After a car accident, one of the most important things to do after getting medical care is obtaining the police report. If an officer came to the scene, you were likely given an informational card with the report number and information regarding who to contact to get the report. Sometimes, police reports are ready within a week or two. However, in busier cities (i.e., Los Angeles), it can take weeks to get a report. There is usually a nominal fee to obtain the report.
In cases where liability is disputed, or even if there is a slight question regarding fault, it is important to get the police report. I tell clients that even if you have been rear ended, it is helpful to have the police report. Even if the other party apologized profusely at the scene and several witnesses are on your side, I've learned not to come to any conclusions until I see that report. There have been numerous occasions when clients assured me there was NO WAY the police report would be against them - and then guess what? The report comes in and it's against them! There are several reasons obtaining the police report quickly after an accident are important.
First, the police report helps determine fault. While it is not dispositive of the issue, a police report in your favor will help you a great deal when making a claim against the responsible party. Insurance adjusters rely on police reports when determining fault. In fact, some adjusters won't come to any conclusion until they have the report in hand - even if their insured admits fault. That is not to say they always side with the police report. However, armed with a favorable police report, you are much steadier ground.
Second, if you complained of injury at the scene, a police report will probably have that information noted. That will make your claim for injury more believable given that you complained of an injury at the scene. If there is no mention of injury in the report, some insurance adjusters will use that against you.
Third, it is more difficult for someone to change their story if it has been documented in a police report. People often change their story later on...especially if they fear repercussions from a parent, spouse, or someone else. Perhaps they have too many moving violations on their record and risk losing their license....or fear an increase in insurance premiums. Some folks go home after an accident and reconsider their story for one reason or another.
Finally, if the police report is in your favor, you have more options regarding obtaining medical treatment. You don't want to incur medical bills that you need to pay without any reassurance that you will be able to pay them. You don't want to take unnecessary financial risks, assuming the other party will pay for medical care. If the police report is in your favor, you might have some more options regarding how you obtain treatment for your injuries.
If you have been involved in a serious car accident and you need some guidance, feel free to contact our office at (661) 414-7100 to see if we can help you.
Hello, everyone. This is Robert Mansour. I wanted to make a brief video today about how to pay for your medical care when you're involved in an automobile accident. This is a very important issue and you cannot enter into it lightly.
The firs thing that I do when I contact a client or when they talk to me is I say, "Okay. If I take this case, we have to decide how are we going to pay for your medical care." There are several options. If you have health insurance, that might be one way to do it. Have your health insurance pay for the medical care. Keep in mind that in most cases, your healthcare insurance company will have a right to be reimbursed if you recover money from the responsible party.
If your health insurance company pays out $2,000 for your care and you recover $5,000 from the responsible party, you may have to repay your health insurance company if that is the case. That hold true for Medicare and Medi-Cal and most of the major health insurance companies out there.
If you have medical payments coverage under your automobile policy, you might also be able to use that. Medical payments coverage is like having health insurance attached to your auto insurance policy. Usual policy amounts are $2,000, $5,000. I have seen some that are $25,000. It all depends on what you have if you have it available. The nice thing is that you can use that money to pay for your healthcare in many cases.
Now, here's the thing. If your auto insurance company pays based on that provision, they have a right to reimbursement as well, and you have to make sure you take care of them at the end of your case.
Another thing you can do is proceed on a lien basis, lien. What does that mean? That means that if you don't have health insurance and you don't have medical payments coverage, you might be able to get care from certain doctors who specialize in personal injury matters, or they don't specialize but they know how to do a personal injury case, they know how to handle one, and they accept them.
Here's the thing. A lien means you're going to sign a form that promises to pay the doctor regardless of the outcome of your matter. You can't just tell the doctor, "Well, I didn't win and I lost the case," or "I decided not to pursue and so I don't want to pay you anymore." The doctor is not going to be very happy with that, nor is the physical therapist or the chiropractor or anybody that you hire on a lien basis.
