General Instructions For Injury Clients
Things Which You Should NOT DO:
Do not give any statements (written, recorded, or oral) to the insurance company without first speaking with an attorney.
Things for you to REMEMBER:
If you are involved in a wreck, no manner how minor, you must call the police. Do not rely on the other person's word that he will take care of your repairs or bills. Get the contact information of everyone who witnessed the wreck. The police officer will not write down everyone's information on the police report. Take pictures or video of the scene of the wreck and damage to all the vehicles involved (even if it's with your phone). If you are involved in a hit and run, you must call the police immediately while at the scene of the incident. If you wait until the following day, your insurance company can deny your claim. If you are injured as a pedestrian or in someone else's car, call your own insurance company. You will have to provide notice to them to preserve any UM benefits that may be available to you. Medical Items: Save all pill bottles, casts, braces, and any other items from your doctors. Photographs: Take pictures to document any bruising or other injuries. Keep a diary of what pain and inconveniences you have gone through on a daily basis. Receipts: Be sure to save all receipts itemizing any and all expenses you incur as a result of your accident.
Five BIG MISTAKES clients make:
Not seeing the doctor if you are in pain. Not doing what your doctor tells you. Not keeping your doctor's appointments. Failing to tell your doctor about medical problems due to the accident. Failing to be honest with your attorney about your prior treatment or pre-existing injury you may have had.
Follow Your Doctor's Advice
Be sure to do what your doctors tell you to do. If at all possible never miss a doctor's appointment. By missing an appointment, you are saying to the doctor and insurance company that you aren't hurt enough for it to matter. It is important for your doctor to have up-to-date information on your condition and know how you are feeling. Each time you go to the doctor and report that you are still in pain, your doctor makes an entry in his or her records. Some clients get discouraged and do not see their doctor even though they are having pain.
Our job is to recover compensation for the pain and suffering that you have endured. Not going to the doctor is a good way to prove, instead, that you are not hurting. If you are in pain and you do not see a doctor, the insurance company and the jury will not believe that you are having pain. This is also very important for you in order to make a full and complete recovery for your injuries.
First Steps In Representing You
At our first meeting, you should bring with you anything that is related to your wreck. We will get from you all the information we need to properly handle your claim. You will also sign authorizations that will allow our office to speak with your doctors and obtain your medical information. It is important that you create a list of the doctors that you see and keep us up to date on your healing process.
We will send out all the necessary notices to the responsible parties and the insurance companies to make sure your claim is preserved. We will also request all of your medical records and bills and provide the insurance company with the information they need to evaluate your claim.
Who To Talk To
Do not talk about your case with the insurance company or their investigators until you have retained your own lawyer.
What To Sign
Often times the release sent to you from your insurance company to settle your property damage claim will release all claims. Do not sign anything from the insurance company until an attorney has reviewed it.
Medical Payments and Health Insurance Coverage
We can advise you on how to best utilize your medical payments coverage on your vehicle along with your health insurance coverage to maximize your benefits.
Keep Detailed Records
Please be sure to record the following:
Lost work time and wages. Other expenses resulting from your injuries, i.e., transportation, home care, etc. Pain and suffering. Your physical limitations.
It is important to make your entries on an ongoing basis. A summary at the end of each month will not be as helpful to us. Copies of checks and receipts of payment, as well as the above records, will be very helpful when the insurance company or an attorney asks you to recall your pain, physical disabilities, and any out-of-pocket expenses including medication.
Sometimes our clients are involved in accidents where there is no medical payments insurance, worker's compensation or private health insurance. In such cases, your doctor will expect to be paid by you at the conclusion of this case. Often they will require you to agree, in writing, to have us pay them directly from the proceeds you receive. State laws sometimes permit health care providers to file a "lien" which must be paid out of the proceeds of your case. If your doctor asks you to sign what is often called a "lien letter," be sure to contact our office. In some cases, it may not be appropriate for you to sign such an agreement.
If your health insurance company pays some of your medical bills, they may have a right to seek reimbursement from your settlement. However, depending on the kind of insurance plan you have and the language of that plan, your health insurance company is not entitled to seek reimbursement unless you have been fully and completely compensated from the settlement. It is important to know your rights as it relates to the rights your health insurance company has against you.
You May Be Watched and Photographed
When a claim is filed by an injured person, insurance companies routinely conduct a detailed investigation of the injured person's background. It is not uncommon for an insurance company investigator to park his surveillance van near your house and videotape your activities. These investigators work very hard to obtain videotapes of claimants lifting heavy groceries or engaging in strenuous physical activity. However, these same surveillance tapes have been useful to corroborate our client's limitations, including the use of canes, crutches, etc.
Just be aware that you may be videotaped at any given time.
If you are considering filing bankruptcy, you should know that you may lose all rights to your personal injury case. The Bankruptcy Court can take over your case, settle your case and give your settlement money to your creditors, and you will receive nothing. Be sure to talk to your lawyer before filing bankruptcy.
Why Does It Take So Long?
If you have suffered a permanent injury we cannot submit your claim to the insurance company until our doctors give us their opinion as to your condition and your prognosis. If we try to settle your case before your medical condition is stabilized, you may lose money that you might otherwise be entitled to recover for a condition that did not show up until after your case was settled.
It is important to know that your case will not be settled until the damages have been determined and all investigations to determine who is liable have been completed. One of the most difficult requests we make of you is to have patience. We will work as hard and fast as possible to settle your case quickly.
What is the Value of My Case?
