Frequently Asked Questions - What Makes A Good Personal Injury Case?
All automobile accidents are a major headache to all parties involved and can be costly and time-consuming. Some accidents are more severe than others but to a personal injury firm, all accident cases are handled with the same care and respect. It is often assumed that an accident involving vehicles that were totaled are much worse than those accidents where there is minor damage. Even if your vehicle sustained very little damage in the accident, it does not mean that you were not injured or only sustained minor injuries. Everybody is different and even a minor tap from behind could cause major injuries to one person or minor injuries to the next. What makes a good personal injury claim is the time someone is willing to invest in themselves to get themself back to their pre-accident condition, usually including having to undergo a surgical procedure.
Even if you believe you have sustained a minor injury initially, it does not mean you will not wake up the next morning in excruciating pain. Typically, after an accident, most people do not feel the extent of their pain until the next day or so after the accident. During an accident, your adrenalin kicks in and masks the pain. When the pain finally does hit you, most people feel sore, achy, or sharp shooting pains. If you experience any of this, whether it is immediately at the scene of the accident or a few days later, it is always best to seek emergency medical treatment at your nearest emergency room or urgent care. You should always make sure that all your injuries are documented right away. If you bring a claim before an insurance company for your injuries and you did not complain about a certain pain you are having until weeks or months after the accident, the insurance adjuster will not consider that to be an injury you sustained from the accident. For example, if you initially report to your doctor that you are experiencing neck and back pain but two months later, you mention you forgot to report knee pain, the adjuster will not consider this part of the claim as it was not initially mentioned. Even if you are having a minor amount of pain, be sure to mention this to your doctor so that they can document it in your medical records in case it becomes worse down the road.
Once you have been established with a doctor and they have placed you on a physical therapy treatment plan, the doctor will usually instruct you to treat with them 3-4 times per week over the course of the next several months. We all know that people have work and families and sometimes it is difficult to get to the doctor as much as the doctor recommends. In this situation, you should always discuss this with your doctor beforehand so they can modify your treatment schedule and reflect this schedule in your medical records. If you just do not show up for your treatments, this will also be reflected in your medical records and the adjuster will take this into consideration when evaluating your claim for settlement. Adjusters do not take work and family duties into consideration when they see sporadic treatment. They feel that if you did not attend your recommended treatment, it is because you really are really not that injured and you do not have the desire to do all you need to do to reduce or relieve your pain. Therefore, consistent medical treatment throughout your entire case is so important as it proves to the insurance company the extent of your injuries and your willingness to go through the treatment process, no matter how long and time consuming it may be.
Throughout the course of your treatment, your doctor will refer you for MRIs to rule out any abnormal pathology. Your doctor will have already taken x-rays but MRIs are able to show more precisely and accurately if there is any internal damage to your body. If your MRIs reveal anything abnormal or damaged, your doctor will refer you to a specialist, usually an orthopedic doctor or neurosurgeon. If your injuries are severe enough and your specialist opines that you will require surgery, you should think long and hard about having the recommended procedures while your case is open. If you close your claim and do not have the recommended surgery, your claim cannot be reopened if you decide later on that you are going to have the surgery done after all. Not all recommended surgeries can happen though. If there is not enough auto insurance coverage to undergo the surgery, your attorney, if you have one, will discuss this with you and explain to you why you are unable to have the surgery under your claim. If you can proceed with the surgery, your attorney’s office and your surgeon’s office will coordinate the surgery and you will be notified when the surgery will take place. Some people must undergo surgical clearance to make sure they are healthy enough for surgery. Once you have been cleared, the surgery will take place and you will follow up with your surgeon shortly after the surgery to make sure you are healing correctly and there are no complications. Once you have completed your necessary medical treatment and you submit your claim to the insurance company for a settlement, if the adjuster sees that you have undergone surgery, they will be more inclined to offer a much higher settlement amount, if not tender the entire policy limits to you, depending on what those limits are. Surgery claims are much more significant than a soft tissue claim due to the fact that surgery is a huge ordeal and you will likely have to take off work for a short time period, resulting in lost wages on top of your already high medical bills and your pain and suffering. An adjuster will take a surgery claim much more seriously than a non-surgical claim.
Although all accidents are bad, if an adjuster sees a vehicle that is completely totaled in the accident, they tend to imagine the injuries are much worse than if you were involved in a minor fender bender. This is not always the case, but a totaled vehicle has much more weight when it comes to an adjuster’s evaluation of the claim. In their evaluation, a totaled vehicle claim is much more significant because the impact was much harder causing more bodily injuries to the occupants of the vehicle. Your attorney will include pictures of your totaled vehicle when they submit their demand package to the insurance company, proving that your claim is a very significant one.