When you proceed on a lien, the doctor is basically fronting his or her services to you with the expectation that you're going to pay them out of the recovery of your case. What you may not realize is that you in most cases, owe the doctor regardless of the outcome of your case.
Contrast that with your health insurance company and your medical payments coverage on your auto policy. In those cases, yes, you have to pay them back, but only if you recover money from the other party. If you lose or you don't recover any money from the other party, you don't have to pay them back versus going on a lien which is essentially a tab at the doctor's office, and having everything done that way in which case, you have to pay those healthcare providers regardless of the outcome of your matter.
So you have to be very careful with how you proceed and how you choose to have those things paid for. Every case is different. In some cases, it makes sense to go one path, in some cases, it might make sense to go a different path. That's one of the issues that I talk about with my clients. Which is the least financially dangerous path for them to go down?
I hope you found this video helpful. I appreciate it very much that you took the time to watch it. Feel free to visit my website, valencialawyer.com for lots more educational information about personal injury cases. Thank you.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Hello, everybody. My name is Robert Mansour and I wanted to make a brief video today about reasonable expectations and personal injury cases. If I get a perspective client walking into my office and they have "dollar signs" in their eyes and they think they've won the lottery and the heavens are going to open and all kinds of money is going to fall into their lap because they got into a car accident, that's not a very good fit for me.
You see, those clients have unreasonable expectations. I think the reason for that is back in the 1970s and the 1980s a lot of people were getting pretty amazing payments from insurance companies on auto accident cases. Then what happened is in the early 1990s the insurance companies started to fight these cases aggressively, especially the ones that were soft tissue injury which was basically sprain and strain of the muscles. No serious injuries. What happened was the insurance companies started fighting these cases aggressively. I know that because I was working for one of these insurance companies at the time, and we would take these cases all the way to trial and more often than not the plaintiff, the person making the claim got $0 or very little from a jury.
The reason that this happened is because juries were very conservative and juries were not handing out a lot of money, and the insurance companies started to realize that by fighting these cases aggressively they were discouraging the filing of these cases. In cases like that, the clients have to have very reasonable expectations. The days of money falling out of the sky, those days are over.
What you want to do is you want to focus on the injury. You want to focus on appropriate care. You want to focus on getting better. A client who comes to me and their main focus is their injury, that's a good fit for me. If they think they won the lottery, that's not a very good fit for me and that client has unreasonable expectations. That client is going to be disappointed probably every single time.
My name is Robert Mansour and I wanted to make this brief video today to talk about unreasonable expectations in relation to personal injury cases. I hope you found this video helpful. Thank you very much for watching.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Hello, everyone. This is Robert Mansour. Today's brief video is about the bad behavior of the responsible party. Sometimes I get clients and they call and they're very, very upset because the other party was a real jerk at the accident scene. They were inclined to them. They maybe used foul language. They lose their cool. They screamed at them. They maybe blamed them for the accident and they wouldn't accept fault or I get clients calling me and telling me that the other person looks like a thug, and the other person was very belligerent at the scene.
Look, here's the thing: The bad behavior of the other person, whether or not they're a jerk or they're not a jerk has very little to do with whether or not you have a personal injury case worth pursuing. The question for you is 1) Was the other party at fault? 2) Were you injured? Whether or not they are nice people or they call their mom on the weekend, or they dress nicely, or they treat others with respect, or they use foul language is pretty much irrelevant.
The trouble is that some clients generally correlate the behavior of the responsible party whether or not they have a personal injury case worth pursuing. There is no correlation. The other part is that they're a jerk. What are you going to do about it? There's nothing you can really do.
The question is whether or not you have a personal injury case worth pursuing and the behavior, whether it's bad or good or whatever, the party has very little to do with that. Don't get too concerned about the behavior of the other party. If they're a jerk, they're a jerk.
Again, you can't really change that. It might make your blood boil and it might make you want to go after them, but you can't just do it out of spite and out of anger because you may go down a path that you don't really want to go down. You need to divorce yourself from the emotion and the anger that you might have because the other party was a jerk at the scene. So please, keep that in mind when evaluating whether or not you want to pursue a personal injury claim.
