Holy S#*T you got into an auto accident!
You just ruined your day and you need to know what to do. FAST…So it doesn’t get any worse.
Whether it is your first time being hit by someone or the tenth time you’ve been in an accident, unless you follow certain steps AT THE VERY BEGINNING, you can find yourself getting much less than you deserve for all the suffering you have (and will) endure .
As a personal injury and car accident attorney, I see these sorts of things every day and talk to clients that don’t know the first thing about how to move forward.
For instance, just the other day I got a call from a lady who had a bad accident on Interstate 10 in Metairie, Louisiana.
Her car had flipped over and she was still suffering from minor head trauma.
She had been called by the other driver’s insurance company pretty soon after the crash and didn’t know what she should do.
She was told she should tell them what they needed to know so they could process her claim.
Makes sense right?
But, how would you know that?
You are an honest, law-abiding, pay your bills, keep your head down type of person.
So, it makes sense that you would follow these “RULES.”
But, you can’t let the insurance companies define the RULES for you. They have their own rules and they know how to play this game. Heck, they make this game and have all the tools to win over the small fry.
So…you need to be smart about your next steps and I am here to tell you what to do next so you can walk the primrose path to more money, better health and NO MISTAKES!
These Next 5 Steps Will Set You Up To Win
Many of you will be in different stages of your accident claim. So, some of what I am about to tell you may not apply any longer. That’s ok, if you find yourself further down the line in your claim send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will help you figure it out.
These steps should still help most of you who are just starting out, so listen up:
STEP 1: Don’t talk to the Insurance Adjuster, YET.
You know when you are watching TV and they say anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law? Well, the same applies to adjusters.
They are wolves in sheep’s clothing (no offense but its true).
When they are dealing with everyday people like you (and not lawyers like me) they know that you are easily influenced because you just don’t have the knowledge you need to succeed.
So they get you to talk.
They record the conversation and they will use anything you say to reduce the value of your claim.
So, don’t talk to them over the phone immediately.
They are not your friend.
If they request a statement, tell them you are not interested in giving a verbal statement at this time and that you gave your statement about the facts to the policeman who showed up and they will see it in the police report.
And, importantly, you will follow up with them with documentation about any prior medical history and all of your current treatment related to the accident.
Leave it at that.
Or they will bite…HARD
STEP 2: Go to your doctor even if you don’t feel hurt.
Ok, I know it may cost you some money to see a doctor.
But, you need to go to one.
Even if you just feel a little bit sore, get it documented.
This is going to start the proof requirement that you need to show the insurance company that your injuries are legit!
I know it sounds inane, but this documentation is CRUCIAL to you getting paid any time of settlement from this case. You must get medical treatment.
All of these cases (including mine) are built on building an accurate record for your medical treatment.
When you get paid for your injuries, the settlement will cover all medical treatment related to this accident, any lost wages from time off of work, mental and physical pain and suffering.
But, it all begins with you going to the doctor! It can be a pain, but, you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t!
STEP 3: Don’t take a quick settlement even if it looks tempting.
I think this is the hardest one for people to understand and also the reason why insurance companies are as rich as they are. Have you heard of Warren Buffet?
Well, he made most of his money owning companies like GEICO (which he actually does own) in addition to other insurance companies. That is how he built his business.
But the reason they have so much money is because they look for any way to reduce paying the full value of the claim. The easiest way for them to do that is to prey upon people like you who don’t feel that hurt at first.
Listen, most injuries take some time to really start hurting. There are some, where the accidents are bad, that you start feeling it right away (especially if you’ve been carted off on an ambulance).
The reality is though, some take longer to show themselves. Some are pains that you’ve had before and have been aggravated from this accident.
Regardless of when the pain shows up, if a doctor says it is related to the car, truck or bike accident, then you should get paid for it.
The tactic a lot of these companies use is to give you a quick settlement to walk away. It is tempting because it is usually several thousand dollars. It sounds like a lot (especially if you don’t feel hurt), but you would be a fool to give into that.
And since you are not a fool (because you are taking the time to read this article) you won’t do it. Your body needs time to tell you where it is injured. Your pain can and will progress. So, you must wait.
For example, I had a client come in who was offered $2,500 a few weeks after his car accident. He was thinking about taking it but fortunately he called my office and I told him not to.
I recently settled his case for $100,000.
It took about 1 year to get all that money, but can you imagine how much he would have left on the table if he didn’t call me? The lesson is – wait it out. I promise you will get more of what you deserve if you wait.
STEP 4: Finding the right doctor is crucial to your case.
Each type of injury requires a certain type of “work-up.” Insurance companies look for certain language that your average doctor may not include. But, how can you know which doctors are the best doctors to go to?
Fortunately for you, we have a list of trusted doctors that we work with at the Reddy Law Group. I am working on a page to put up their listings, but until then, feel free to email me (email@example.com) directly about your injury and where you are located in Louisiana and I will be sure to find the right doctor for your case.
You might ask why this is so important?
The reason is, some of the best doctors get their cases from personal injury and car accident attorney’s like me.
That means they know how to write a medical note that gets the insurance companies knees shaking.
Meaning, if they find something wrong with you and they can ethically say the evidence points to your injury as a result of the car, truck or bike accident, then they will be sure to say that in their medical note.
Not all doctors relate your injury to the accident in the medical note itself!
Insurance companies are looking for this kind of language when they are scanning your medical records because they know if they go to trial (which costs them a heck of a lot of dough) they are likely to lose if you have a reputable doctor arguing on your side.
A great medical note can make all the difference between earning pennies versus dollars!
STEP 5: Write a demand letter.
This step is a bit later in your claims process, but, I thought I would mention it because it is crucial.
A written demand letter is something you write to the insurance company which explains your case to them, fully.
- the story of the car, truck or bike accident and how you were injured
- the story of your medical treatment, including doctor visits, medical diagnosis codes and medical bills
- the amount of money you are willing to take to settle the case.
The demand letter tells the insurance company how serious you are.
They won’t be expecting it from someone not an attorney, so it will really throw them off and tell them you mean business.
But, this step can be hard since you are not afforded all of the information that you need to really hit a home run.
See, personal injury lawyers like me pay for software that tells us how much cases are worth in the parish and courthouse where the case would go to trial. That being said, we are working on a case evaluator calculator that should help tell you how much your case is worth. We haven’t built it yet but we are happy to let you know an approximation based on the software we have.
So send us an email and we can assist you with that.
So those are 5 steps to put you in the best position possible to win your case.
There are many other steps that can be added to this including how to negotiate with insurance companies. I will discuss these steps on future blog posts but these should get you started on the right path to a successful claim.
If you have any questions now feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your comments below and I will answer them accordingly.
To your great success and recovery!