Many clients I have had over the years have all asked me the same question: “What can I do to help make sure my personal injury claim settles smoothly and for the maximum value?” In reflecting on this very basic, yet very important question, I have compiled a list of the 5 best things a personal injury victim can do for their claim.
1) Do not speak to anyone other than your attorney about your accident. There have been countless times where a client thinks that just because he is represented by an attorney, he can say whatever he wants to whomever he wants because the attorney will always be there to save him. This is not necessarily the case. As the Miranda warning says, “anything you say can and wil be used against you,” the same standard pretty much applies in a personal injury claim. If you say something that may be harmful to your claim to someone (other than your attorney), there is a chance that the other side will get wind of it and use it to minimize the value of your personal injury claim. You should have the mindset that someone is always recording what you are saying. Thinking this way might prevent you from saying something that can later be construed and used against you.
2) Follow the advice of your doctors. Too often I see clients not following up with their appointments or skipping recommended treatments altogether. This is one of the worst things you can do to your claim. If you do not get the treatment that is recommended for you, you’re hurting yourself on many levels. First, you won’t be able to heal properly and risk having your injuries worsen down the road. Second, you diminish the value of your case because the insurance adjuster’s mindset is, “if you were truly injured, you would get the medical attention you need, because you didn’t, you must not be injured.”
3) Always stay in contact with your attorney. Going more than a couple weeks between communications does not allow your attorney to keep up to date on your treatment status or whether there are any issues that need to be addressed. Return phone calls or emails in a timely manner.
4) Keep track of your documentation. Depending on the nature of your injuries and the medical providers with whom you are treating, you may receive records, bills, reports, and explanation of benefits from your health insurance company; documentation which may not necessarily be in the possession of your attorney. Your personal injury attorney will need all of this information, so the better track you keep of it, the easier it will be to settle your case for maximum value in the most efficient manner.
5) Never speak or give a statement to the insurance company of the at-fault party. While you likely have a contractual obligation to discuss your accident with your own insurance carrier (where applicable, of course) or run the risk of being in breach of your contract, you have absolutely no duty to speak with the other party’s carrier and should do so under no circumstances whatsoever (see The Truth About Recorded Statements).