I have been representing victims injured and/or killed by the negligence of others for most of my 28 years as a lawyer. Prior to law school I was an insurance adjuster and helped insurance companies settle claims with injured victims for the least amount of money as possible. Following law school I was an insurance defense lawyer for a few more years. For the last 26 years I have represented people injured and/or their families of people killed in motor vehicle accidents. We do not represent big corporations or insurance companies. We represent people who go to work every day to make a living to support their family. We represent your neighbors, your friends and perhaps even your family members.
Over the years I have seen both the mistakes people make following a motor vehicle accident as well as the benefits of doing things the right way. Hopefully, these tips will help you, a friend or a loved one.
The first tip goes without saying. As soon as you are able following an accident contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options. This should not cost anything. In the meantime, prior to you retaining an attorney, please do your best to follow these five steps.
- Follow the doctor’s orders and attend all medical appointments. If the doctor tells you to not go to work, not lift, wear a neck brace, stay in bed, follow those orders. You can rest assured that the insurance company will review your medical records when evaluating your settlement offer and will use anything they can to deflate the value of your case. Not following doctor’s orders can be used as evidence that you did not do everything you could to recover from the injuries from the accident. Go to your medical appointments or if you have to cancel do so but then reschedule. Missed medical appointments are a sign that you either do not care about your injuries or perhaps you were not as injured as severely as you claim.
- Explain all of your injuries to each healthcare provider. Generally, if you were seen in the emergency room or the doctor’s office the day of or the day following the accident you will be asked all of your injuries. This is not the time to be a “tough guy”. Explain all of your injuries to that healthcare provider so that your medical records fully document your injuries. Again, if it is not indicated in the medical records the insurance company will claim it did not happen. If you are sent to a another doctor upon your initial appointment even though the doctor may have your records do not assume they know what happened. Explain why you are there to see that doctor and explain your injuries from the accident. A thorough medical record will help when it comes time to settling your claim.
- Even if you have an attorney or are pursuing a personal injury claim do not mention it to the doctor. If you are pursuing a personal injury claim or have an attorney it has nothing to do with the medical care you are receiving from your healthcare provider. Often times a doctor may ask with good intentions and put it in your record. When the insurance company sees that reference they will use it to claim that you are exaggerating your injuries for your financial benefit. Again, although it should not impact your injuries, the treatment you receive or the value of your claim, rest assured, it will be used against you.
- Be cooperative with the insurance company but do not give written or recorded statements. Again, you should have an attorney and your attorney will make sure this does not happen. However, in the interim after an accident you may be contacted by an insurance adjuster. They will want to get your statement claiming they need your statement to know all of the facts and help them investigate the claim. Unfortunately, sometimes the statements are taken by telephone and do not always come through and are missing important details. Sometimes the questions are asked in a way that the answers do not accurately reflect the truth. Instead of giving a statement ask the adjuster what information they want and tell the adjuster you will get that information to them in writing, email or by telephone at a later date. Again, it is always best to have your lawyer deal with the insurance companies.
- Make sure your employer knows why you are taking off work for medical appointments. The time you miss from work because you cannot work as well as the time that you have to take off to go to medical appointments is an element of your damages in a personal injury claim. Your lawyer will want to get your wage loss information from your employer. However, if you do not tell the employer why you are taking off the employer will not know the difference between you taking off two days following your accident because of the injuries or having the flu for two days. Tell your employer why you are not coming to work and also tell your employer every time you have to take off of work to go to a doctor’s appointment. It will make it much easier at a later date to calculate your exact amount of wage loss which will help the insurance company compensate you for all of your damages.
Again, we have been representing injured victims and their families from the injuries they received due to the negligence of others for most of my 28 years of practice. If you, a friend or family member have been in an accident of any type please contact us for a no cost, no obligation consultation. We can discuss all of your options. Should you retain us, we take these cases on a contingency fee basis which means there is no payment for fees unless and until there is a recovery. At Krueger Hernandez & Thompson SC, we listen, we care, we get results!
Please feel free to contact me in the Madison area at (608) 824-9540, in the Baraboo area at (608) 356-3961 or statewide at (866) 455-2993.