This has been Robert Mansour talking about the bad behavior of the responsible party. I hope you found this video helpful. Thank you very much for watching.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Hello, everyone. This is Robert Mansour, and I want to spend a few minutes today talking about proving lost earnings in relation to a personal injury accident. Let's say you get into a car accident and you can't work as a result of the accident. Here's how it works. If you're only going to allege $200 or $300 in lost earnings, the insurance adjuster for the responsible party is probably not going to give you a hard time, but the more money you ask for, the more information they ask for. If you start to ask for $5,000 in lost earnings, $10,000 in lost earnings, you're going to have to provide a few things.
Number 1, you're going to have to provide evidence that you were consistently earning something and then there was a big drop after the accident. How do you prove that? Number 1, you have to have consistent earnings. If you're the kind of person who has roller coaster earnings, it's very difficult to prove lost earnings. It's an extreme uphill battle when it comes to a small business or a sole business and you have to prove steady earnings for a period of time. Contrast that to somebody who gets paid the same every 2 weeks. That person might be able to show a very big drop.
The other thing you need is you need to show that a doctor told you to stay off of work. In most cases, you're going to need to prove that a physician told you, "Listen, you need to stay off work," and that's with a doctor's note. If you want to stay off work, you better ask for that doctor's note. Sometimes the doctors don't think to give it to you, you have to actually ask for it. If you need to renew it, you have to renew it, because there's usually an expiration date. You can't just get the note and say, "Aha, I'm going to sit and watch TV all day." That's not going to work.
The other thing is the more you ask for, the more documentation they're going to need. They might start to want to see your books. They might want to see all your bookkeeping, your tax returns. They might want to see all of that information for several years back. If you're not too excited about people looking through your tax records, people looking through your books, you may not want to bring a lost earnings claim. It might be more headache than it's worth.
Also, I have seen situations where the request for lost earnings proves to be a "sideshow" that distracts from the main issue, which is the person was injured and got hurt. All of a sudden, it detracts from that portion of the case, which is more important in many cases. If you're going to bring a lost earnings claim, think long and hard about whether you really want to go through the hassle.
This has been Robert Mansour on a brief video here about lost earnings. Thank you very much for visiting, and I hope I can be of assistance. Feel free to call my office if I can be of any help in your personal injury case. Thank you very much.
When I first meet with a client, it is important to gather all the important information. While many factors are important, here is a discussion of some of the most important issues.
First, I need to know when the accident happened. If it happened a long time ago, my concern is what has been going on since then. Have you just been sitting at home? Have you been seeking medical care? I need the client to fill me in from the date of the accident to the time they visit with me. Generally, I'm concerned when a client calls me weeks or months after the accident. To be honest, I like to be brought aboard soon after the accident so I can best guide and advise the client. However, every case is different and I would encourage someone to seek legal counsel anyway.
Also, I need to know when the accident happened so I can be aware of any statute of limitations issues. The statute of limitations is the time within which a lawsuit must be filed or your claim will probably be barred. I also need to know where the accident happened. This will help me determine which court will probably host the trial for the case. Most cases don't go to trial, but it's good to know which courthouse might be involved. Certain jurisdictions are traditionally liberal while others are traditionally conservative. It is good to know whether or not your potential jury pool will be liberal or conservative.
I also need to know how the accident occurred. I need to know who was at fault and how it happened. It's helpful to have a police report which points the blame squarely on the responsible party. If you are found at fault, or even if liability is disputed among the parties, then we have to ask ourselves whether it is worth the time, energy, and money to fight the claim. It probably doesn't make sense to spend $10,000 or $15,000 trying to prove a $5000 claim.
Next, I need to know what happened to your body in the car crash. This is important to determine the "mechanism of injury." All insurance adjusters are concerned about mechanism of injury. In other words, if you claim injury to your knee, it begs the question: How was your knee injured? The answer can't just be: "Because I was in an accident." Did you twist your knee? Was it hit from the side? Did your knee hit the dashboard? If you're claiming injury, you need to explain how the injury occurred. The mechanics of the accident and how your body reacted to the accident are important. The mechanism of injury is very important to the insurance adjuster. In fact, if they don't believe your injury, they will often argue there was no "mechanism for injury."
