Having now had the privilege of assisting some folks in recovering payments, such as for their medical bills, resulting from injuries caused by automobile accidents or negligent business practices, I can provide some advice to folks that are injured. There are many different ways that someone can be injured, but generally clients have similar responsibilities.
If you are seriously injured in an accident, you need to make sure to do a few things. Do these even if the person who injured you has promised to pay for your medical bills, because these promises are not always followed through on (as at least one of my clients can attest to.)
1) Visit a doctor as soon as possible. If you need an ambulance to get to the hospital, have one called for you. Sometimes people do not realize their arm is broken until several hours or even days after the accident. It is better to be safe than sorry, so get checked out early.
2) Get an injury report filed for wherever you are. If you are driving, a police officer will file a damage report. If you are injured at a business such as a hotel or restaurant, make sure the management files an accident report.
3) Do not accept a “settlement” from the person who injured you, or their insurance provider, without consulting an attorney. (I would be glad to review any settlement you have been offered for free, this is part of the consultation process.) Sometimes people try to “settle” with injured folks for a very small amount, because this can extinguish the injured person’s right to sue. Remember, the insurance company’s job is to pay out as little as possible to injured people. These are not “bad people.” They are just doing their job, but do not forget what their job is.
4) Contact an attorney as soon as possible. Delay can diminish or even make your case un-winnable. For example, while many businesses have video cameras, the footage is commonly deleted in as few as 7 days or less. Your attorney’s job is to protect these videotapes, and we can file papers with the courts to do so. There are many other time sensitive factors to keep in mind.
5) True for all cases, always be honest with your attorney. I can finish work on your behalf cheaper and faster when my clients are honest with me. My job is not to judge, it is to protect the rights of my clients.
Seth Layton Bowman, Attorney at Law