One thing I tell my clients when they hire me is anything that my job is to coach my clients. My job is not to sign a fee agreement and then just collect the fee at the end. My primary job is to be a coach to my clients. The top athletes in the world have coaches. Michael Jordan had a coach. Tiger Woods always had a coach. The top athletes in the world have a coach to give them direction.
That’s the primary reason that it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer. I understand that that’s my role is to coach my clients through the process.
They’ve never been through it. I want to know everything about their treatment. I want to know anything that happens or changes with their treatment, because something might not make sense to me. When I do coach them, I don’t want them going to the doctor and saying, “My lawyer said that I need to do this,” or, “My lawyer said to tell you this.”
While You Should Completely Disclose Any Ailments, Avoid Discussing a Personal Injury Claim with Your Doctor
Lawyers sue doctors for malpractice. Doctors do not like lawyers at all. I don’t even want them to tell the doctor that they have a lawyer or that they’re litigating the case or that they’re filing a case against the insurance company. Don’t even bring it up. If the doctor asks, you can answer the questions briefly.
Medical doctors, and I’m not talking about chiropractors, but medical doctors, most of the money they make is from insurance companies. Theydon not want to bite the hand that feeds them. If they know that one of their patients has a lawyer or is filing a claim against the insurance company, they then all of a sudden, generally-speaking, become hesitant.
They start being guarded and defensive, and they may even put things in the records that are not to my client’s benefit. Don’t talk to the doctor about filing a claim. You can tell them you were in an accident. Tell them the details. Donor offer any information about a lawyer or the fact that you’re going to be filing a claim.
In Addition to Following a Doctor’s Course of Treatment, Take Any Prescribed Medication
Many people are hesitant to take medications because they don’t like medication. I generally advise them they need to at least try it. At least try the medication so they can honestly say to the doctor, “I tried it and it gave me a stomachache or it didn’t work.” I don’t want to have a case that comes up later where they refuse to take the medicine so they refused what the doctor recommended, so that cut against them in a settlement.
It Is Natural to Experience Anxiety after an Accident but Don’t Let Emotions Prevent You from Seeking Treatment
I understand that part of the problem with my clients having anxiety and stress about not being able to pay their bills is what goes along with that is they avoid treatment because they don’t want to incur the bill in the first place because they have fear that they won’t be able to pay it. They avoid treatment because they fear paying the bill.
We are always looking for whatever coverage that they may have to get those bills paid quickly. The at-fault insurance company is not willing to and is not going to pay bills as they come due. The at-fault insurance company’s going to pay one sum of money, and that’s when the case is settled and you sign a release, releasing them to all further liabilities. We have to have a way of paying the bills.
Some Bills Can Be Submitted to Your Health Insurance and Later Reimbursed
The first thing we ask is, “Do you have any health insurance? We want to try to submit the bills to the health insurance.” There may be hesitation there, but it’s important to do that. We can reimburse the health insurance later when we get a settlement.
If they don’t have health insurance, I’m looking at their individual policy to see if they have medical payment coverage. Paramedical payments coverage can help with bills. They may have a state medical card. We’re going to try to get it paid that way.
Some Doctors Will Offer Payment Plans or and Agree to a Lien against an Eventual Settlement
If there’s no coverage at all, then there may be there are some doctors that are willing to wait for their money. I know who those doctors are. If there’s no way to pay the bills, I’m going to try to get my client into a doctor who will wait for the money. There’s a process in Illinois where the doctor can send a lien to me, a lien against the settlement, a lien letter that I sign promising that they’ll get paid out of the settlement. They know they’re going to get paid eventually. That’s one way to get treatment if we don’t have coverage or the money to pay.
It Is Advisable to Maintain Good Records after an Accident and Save All Medical Bills, Travel Expenses and Proof of Lost Wages
I want the person right after the accident to make sure they save all their bills. We’re going to need those later on. If they’re losing wages, we’re going to have to eventually get a wage verification form signed by their employer.
They need to keep track of any additional expenses, such as child care, medical devices, mileage, and taxi cabs receipts. If a person has to go to the doctor, they may have to pay for child care while they’re at the doctor. They’re taking off work, so they may be losing wages. They’re driving to the doctor, so I want them to keep track of their mileage. If they have to take a taxi or a bus, I want them to keep track of that.
If there’s ancillary expenses other than medical bills that I want them to keep track of and keep a record of. Not only do I want photographs and/or video of the vehicles in the scene of the accident, if they can get it, but if there’s any visible bruises initially, I want pictures of the bruises.
Photograph Any Visible Bruises or Scars from Injuries
If there’s any scars, I want pictures of the scars. Eventually, we may need some written statements from people who they know, coworkers or friends, as to how the accident impacted the person. We get those sometimes.
Those are additional things that I’m looking for that the person needs to be doing within the first 30 days after the accident.