This video helps clients understand how to get started with their personal injury case. Here is a complete transcript of the video:
Hello, everyone this is Robert Mansour and this brief video is designed to introduce you to how to get started with your personal injury case. So obviously if you've come to this website, you've probably been involved in a car accident and you might be looking for an attorney's guidance regarding whether or not you have a case worth pursuing, whether you're better doing nothing, whether you should handle it on your own, or whether perhaps you should get a lawyer involved. So you've come to the right place and this the starting point. So the first thing you've got to do is call my office. The reason you want to call the office is to setup your initial personal injury consultation and the consultation should occur as soon after the accident as possible, because one of the reasons personal injury cases fail is because clients take too long before they become proactive about their case and sometimes these delays can come back to haunt you.
So during the initial call my office staff will probably ask you some basic questions about the accident just to make sure that it's something that we can help you with and then we'll pick a date that's convenience for you and for our office to meet.
So the next thing you need to do is fill out the personal injury questionnaire or the secure, online accident questionnaire. So, near the middle of the page you're going to find a secure, online accident questionnaire, and go ahead and click on that and it's going to open up a questionnaire in a new window that will walk you through all of the relevant information that I'm going to need during our initial conversation. And don't be overwhelmed by all the information, if you don't have it all, but gather as much as you can. Now, if you don't want to fill out the online form, right below that, you can click on the checklist and that will open up a checklist that you can print. Basically, the checklist will ask you for all of the relevant information including any and all photographs depicting damage to all of the vehicles involved in the accident, any and all photographs of your injuries, bruising, cuts, scrapes, those are the kinds of things that you want to be documented. It will be asking you for all of your auto insurance information, especially something called your declarations page, which shows a review of all of the insurance coverage that you have available to you on your vehicle. Also, we're going to ask you for insurance information for the other vehicle, the responsible party. If you have any property damage estimates to your vehicle, we're going to need those and if you don't have a property damage estimate, you might want to go get one sooner than later.
If you've already been to some doctors or a hospital or you've received emergency treatment, or you went to urgent care, we're going to need all of the doctors and facility information for those places that you visited. In fact, if you can, call those facilities and ask them for a copy of all of your records and all of your bills from your visit post-accident. It makes life a lot easier.
Also, if you've been a Medicare or Medi-Cal recipient, we're going to need your information. We also need your health insurance information.
If there is a police report of any sort, we will need a copy of that and if you don't have a copy, that's all right, we can order one for you, but let us know whether or not there was a police report. Also, if there were any witnesses, we're going to want their names, addresses and phone numbers as well.
Then it's time for our initial consultation where I will sit with you, review everything that you've provided to me and again, the more information you provide to me, the better I can advise you. So during this meeting I'll let you whether or not it's worth having a lawyer on your side, what your options are, what different paths you might want to take and how the case might unfold. And during that consultation you can ask any questions that you have and I'll do my very best to answer them. And then of course, the relationship may begin, if you choose to go forward. There will be absolutely no pressure for you to do one thing or another. It is a purely informational meeting and in most cases, there is no charge.
Thank you very much for visiting my website. Thank you for your interest and go ahead and proceed with the steps and we'll get started in assisting you with your personal injury consultation. Thank you very much, again this Robert Monsieur and I appreciate your time in watching this video.
During my initial consultation with a potential personal injury client, the fundamental question that I'm thinking about during our first conference is whether or not I can bring any VALUE to their case as their attorney. In many cases, the answer is "no." That doesn't mean I don't want to help the injured client or I won't offer them my advice....it just means that if I take the case and act as their attorney, it won't do them much good. In fact, in some cases, bringing a lawyer on board can complicate matters and result in a negative financial result for the client. Some lawyers will take almost any case if they feel they can make some money....they unfortunately do not consider whether doing so would be helpful to the client.
