SECRET #1: Ask a qualified, experienced personal injury trial lawyer to evaluate your case. You probably had a doctor evaluate your injuries. Doesn’t it also make sense to have a car accident lawyer evaluate your legal claim? The insurance company wants you to settle quickly in hopes that you’ll settle for far less than your case is really worth. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you by reviewing your file. He/she will carefully review the police report, doctors’ statements, medical bills, time lost from work and other information. Then he/she can give you an informed opinion about the estimated value of your case. If you’d like the attorneys at Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C., top-rated car accident lawyers to evaluate your case, please don’t hesitate to call.
SECRET #2: If you decide to hire an auto accident lawyer, choose one who isn’t afraid to go to court. Insurance companies keep tabs on lawyers. They know which motor vehicle attorneys will take them to court–the fighters. And they know which lawyers will not go to court–the settlers. The fighters usually get more money for their clients than the settlers. Make sure you discuss your case with a skilled personal injury trial lawyer. The car accident attorneys at Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C., with offices in Germantown, West Bend and Sister Bay, Wisconsin, will protect your interests throughout your car accident injury process.
SECRET #3: Do not talk to anyone…except your doctor or attorney. You should always know who is talking with you. Be careful about speaking with the other insurance company and its adjusters or lawyers. You should also be careful when speaking even with your own insurance company, or to any lawyers hired by your insurance company, without notifying your attorney so that he/she may be present if necessary.
SECRET #4: If you are injured, seek medical treatment promptly.
Tell your doctors about all of your medical problems. You should try hard to keep all medical appointments, and you should always tell your doctors about all your areas of pain. You should never exaggerate your symptoms, but you should also not minimize your ailments when talking with your doctors. Make sure you tell your doctor about each and every symptom. This is important to your treatment. If you see any other doctors, make sure that you tell both your current doctors and your attorney immediately.
SECRET #5: Conduct a complete investigation.
It is extremely important that your attorney collect all witness statements, police reports, medical reports and anything else related to your accident. Your case may require hiring private investigators or accident reconstruction experts. The other party’s insurance company will collect all sorts of information that may be used against you. You could be at a serious disadvantage if a thorough investigation to support your claim for damages is not conducted soon after the accident.
SECRET #6: Get photographs of all important elements in your case. For example, if you are in a car accident, you should obtain photographs of your car and the car that hit you, the accident scene and your injuries. Photos are vivid evidence of what you experienced. Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and juries find photos to be powerful proof of your injuries. If you have taken pictures, inform your attorney and provide him/her with the photographs or negatives. If an investigator is necessary, Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C., has several who work for us to conduct all aspects of the investigation.
SECRET #7: Don’t have your car repaired until you have taken photos of your vehicle’s damage. You don’t want to rely on photographs taken by the other party’s investigator. These people are trained to minimize the damage appearance in the photos. Take your own photos or tell us and we will obtain photos that properly show your damages. Also, if the other driver was clearly at fault and you have collision coverage on your own policy, you have two potential alternatives: either your attorney may insist that the other driver’s insurance company repairs the automobile–or you may submit the claim to your insurance company. Always consult your attorney to determine which choice he/she recommends.
SECRET #8: Don’t sign a release for your medical records to the other party’s insurance company. Many accident victims make the mistake of signing a release for the other party’s insurance company. This gives the other party’s insurance company access to your medical records. The same is true for your own insurance company. However, in certain types of claims, your own insurance company may be entitled to your medical information. But the other party’s insurance company should NOT have this information because it may use those facts against you. Don’t release your medical records to any insurance company, or sign an authorization allowing an insurance company to get the records directly, until you speak with your attorney.
SECRET #9: Never plead guilty to any traffic offense before you consult with your attorney. Ask your attorney to evaluate your ticket or citation before the time and date set for the hearing. Pleading guilty to a traffic offense can affect your injury claim.
