What to Expect in a Personal Injury Case
The procedures in a Plaintiff personal injury case may take from six months to several years, and a client’s patience may be sorely tried during this time. However, it has been our experience that clients who are forewarned have a much higher tolerance level for the slowly turning wheels of justice. The following a is portion of the details you may wish to inform your new personal injury clients after you have been retained:
Procedurally, the following events occur in most personal injury situations. First, your Attorney must complete the investigation and file. This will include the collection of data from your physician, your employer, and our investigator. When we feel that we have sufficient information to form an opinion as to the financial extent of your damages, we will commence negotiations with the opposition for a settlement.
1. Doctor/ Treatment
It will help your case to tell us and your doctors about any injury or medical problems before or after your accident. Good situations can be lost by the injured person’s concealing or forgetting an earlier or later injury or medical problem. Insurance companies keep a record of any and all claims against any insurance company. The insurance company is sure to find out if you have ever made a past claim.
Tell your doctors all of your complaints. The doctor’s records can only be
as complete as what you have given. Keep track of all prescriptions and medicines taken and the bills consequently. Also save all bottles or containers of medicine.
You should keep a diary of your experiences since your accident. In addition to this daily record, we also ask you to start describing a single day during your life. In other words, describe what you do when you get up in the morning, the first thing you do after you go to work, what kind of work and effort do you put into your employment, what activities you include in after work, etc.
In other words, we need you to describe the changes in your working life,
your playing life, your life as a husband or wife or child or parent. In your written description of your day, we would appreciate your explanation in the greatest detail possible and in your own words how the accident and later injuries have affected your life, your personality, and your outlook.
And remember that experiencing does not require insignificant physical pain; experiencing can be emotional and can be transmitted to your family and friends, at work and at play. When you have completed this description, please return it to this office in the enclosed envelope.
Keep a diary of all matters concerning this accident–no matter how unimportant you think it may be. You should include notes on the treatments you receive, therapy, casts, appliances, hospitalization, change of doctors, change of medication, symptoms, recurrence, setbacks, disabilities and inconveniences. If you have any doubt about the propriety of including some particular information, please call the office and let us assist you.
3. Record Medical and out of pocket expenses
You can also begin to set up a system for recording the expenses incurred in conjunction with your claim in minute detail. Medical and legal expenses are a strong part of the value of your lawsuit, so good records of these expenses must be kept at all times. Your attorney will keep track of your legal expenses, which may include costs of filing, service of course of action, investigation, reports, depositions, observe fees, jury fees, etc.
now and then, however, there will be expenses incurred that you must keep track of yourself. We ask you to make every effort to avoid any possible error or inaccuracy as jurors have a relentless reverence for the truth. Keep your canceled checks and your list of expenses together, for we will need them at a later date.
Altogether, these procedures may take from six months to several years, and your patience may be sorely tried during this time. However, it has been our experience that clients who are forewarned have a much higher tolerance level for the slowly turning wheels of justice.
4. Do not discuss the case
The insurance company may telephone you and record the conversation or send an adjuster (investigator) who may carry a hid tape recorder. You should not discuss your case with anyone.
clearly, we cannot stress too strongly that you not discuss this matter with anyone but your attorney or immediate, trusted family. You should sign no documents without the consent of this office. Remember that at all times you may be photographed and investigated by the opposition. If you follow the simple precautions which we have set out in your checklist, we feel that we will be able to acquire a fair and appropriate amount for your injuries. If you get any letters from anyone in connection with your case, mail or fax them to your attorney closest.
If any person approaches you with respect to this accident without your attorney’s permission, make complete notes regarding the incident. These notes should include the name and address of the party, a description of the person, and a narrative description of what was said or done. Under no circumstances should you answer any question(s). All questions should be referred to your attorney’s office.
Retain all bills which relate to your damages, including medical expenses, hospital expenses, drugs and medicines, therapy, appliances, and anything needed to assist in your recovery. If possible, pay these bills by check or money order, so that a complete record may be kept. If this is not possible, be certain to acquire a complete receipt with the bill heading on it, to indicate where the receipt came from and the party issuing it.
Be certain to keep anything that comes into your possession which might be used as evidence in your case, such as shoes, clothing, glasses, photographs, defective machinery, defective parts, foreign substances which may have been a factor in your accident, etc. Be sure to let the office know that you have these items in your possession.
Take photographs of all motor vehicles, machinery, appliances, etc., that may be connected–directly or indirectly–with your accident. Again, be sure to let the office know that you have such photographs.
9. Keep Your Attorney Advised
Keep this office advised at all times with respect to changes in address, important changes in medical treatment, termination of treatment, termination of employment, resumption of employment, or any other uncommon change in your life.
10. Insurance Reports
Before making any report to your insurance company, consult with this office on the advisability of the kind of reports to be made concerning liability, medical payment coverage, character damage, or other claims under your policy, or claims against your own policy by a third party.
11. Lost Wages
Keep a complete record of all lost wages. acquire a statement from your company outlining the time you have lost, the rate of salary you are paid, the hours you work per week, your average weekly salary, and any losses suffered as a consequence of this accident. Where possible, also acquire other types of evidence such as ledger sheets, copies of time cards, canceled checks, check stubs, vouchers, pay slips, etc.
12. New Information
In the event that any new information concerning the evidence in this case comes to your attention, report this to the Attorney closest. This is particularly true in the case of witnesses who have heretofore been unavailable.
Remember at all times that you may be under surveillance and, consequently, unprotected to being photographed or filmed by the negative party. Be advised that there are situations where photographs and films have been introduced in court showing claimants who were allegedly in serious condition participating in activities which they alleged they were unable to do. You do not have to live in fear of being photographed, of course, if your cause is a just one.
14. Filing of Complaint
If early settlement is not productive, then a complaint is filed, and the parties served with notice that a claim has been made. The opposition then is given a fixed time to file what is known as an “Answer.” The Answer if usually followed by a request for written interrogatories. These are questions that must be answered by the claimant with the aid of counsel. Generally, written interrogatories are followed by the taking of depositions, which is recorded testimony given under oath by any person the opposition wishes to question.
However, when carrying on your usual activities, keep in mind at all times that you are unprotected to investigation. If you have been seriously injured, do not do anything that will threaten your case during the time of your daily life. You should always follow your doctor’s advice. If you have to do things which cause you pain, this can usually be explained to the complete satisfaction of any court or jury.
There are situations where the insurance agent has attempted to discredit a
personal injury plaintiff by taking movies of the claimant engaged in various physical activities. In one case, large rocks weighing over one hundred pounds were placed at the door of the garage during the night so that claimant would have to be forced to remove the rocks in order to excursion to work. This, of course, was filmed and used to discredit the plaintiff’s claim in court.