It is impossible for us to tell immediately how much money, if any, you will recover in connection with your case. There is no formula and each case is unique. In cases of serious injury, the ultimate recovery is often related to the amount of insurance coverage available, as well as the nature, extent, and duration of your injuries, along with an assessment of liability. As your attorneys, we feel it is our primary duty to obtain an amount of money which will fairly and justly compensate you for your injuries. We will make every effort to do this by locating all sources of money. We will advise you of our evaluation in this regard.
In general, most states allow recovery of damages for the following elements of damage:
The nature and extent of injury, including whether the injury is permanent, and the amount of disability. Medical expenses, both already incurred and reasonably certain to be incurred in the future. This includes mileage to and from the doctor or hospital. Wage loss (past and future) and damage to property (including your motor vehicle and other possessions) Pain and suffering. Loss of consortium (past and future) for your spouse.
Filing a Lawsuit
It may be necessary to file a lawsuit to obtain an adequate recovery. This is a legal decision that should be made by your attorney with your input. Before filing suit in your case, we will obtain your permission and explain to you why we believe a lawsuit should be filed.
Although a lawsuit may have to be filed, settlement is always possible. Negotiations continue and only a small percentage of lawsuits actually go to trial.
The following steps are necessary to bring a case to trial:
Pleadings are the documents parties file in court that form the basis of a lawsuit. This is intended to be general information only. Each case is unique.
Complaint. A lawsuit is filed against an opposing party by filing a document in court known as a complaint. The person who brings the action is the plaintiff (you). The person against whom the action is brought is the defendant. The complaint is a statement of facts alleging the names of the parties and alleging why the conduct of the defendant entitles the plaintiff to recover damages. Summons. Once the plaintiff's complaint is filed, a "summons" is issued to be served on the defendant by an officer of the Court, usually a Deputy Sheriff or process server. This informs the defendant that a suit has been filed and that a response must be made within 30 days or a judgment will be taken against him. Answer. The response filed by the defendant is called an Answer, which is prepared by the attorney for the defendant. The Answer sets out all the reasons why the defendant is not at fault and why he should not be responsible for your damages.
Once the Answer is filed, both sides have six months to "discover" facts concerning the opposing party's case. Normal discovery proceedings include interrogatories (written questions that must be answered under oath), depositions (verbal questions that must be answered under oath), production of documents, and sometimes medical examinations.
Interrogatories: Each side may serve written questions on the opposing party, called "interrogatories." We will serve interrogatories on the defendant on your behalf, and the defendant will serve interrogatories on you. You are required to answer these questions within 30 days, in writing and under oath. Our staff will assist you in preparing your answers. Depositions: A "deposition" is an oral and transcribed statement, under oath, which may be used by either side in a lawsuit. It has the same effect as testifying at trial. It is used to learn as much as possible about the other side's claims or defenses.
The lawyers normally agree in advance where the deposition will be held. It is usually in the office of one of the lawyers.
You are required by law to give a deposition. This is not something in which we have a choice. Because of this, we will need your full cooperation. Prior to the deposition, we will go over the facts of the case with you and help you prepare by answering any questions you might have.
YOUR DEPOSTION IS OFTEN THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR CASE. It is important that you be prepared well in advance of the deposition date.
In giving a deposition, there are a few rules to follow:
Always tell the truth, even if it hurts your case. Answer only the questions. Do not make any voluntary statements or speeches. Think before you make any answer to any questions. If it concerns a matter about which you do not know, or a detail you do not remember, you may so state. Always be polite. If you are worried about the other side asking you a particular questions, tell your attorney beforehand so he can help you with your concerns.
Frequently, the other attorney will ask you questions which will seem to have no bearing upon the case. Nevertheless, it is your duty to answer these questions, notwithstanding the fact that they may irritate you. Never conceal prior injuries or prior illnesses. Remember, the other side has the means of obtaining such information.
There are occasions when the parties submit the dispute to "mediation." This is when the parties meet with an independent third person, usually an experienced lawyer or retired judge, who assists the parties in arriving at a settlement. The results are not binding. It is informal and less expensive than a trial. If this is an option in your case, your lawyer will discuss it with you.
If you were hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may be eligible for benefits under your own policy or the policy that covered the vehicle you were in. Many insurance companies have special "uninsured motorist" provisions. In most cases, you will be able to collect for your lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, etc., in the same way as if the driver that hit you did have insurance. Bring a copy of all your policies to the first meeting so we can help determine how much coverage you may have.
Claims Against the Government
Any injury claim, whether it stems from a car collision or other event that involves the government, is subject to special rules. The governmental entity involved may be the state, a city, a county, local government, or the United States. Generally, a Notice of Claim must be filed with the appropriate governmental agency with a very short time period following your injury or your claim will be forever barred. If you believe that the government may be involved in your case, please notify us immediately.disclaimer.
Atlanta, GA 30346
At the law offices of Robinson Law Offices, we protect the rights of personal injury victims throughout the Atlanta metro area, including but not limited to Alpharetta, Athens, Austell, College Park, Columbus, Decatur, Douglasville, Duluth, East Point, Fairburn, Fayetteville, Forest Park, Gainesville, Hapeville, Jonesboro, Kennesaw, LaGrange, Lithonia, Macon, Georgia, Morrow, Newnan, Norcross, Peachtree City, Sandy Springs, DeKalb County, Fulton County, Clayton County, Cobb County, Gwinnett County, Rockdale County, Newton County, Henry County, Fayette County, Coweta County, Carroll County, Douglas County, Paulding County, Bartow County, Cherokee County, and Forsyth County, Georgia.