We are so glad you entrusted us with your personal injury case. We just know that our award-winning lawyers and incredible staff will maximize your recovery for your injury and make the process as stress free as possible.
We know you will have a lot of questions and at times, be confused about the process. Don’t worry. That’s normal. To help you with this process, we prepared this guide to help you know what to do and what not to do as you travel through this process. So, let’s get started!
What You Should Not Do
- Unless we tell you differently, do not give statements, whether written or oral to anyone about your accident or injury.
- NEVER lie or make incorrect statements to a doctor or other medical person. If you don’t know, say so. If you don’t remember, say so. Let the doctor do the diagnosing, not you.
- NEVER sign anything that has to do with your accident or injury without checking with us first.
- Do not change your address, phone number or email without telling us.
- If you’ve already been to the ER once, don’t go back unless it truly is an emergency. ER care is the most expensive care you can receive; it will look like you are exaggerating your injury and it will not add value to your case.
- Do not post any pictures of yourself or discuss your accident on social medial like Facebook.
What You Should Do
- Every time you go to the doctor, any doctor, whether connected to your injury and accident or not, always call us – no exceptions.
- Be straight with your doctor or any other medical person. Don’t exaggerate your injuries or symptoms, but don’t downplay them either.
- Tell your doctor or physical therapist about every pain or symptom you’ve had since the accident. Leave out nothing. Remember, if a doctor doesn’t write it down, it didn’t happen.
- Take pictures of your car before it is repaired. If you can’t take pictures or you don’t know where the car is, call us so we can make arrangements to get pictures.
- Take pictures of any visible injuries such as bruises, cuts, abrasions and scars.
- If you or anyone on your behalf took photos of the accident scene, bring those photos to us.
Avoid Making Mistakes
- Not following your doctor’s orders to the letter
- Missing physical therapy if the doctor ordered it
- Not telling the doctor or physical therapist about all your symptoms
- Missing doctor appointments
- Posting pictures of you having fun or being active on Facebook or other social media
- Talking about your case with anyone who is not your medical provider or attorney
- Engaging in strenuous activity anywhere the insurance company can video it
More On The Importance of Medical Care
When you miss doctor or physical therapy appointments, you are saying to the doctor and insurance company that you aren’t really hurt. When you allow time gaps to occur in your treatment, such as missing a week of therapy, you are telling the insurance company or a jury that you don’t take your injury seriously, so neither should they – and they won’t, I promise you.
You can’t recover for pain and suffering if a doctor or physical therapist hasn’t noted it in his or her medical records. Always be complete in reporting how you are feeling and where you are hurting so it gets noted in your medical records.
So, we can present a complete story of how the accident and injury affected you, we need you to keep a record of the following items:
- Lost work time and wages
- Any other expenses relating to your injury such as transportation/mileage to the doctor or therapy, home care, etc.
- Your physical limitations—what you tried to do, when you tried it (the date) and what you couldn’t do
- Each day, record your pain level between 1 and 10 each day until we tell you to stop
- Collect receipts of any out of pocket expenses such as for medication or cab rides
Medical And Health Insurance Liens
It is important to use your health insurance to pay for your collision related medical care because it gets your care at a financial discount, which ultimately means more money in your pocket. But, federal law forces us to pay back your health insurer from your settlement or verdict. We don’t like it but we have no choice under the law.
If you don’t have health insurance, in order to get you the medical care you need, as well as maximize the value of your case, we have to agree, in writing, that we will pay the medical providers directly from your settlement or verdict. We only do this with medical providers whom we know will charge a reasonable sum for your care.
You May Be Watched! Beware!
When an injured person files a claim, the insurance company almost always investigates the injured person. The investigation can include an investigator following you and videotaping your activities. They love catching the injured person lifting groceries or doing yard work.
Contact Dennis and King if you think someone is watching you.
When you file for bankruptcy, your personal injury case becomes the property of the Bankruptcy Court. This doesn’t mean you won’t get any cash from your settlement. In Tennessee, you can keep up to $5000 dollars from your settlement. In Georgia, you can keep up to $7500 of your settlement or verdict. The rest goes to pay your creditors. If there is anything left over after paying your creditors, you get to keep it.
The Bankruptcy Court has to approve your settlement, which is almost always does as a matter of course. The approval process does delay you getting your money after you settle by a few weeks.
Why Can’t We Tell You The Value Of Your Case Now?
The very fact that we took your case means that:
- You have at least an 80% chance of recovery; and
- Your case value is enough to justify you hiring an attorney.
However, it is not possible for us to tell you with any certainty, how much a jury will award you or how much an insurance company will offer for settlement. Every case is different and at the outset we don’t even know the full extent of your injuries, or how long they will take to heal.
There are certain elements that determine your damages:
- Whether your injury is permanent
- If permanent, the amount of disability from your injury
- Incurred reasonable and necessary medical expenses
- Future reasonable and necessary medical expenses
- Wage loss—past and future with confirmation by a physician that you can’t work
- Pain and suffering
- If you are married, loss of companionship for your spouse
Demand For Settlement
If the insurance company is not contesting fault, at some point we will send a demand package to the insurance company. This package includes your medical records and bills along with a detailed letter about the accident, your injuries and how your injuries affected you and a demand for a large sum of money. The insurance company has a definite period to respond.
This Demand Only Goes Out After You Have Completed Treatment
Therefore, it is critical that you let us know immediately when you have completed medical treatment.
Mediation is an alternative to a trial. In mediation, both parties and their lawyers meet with a neutral lawyer who attempts to get the parties to agree to a settlement. Mediation is an informal and inexpensive alternative to a trial. If the parties don’t reach a settlement, the case proceeds to trial.
In Tennessee and north Georgia, as much as 40% of all vehicles are uninsured. If you were hit by one of these uninsured drivers, we will see if you had uninsured or underinsured benefits on your own auto policy so we can get you compensated for your injury. Therefore, we request that you provide us with a copy of your car insurance policy. Can’t find a copy of your policy? No worry, you can get a copy from your insurance agent or from your insurance company’s online website.
If you are feeling overwhelmed after reading all of this, don’t worry. We’re here for you. If you don’t understand something, all you need to do is pick up the phone and call us at 423-892-5533. We love questions and we are here to make this process as stress free as possible.