Medina Law

20 Secrets of Collecting the Money You Deserve forYour Injuries, Pain, Suffering and Property Damage

SECRET #1:  Do not talk to anyone… except your doctor orattorney.  Do not speak with the otherinsurance company and its adjusters or lawyers. They will often try to recordyou and misrepresent you.  You shouldalso be careful when speaking with even your own insurance company, or to anylawyers hired by your insurance company, without notifying your attorneys so theymay be present if necessary.  SECRET #2:  Seek medical treatment promptly. Tellyour doctors about all of your symptoms. You should try to keep all medical appointments, and you should alwaystell your doctors about all of your areas of pain.  You should never exaggerate your symptoms, butyou should also not minimize your ailments when talking with your doctors.  This is important to your treatment.  If you see any other doctors, make sure thatyou tell both your current doctors and your attorney immediately.  SECRET #3:  Always tell the truth to everyoneinvolved. If you lieor misrepresent something, the other party’s insurance company will probablyfind out.  They know when and howdishonest accident victims try to get more money than they deserve.  Tell the truth and explain exactly whathappened to everyone involved – your lawyer, the insurance adjuster and yourdoctor.  SECRET #4:  File a police report. The police report will contain the contactinformation of the other parties involved. Also, it provides the documentation you may need if your case goes tocourt.  On the other hand, if you don’tfile a police report, it may appear that you’re exaggerating your claim becausethe insurance company assumes that if your claim were legitimate, you wouldhave notified the police.  SECRET#5:  Tell your insurance company about theaccident as quickly as possible. This helpsyour insurance company get the information and reports that it needs to payyour claim without delay.  SECRET #6:  Conduct a complete investigation. It is extremely important that you or your attorney collect all witnessstatements, police reports, medical reports and anything else related to youraccident.  Your case may require hiringprivate investigators or accident reconstruction experts. The other party’sinsurance company will collect all sorts of information that may be usedagainst you.  You could be at a seriousdisadvantage if you do not conduct a thorough investigation soon after theaccident.  SECRET #7:  Get photographs of all important elements inyour case.  For example, if you are in a car accident,you should obtain photographs of your car and the car that hit you, theaccident scene, and your injuries.  Ifyou fall, you should take photographs of the defective condition that caused youto fall.  Photos are vivid evidence ofwhat you experienced.  Sometimes, apicture is worth a thousand words, and juries find photos to be powerful proofof your injuries.  If you have takenpictures, tell your attorney and provide him with the photographs ornegatives.  If an investigator isnecessary, I have several who work with me to conduct all aspects of theinvestigation.  SECRET #8:  Don’t have your car repaired until you havetaken photos of your vehicle’s damage. You don’t want to rely on photographstaken by the other party’s investigator. These people are trained to minimize the damage appearance in thephotos.  Take your own photos or tell meand I will obtain photos that properly show your damages.  Also, if the other driver was clearly atfault and you have collision coverage on your own policy, you have twoalternatives:  Either your attorney mayinsist that the other driver’s insurance company repairs the automobile — oryou may submit the claim to your insurance company and then your attorney canattempt to recover your deductible for you from the at-fault party’sinsurer.  Always consult with yourattorney to determine which choice he recommends.  SECRET #9:  Don’t sign a release for your medical recordsto the other party’s insurance company.  Manyaccident victims make the mistake of signing a release for the other party’sinsurance company.  This gives the otherparty’s insurance company access to your medical records.  The same is true for your own insurancecompany.  However, in certain types ofclaims, your own insurance company may be entitled to your medicalinformation.  Don’t release your medicalrecords to any insurance company or sign an authorization allowing an insurancecompany to get the records directly until you speak with your attorney.  SECRET #10: Keepthe adjuster informed about the seriousness of your injuries. Nowwe get into an area where you must be very careful.  You want to keep the adjuster informed.  Yet, at the same time, you must be carefulwhat you disclose to the adjuster.  (SeeSecret #9.)  There’s a fine line betweenwhat you should and should not tell the adjuster.  And, certainly, the circumstances of yourinjury will play a part in what you should reveal.  It’s not possible to address this subject inone or two paragraphs.  When we meet, I’llbe happy to discuss this with you and answer any questions.  SECRET #11:  Don’t let the insurance adjuster pressure youinto settling your case.  Adjusters use many methods to get you tosettle for a smaller amount than the fair value of your case.  The insurance adjuster may try to get you toadmit that the accident was your fault, or at least partly your fault.  