When you sign up for car insurance, studies show that most people just select what his or her agent first recommends. The problem with this is when injured clients come in for an initial consult, it’s too often we find their coverage is not appropriate for that client’s unique situation. This post serves as an introduction into auto insurance policies, and some of the things that you should look for when reviewing your auto policy.
Personal Injury (2)
One of the biggest hurdles we face as Plaintiff attorneys in representing injured clients is the accusations from adjusters and defense attorneys that a client has a gap in treatment. If you retain our firm, my one constant instruction to clients is simply "Get Better!" You will hear me say it every time we talk. Of course, I say this because I want to take that burden of handling the administrative issues off of clients' shoulders, but I also say it because I know that once a client stops treating for an injury or takes time off for treatment, it becomes much more challenging to include future treatments after gaps into an adjusters valuation.
After you have been injured in an accident, it becomes your life. Going to treatments, dealing with the ongoing symptoms, trying to find a new car if yours is totaled or needs repairing… the list goes on. Because you are the one going through the experience, you know every little detail. The problem is that when an insurance adjuster is evaluating your claim, it's often not until months after you have completed treating for your injuries. Whether your treatment ends months or years after the accident, the insurance adjuster evaluating your claim is going to heavily rely on the medical records from the providers at which you are treated.
Now that the dust from the accident has settled, the focus turns to get the proper medical treatment. Nobody should ever be so concerned about their future insurance claim that they prioritize "making a good case" ahead of getting the appropriate medical treatment. When we meet with prospective clients that are more concerned about the value of their case rather than treating their injuries, it is a red flag for us. Your number one concern should be: "get better!"
At some point after your accident, your claim is going to be evaluated by an insurance adjuster in order to determine liability and the value of your injuries. That evaluation might be months in the future, and it could even be years. Regardless, the initial reports made with the responding officer and other first responders will be relied upon when your case is evaluated.
While you may precisely remember what happened before, during, and after a severe car accident, when describing it months or even years later, memories fade, and there are often several different versions of “what happened” based on which driver is asked.
Seriously. Imagine you’ve just been in an accident, your adrenaline is spiking, and your mind is racing a mile a minute. You can’t change what just happened, but you are in total control of what happens going forward. It sounds simple, but taking a deep breath (or several), allows oxygen to go to your brain, thus relieving tension and emotion. This will enable you to think clearly so that you can adequately assess the situation.
As lawyers, we frequently encourage our clients to be proactive NOW to save headaches LATER. As Benjamin Franklin said,
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
This typically comes up in estate planning or a business formation context. Wanting to be responsible adults, we do things like update our wills, or make sure that our assets are protected from our newly formed business by forming an LLC.
After suffering an injury in an accident that was not your fault, there are a multitude of factors that come into play when negotiating the value of your claim with the insurance companies, and/or ultimately trying the case in front of a jury.
Here are a few of the important DOs that will help maximize your claim: