here for printable version
Instructions for Injured Clients
Things Which You Should
Do not give any
statements, written, recorded, or oral, to anyone concerning your
accident or injuries without first consulting or talking to our
Do not make any
incorrect statement to any doctor who may treat or examine you
respecting any prior injuries or accidents, if you don’t remember,
Do not change
your address or employment without notifying our office so we can always get a
hold of you.
Things for you to
Address and Phone: Inform your
attorney immediately of any change of address and/or telephone
number or employment.
Car Repair: If your vehicle was
damaged, try to obtain pictures before you get it repaired, get two
estimates from any body shop and bring them to our office. Use color
film and take a whole roll of pictures. Bring the film to us and we
will have it developed. If you do not have a camera, please call and
we will make arrangements to take the pictures.
Medical Items: Save all pill bottles,
casts, crutches, wheelchairs, and any other items from your doctors.
Photographs: Give us any pictures and
videos of the accident or accident scene that you or anyone else has
taken for you.
Your job: Tell us of any changes in
your job, job duties, salary or anything.
Receipts: Be sure to obtain and save
all receipts itemizing any and all expenses you incurred as a result
of your accident. Receipts must be dated and contain legible and
complete vendor identification.
information: Inform us of anything you think has a bearing on the
case, including extensive medical treatment , hospitalization, or
any new doctors you may have been referred to.
Not seeing the doctor if you are in
pain, this includes waiting days after the accident to see a doctor.
Not doing what your doctor tells you.
Not keeping your doctor appointments,
if you got to cancel call the doctors office and reschedule.
Discussing your case with anyone
other than your attorney or your doctor.
Failing to tell
your doctor about medical problems due to the accident and asking
questions about your care.
Follow Your Doctor’s Advice:
Be sure to do
what your doctors tells you. There is never a reason or excuse to miss a
doctor’s appointment. By missing a doctor’s appointment, you are saying
to the doctor and to the insurance company that you don’t hurt and that
it doesn’t matter that much. Our job is to make a recovery for you for
the pain and suffering that can be proven. Not going to the doctor is a
good way to prove that you are not hurting and that you don’t care. If
you don’t care, the doctor may not care. It is very important for you to
work hard to get well and to go to all of your appointments.
If you are in
pain and you do not see a doctor, the insurance company and the jury
will not believe that you are having pain.
Each time you go
to the doctor and report that you are still having pain, your doctor
makes an entry in his records. It is important for your doctor to have
up-to-date information on your condition. Some clients get discouraged
and do not see their doctor even though they are having pain. This may
harm your claim. It is important that your doctor knows how you are
First Steps In Representing You:
When you are
first interviewed, general information regarding your case is obtained.
Materials relating to things you should or should not do will be
furnished to you. You will be requested to sign certain authorization
forms which will allow us to obtain your medical records and other
notify the person who was responsible for your injury and/or their
insurance company that you have retained us as your attorneys. Requests
will be sent to all of the doctors and hospitals involved in your care
for your chart and billing information.
Who To Talk To:
Do not talk
about your case with anyone except this office and your doctors. If your
own insurance company wants to talk about your case before they pay your
medical bills, please refer them to us.
What To Sign:
information from employers, schools, or other persons will be obtained
by us. You should not sign anything for anyone else until you check with
Before Your Case Is Settled
While your case
is pending against the insurance company of the person that caused your
injury, we try to arrange to have your medical bills paid by your own
insurance company. This could be from the medical payments provision of
your own automobile insurance policy or your own health insurance
policy, or if applicable, worker’s compensation insurance. Please be
sure that all medical bills that relate to your injury are sent to our
office, so that we may forward them to the appropriate insurance
Keep Detailed Records
sure to record the following:
Lost work time and
resulting from your injuries, i.e., transportation, home care, etc.
limitations; maybe a small notebook of your day to day changes.
It is important to make your
entries on an ongoing basis. A summary at the end of each month will not
be as helpful to us. Copies of checks and receipts of payment, as well
as the above records, will be very helpful when you may be asked by the
insurance company or an attorney to recall your pain, physical
disabilities, and any out-of-pocket expenses including medication.
Some of our
clients are involved in an accident where there is no medical payments
insurance, worker’s compensation or private health insurance. In such
cases, your doctor will expect to be paid by you at the conclusion of
this case. Often they will require you to agree, in writing, to have us
pay them directly from the proceeds you receive. We sometimes issue
letters of protection to the doctors who willbe paid if we obtain a
settlement. State laws sometimes permit health care providers (such as
Parkland) to file a “lien” which must be paid out of the proceeds of
your case. If your doctor asks you to sign what is often called a “lien
letter”, be sure to contact our office. In some cases, it may not be
appropriate for you to sign such an agreement.
If any insurance
company pays some of your medical or other expenses arising from your
injury, the law provides “subrogation” which means that the insurance
company stands “in your shoes” and can recover from the liable party
some or all of the amounts paid on your behalf. If this is the case,
they usually are required to pay their proportionate share of the
attorney’s fee and costs in connection with the recovery. This is
handled on a case-by-case basis.
You May Be Watched and Photographed
When a claim is
filed by an injured person, insurance companies routinely conduct a
detailed investigation of the injured person’s background. It is not
uncommon for an insurance company investigator to park his surveillance
van near your house and videotape your activities. These investigators
work very hard to obtain videotapes of claimants lifting heavy groceries
or engaging in strenuous physical activity. However, these same
surveillance tapes have been useful to corroborate our client’s
limitations, including the use of canes, crutches, etc.
If you believe
you are being watched, please call us and try to avoid the camera. Do
not exaggerate your limitations or pose for the camera.
Why Does It Take So Long?
