The Benefits Of Retaining An Attorney For A Personal Injury Claim
Interviewer: What are some benefits of getting an attorney and what are some things I would be entitled to if I were to win the case?
Brett Hollett: There are several benefits to hiring a personal injury attorney. First most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations to evaluate and discuss your case. Here an individual can answer any questions they may have with no obligation. An attorney will also be able to handle any subrogation interests or liens from health insurance providers. An attorney can help reduce an individual’s stress. The attorney will deal directly with the insurance company on the client’s behalf. An attorney will ensure the applicable statute of limitations is met. An attorney may be able to determine the amount of available insurance the other person has.
The attorney can advise you on what your claim is worth if you settle. An attorney also has a greater understanding of insurance law and this will strengthen his ability to negotiate a more favorable settlement. If a settlement is not possible, an attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf and represent you in court. Additionally, an attorney will advance all expenses and court costs associated with filing a law suit. If we “won” the case, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship) and punitive damages could all be considered and awarded in any settlement or any jury verdict.
Common Client Mistakes Detrimental to a Favorable Settlement in a Personal Injury Claim
Interviewer: What would you say are some of the common mistakes that people make upon becoming injured or upon getting injured?
Brett Hollett: There are several things people can do hurt their case. You can fail to document the accident. If you are involved in an auto accident, you need to call the police to the scene and have them complete an accident report. If you are involved in a slip in fall case, you need to notify the property owner or store manager immediately. People can also wait to seek treatment until days or weeks after the accident. If you have been involved in an accident, you should seek medical treatment as soon as you feel any pain. Insurance companies evaluate claims largely on the medical treatment. If you delay your medical treatment, insurance companies will argue that you must not have been injured seriously or that something else, other than the accident, has caused your injuries.
Sometimes people try to deal with the insurance companies directly. Insurance companies exist to make money and not pay out claims. Before giving any statement, especially a statement to the other party’s insurance company, you should seek advice from a qualified personal injury attorney. You may be talked into signing a release and you may not really understand what the release entails. If you sign a release with the insurance company prior to talking to an attorney, either for the medical records or a general release you may be giving up valuable claims against the other party. If you or your attorney do not request the medical records and provide them to the insurance company, the insurance company may send a general release of records. If you signed a general release for records, the insurance company may request a broad release of records and they may even predate the accident and that could negatively affect their case. Additionally, people should always follow their doctor’s advice.
If the doctor wants you to continue to treat or see another specialist, you should. However, you should not exaggerate or misrepresent your injuries or physical activity level. You should also not hide past injuries. Insurance companies will often times find out about past injuries and if someone has not been forthright, their credibility may become an issue.
The Information Required By an Attorney to Successfully Handle a Personal Injury Claim
Interviewer: What are some of the documents a client should provide? What information should a client bring you?
Brett Hollett: Any documents they have in their possession that accurately depict the accident, the scene or location and their injuries. If it’s an auto accident case, you need to call the police first and have the police respond to the accident. Once police respond, they will do an accident report. That accident report may be the single most important document in your case. Through the officer’s investigation he will diagram the scene, talk to any witnesses and ultimately list an at fault party. Pictures of the scene and a person’s injuries are also very helpful.
It is Imperative for a Client to Thoroughly Document the Events Following an Accident
You need to take all the pictures you can your cell phone or camera. As soon as you are physical able to start documenting the accident, you should write down what happened in your own words, document all of your injuries, and identify any potential witnesses. Once someone has hired an attorney, the attorney will have the client sign a medical release form so when the client finishes treating, the attorney can obtain all their records and billing that were associated with this accident.
The Statement Provided to the Insurance Company has the Power to Potentially Make or break an Auto-Accident Claim
Interviewer: How do Insurance companies come into play? How should I deal with an insurance company if they call me to get information?
Brett Hollett: Insurance companies are there to make money. It’s their business, so if you are hit by another individual and that insurance company contacts you and wants you to give a statement or wants you to sign a release, you should always do so with great caution. They’re not in the business to pay claims, they’re in the business to make money. What you say during that initial phone interview or consultation with that insurance company may come back and either kill your case or may greatly reduce the value of your case.
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