When a victim of a personal injury loses their rights, it is frequently due to a lack of legal knowledge. Accidents can be alarming ordeals, and it’s often difficult for victims to know what to do. People become overwhelmed with doctors, hospitals, emergency personnel and, eventually, insurance companies. Sadly, it is equally common for plaintiffs to unintentionally sabotage their claim in the days following their accident.
At Christopher C. Vader PC, we work hard to prepare our clients for any unexpected circumstances or contingencies. To help in this process, we have put together some commonsense information for our clients. Of course, this is not legal advice. Every case is different and all injured persons should contact a highly qualified attorney to discuss the unique circumstances of their individual case.
There are a number of important things that all accident victims should remember when pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. These include the following:
- Do not give any written, recorded, or oral statements to anyone concerning your accident or injuries without your lawyer’s approval.
- Do not provide your doctor with any incorrect or exaggerated information. This includes any accounts or statements regarding past accidents or injuries. You should always provide clear, accurate and truthful information. Because nobody remembers everything, it is always acceptable to admit that you can’t recall specific details.
- Inform your attorney about any information that may affect your case. This includes information about extensive medical treatments or hospitalizations, past and current.
- Do not change your address, phone number, or place of employment without notifying your lawyer. It’s also important to tell us about any changes in your job duties or salary.
- If possible, take color photographs and videos of the accident or accident scene. This includes pictures of damaged property and vehicles. There is no limit to the number of applicable photos you can take. If you’re unable to take photographs yourself, you can rely on a trusted representative or contact our firm to make arrangements. It’s imperative that you take pictures of any damaged property before repairs are made.
- Save any pill bottles, casts, braces, and other injury-related items given to you by your doctor.
- Be sure to obtain copies of every receipt that lists expenses related to your injury. These receipts must be dated and contain complete and legible information.
Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
Your personal injury claim depends on you taking the appropriate medical steps to treat your injuries. If you allow yourself to suffer needlessly and wait to seek medical attention, the defendant’s legal team and insurance company may use the perceived “delay” against you. Likewise, if you miss an appointment or ignore your doctor’s advice, it may negatively impact your case by suggesting that your injuries are minor and deserve less damages. The court and the insurance company need to know the truth: that your injuries are real, and that they are causing you pain.
Each time you report your pain or other symptoms, your doctor makes an entry in your medical record. This medical record become important evidence in your case and helps your doctor correctly treat your injuries. In order for you to get appropriate treatment, be careful not to exaggerate your symptoms or ignore treatment options because you believe it will benefit your personal injury claim. Your health is the paramount concern. Healing from your injury does not invalidate your case. And, doctors are trained to recognize when a person is exaggerating or making up their symptoms.
Mistakes to avoid include:
- Not seeing the doctor when you’re in pain
- Exaggerating medical symptoms
- Failing to tell your doctor about accident-related medical problems
- Hiding preexisting conditions or prior injuries
- Ignoring your doctor’s treatment plan
- Not keeping your medical appointments
- Discussing your case with anyone who isn’t your doctor or attorney
File Your Lawsuit
Oftentimes, filing a personal injury claim is the only way for plaintiffs to receive the monetary damages that may facilitate their recovery. It’s important to discuss your case your lawyer prior to filing a claim. During your free consultation, we can examine your case and evaluate your best legal options. By signing authorization forms, we can obtain your medical records and other necessary information and evidence.
As our client, you are protected from any direct interaction with the defendant and/or their insurance company. We notify all defending parties and their legal teams that you have retained our firm for your case. Again, it’s important that you do not talk about your case with anyone except your attorney or your doctor. Even your own insurance company should be directed to your lawyer for information. Also, do not sign any documents from employers, schools, or other persons before discussing it with our firm.
It’s important to note that just because a lawsuit is filed doesn’t mean that settlement negotiations are out of the question. In fact, only a small percentage of lawsuits go to trial.
Keep detailed records of the following information:
- Lost work time and wages
- Any expenses relating to your injury (such as transportation, home care, etc.)
- Pain and suffering
- Your physical limitations
Making Medical Payments Before Your Case Is Settled
While your case is pending, we can try to make arrangements with your health or automobile insurance providers to help you pay your medical bills. Again, it is always very important that you keep copies of your medical bills and receipts to assist in this process.
If these insurance options aren’t available to you, then your doctor may request that you sign a “lien letter.” California state law sometimes permit health care providers to file a medical lien, which allows them to receive payment directly from your awarded damages. This is one way a person without health insurance may access necessary medical care. Of course, this is not appropriate in all cases. You should discuss these options at length with legal counsel who can help you make the best arrangements for your unique circumstances.
Be Cautious of Insurance Companies
It’s not unusual insurance companies to engage in aggressive tactics to pressure a victim into harming their own case. One familiar tactic is to record phone calls where a skillful adjuster may make you feel as if you are talking to a caring and helpful person. By lulling you into a sense of security, the insurance company may hope that you let your guard down and make statements that contradict physical evidence or other statements. Other strategies include sending investigators to the hospital, home, or place of work. You should politely direct any unknown persons to your attorney who will know what you should ay and when you should say it. Never deal with these agents without sound legal advice.
Schedule a Consultation
If you have been injured, contact Christopher C. Vader PC. Mr. Vader is a Palm Springs personal injury attorney with over two decades of legal experience and can effectively represent you. Our firm has handled thousands of cases in both state and federal courts, and we have developed the knowledge and litigation techniques to handle any unforeseen legal complication or situation.
If you want to maximize your claim, call our Palm Springs personal injury lawyer at (760) 537-4457 to schedule your free case evaluation.