What Are Some Of The Things That The Injured Victim Can Do At The Start Of Their Case To Protect Themselves And Give Their Case The Best Possible Outcome Down The Line?
At the start of a case and throughout the entire case, you must be honest and truthful about everything. Being honest and truthful preserves your personal credibility, which is the single most important asset that you have in making any injury claim. Whatever the circumstances that caused you to be injured, you have to document it. Take photographs of your injuries bruising, swelling, black and blue marks, cuts, lacerations, scars, or airbag burns – anything that provides graphic evidence of the injuries or circumstances that caused those injuries. If you had a trip and fall, you should take pictures of the dangerous conditions and note its measurements. If you can capture an image of the amount of liquid on the floor that caused you to slip and fall, that will help your case. Photographs of the scene of the injury, property damage, part of cars strewn about a debris field are extremely valuable proof that must be preserved.
You have to write down everything that’s said, what the other party said to you, and any admissions of fault. You have to get the names of witnesses and their contact information. Where appropriate, call the police and get a police report. Do whatever you can to create and establish the evidence of fault and the severity of the crash or event. If you are injured, you must see a doctor. Refusing or delaying medical care does not help you. It only hurts you. Insurance companies are not going to pat you on the back for being brave and treating your injuries at home when you should be seeing a doctor. They’ll use your lack of medical care as proof that you were not injured, or that your injuries were trivial. Of course, not seeing a doctor does not prove that you were not hurt. But the insurance company set up the rules of engagement in personal injury claims, so do yourself a favor and give them what they need to pay your claim fairly.
Insurance companies will take anything you do or not do and interpret it in a way that serves their interests, not yours. If you initially refused medical care, the insurance company interpretation of that will be that it means you were not hurt. They make note of the number of days between a collision and your first visit to a doctor. The more days that pass between collision and a doctor’s visit has meaning to them, and that meaning is not favorable to you. If you’re not injured, thank your lucky stars that you’re not hurt and go on with your life. If you really were injured however, you need to document it.
When you do see a doctor, you have to be honest and tell the doctor everything that hurts – not just what seems to be the most important injury to you. Long and hard experience has taught me that the most long-lasting and serious injuries are not always the ones that seem to be the worst in the beginning. For instance, your neck and back may be killing you, so the ache in your knee doesn’t seem important enough to mention to the doctor. However, after three or four months, that mild ache in your knee may continue to get worse slowly over time, even while your neck and back pains are improving. When you finally tell the doctor four to six months later, for the first time, that your knee is really hurting, what is the insurance company going to do with that information? They’re going to say, “Well, you didn’t mention it at the scene of the collision. You didn’t mention it to the doctor for four to six months, so we don’t see how that knee injury can possibly be related to this crash or this collision.” They’re going to argue against paying for the knee injury, the medical care you need, or the meniscectomy surgery that you require.
The truth is that your knee may be hurting the entire time and progressively getting worse, but the proof, which is your medical records, tells a different story. That’s why documenting the truth of what is actually happening is so important. You need the proof to mirror or reflect the actual truth. Another example is if you’re self-employed, and you have to take time off from work, you know that you’ll have a loss of income, or perhaps you’ll need to pay people to do what you used to be able do. That’s the truth of it. If you don’t document who you paid extra money to for help, how much you paid, and why you paid them, you’re not going to have any proof. As a result, an insurance company is not going to accept only your word that you paid some unnamed person money to do things that you couldn’t do yourself. If you’re unable you work, you need to discuss it with your doctor. Without your doctor’s input in the medical records stating that you shouldn’t be working, the insurance company will see your time-off as a holiday or vacation, and your extra expenses for additional help as unnecessary or unrelated to your case. You need to have medical support from your doctor. You need to talk to your doctor about your limitations caused by the collision and how they justify your losses and expenses. This is all part of developing the proof that you need. These are things that you must do to win.
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