When clients come into my office for consultations regarding automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and falls or any other case where they were injured through no fault of their own I always inform them of my five rules that will hopefully help lead to a successful settlement and healthy client.

Rule #1: Don’t Talk

This rule is #1 on my list for a reason. Many times insurance companies will contact parties involved in an accident to get their statement regarding what happened. Insurance adjusters are always looking for information that will help them either fully or partially deny a claim. While you always have an obligation to cooperate with your own insurance company, you have no obligation to cooperate with the insurance company that represents other parties that may have been involved. At my office, we will arrange to be present during any statements that you provide so that you know you are well represented and that you’re only answering the questions that you are required to under the terms of your policy.

Rule #2: Do what your doctors/therapists tell you

This rule is important for two reasons. First, by following your doctor’s orders you are on the path toward recovery. It is usually a marathon and not a sprint and following what your medical provider’s orders is an important step in becoming the person you were prior to the accident. Secondly, insurance companies review notes from your treatment providers thoroughly and will use information that can be harmful to you against you during settlement negotiations. If you are supposed to attend 30 physical therapy appointments, it is important to attend as many of those as possible. If you miss a lot of appointments or do not do certain things recommended by your doctor, the insurance company will question the severity of your injuries and that can be detrimental to a successful settlement.

Rule #3: Keep us informed

Effective representation in a personal injury case involves strong communication between the client and attorney. We cannot do our job without your assistance. We need to know what doctors you go to, where attend physical therapy and what the status of your treatment is. Without this information, we cannot obtain the information we need to help us in getting you the settlement you are entitled to.

Rule #4: Keep a journal

Recovery and treatment from injuries sustained in an automobile accident can take months or even years. The value of a settlement is primarily calculated by looking at the medical bills/notes and how the injuries from the accident impacted your life. It is crucial that you keep notes regarding how the injuries are impacting your life. It is easy to forget certain things that may add value to your settlement over the course of your treatment. Write it down!!!

Rule #5: Ask questions

Even though this is rule #5, it is not the least important. You need to ask questions throughout the process so that you completely understand what is happening. This is your case. It is very important that you are educated about what is happening and what to expect throughout the process.

By Atty. Lance Sobelman