SECRET #10: Keep the adjuster informed about the seriousness of your injuries. Now we get into an area where you must be very careful. You want to keep the adjuster informed. Yet, at the same time, you must be careful what you disclose to the adjuster. (See secret #8.) There’s a fine line between what you should and should not tell the adjuster. And, certainly, the circumstances of your injury will play a part in what you should reveal. It’s not possible to address this subject in one or two paragraphs. When we meet in our office we’ll be happy to discuss this issue with you and answer any questions. Your best course of action is to hire a Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C. car accident attorney before talking to any adjuster.
SECRET #11: Don’t let the insurance adjuster pressure you into settling your case. Adjusters use all kinds of methods to get you to settle for a smaller amount than the fair value of your case. The insurance adjuster may try to get you to admit that the accident was your fault, or at least partly your fault. The adjuster may try to get you to give a recorded statement or sign a statement, either of which may potentially be used against you later at trial. Insurance company adjusters are trained to gather information that may be damaging to your case, and to settle cases for the lowest amount possible.
What’s more,don’t be surprised if the insurance adjuster is polite. His/her kindness may be a tactic to get you to settle for less than your case is worth–and to get you to settle soon, often beforeyou hire an attorney. The longer your file remains open, the more the adjuster will pressure you to settle.
The car accident attorneys at Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C., can help you evaluate whether the insurance company’s offers are reasonable or unreasonable. Also, your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf if the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer to settle.
SECRET #12: Know all your damages. They include (1) cost of medical treatment, (2) pain and suffering for your injuries, (3) loss of income for time off work, (4) loss of business, (5) cost of a rental car, (6) cost of fixing your car, (7) cost for psychological counseling caused by stress or some other aspect of the accident, (8) cost of transportation to and from your doctor’s office–and possibly other money you paid or lost as a result of your injury. Keep an accurate record of all expenses and hours or days lost from work due to your injuries. Your car accident lawyer will get written documentation from your employer to verify the lost earnings.
SECRET #13: Keep all bills and receipts related to your accident. If you don’t save your bills and receipts, you will not be able to prove the amount of your damages. If you cannot prove the amount, you cannot recover for these expenses. Be sure to save everything: doctor bills, hospital bills, pharmacy bills, and all other bills you incurred because of your accident. Immediately give all bills to your personal injury lawyer, so he/she may deal directly with the medical providers on your behalf. Make sure you get a receipt for every bill you pay. Your attorney will also help you process payments through your own health insurance or under the medical payment provisions of your auto insurance policy.
SECRET #14: Know all your injuries. Many victims feel that if they don’t hurt, they aren’t injured. Yet injuries caused by accidents may not develop into symptoms for days–even weeks. Don’t be too quick to rule out injuries just because they haven’t yet appeared. This is why, at least early in your claim, you should not discuss your injuries or possible lack of symptoms with insurance company adjusters. (See secrets #8 and #10.)
SECRET #15: Know your sources for insurance coverage. In many cases an injured victim can legally collect from two or three different insurance policies at the same time. Yet many accident victims don’t know where to look for various insurance coverages. Your car accident attorney at Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C. will help you determine whether you can collect from more than one policy.
SECRET #16: Continue under your doctor’s care until your doctor releases you. Many people stop going to their doctor when they feel better, before the doctor releases them from treatment. Make sure you continue going to the doctor until your doctor releases you! Your doctor knows the complications that could result from your injury. The type of injury may be complex and the mere fact that you are no longer in pain does not mean that your injuries have fully healed. If you can’t afford the continuing cost of treatment, you’re invited to call us to discuss your options.
SECRET #17: Consider and be prepared to file a lawsuit if the settlement offer is not fair. Insurance companies are not in a hurry to settle cases (1) unless they can settle the lawsuit for far less than it’s worth, or (2) unless they feel the pressure of the approaching court date. Insurance companies usually get serious about settling your claim if they see that they will have to start paying lawyers to defend your lawsuit. The motor vehicle lawyers at Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C., will be more than happy to discuss the benefits and risks of filing a lawsuit and will make sure you understand all of the aspects before deciding to take this important step.