7 Things You Should Do After Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
So you've gotten into a car accident or have otherwise been injured due to someone else's negligence. And you've retained an attorney. Hopefully the attorney is as awesome as we are. (just kidding) (but not really) Now what? You may think that the attorney is responsible every single detail of your personal injury case. But you'd be dead wrong. Every successful bodily injury settlement is a result of a collaborative effort between attorney and client. No attorney does everything by him/herself. There are crucial steps that the client must take in order to make sure that he/she recover from his/her injuries and receive a settlement that will properly compensate him/her for his/her property damage, bodily injury, and pain and suffering. Below are 7 things you should do after retaining an attorney.
1) Seek Out a Medical Professional to Treat Your Injuries. Before being treated by a physical therapist, a chiropractor, or an M.D., ask whether he/she accepts legal liens. What is a legal lien? I'm glad you asked! A lien ensures two things: 1) that the doctor's bills are paid out of your settlement and 2) that your attorney agrees to use the settlement funds to pay your medical liens. This will make sure that you don't have to pay anything out of pocket. If this seems too complicated, ask your attorney to refer you to the proper medical professional and they will hook you up with someone who will take good care of you. And don't stop treatment until you feel 100% again.
2) Obtain doctor's notes for missed work days due to your injuries. This might make you feel like you are in kindergarten, but getting a doctor's note will make it easier for the insurance company to properly compensate you for any days you have to take off of work due to your injuries. You should also ask your employer to write a letter detailing what days you missed and how much wages you lost due to the time off. And your employer will have an easier time doing that if they are provided with a doctor's note. In many ways, it's no different from your elementary school days when you had to get a doctor's note to miss school :)
Note: You are entitled to compensation for lost earnings even if you have to use paid vacation days.
3) Pay close attention to how your daily life has changed due to your injuries. Is it more difficult for you to lift things? Does your back hurt when you do strenuous activities? Do you get super paranoid whenever you enter the freeway? Make sure you tell all of these things to both your medical professional and your attorney so that they could use the information to get you compensation for not only your medical bills, but also for your pain and suffering and emotional distress.
4) Do not fake your injuries or overtreat. Some people think that getting into a car accident is like winning the lottery. Joe Schmoe gets hit in the Target parking lot and has a $200 dent on his 1991 Honda Civic. All of a sudden, Joe has a brilliant plan to extort the other driver's insurance company. He proceeds to treat with the chiropractor for 4 months, racks up a $7,000 medical bill, and expects the insurance company to pay him a $25,000 settlement for his so-called bodily injuries. SHAKING MY HEAD. The insurance company laughs at Joe and offers him $2,500. Don't be that guy. You got into a car accident. You didn't win the lottery.
5) Get your car fixed through your own insurance company. We always advise our clients to repair their vehicle through their own auto insurance company, if possible. The other driver's insurance company will not authorize repairs on your vehicle until they have spoken to their driver, completed their liability investigation and accepted liability. That process could take weeks. Meanwhile, if you continue to drive your car without fixing it, you could be putting yourself in unnecessary danger, your car might incur additional damage or worse, you could get into another accident before the damage from the first accident can be fixed. For this reason, we always advise our clients to fix their car through their own auto insurance company. Of course, you would have to pay your deductible, but your auto insurance company will eventually recover your deductible from the at-fault insurance company and refund it back to you after they have accepted fault for the accident.
6) Zip your lips. Do not talk to the other driver's insurance company. The insurance company is required, by law, to speak only to your attorney once they know that you have retained one. If you get a call from the insurance company after you have already retained an attorney, let it go to voicemail and then let your attorney know what the insurance adjuster said in the voicemail.
7) Limit your Social Media Usage While your Bodily Injury Claim is still pending. If you are injured as a result of an auto accident, you should not participate in physically strenuous activities that could worsen your injuries or delay the healing process. Equally important, the worst thing you can do is participate in physically taxing activities AND post about these activities on social media. Insurance adjusters regularly monitor the social media profiles of bodily injury claimants and if your Facebook profile shows that you are still physically active even though you alleged that you were injured, it could have disastrous effects on your bodily injury settlement. If, for example, an adjuster sees that selfie you posted on Facebook of yourself rock climbing 3 days after your accident, he/she will jump to the conclusion that you are faking your injuries. Situations such as these will result in your bodily injury claim being denied by the insurance adjuster. For this reason, you should not write any social media posts about your physical activities while your bodily injury claim is still pending.
If you do these 7 things, it will increase your attorney's chances of getting you a generous and fair settlement that properly compensates you for your property damage, medical bills, injuries, and pain and suffering. Negotiating a reasonable bodily injury settlement requires a team effort between attorney and client. Help your attorney help you!
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