Then I need to know how much property damage there was to your car. This has become increasingly important as insurance companies fight injury claims. Think about it - if you are claiming significant injury but there's only a little scratch or dent to your car, and adjuster and the jury will probably have a hard time believing you were injured. However if the entire rear of your vehicle was crushed, that is something much more compelling and convincing. I can tell you unequivocally that this issue of property damage influences adjusters and juries perhaps more than any other issue. I hate to say it, but no matter how hard the impact felt to you, if the adjuster or a jury can't easily any appreciable damage to the rear of your vehicle, then you have an uphill battle.
Next, I would like to find out what happened immediately after the accident. Were you taken away by ambulance? If so, it is generally more believable that you were injured. After all, why would anyone willingly take an ambulance ride to the hospital unless they were indeed injured? Insurance adjusters use the absence of emergency transportation as evidence that you were probably not injured in the accident. Conversely, they often consider emergency transportation as evidence that you were indeed injured.
Also, I look to see if the police report documented any complaints of injury at the scene. If there were complaints at the scene, and they are consistent with your later claims, it is more convincing to an insurance adjuster. Therefore, it is in your best interest to tell the police officer what injuries you had so they are properly documented in the police report. It will serve you well later and add credibility to your claim.
If you were injured in an accident, it is important for me to find out what subsequent care you received. Did you follow through with the recommendations of the emergency room doctor?Insurance adjusters are an inherently suspicious bunch. They deal with exaggerated claims all the time. If you were referred for physical therapy, make sure you follow through. If you fail to follow through or miss scheduled appointments with doctors, that will be used against you.
Your medical history is also important. If you are claiming back pain from an accident but you have a history of back pain, you can bet that your previous condition will be used against you. Of course, you will likely argue that your previous condition made you predisposed to injury. However, that won't stop the insurance company from arguing that your current complaints are probably related to your previous injury and have nothing to do with the auto accident. Do not hide your medical history from your attorney. It is very important.
Also, it is important to know what kind of insurance is involved in the case. The types of insurance available may help dictate how we approach your particular case. We may choose to use your car insurance or perhaps your health insurance instead. In some cases, people have medical payments coverage available under their insurance policies. It might be better to use that to pay the medical bills. Also, you need to check if you have uninsured motorist in case the other party was uninsured at the time of the accident or didn't have enough insurance at the time of the accident. Make sure you show your attorney your "declarations page" which contains a summary of all the insurance available to you on your auto insurance policy. If you don't have your declarations page, call your insurance company and they should send you a replacement declarations page.
We also need to consider how we are going to pay for the treatment you might need in your case. Perhaps we should use the health insurance you have. However, keep in mind that whatever resource you use, they may have a right to reimbursement. We have to enter into these decisions carefully. If you had no health insurance at the time of the accident and incurred medical bills, there may be limited options. In some cases, your attorney might be able to get the health care providers to hold off before sending you to collections. This doesn't work in every case but it's certainly worth trying.
This was a snapshot of the types of issues I think about when approaching an accident case. There are other concerns of course, but these are some of the most important. If you've been involved in a serious accident and you have questions, please call (661) 414-7100.
Hello everyone, this is Robert Mansour. I want to discuss two issues with you today that may affect the value of your personal injury case.
The first issue is that your diagnosed injuries may affect the value of your case, so when you go to the doctor, you have to mention every single thing that is bothering you. Do not just lump them all together. For example, let’s say you’re having pain in your elbow, your shoulder, and your neck, but it’s primarily your shoulder. You go to the doctor’s office and they say, “What hurts, Jimmy,” or whatever your name is, and you say, “Well, it’s my shoulder.” They’re just going to right down shoulder, and in your medical record that’s the only thing that it’s going to say; shoulder. That’s one thing and when the insurance adjuster takes a look at your file, they’re going to be like, “Well, Jimmy wasn’t hurt that bad. It’s just one little thing, big deal.”
