We handle the following types of personal injury cases: automobile accident cases, slip and fall cases, medical malpractice cases, and product liability cases.
The handling of a personal injury case typically begins with the first call to our office. Typically the injured person or a family member is calling a lawyer for the first time in their life. Frequently they have been referred to our office by an existing client. During the first call we will focus on three main areas of inquiry, liability, damages, and coverage. During this call we are attempting to evaluate whether there is a potential claim that justifies an in office meeting.
During the initial in office meeting we again focus on the three main areas of inquiry, liability, damages, and coverage. Liability generally has to to with who is at fault. Damages has to do with how much would a jury likely award at the trial of the potential claim. Coverage has to do with whether there is insurance coverage or some other financial resource out of which to get a judgment paid or settlement achieved.
Things to Bring
The things to bring to the initial meeting with us are:
(1) DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE ABOUT YOUR CASE UNTIL YOU GET APPROVAL FROM MY OFFICE FIRST. Do not talk to anyone about your case except someone from my office. Only talk with your attorney or your attorney's staff concerning your case. You may be required to talk to your own auto or health insurance company, you should get the approval of my law office first. Your own auto or health insurance company may attempt to obtain harmful information from you that may be used against you. The defendant's (wrongdoer's) insurance company may try to mislead you by getting you to make a statement without your attorney present. Following this instruction is especially important because the insurance carrier may record its conversation with you, even without asking you, and it may use against you any unfavorable statements you make to it.
(2) POLICE/INCIDENT REPORT AND WITNESSES. Please obtain and provide to my office the police or incident report. If you know any witnesses to your case, please furnish to my office their correct names, addresses, home and work phone numbers. It is imperative that we obtain the witness information as soon as possible.
(3) DIARY OF EVENTS AND COMPLAINTS. Please keep a daily or weekly diary of the events of your case and any complaints you have because of your injuries.
Your diary should start on the date of the incident. You should state where you had been and where you were going. You should state who was with you, the kind of car you were driving (if you were driving a car), the weather conditions, and a description of what happened.
It is important that you write the diary as soon as possible to preserve the evidence. It is best to write it down now. In a year or two from the date of the accident you may be asked to recall what happened. Your diary will serve as a valuable reference to refresh your memory.
It is very important to give the time and date and a simple description. Do not concern yourself about spelling.
I suggest that you buy a notebook and keep your diary in it. Please date your entries in your diary.
In addition to the events surrounding the incident, please write in details about (1) your pain and suffering, (2) any disabilities, and (3) activities that you were unable to do or do with difficulty that you were able to do before the incident. For example, if you were unable to dance, walk, take long walks, or work out with weights, or if it hurts when you do these things, please write it in your diary.
Show the diary to me periodical to me so that I may review it.
Some sample diary entries are:
(a) On Wednesday, September 12 1995 I was driving home from work at Lockheed. I was on North Decatur Road near the intersection of Clairmont road when the light turned red. I slowed and stopped at the light. As I was waiting for the light to turn green the Defendant, John Doe, smashed into the rear of my car. I immediately felt pain in my neck and screamed. The injury felt like someone stuck a knife in the base of my neck.
(b) Wednesday the 3rd day of October, 1995: I went to see Dr. Jones today. Dr. Jones said that I was not healing well and I needed a neck operation on the herniated disc. I have a herniated disc in the C5-C6 disc. The MRI Scan showed the herniated disc in my neck.
(c) Saturday the 10th of November, 1995: I was operated on yesterday for my neck injury. The operation lasted about two hours. Dr. Jones removed 60 percent of the disc that was herniated and bulging against my spinal chord.
(d) Monday, December 3rd, 1990: Today I went to work and I had pain in my neck all day. As I turned my head I had tingling in right arm. I am unable to sit for long periods of time without it hurting. This is the most severe pain that I have experienced. I had to leave work half way through the day to go home and lie down in order to reduce the pain.
(e) Wednesday, February the 27th, 1996: I went to physical therapy today. Tammy Reed is my physical therapist. I did a neck exercise that caused a great deal of pain. However, she says I am making progress. I tried to lift weights today. I lifted a ten pound barbell and it hurt my neck and it frightened me. I am going to wait to do any other weight lifting.
The primary purpose of the diary is for you to communicate directly to your lawyer. Please communicate to me with your diary. If you were unable to do an activity before the incident and afterwards you do it with difficulty or not at all, please write this in your diary.
The diary is one of the most important items in your personal injury case. The diary is also not discoverable. That is the opposing attorney, adjuster, and all others have no right to see your diary. It is attorney-client privileged communication and will not be produced unless you consent.
