you obtain a doctor to take the case on a lien in most situations. 

Often one of the first things accident victims ask is, what is the value of my case. A case value is based in part on your medicals. Please keep a pain and suffering diary to track all your medical visits and write down what is hurting you. Document what hurts from top of your head to the bottom of your toes. 

When you are contacted by any insurance company, advise them you would be happy to talk, but your lawyer asked to get his permission before you talk to anyone about the accident. S/he wants to be sure that what I say is understood by you. That way, we are the bad guys for not allowing you to make a statement. 

The insurance adjusters will tell you anything, to discourage you from retaining a lawyer. They will say, that if you hire an atty s/he will take 40%. That is a lie, as almost every lawyer in the country charges 1/3. However, your attorney will assist you in getting a fair settlement. 

You don’t want to settle to fast with the insurance company as some medical issues develop over time. By settling right away, you may lose out on getting money for future medical treatment and loss of earnings. However, you must be aware of the Statute of Limitations which places a time limit of 2 years to file an accident claim. 

For many decades, my personal mission has been to help my Coachella Valley neighbors make great decisions about their legal situations. When we can’t get a fair offer from the insurance company we file a lawsuit and start civil litigation. Civil litigation is usually litigation involving private parties, as opposed to criminal where you are prosecuted by the state. Civil could be because of damages from an accident or money owed.

Civil litigation is confusing for lawyers. For non-lawyers…it is a nightmare. Most lawyers, unlike our office, fail to educate their clients about what to expect. 

An Accident Lawsuit has 4 phases: 

Initially, a lawyer attempts to settle the matter, but s/he may have to file a Complaint, called a Lawsuit. This is the Pleadings phase, where the victim explains in the complaint what the defendant did and how much they are demanding. The defendant often files an Answer or a Demurrer (where they claim there is not enough evidence to proceed). 

The Discovery phase is next, and it is the most time intensive. This is where both sides share evidence. Discovery discloses facts, hopefully resulting in a settlement, dismissal or trial in front of an Arbitrator or Judge. Most cases are settled because trials, on a soft tissue accident case are so costly. 

The Post Trial Stage comes after the trial. On an auto accident case if there is no insurance or not enough insurance, the lawyer must try to then collect the judgement. The judge’s ruling is just his/her decision and not an order. Now the lawyer has to try to find assets. 

If the defendant disagrees with the verdict, s/he can hire an appellate lawyer to file an Appeal. It is often said if you have to try a soft tissue accident case you have lost. This is because of the tremendous costs involved. Unfortunately, a court of jury trial, is always a potential crap shoot.

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