The adjuster may try to get you to give arecorded statement or sign a statement, either of which may be used against youlater at trial.  Adjusters are trained togather information that may be damaging to your case, and to settle cases forthe lowest amount possible.  What’s more,don’t be surprised if the adjuster is polite. His or her kindness may be a tactic to get you to settle for less thanyour case is worth and to get you to settle before you hire anattorney.  The longer your file remainsopen, the more the adjuster will pressure you to settle.  Your lawyer can help you evaluate whether theinsurance company’s offers are reasonable or unreasonable.  Also, your attorney can file a lawsuit onyour behalf if the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer to settle.  SECRET #12:  Know all of your damages. They include (1) the cost of medical treatment, (2) pain and sufferingfor your injuries, (3) loss of income for time off work, (4) loss of business,(5) cost of a rental car, (6) cost of fixing your car, (7) cost for psychologicalcounseling caused by stress or some other aspect of the accident.  Keep an accurate record of all expenses andhours or days lost from work due to your injuries.  Your attorney will get written documentationfrom your employer to verify the lost earnings.  SECRET #13:  Keep all bills and receipts related to youraccident.  If you don’t save your bills and receipts,you will not be able to prove the amount of your damages.  Be sure to save everything:  doctor bills, hospital bills, pharmacy bills,and all other bills you incurred because of your accident.  Immediately give all bills to your lawyer sohe may deal directly with the medical providers on your behalf.  Make sure you get a receipt for every billyou pay.  My office will be happy to helpyou process payments in car accident cases.  SECRET #14:  Know all your injuries. Many victims think that if they don’t hurt, they aren’t injured.  Yet injuries caused by accidents may not developinto symptoms for days or weeks.  Don’tbe too quick to rule out injuries just because they haven’t yet appeared.  This is why, at least early in your claim,you should not discuss your injuries or possible lack of symptoms withinsurance company adjusters.  (Seesecrets #9 and #11.)  SECRET#15:  If you want to know exactly whatyour insurance policy covers, then read your policy. Many accident victims rely on the other party’s insurance adjuster toexplain what their policy covers.  But insuranceadjusters don’t always tell the truth.  Makesure you read your insurance policy, including the exclusions, endorsements andriders.  If you don’t understand whatyour policy says, then ask your lawyer to explain it to you.  Don’t believe what the other party’sinsurance adjuster tells you.  SECRET #16:  Know your sources for insurance coverage. In many cases an injured victim can legally collect from two or threedifferent insurance policies at the same time, yet many accident victims don’tknow where to look for various insurance coverages.  Your attorney will help you determine whetheryou can collect from more than one policy.  SECRET#17:  Continue under your doctor’s careuntil your doctor releases you.  Many people stop going to their doctor whenthey feel better, but before the doctor releases them from treatment.  Make sure you continue going to the doctoruntil your doctor releases you!  Yourdoctor knows the complications that could result from your injury.  The type of injury may be complex, and themere fact that you are no longer in pain does not mean that your injuries havefully healed.  If you can’t afford thecontinuing cost of treatment, you’re invited to call me to discuss youroptions.  SECRET#18:  Consider and be prepared to file alawsuit if the settlement offer is not fair. Afteryour doctor releases you from treatment, your case must be prepared quicklyand, if necessary, a lawsuit filed for you. Insurance companies are not in a hurry to settle cases unless (1) theycan settle the lawsuit for far less than it’s worth, or (2) they feel thepressure of the approaching court date. Insurance companies usually get serious about settling your claim ifthey see that they will have to start paying lawyers to defend your lawsuit.  I will be more than happy to discuss thebenefits and risks of filing a lawsuit and will make sure you understand all ofthe aspects before deciding to take this important step.  SECRET#19:  If you decide to hire a lawyer,choose one who isn’t afraid to go to court.  Insurancecompanies keep tabs on lawyers.  Theyknow which lawyers will take them to court — the fighters.  And they know which lawyers will not go tocourt — the settlers.  The fightersusually get more money for their clients than the settlers.  Make sure you discuss your case with a skilledpersonal injury trial lawyer.  SECRET#20:  Ask a qualified, experiencedpersonal injury trial lawyer to evaluate your case. You probably had a doctorevaluate your injuries.  Doesn’t it alsomake sense to have a lawyer evaluate your legal claim?  The insurance company wants you to settlequickly in hopes that you’ll settle for far less than your case is worth.  An experienced personal injury trial attorneycan help you by reviewing your file.  He willcarefully review the police report, doctors’ statements, medical bills, timelost from work and other information. Then he can give you an informed opinion about the estimated value ofyour case.  If you’d like me to evaluateyour case, please don’t hesitate to call.