But, in fact, you may have had three or four body parts that were hurting, but you lumped them all together. Be very specific when you talk to your doctors about your injuries. Break them down into smaller categories. For example, your back, some people say, “Oh, my back hurts.” Well, is it the upper back, the middle back, or is it the lower back? “My shoulders hurt.” “Well, what about your neck; do you feel any pain in your neck?” “Oh, yes I do.” Well, you’ve got to mention that. Are you having headaches, any blurred vision? Are you having any knee injuries or any kind of orthopedic complaints that you forgot to mention?
Your diagnosed injuries may affect the value of your case, so you don’t want to leave anything out, and it’s not the time to be brave or stoic. You have to make sure that your doctors and your physical therapist, and anybody else who is caring for you, knows every single part of your body that is bothering you.
I also tell clients that even if it’s bothering you a little bit, make mention of it, because what if it bothers you more later on and it gets worse? Then you mention it for the first time six weeks later; that’s not going to look good for your case. An insurance adjustor might doubt that the injury is related to the accident because you mentioned it several weeks after the accident occurred.
The next thing I want to talk to you about, of the two things that I mentioned, that may affect the value of the case, is you have to mention to your doctors and your healthcare providers, and your physical therapist and chiropractor, mention to them how the accident affected your life. For example, when you go to the doctor, the usually say, “Well, how are you feel, Jimmy?” “How are you feeling Johnny, since the last time we say you?” If all you say is, better or worse, or about the same, they’re just going to right better, worse, about the same.
That doesn’t really give the insurance adjustor a very fair picture of what your life was like because of the accident. You need to be very specific about how the accident is affecting you. For example, if you’re asked how are you feel, well, you be truthful, and you give them all the information. You’ll say things like, well, I couldn’t take a shower. It was very difficult to put my arms up in the shower. It was very painful. I can’t play with my kids. I’m having trouble mowing the lawn. I couldn’t do any woodworking in the garage. I was working a project and I couldn’t do that anymore. I had to quit some classes at school because I was in too much pain. I can’t sit and watch television without being uncomfortable. I can’t sleep on my left side.
Those are illustrations of how the accident affected you, and those things add value to your personal injury case because they help the insurance adjustor understand the affects of the accident, so it doesn’t just say better, worse, about the same.
Once again, number one, make sure that you mention all the injuries, every single one, to the doctors, and number two, make sure that your doctors have a very good understanding of exactly how the accident affected your life. Those two things may help the value of your personal injury case, because they help convey to the insurance adjustor your actual injuries, and how the accident actually affected your life. That information can be very helpful.
Thank you very much for watching this video. If you have any questions, feel free to contact my office. Thank you.
Hello everyone. This is Robert Mansour. In today's video I want talk about your health insurance company's right to reimbursement. Now I'm not going to get into all the different nuisances and details of this particular subject but here's the short thing I want you to remember. If your health insurance company pays for medical bills related to a car accident, they are probably entitled to reimbursement if you recover money from the responsible party.
Let's say this fellow Bob hits me and causes an accident. My health insurance company pays for my medical bills, my hospital bill, my ambulance bill, et cetera. Let's say my health insurance company paid out $5,000 for that. Well, in most cases your health insurance company has a right to reimbursement of that $5,000 if I recover any money from Bob and Bob's insurance company.
Let's say I call Bob and I say "Hey, Bob. You caused an accident. I want you to pay me." He says okay or his insurance companies pays me $5,000 or whatever, I have to make sure that from that settlement I pay back my health insurance company. This is a big mistake that people are not aware of and they don't realize that they have that reimbursement issue to deal with in many cases.
If your health insurance company is involved in your personal injury case, find out how much they paid not how much they were billed but how much they actually paid. Find out if they have a right to reimbursement and if so what their lean amount is. Then you want to make sure that that lean is satisfied and taken care of as part of the settlement of your personal injury case.
Thank you very much for watching this video. I hope you found it helpful.