(4) SPYING AND SURVEILLANCE OF YOUR ACTIVITIES BY THE DEFENDANT AND THE DEFENDANT'S INSURANCE COMPANY. It has happened in several cases that the defendant and the defendant's insurance company have hired a private investigator to spy on other personal injury clients like you. The spying can take place in the form of video taping of your activities or audio taping of your voice over the phone.
It is possible that a private investigator may park outside your home or office in a van and video tape you while you are walking, working, or exercising. If you state that you are unable to work in the garden or cut your grass, and the private investigator video tapes you working in the garden or cutting your grass, your credibility will be severely damaged and your case will be mortally wounded. Always tell the truth, never exaggerate the extent of your injuries. Assume that the first time a child throws you a ball as you walk by a basketball hoop and you take a shot, it will be videotaped. Assume that, when you sit beside the court for the next 15 minutes in pain cursing yourself for attempting the shot despite your injuries, it will not make it onto the video.
If you note any suspicious activity, please report it to us. Be suspicious of any stranger who calls asking about your injuries.
(5) LOST WAGES AND LOST EARNINGS. Please keep an accurate record of all days lost from work because of your injuries. Please report to us the names and addresses of all employers from whom you have lost wages. If you are self employed, obtain records that will verify your lost wages and lost earnings. This should be kept separate from your diary. The burden is on you to prove exactly what work days you have missed because of your injuries.
(6) DAMAGE TO YOUR AUTOMOBILE AND PERSONAL PROPERTY. If your case is an automobile collision case, I need to see your damaged automobile and any damaged personal property as a result of the incident. Please make sure you have good photographs of your automobile and any damage to personal property before it is repaired. I prefer that my office take the photographs. Also, if you know the location of the Defendant's damaged automobile, please tell us. It is very important that you do not have your automobile repaired until my office has obtained quality photographs of it in its damaged condition.
(7) DOCTOR AND PHYSICAL THERAPY VISITS. You should return to each of your doctors as often as necessary and be sure to tell him or her in detail of your complaints. Do not try to be a hero and minimize your complaints. Do not exaggerate your complaints. You should keep a record of your doctor's visits in your diary and retain all copies of his or her bills and reports. If you see any additional doctors or physical therapist, be sure you inform me immediately of their names and addresses.
(8) MEDICAL BILLS, HOSPITAL BILLS, AND DRUG BILLS. Please give to my office copies of all medical, hospital, doctor, physical therapy, and drug bills. You should periodically send these bills to my office. You should keep a master list of all your medical, hospital, doctor, physical therapy, and drug bills.
(9) PHYSICAL EVIDENCE. If your injuries require a cast, brace, traction, or other device, save them. DO not throw them away. Be certain to bring these items to my office after you are no longer using them. They can be important pieces of physical evidence to be used at trial. Please keep any blood stained or ripped clothing.
10) TRAFFIC CITATION AND TRAFFIC COURT. If you have been arrested or cited with a traffic violation in connection with this case, be sure to advise me as to the date, place and time of any traffic court hearing. DO not plead to any such charge until you have talked with my office.
(11) PHOTOGRAPHS OF INJURIES OR PROPERTY DAMAGE. If you have any photographs, please mail or deliver the prints to my office. Please retain the negatives in the event we need to make enlargements. It is important that if you are in the hospital, photographs are taken of you in your disabled condition. Please notify my office I will attempt to see that photographs or a video tape is taken of you in the hospital or during physical therapy.
(12) YOUR OWN INSURANCE COMPANIES. Your automobile insurance company under medical payment coverage should pay your hospital and doctor bills up to limits of coverage under your automobile insurance. Make sure that you obtain duplicate copies of the Med-Pay Application form, any Wage and Salary Verification, and any other forms to be filled out for your automobile insurance company.
You should deliver to my office the declarations sheet and the actual policy of your automobile insurance company.
Concerning your health insurance company, make certain that you retain duplicate copies of any bills before submitting them to your health insurance company.
You should also deliver to me a copy of the policy for your health insurance company that covers you. I need to know this in advance.
Your auto and health insurers may have a contractual provision that you have to reimburse them to the extent you receive money from the Defendant or the Defendant's insurer.
(13) YOUR CURRENT PHONE NUMBER AND ADDRESS. Be certain to keep me advised of any change in your address or telephone numbers. If you want to come into my office and see me in person please certain that you call in advance to make an appointment to insure that I will be there.
(14) COMMUNICATION WITH ME. I will probably not contact you until I have something definite to report. I will contact you for any depositions, answers to discovery, and when your case goes to trial, which may be in excess of one year from the time a lawsuit is filed. If you have any specific questions in regards to these instructions or your case, please call me or write me.
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