Here is a perfect example of how this usually happens. A client will come into my office and present me with a property damage estimate of less than $1000. Upon further inspection, we realize that less than half of that estimate is for "parts" and the rest is for "labor." Furthermore, photos show minor damage to the car and now the client comes to me expecting me to perform some kind of "magic" for them. In some cases, they fought with the adjuster and now they've come to me. Truth is, no matter what I do, the insurance company for the responsible party is going to treat their case as a "MIST" claim. MIST stands for "Minor Impact Soft Tissue." As such, insurance companies rarely offer much money on these kinds of cases unless the client's case is very unique in some way. Some insurance companies have a policy where they don't offer any more than $500 to $3000 on MIST cases, no matter what. If you have minor property damage, you're going to get a small offer. That's just the way it goes.
Every so often, a jury will disagree with the insurance company, but in most cases, the insurance companies know that juries are stingy and won't give much money to the injured party either. The insurance companies are banking on the fact they are probably going to win 80% of the minor cases that go to trial.
Therefore, if I can't bring any value to the case, I generally won't get involved. I tell the clients, "If I take a third of your recovery as my fee (which is a common attorney's fee), then you will be left with little to nothing after this case is done." In these cases, I generally give the clients some tips about how to resolve their case without a lawyer. Remember, if I can't bring value, then I'm reluctant to get involved.
Keep in mind that all cases are different and unique, so you should take this blog post (and anything else you read on the internet) with a grain of salt. At least talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer and get some advice. That way, you can make an educated decision. In some cases, you may even want to get two opinions just to make sure.
A client came to my office this week to explore her legal options after a vehicle turned left right in front of her. The accident was moderate in nature...certainly not a minor fender bender. She was walking with a stiff gait and was obviously in pain.
While we were evaluating her legal options, I also told her about the possibility of proceeding without an attorney. After all, you don't HAVE to hire a lawyer to assist you with your case. There is no law mandating that you do so.
However, when I explained to her that I would be the one to deal with the insurance adjuster, and I would be the one to act as her liaison, she was very glad to hear it. She said, "I just want to go to my doctor and get better....I don't want to talk to these insurance people any more. They keep calling my house, leaving messages, asking for statements and information...."
In her opinion, having a lawyer handle the case and talk to the insurance adjusters was very reassuring. She wanted to focus on her injuries...and not hassling with insurance adjusters. She hired me to handle the case, and she got an immediate return on her decision - peace of mind!
In some cases, having an attorney handle your case can allow you to breathe easier, knowing that you have delegated the job to someone with experience. That way, you can focus on what's important - getting better!
If you have a serious accident in the Santa Clarita area (including Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Castaic, Stevenson Ranch, Newhall, and surrounding areas) and you'd like to discuss your legal options, call Santa Clarita personal injury attorney Robert Mansour at (661) 414-7100 for a free candid and honest evaluation of your legal options.
Hi. I’m Robert Mansour. Sometimes my clients don’t know what to bring to the first consultation with the attorney. Here are some things to keep in mind. Bring any and all photographs that you have, including photographs of your vehicle, the other vehicles involved etc. All insurance information of all the vehicles involved, any and all doctor reports and billing, doctors’ names and addresses, witness information, police reports, everything related to the accident…bring it to your first meeting. It is better to be over-inclusive than to be under-inclusive. Your attorney can then give you advice from that point forward. If you’d like to discuss your personal injury case please give me a call. Thank you very much.
Don't Hide Things From Your Lawyer!
Don’t hide things from your attorney. For some reason, there are some clients out there who want to hide facts from their lawyer. One client wanted to hide from me the fact that she was smoking pot at the accident scene. Well, the insurance company found out because it was in her medical records from the hospital! If she had told me about this information, there may have been ways to deal with it.
Another time, a client came by for an initial consultation. I asked her about her work duties. She said, "Why do you need to know that?" Then I asked her about her past accidents. She replied, "Well, how is that important?" I knew from the get-go that this client was not the right fit for me. She was very reluctant to answer my questions. She viewed me as the enemy and wasn't forthcoming with information. I don't ask these questions because I'm nosy! I ask these questions because the information gathered helps me evaluate the case.
