How to Maximize Damage Recovery in a Personal Injury Claim.
by John A. Sutherland
Document all injuries as soon as you are able and keep documenting them throughout the course of your claim. Many Plaintiffs fail to properly document their injuries initially or continuously throughout the term of their disabilities and injuries. Start off when you are able to keep a diary of all problems that you encounter as result of the accident. This should include the types, frequency, locations and duration of pain and other injuries. Also if possible on a scale of 1-10 try to document how the injury has changed, if at all from the time of the initial injury as you proceed over the course of time.
Make sure you continue courses of treatment recommended by your health care providers. Do not stop treatment unless this is on the advice of your health care providers. Many Plaintiffs present a confusing picture to the Defendant’s insurance company by having started treatments and failing to continue with these making it appears suspicious that the injuries are not as severe as the party claims. Many times physiotherapy is started, a few treatments are taken and then the injured person becomes disillusioned with the results and simply stops the treatment.
Retain An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer:
Hire as soon as possible a personal injury legal specialist. This is a lawyer who devotes the majority of his practice to personal injury cases. This is not only a lawyer who advertises for personal injury cases, but also has the skill and experience to tackle and provide a wealth of experience in terms of interpreting and deciding on courses of action for the treatment, resolution and documenting of the injuries. Just like in real estate there are some lawyers who spend large amounts of money advertising to steer respective clients to their door. However, they do little, if anything once the case has come into the office other than trying to achieve fast settlements that are usually well below what the case is actually worth. A Good indication of an experienced counsel is whether or not he or she is a member of any organizations such as the Association of the Trial Lawyers of America or State or County personal injury bar. People that belong to these organizations tend to be well trained, efficient and dedicated in handling a personal injury case.
Be sure to record all expenses and receipts. If you intend to recover monies laid out and expended for prescriptions, operations, even taxi fares, parking, any type of expense associated with your injury, you will have to keep some form of receipt or invoice to show that these amounts have been paid. As well, this type of record keeping provides a basis for settling with an insurer because most insurance claims people will settle based upon the extent of the out of pocket expenses incurred or the special damages which is often what these are called by the insurance people.
Do not be in a hurry to settle your case. Most people become frustrated and simply want to settle their case as soon as possible in order to relieve themselves from the tensions of being involved in accident litigation case. Keep in mind that there are only two times to settle. Usually these are when you have improved to the point that you are basically at your pre-accident state, that you have been certified recovered by your health care professionals, and have reached a maximum point of recovery from your injuries. Until either one of these situations has been reached it is unwise on the part of the Plaintiff to attempt a settlement. What you end up doing is omitting those unrecovered types of expenses for treatments that may not have foreseen at the time of the settlement
Be Consistent In Your Complaints:
Always be consistent in your complaints. Most people in documenting and pursuing their injury claims lack credibility or truthfulness in the eyes of the opposing insurance company. When being examined by your family doctor it is preferable that you state in clear unambiguous language the problems that you were suffering from so that the doctor can document these in your patient chart. It will state clearly that the symptoms initially remain current and that all the initial reports of problems are well documented and continued to be well documented by the doctor on each and every visit.
Try to establish with your friends, relatives, co-workers and associates corroboration for injuries, especially injuries that involves soft tissues. Only those close to you know the extent of the pain that you are going through. These people will be called at a later time to document and confirm your injuries.
Be realistic in your demands. Again the issue is one of credibility. People who tend to loose credibility with the opposing insurance company are those that seek large awards for injuries that are not consistent with the size of the claims being pursued. Juries, judges and insurance adjusters are more convinced of the truth of claimants’ injuries when the claim being made is a realistic one.
Think Long Term:
Try to base your claim on long term goals that you hope to achieve with the compensation that you are seeking. For example a person who says they have been unable to return to work because of the injuries would go farther in making sure their claim would be accepted by saying “I can no longer return to my previous work but I have a strong interest in another field, which would require me to return to school for a period of time in order to become retrained to go into that type of work”. Insurers are more likely to find this type of retraining expensive.
Photos, Photos, Photos:
Use lots of photographs in documenting your injuries. If as a result of the injury you have gained weight, be sure to document this with a pre and post accident type of photograph. If your injury involves disfiguring scars, make sure that you have these vividly portrayed. It is a good idea to ensure that your lawyer has the services of a good photographer who can document your injuries going through the various stages.
These tips on how to maximize damage recovery are provided by John A. Sutherland. Mr. Sutherland has practiced personal injury law since 1967. He operates his practice out of Calgary and can be reached at Email.