Building a case requires two parties – you and your legal team. No matter how severe your injuries, or how just your cause, we cannot help you if you do not participate fully and ethically in your own case. The following are some general instructions as well as answers to common questions that our clients need to be aware of.
Things YOU SHOULD NEVER Do:
NEVER give any written, recorded, or oral statements to anyone concerning your accident or injuries without first obtaining our approval.
NEVER make incorrect or false statements to any doctor who may treat or examine you respecting any prior injuries or accidents. If you can’t remember the details of a previous accident, simply say so.
DO NOT change your address or employment without notifying your attorney.
Important Points to REMEMBER:
- Inform us immediately if you change your address, telephone number or employment.
- If your vehicle was damaged in an accident, take photographs of it before you get it repaired. If you shoot digital then burn the images on a disc, a portable USB device or email them to our office at full resolution. If you shoot with a good quality cell phone (5 mega pixels or better) email them to us directly from your phone. If you use film, shoot color, and take a whole roll of pictures. Bring the film to us and we will have it developed. If you do not have a camera, please call and we will make arrangements to take the pictures for you.
- Save all pill bottles and orthopedic devices such as crutches, casts, braces, and any other items that were prescribed to you by your doctors.
- Give us any pictures and videos of the accident or accident scene that you or anyone else has taken for you.
- Let us know about any changes in your job, job duties, salary, etc.
- Be sure to obtain and save all receipts itemizing any and all expenses you incurred as a result of your accident.
- Inform us of anything you think may be important to your case, including extensive medical treatment or hospitalization.
The Five BIGGEST MISTAKES clients make which HURT their case:
- FAILING to see a doctor if you are in pain.
- FAILING to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding your treatment.
- FAILING to keep appointments with your doctor.
- DISCUSSING your case with anyone other than your attorney or doctor.
- FAILING to tell your doctor about pain or other physical complaints caused by your accident.
DO NOT TALK About Your Case to ANYONE without our Permission:
Do not talk about your case with anyone without our permission except this office and your doctors. If your own insurance company wants to talk about your case before they pay your medical bills, please refer them to us.
Follow Your Doctor’s Advice:
It is critical that you follow your doctor’s instructions. Be sure to do what your doctors tell you. Unless you have a good reason, never miss a doctor’s appointment. By missing a doctor’s appointment, you are saying to the doctor and to the defendant’s insurance company that you are not injured and that your case doesn’t matter very much. If you are in pain and you do not see a doctor, the defendant’s insurance company and the jury will not believe that you are having pain or even that you’ve been injured at all.Each time you go to the doctor and report that you are still having pain, your doctor makes an entry in his records. It is important for your doctor to have up-to-date information on your condition. Some clients get discouraged and do not see their doctor even though they are having pain. This may harm your claim. It is important that your doctor knows how you are feeling.
Our job is to obtain the best recovery for you based on your provable injuries. It is difficult if not impossible for us to prove your injuries if you do not cooperate in your own medical treatment. It is very important that you do everything possible to get well by making all of your medical appointments.
First Steps In Representing You:
During our first meeting, we will obtain general information regarding your case from you and provide you with client instructions. At that time, we will request that you sign certain authorization forms which will allow us to obtain your medical records and other necessary information. We will also request that you sign a retainer agreement which authorizes us to represent you and sets out the terms and conditions of our representation. Once we have been retained, we will notify the person who is responsible for your injury and/or their insurance company that you have retained us as your attorneys. Requests will be sent to all of the doctors and hospitals involved in your care for your medical records and billing information. NEVER SIGN any documents relating to your case without first obtaining our approval.
- Keep A Diary that includes the following information:Lost work time and wages.
- Other expenses resulting from your injuries, i.e., transportation, home care, etc.
- Detailed notes that describe your pain and suffering, including your physical limitations.
It is important to make your entries on an ongoing basis. A summary at the end of each month will not be as helpful to us. Copies of checks and receipts of payment, as well as the above records, will be very helpful when you may be asked by the insurance company or an attorney to recall your pain, physical disabilities, and any out-of-pocket cash expenses you may have incurred including medication.
Some of our clients are involved in accidents where there is no medical payments insurance, worker’s compensation or private health insurance to cover immediate medical expenses. In such cases, we may request your doctor to accept a medical lien in lieu of immediate payments. In such a case, your doctor will expect to be paid by you at the conclusion of this case and will require you to agree, in writing, to have us pay them directly from the proceeds you receive by settlement or verdict. If your doctor asks you to sign what is often called a “lien letter”, be sure to contact our office. In some cases, it may not be appropriate for you to sign such an agreement.
BEWARE- You May Be Watched and Photographed:
Routinely, when a claim is filed by an injured person, insurance companies conduct a detailed investigation of the injured person’s background. Sometimes, this investigation will include surveillance of you by an insurance company investigator who will videotape your activities. These investigators work very hard to obtain videotapes of claimants lifting heavy groceries or engaging in strenuous physical activity. However, these same surveillance tapes have been useful to corroborate our client’s limitations, including the use of canes, crutches, etc. If you believe you are being watched, please call us immediately. Try to avoid the camera if possible.
NEVER exaggerate your limitations or pose for the camera.
Why Does It Take So Long to Resolve My Case?
We cannot present your claim to the defendant’s insurance company until you have completed your medial treatment and we have obtained a report from your doctors explaining your injuries and what they believe your prognosis for the future will be. Unfortunately, doctors are often very slow in writing these reports. If we try to settle your case before your medical condition is stabilized, you may lose money that you might be entitled to for a condition that did not show up until after your case was settled. It is important to know that your case will not be settled until our investigation identifying all responsible parties has been completed and all of your damages have been determined. It generally takes several months to gather the necessary information. If your case cannot be settled and trial becomes necessary, it may take a year or more to resolve your case.
PLEASE BE PATIENT! The wheels of justice move very slowly. However, we will work diligently and as quickly as possible to settle your case as fast as we can.
What is the Value of My Case?
When new clients meet with us for the first time, they often ask us for an opinion about the value of their case. Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to tell immediately how much money, if any, you will recover in connection with your case. There is no formula for determining the value of a case. Each case is unique and different and must be evaluated on an individual basis. In cases of serious injury, the ultimate recovery is often related to the amount of insurance coverage available, as well as the nature, extent, and duration of the injuries, along with an assessment of liability. As your attorneys, we will do everything we can to obtain a recovery that fairly and justly compensate you for your injuries.
Filing a Lawsuit:
If your case cannot be resolved for some reason, it may become necessary to file a lawsuit to obtain an adequate recovery for you. This is a legal decision that we will make jointly with you. Before filing a lawsuit on your behalf, we will obtain your permission and explain to you why we believe a lawsuit is necessary to obtain a fair and just recovery for you. Although a lawsuit may have to be filed, settlement is always possible and negotiations do continue. Only a small percentage of lawsuits actually go to trial.
There are occasions when the parties agree to submit a claim to mediation. In such a case, the parties meet with an independent third person, usually an experienced lawyer or retired judge, who assists the parties in arriving at a settlement. The results are not binding. It is informal, and less expensive than a trial. If that option is available, we will discuss it with you.
Claims Against the Government:
Many our cases involve governmental entities as defendants. Generally, a Notice of Claim must be filed with the appropriate governmental agency (City, County, State or U.S.) within six (6) months following your injury. If you believe that the government may be involved in your case, please notify us immediately. Failure to file a claim within six (6) months after your injury may prevent you from recovering.