– What can you do to prove your case after you've been involved in an accident? In a word, documentation.
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I can't tell you how manytimes I've represented people and there is little evidenceto support their claim.
There's evidence thatthe collision occurred, or that they went to the emergency room, or maybe they got physicaltherapy afterwards, but there's no evidence that documents the severity of the impact, the injuries they suffered,their pain and suffering and their expenses, such asprescriptions and mileage.
So, first, severity ofimpact, why is this important? Well, it's important becausemany insurance companies have determined that minorimpacts cannot result in significant injuries.
Of course, this is just a tool that the insurance companies are using to minimize your claims.
So, how do you documentseverity of impact? The primary way you do itis through photographs.
Most everyone has a cellphone with a camera in it, but you'd be surprised how many of my clients haven't taken photographs of the damage to their vehicle.
The other way you can documentthe severity of the impact is by the estimate orappraisal of your vehicle.
If it costs $10,000 to repair your car, there's a good chance that therewas a pretty severe impact.
However, if the cost torepair was only around $1500 or less, the insurancecompany's gonna flag that as a minor impact, soft tissue case.
Another thing to be aware of is, when an insurance companysends an appraiser to check out your vehicle, they're not looking underneaththe hood, so to speak.
They're not taking off the bumper to see if there's framedamage, they're doing more of a superficial appraisalto check for cosmetic damage.
So, make sure when the repairs get done that the body shopdocuments the damage done under the exterior as well.
Also, if you're gonna tryand recover for damage to personal property like your iPhone, or a laptop, or your GPS, make sure you document thatwith photographs as well.
The second thing that you needto document is your injuries.
A lot of my clients think that they're injuriesspeak for themselves, that we should put the medical records in front of an insurance adjuster and they'll receive adequate compensation.
It doesn't work that way.
No, not the part about insurance company not adequately compensatingyou for your injuries, that doesn't happen either, but the part about the insurance adjuster really comprehending thesignificance of your injuries.
I always tell my clients, "If it's not in the medicalrecords, it doesn't exist.
" So, make sure you tellyour nurse or your doctor about all the pain anddiscomfort you're going through.
This is not a time to tough it out.
If there is no documentationin the medical records that you, for example, suffered headaches after the accident, well, you can argue with the insurance adjusteruntil you're blue in the face, you're not going toget compensated for it.
Also, just like property damage, a picture really doestell a thousand words.
So, if you are in asling or using crutches, or you're using a wheelchair,or maybe you have road rash, take photographs of it.
It will be invaluablelater on when you're trying to negotiate your case.
For example, we representeda client recently who suffered an ankle fracture.
The adjuster tried tominimize our client's injuries and offered a very low amount.
We forwarded the adjusterseveral photographs of our client on crutchesand in a wheelchair, and explained to the adjusterour client couldn't even walk after the accident.
After seeing those photographs,the adjuster offered to increase the offer significantly, and it was enough to enableus to settle the case.
We had another case recently involving a motorcycle accident victim, and he suffered seriousroad rash to his lower leg.
We took photographs of the road rash, and ultimately tookphotographs of the scarring that resulted therefrom.
And, as a result of those photographs, the insurance companytendered the full $100,000 of the defendant's auto insurance policy.
The third way you can documentyour personal injury claim is by telling your doctor or your nurse about your pain and suffering.
You can also document itby keeping a daily journal, whether it's in handwrittennotes or on your computer.
You should document yourpain and suffering daily, like for example, "I feel an aching orthrobbing pain in my shoulder.
"The pain rates a sevenon a scale of one to 10.
"It's interfering with my ability "to get a good nights sleep.
"I can't walk my dog.
"I have to sleep inthe lazyboy every night "because laying on my back is so painful.
" Things like this go a long wayto helping your attorney get you compensated appropriatelyfrom the insurance company.
Be careful what you write, though, your journal might ultimatelybe introduced as evidence and if that's the case,you want to be cautious as to what you put in it.
Don't rant in your journal.
We had a case once where aclient wrote a 30-page diary about his frustration with the situation, his anger at the defendant,his anger at his attorneys.
This was not helpful to his case.
Be brief, stick to thepoint and document the pain and discomfort you're going through.
Finally, number four, youshould document your expenses.
It seems obvious, right? You want to be reimbursed forthe things that you paid for for injuries that weren't you're fault, but a lot of people don't keep receipts for their ace bandages, their gauze, their mileage to travel toand from the doctor's office.
Keep receipts for all of these expenses, they are all recoverable.
The one thing theclients always do send us is evidence of their copays.
That's actually the onething we really don't need because we're gonna recoverfor your entire medical bill, not just the copay, and thecopay is just a small part of the total bill.
Okay, it's time for your take on the law.
Were you involved in an accident and you forgot to documentsome of your expenses, and as a result, you weren'table to recover for them? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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