As a lawyer, there is only so much I can do. I'm not a magician. I can't take a horrible personal injury claim and make it into a good one. If a person calls our office months after an accident, my first concern is, "Why are they calling a lawyer so late in the game?" In most cases, the client has caused damage to their own case, and they think a lawyer is going to fix it.
Like a good coach, I'm only as good as my team. Phil Jackson is arguably a great NBA coach. However, if his players simply ran around the basketball court and did not follow his instructions or did not execute the plays they practiced over and over again, then his team is going to lose. It doesn't matter how good his coaching is.
There are many things that clients do that can ruin their personal injury case. Oftentimes, clients have no idea they are putting holes in their boat that will prove to be a problem later on. Then the boat sinks and the clients wonder why.
So here are some things people do that will almost always sink their personal injury case:
1) The client misrepresents how the accident has affected them. For example, during a consultation, the client says they can barely get out of bed, they can't work, they can't pick up their kids from school, etc. Given today's technology, insurance companies are eager to hire people to film you going about your daily life, picking up heavy groceries, going to the gym, playing ball with your friends, etc. Keep in mind this is an adversarial process. They are out to prove you wrong. In fact, that is their job. If you misrepresent matters to your lawyer, and the lawyer represents the same to the insurance company, then both you and your lawyer are going to be seen as untrustworthy. Also, be very careful of what appears on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media outlets that might be viewed as inconsistent with your claim. In some cases, you may not be the one posting harmful photos, but a friend or family member might be doing so. In short, do not act inconsistently with your claimed injuries.
2) The client fails to show up to medical appointments and/or has significant gaps in treatment. Insurance adjusters always use failures to show up for appointments and gaps in treatment as indications that your injuries aren't as bad as you say they are. Otherwise, you would show up to your doctor's appointments, and there wouldn't be such gaps in treatment. Also, when there are gaps, the adjuster may assume there must have been another injury that occurred during the gap. Remember, adjusters are generally looking for reasons NOT to pay you. Why should you make their life easier?
3) The client makes damaging statements to the doctor that show up in the medical records. For example, the client says they feel 100% better when in fact they don't. Or they don't mention an injury because "it's not a big deal." Why would a client say that? Sometimes, clients want to be "macho" or stoic in front of their doctors. I tell clients that even if they still have 10% pain, they must mention it to their doctor. Whatever you say to your doctor during your visits, assume you are speaking directly with the insurance adjuster who will, whenever given the chance, use your statements against you.
4) The client hides past medical issues or past injuries from the lawyer. So many times, clients have looked me in the face and told me they did not have any prior injuries or similar medical issues in the past. I have to believe them, so I represent the same to the insurance company. What clients may not know is that insurance adjusters have access to large nationwide databases, and clients should operate under the assumption that their past injury or past medical records will be found. How can your lawyer help you if you don't tell them the truth or deliberately hide information from your lawyer? A client came for a consultation to my office long ago, and I asked her about prior injuries. She said, "Why do you need to know that? How is that important?" Needless to say, I did not take the case. This client was going to be difficult from the start! Don't be difficult with your lawyer. They are on your side!
5) Along the same lines, some clients hide past accidents from their lawyer. Again, those will most likely be found by the insurance company. Your attorney often doesn't have easy access to the same databases, so you and your lawyer will look like fools when the insurance company finds your past accident(s).
6) The client refuses to hire a lawyer when their injuries are serious. Cases involving serious injuries require serious attention. Would you go river rafting without a guide in your boat? If you wait too long to hire a lawyer, you may already be doing things that are harming your case without even knowing it. As stated earlier, if you've done irreparable harm to your case, your attorney is only human - they can't magically make the mistakes go away!
7) The client gives too much information to the opposing insurance company. Don't talk too much at the beginning of your case. As noted elsewhere on this website, don't be eager to give a statement to the opposing insurance company. As the saying goes, "Whatever you say can and will be used against you...." Statements solicited from you by insurance companies are rarely designed to serve your interests. The insurance company is preserving its own interests. If you give them too much information, you may find yourself in a bind when some of that information turns out to be false or not entirely true. The biggest mistake I see in this regard is when clients say, "Oh, I'm not injured. I feel OK." Then a few days later, they don't feel so good as their body recovers from the impact. Then they bring an injury claim, and the insurance adjuster conveniently pulls out their recorded statement and whacks them on the head with it! In most cases, there is no exigency that requires showing your entire hand to the insurance company so early in the case. Talk to a lawyer about your options first.
