Tips to Help Your Car Accident Lawyer Obtain the Best Possible Settlement
Clients probably don’t think about how they can help their car accident attorney achieve the best settlement on their case. But they should. The attorney can’t do it all alone. The attorney and client work as a team on the case, and the client’s case is only as strong as the documentation contained in the attorney’s file. A client can help by making sure the attorney has all of the information.
Let’s face it. You are not the attorney’s only client. Your attorney is probably juggling many cases. You can absolutely help to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. By giving your attorney as much information as possible from the outset of your case, you are helping the attorney to obtain maximum compensation for you.
1. Your background information: name, address, telephone number, email address, date of birth
2. Give your attorney a written description of:
a. Date, time, and location of accident
b. How the accident happened
c. Contact information for all witnesses
d. Year, make, model, license plate number, and registered owner’s name for the car you were driving and the car the other driver was driving
e. The location of damage on both vehicles
f. If your car is repairable: the contact information for the body shop you want to use
g. If your car is totaled: the contact information for the impound yard
3. Your auto insurance:
a .Give your attorney a copy of your auto insurance “declarations page” – the page that states you policy limits. If you don’t have it, ask your agent to email you a copy, and then provide it to your lawyer
b. If you have reported the claim, give your attorney the claim number, and the adjuster’s name and telephone number
4.Other driver - give you attorney:
a. Other driver’s name, address, telephone number and date of birth
b. Year, make, model and license plate number of other driver’s car
c. Other driver’s insurance information, and if you have reported the claim to them, the claim number and the adjuster’s name and telephone number
5.Take photos of your property damage, your injuries, and, if liability may be disputed, the scene of the accident, and give them to your lawyer. If you took photos of the other car at the scene, give those to your lawyer as well.
6. Give your lawyer a copy of your driver’s license and your health insurance card.
7. Injuries: give your attorney a complete list of every injury you suffered in the accident.
8. Medical providers: Give you attorney a list containing the name and telephone number of every medical provider you saw in connection with the accident, including dates of treatment, and type of treatment (ER treatment, orthopedic consultation, x-rays, physical therapy, etc.)
9. Medical bills: Provide your lawyer with copies of all medical bills incurred in connection with the accident, including co-pay receipts and prescription receipts.
10. If you have health insurance and your health insurance carrier paid for any of your accident-related treatment, provide your lawyer with copies of the Explanation of Benefits forms you receive from your health insurance carrier.
11. If you are making a loss of earnings claim, provide your attorney with:
a. Contact information for your employer
b. Your job title
c. Your salary
d. Summary of your job duties, including the physical aspects of your job duties
e. Any off work notes from the emergency room or your doctor
f. A list of the dates and hours you missed in connection with the accident
12. Call you attorney periodically to check in and get status. Don’t call too often; you don’t want to be perceived as a pest by the law firm. But the reality is, a client who stays involved in their case has more attention paid to their file. When your file is on the attorney’s desk because the attorney needs to return your call to update you on status, the lawyer is likely to take some additional action on the file which will move your case forward.
13. Prior injury claims: tell your attorney about all prior injury claims, particularly if they involved injury to the same body parts involved in the car accident at issue. Also provide your attorney with the contact information for all medical providers you treated with for any prior injury claims.
14. Subsequent injuries: if you get into an accident after the car accident at issue, make sure to tell your attorney.
15. Prior felony convictions: you need to tell your attorney if you have ever had a felony conviction because the other side will know. They run a criminal background check on all injury claimants. Your attorney needs to know in advance what the other side knows.
16. Medical treatment status update: periodically update your attorney on how treatment is going. If treatment is not helping, or you think you need to consult with a specialist, tell you attorney about it. Also be sure to notify your attorney when you are released from treatment, so the attorney can obtain all medical records and bills that he doesn’t already have.
17. Residuals complaints: When you are done treating and your lawyer is working on your settlement demand letter, tell your lawyer about any residual physical complaints you still have, including how often and how severe.
18. Affect on activities: Your lawyer will be asking the insurance company to compensate you for pain and suffering. This includes how your injuries affected your life, and your lifestyle. Were there activities that you could not do for a period of time, or that you could do, but they were painful to do? Did you have to cancel any trips or social plans?
You hired a lawyer to get you money. Make it easy for the lawyer to do his job. By providing this information to your lawyer early on in your case, and updating your attorney with new information as necessary, you are helping to insure that your lawyer achieves the best possible settlement on your car accident case.
AUTHOR: McGee, Lerer & Associates
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.