Some clients hide previous accidents from their attorneys. In many cases, the clients make the sole determination the accident must be irrelevant and therefore they either fail to mention it or the deliberately hide it. Again, this is not going to help your lawyer prepare for your case. If you’re hiding things from your attorney, you have bigger problems. The information is going to come to light at some point. If you tell your attorney about the matter, your attorney will be better equipped to handle it. Once litigation begins, they will indeed have the right to that information and they will find out.
If you go to the doctor's office for an exam, you have to tell your doctor what's going on. This isn't the time to play games. Therefore, the lesson to be learned is to not hide anything from your attorney because it simply doesn’t help anyone. The other lesson here is that sometimes, your lawyer may not be right for you. However, there are times when the client may not be a good fit for the lawyer. It's a two way street.
If you’ve been involved in a significant car accident, don’t delay in seeking attorney’s advice. Many people are reluctant to involve a lawyer because they believe the lawyer will take a portion of their settlement. However, studies have shown that people who hire lawyers generally fare better than those who don’t hire a lawyer. Some studies indicate that recovery can be three times as much when a client engages an attorney’s assistance versus doing it on their own. The studies were funded by the insurance companies themselves.
Another reason people delay is they figure they will get better over time. However they find that they aren’t getting any better and they’re feeling worse. In the meantime they have not engaged a doctor or other healthcare professional. Insurance companies routinely use gaps in treatment as well as delays in the commencement of treatment as reasons to deny your claim or minimize payment to you after an auto accident. Therefore, since most personal injury attorneys allow for a free consultation, it is in your best interest to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer so that you know what your options are. Remember, don’t delay. Get a lawyer’s advice right away.
Many prospective clients who call my office have no idea what to provide to their lawyer when involved in a car accident. I try to explain to clients that I need all the “pieces of the puzzle” because I’m not a psychic. I’m not going to magically get copies of your hospital bill, and I’m not going to magically have photos of the damage to your vehicle or your injuries, etc. I need the client’s help in obtaining these materials.
Here is a list of what I encourage my clients to bring to the first meeting.
Here is a list of everything I need to help you with your case:
ALL Photographs depicting damage to your vehicle. If you don’t have any photos, please try your best to take some. Photos should capture the damage from several angles. Digital pictures are best and can be delivered to us by email and/or disc. If your insurance company took photos, please ask them to get you those pictures as well. If you are already our client, you can have your insurance company send the photos directly to our office. It’s your file, so you are entitled to the photos.
ALL photographs depicting damage to any other vehicles involved in the accident.
Your auto insurance information (name, address, policy numbers and claim numbers if available). If you have the “Declarations Page” showing evidence of insurance covering the date of the accident, that is best. This page outlines the important information including policy number, amount of coverage, etc. If you don’t have it, please call your insurance company and ask them to fax it to us.
Insurance information of all other parties. Including insurance name, policy numbers if known, claim number if known, adjuster, address, etc.
Property damage estimates (if available). Even if your car was a “total loss,” it is often helpful to obtain a good property damage estimate that outlines all the parts of your car that were damaged. Frame damage and other significant entries on your property damage estimate can affect your case.
Any and ALL doctors and facilities with whom you have treated. Please provide all contact information (names, phone numbers, addresses, etc). Make sure that whenever you initially go to a doctor for treatment related to this accident, you MUST tell the doctor’s office you are there because of the accident. If you don’t mention the accident, some insurance adjusters will doubt whether the treatment was accident-related.
Please let us know if you have ever been a Medicare recipient. Also, please provide us with your health insurance information.
Police report (if available). If you have the police report number, we can order the police report for you. If you already have the police report, please provide a copy. If there was no police report prepared, please let us know that as well.
Were there any witnesses? If yes, we will need their contact information.
Once you provide your lawyer with this information, he/she will be better able to represent you. They need all the pieces of the puzzle if they are going to paint a picture for an insurance adjuster.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.