Being a chiropractor, I see it over and over again. Someone is trying to “tuff it out” or they are concerned about cost of care or a long drawn out claim after an auto accident or personal injury. If someone else’s negligence has done you harm or injured you, you should consider all the ways you need to be made whole again. The process can be long and complex. As I said before, this deters some people from filing a claim or getting the care they need. The information I have included here will cover some of the basic facts about personal injury cases and what I have seen when people are trying to get their medical bills paid or just compensation for the damages they have.
I have learned over time that personal injury litigation is hard to fight. I, as chiropractor, as with some other physicians don’t mind waiting for a case to be settled before being paid. I will tell you however that it has been my experience that the person that hires good legal representation is miles ahead of the person that decides they will handle a claim by themselves. That means you need a lawyer with experience. My advice is to find a lawyer who has been successful with many similar cases in the past and can provide you with a list of references.
You should know that a preexisting condition doesn’t mean you aren’t able to take legal action with regards to personal injury. You should be honest with both your physician and attorney about the injuries you had prior to the accident. This will make it easier for both professionals to provide you with the best care and advice on your personal or auto injury. Do not expect a settlement that exceeds the impact of the personal injuries the other party can be held responsible for. I have seen patients walk in with dollar signs in their eyes and while you should be concerned about your care and your case, personal injuries settlements are about trying to make you whole again, not to get rich quick!
I would say again that even though I have professionals that I feel comfortable referring my patients to, many of my patients have found good attorneys by looking on the Internet for reliable personal injury attorneys. You can find a great deal out this way. If you are using the internet, then look for experience, as I have found this is a huge factor for determining a great personal injury lawyer.
When you find yourself in the position of needing a personal injury attorney, I would suggest that you meet with several lawyers in order to make a good choice. Many attorneys will provide a free consultation to learn the basics of your case. At the consultation, you can inquire about costs, and that will help you stay away from an overcharging lawyer that wants a lot of up-front fees from you.
Some law firms use ads to help hide the fact that they’re not very good. I have found often that the paralegal is doing all the work and the lawyer has very little to do with the client. I would counsel you to avoid them whenever they appear, even if they do seem to be tempting or an easy fix to a complex problem. Television ads are meant to catch people’s attention, but do little to show anything about the law firm. My advice is that you should always meet a lawyer in-person before deciding to use them as your representative.
If you do hire a lawyer, a retainer agreement is a good idea. You can avoid surprises by knowing what the fees will be upfront and having it in writing. Use this agreement to create a payment schedule and if things don’t go as planned, cut off the attorney/client relationship.
Now one last thing about your case … You should find out the type of coverage the person at fault has and the limits of the policy. You should also consider that in some cases you are able to make a claim against two or three policies instead of one. Even your own policy often has medical coverage for the bills that result from your care. Be aware of all the policies and what they can cover in any auto accident or personal injury. That is valuable information for you to have.
Bring copies of all your paperwork to your first meeting with a lawyer. The documents you bring may be bills, medical records, documentation of any income you may be losing or any other evidence. This paperwork is necessary for any potential attorney to see. They can judge whether your case is worth pursuing.
As I stated earlier, most people are unsure of what to do after an auto or personal injury. The best advice I can give you is to get the care that you need right away don’t delay and find a good representative so that you don’t have the added stress of dealing with the insurance company and the adjuster whose job it is to settle for as little as possible.