8) If the client is injured at the scene, some make the mistake of not calling the police. Most insurance adjusters use the absence of a police report as evidence that no one was hurt. In other words, if someone was hurt, they would have called for the police.
9) Some clients fail to obtain information about the other party involved in the accident and fail to document other evidence of the incident. It is important to take photos of the damage, obtain names, addresses, phone numbers etc. Of course, that isn't always feasible, but when it is, failing to do so can harm your case. How can your attorney help you when you don't even know who the party at fault is? Your lawyer is not clairvoyant. The information is not going to appear to them in a dream sequence. How can your attorney help you if you don't take photos of your damage? How many photos should you take? As many as it takes to convince an insurance adjuster you were injured. Photos taken at close range or that are blurry don't help convey any message to an adjuster. In short, take photos designed to illustrate the severity of the impact.
10) The final thing that people do to sabotage their case, and this is perhaps the most important, is they wait too long before seeking medical care. Clients who wait more than a few days to seek active care for their injuries often encounter resistance from the insurance adjuster. Again, the insurance adjuster's position will likely be: "If your injuries were that bad, or as bad as you say they were, then you would have sought treatment/care for this accident."
Here is the basic overall lesson - a personal injury matter is basically an adversarial process. On one side is the injured party who may do things to sink their own case. On the other side is an insurance company that generally hates parting with money and will use your mistakes against you whenever possible. If you want help with your injury case, make sure you consult with an attorney as soon as possible so you know how to best handle your claim. A lawyer isn't a magician but a good one will tell you what mistakes to avoid and how to present your case in the best possible way. Again, no lawyer can guarantee an outcome - but at least you can increase your chances of a decent result by avoiding all the landmines that are out there.
I was recently hired by a new client who was not only the victim of a severe head-on collision, but she was also probably the victim of poor (or perhaps no) advice from an insurance agent.
You see, she had just purchased a new $20,000 vehicle. When she called her insurance agent to obtain insurance, she expressed that she wanted to get the "least expensive" policy possible.
Therefore, without any discussion, he simply put her in a "liability only" insurance policy with the lowest limits of $15,000. That meant that if she was responsible for an accident, she would be covered for liability up to $15,000. However, the policy did not provide for anything else. She trusted that he got her adequate coverage, because after all, he was a professional insurance agent. As it turned out, the coverage was too basic for her needs.
After the head-on collision, she came to my office for advice. I explained that the only way she could get her car fixed was by going through the other party's insurance company. In other words, the other party would have to concede to fault. She couldn't turn to her own insurance company because she didn't have "collision" coverage under the policy.
Also, because she didn't have health insurance, she had no way to get medical treatment until the other side conceded fault. She also didn't have "medical payments coverage" under her auto policy so she was unable to seek medical care through that avenue. I told her that we might be able to proceed on a lien basis (where the healthcare providers would defer payment till she collected from the other party), but it was too risky to do so without knowing what the police report said for sure. Otherwise, she might be digging herself into a financial hole full of medical bills.
I trusted that the accident wasn't her fault, but that doesn't prevent other people from saying otherwise, including a police officer. I've come to learn after over 20 years of practicing law, that a 2 car accident often results in 4 different stories!
The lesson is this: It is an insurance broker's responsibility to recommend and provide the correct coverage to a client. Then, after figuring out what the "correct" coverage is, he/she can look for a competitive price from a good company. Selecting the cheapest policy is not a service to the client, especially when they are not adequately insured.
Also, when you shop for insurance, your focus shouldn't be only on the price. You should be asking yourself whether or not you were getting the correct kind of coverage for you and your family. That way, you won't be dependent on an opposing insurance company when you get into an accident and need help.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,