5 Steps to a Stronger Injury Case
Most insurance companies try to pay as little money as possible to settle a claim with an injured person. Insurance companies are notorious for their “low ball” offers, which often fall far short of what a survivor needs to cover current and future losses. Many people are intimidated by insurance companies and don’t realize that they don’t have to settle for the initial offer.
5 Steps to a Stronger Injury Case
- Insurance companies share information on every claim. Insurance companies track all claims against any insurance company. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, no matter what insurance company dealt with it, how old it is, or even if it was paid, the condition will likely be known. To help your case, let your attorneys know about any injuries, addictions, or medical problems before and after your injury. Good cases can be lost because the insurance company argues that the problems were caused by an earlier or later injury or medical condition.
2. Keep your own records for all medical, out-of-pocket expenses and lost income. Medical and other expenses can be an important part of a personal injury case, so good records of these expenses must be kept. Many people won’t ask for their medical records. They are your records about your condition—not the doctors’. Get copies of all medical records including all prescriptions and the bills or receipts for them. Retain all bills which relate to your claim, including medical expenses, hospital expenses, drugs and medicines, therapy, appliances, home health care or aides, and anything else needed in your recovery. If possible, pay bills and co-payments by check or credit card, so that a complete record may be kept. If this is not possible, be certain to obtain a complete receipt. Keep a complete record of all lost wages. It is often helpful to obtain a statement from the employer outlining the time lost, the rate of pay, the hours worked per week, the average weekly income and any losses suffered as a result of the incident. Where possible, also obtain other types of evidence such as ledger sheets, copies of time cards, canceled checks, check stubs, vouchers, or pay slips.
3. Take notes. Subject to your attorney’s approval, keep a daily record of experiences—both physical and emotional—after the incident, even if they seem ordinary. Describe what you do when you get up in the morning, what type of work and effort do you put into your job, and what non-work activities you do during any part of the day–exercise, reading, TV, etc. Then describe the changes in your work life, play life, and life as a family member. This will help you recall later in more detail how life was changed as a result of the incident. Include notes on medical treatments, therapy, appliances, hospitalization, change of doctors, change of medications, symptoms, recurrence, setbacks, disabilities, and inconveniences.
4. Don’t talk. Don’t sign. Don’t post. You should not discuss your case with anyone—and that includes employers, coworkers, distant relatives, neighbors, the individual or company at fault, and even friends. And definitely not the other party’s attorneys or insurance company. Conversations may be recorded and used against you. It’s best to talk about case-related matters only with your attorney. Do not sign any documents without your attorney’s consent. Don’t post anything about your legal or medical matters or your activities on any social media, but do not delete anything from your social media account, either. If you get any letters from anyone in connection with your case, send them to your attorney immediately. Keep a copy. Before making a report to your own insurance company, consult with your attorney. Remember at all times that you may be under surveillance and subject to being photographed or filmed by the other side.
5. Don’t throw any evidence away. It might be important. Be certain to keep anything that might be used as evidence in your case, such as shoes, clothing, glasses, photographs, empty medication containers, medical appliances, defective machinery or parts, or foreign substances which may have been a factor in the incident that caused your injury. Take photographs of all motor vehicles, machinery, appliances, etc., that may be connected—directly or indirectly—with your injury.