If you received health care immediately after your accident (i.e., visit to the emergency room, hospital, doctors, etc.), try to get your hands on those medical records AND billing.
If you get into a car accident, your lawyer can't simply contact the insurance company and say, "Hey, give my client $10,000!" The insurance adjuster is going to want "evidence" that substantiates the claim for settlement. They aren't going to write you a check simply because you're a nice person.
While your lawyer can usually get the records and bills, there are times when they might run into a snag. Lawyers will usually have little trouble getting medical records and bills from doctors and facilities that understand the personal injury process and the lawyer's need for records and bills. They "get it." However, in some cases, it will be difficult for your attorney to get the records and bills. Some facilities are essentially downright unresponsive. In those cases, a simple phone call or letter from you to the facility/doctor will be very helpful. Under the law, you are entitled to your own records and bills. They have to provide them to you (they might mail them or you can pick them up). They can't simply ignore you! They might charge you a modest copying fee but otherwise, there are no other charges.
Also, remember that bills and records are two different things. Many times, they will send you one without the other. You may need to contact two entirely different entities to get both. Sometimes the billing is handled off-site. It's not fun but it's necessary when it comes to presenting your claim.
Therefore, while your lawyer can usually get your records and bills, there may be times when your assistance is helpful. Your attorney should ask you to get involved if he/she anticipates a problem with a particular health care provider.
After your car accident, you may be very flustered. However, to the extent that you can, try to document as many details as possible about the accident and any medical treatment you might need.
First, make sure you document exactly where the accident occurred. If you can, draw yourself a map to preserve your memory. Draw the locations and positions of each vehicle involved in the accident, not only before the impact occurred but also after the impact. Take photos of speed limit signs, other street signs, and other landmarks in the area that might help with a subsequent investigation. Most people take a quick snapshot of the damage to their car and that's pretty much all they do. That's like having only one piece to a puzzle, then trying to explain the complete picture to people later. Get the names and contact information from everyone involved in the accident including passengers, drivers and witnesses. If there was a police investigation, do your best to get the police report. Take photos of all damage to ALL vehicles and photos of all your injuries, but right after the accident and once a week thereafter to show how the injury is progressing (or in some cases not progressing). Finally, make sure you keep a detailed list of all your injuries and all the health care providers you've seen for the accident.
If you've been involved in a serious car accident in Santa Clarita or surrounding areas, feel free to call our office for a free consultation.
After a serious car accident, there is a chance your injury is severe enough that surgical intervention might be required. Recently, I've handled cases that involve full hip replacement surgery, ankle surgery, and knee surgery. Another common potential surgery after a serious car accident is shoulder surgery. If you've had surgery after a car accident, it is very important to get medical records and/or reports showing a connection between the accident and the injury. You need to show the surgery was necessary because of the car accident. A common defense to this claim is that you must have had a pre-existing injury. However, if you can show no such evidence and/or you can show your pre-existing injury was dormant for years (and this accident caused it to become symptomatic), then you have a compelling argument. Settling the case becomes easier in some cases where a client has actually undergone surgery, because that can convince an adjuster the need for surgery wasn't simply conjecture - it REALLY happened. In some cases, you can also settle a case before a surgery - especially if you can show the surgery will more than likely be necessary in the future. Don't forget that post surgical rehabilitation and physical therapy are important issues that should be addressed. Therefore, if surgery is necessary in your case, be prepared to prove it. The insurance companies won't simply take your word for it. If your injury requires surgery, contact the Law Office of Robert Mansour for a free case evaluation.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,