We cannot make
your claim until after the doctors have given us reports stating exactly
what your medical condition is and what they expect it to be in the
future: in other words, until you have reached “maximum medical
improvements”. Many times the doctors will be very slow in making these
reports. We may even, on occasion, ask you to contact your doctor to
speed up this report. If we try to settle your case before your medical
condition is stabilized, you may lose money that you might be entitled
to for a condition that did not show up until after your case was
It is important
to know that your case will not be settled until the damages have been
determined and all investigations to determine who is liable have been
completed. It generally takes several months to gather the necessary
information. If a trial becomes necessary, it can take several years to
complete a case. One of the most difficult requests we make of you is to
have patience. We will work as hard and fast as possible to settle your
What is the Value of My Case?
It is impossible
for us to tell immediately how much money, if any, you will recover in
connection with your case. There is no formula and each case is unique
and different. In cases of serious injury, the ultimate recovery is
often related to the amount of insurance coverage available, as well as
the nature, extent, and duration of your injuries, along with an
assessment of liability. As your attorneys, we feel it is our primary
duty to obtain an amount of money which will fairly and justly
compensate you for your injuries. We will make every effort to do this
by locating all sources of money. We will advise you of our evaluation
in this regard.
In general, most
states allow recovery of damages for the following elements of damage:
The nature and
extent of injury, including whether the injury is permanent, and the
amount of disability.
both past and reasonably certain to be incurred in the future. This
includes mileage to and from the doctor or hospital.
Wage loss, past
and future and loss of capacity to earn a living
suffering, including your motor vehicle and other items of personal
Loss of consortium
for your spouse, past and future.
Filing a Lawsuit
It may be
necessary to file a lawsuit to obtain an adequate recovery. This is a
legal decision that should be made by your attorney with your input.
Before filing suit in your case, we will obtain your permission and
explain to you why we believe a lawsuit should be filed.
lawsuit may have to be filed, settlement is always possible.
Negotiations continue and only a small percentage of lawsuits actually
go to trial.
are the steps necessary to bring the case to trial.
Pleadings are the
documents parties file in court that form the basis of a lawsuit. This
is intended to be general information only. Each case is unique.
Petition. A lawsuit is filed
against an opposing party by filing a document in court known as a
complaint or petition. The person who brings the action is the
plaintiff – you. The person against whom the action is brought is
the defendant. The petition is a statement of facts alleging the
names of the parties and alleging why the conduct of the defendant
entitles the plaintiff to recover damages.
Citation. Once the plaintiff’s
petition is filed, a “citation” is issued to be served on the
defendant by an officer of the Court, usually a Deputy Sheriff or
process server, informing the defendant that suit has been filed and
that a response must be made within a given period of time or a
judgment will be taken against him.
Answer or Motion. The response
filed by the defendant is called an Answer, which is prepared by the
attorney for the defendant.In Texas defendants have 20 days to
Once an action
is filed, both sides have a right to “discover” facts concerning the
opposing party’s case. Normal discovery proceedings include written
interrogatories, depositions, production of records, and sometimes
Each side may serve written questions on the opposing party, called
“interrogatories”. You are required to answer these questions within
a prescribed period of time, in writing and under oath. We will
serve interrogatories on the defendant in your behalf, and the
defendant will serve interrogatories on you, which you must answer.
Our staff will assist you in preparing your answers.
A “deposition” is an oral and transcribed statement, under oath,
which may be used by either side in a lawsuit. It has the same
effect as testifying at trial. It is used to learn as much as
possible about the other side’s claims or defenses. Those present
are the parties concerned, their lawyers, sometimes an additional
witness or two, and a court reporter who records the questions and
The lawyers normally
agree in advance where the deposition will be held. It is usually in
the office of one of the lawyers.
You are required by law to give a deposition. This is not something
in which we have a choice. Because of this, we will need your full
cooperation. Prior to the deposition, your lawyer will go over the
facts of the case with you and answer any questions you might have.
YOUR DEPOSTION IS OFTEN THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR CASE.
It is important that you be prepared well in advance of the
In giving a
deposition, there are a few rules to follow:
Always tell the truth, even if it hurts your case.
Answer only the questions. Do not make any voluntary statements or
Think before you make any answer to any questions. If it concerns a
matter about which you do not know, or a detail you do not remember,
you may so state. However, once you have stated that you do not know
or remember, it’s hard to change your testimony at trial.
Always be polite.
Frequently the other
attorney will ask you many questions which will seem to you to have no
bearing upon the case. Nevertheless, it is your duty to answer these
questions, notwithstanding the fact that they may irritate you. Never
conceal prior injuries or prior illnesses. Remember, the other side has
the means of obtaining such information.
occasions when the parties submit the dispute to “mediation”. The
parties meet with an independent third person, usually an experienced
lawyer or retired judge, who assists the parties in arriving at a
settlement. The results are not binding. It is informal, and less
expensive than a trial. If that is an option to your case, our lawyers
will discuss it with you.
If you were hit
by an uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist, you may be eligible
for benefits under your own policy or the policy that covered the
vehicle you were in. Many insurance companies have special provisions if
you desire to proceed against the uninsured motorist provision of the
policy. In most cases, you will be able to collect for your lost wages,
medical bills, pain and suffering, etc., in the same way as if the
driver that hit you did have insurance. We ask that you provide us with
a complete copy of your own insurance policy in force at the time of the
Claims against the Government entities
Any injury claim,
whether it stems from a car collision or other event that involves the
government, is subject to special rules. The governmental entity
involved may be the state, a city, a county, local government, or the
United States. Generally, a Notice of Claim must be filed with the
appropriate governmental agency very soon following your injury. If you
believe that the government may be involved in your case, please notify