Insurance companies do not pay money willingly. The insurance company can be expected to thoroughly investigate the facts of your accident and use any prior history of related medical conditions to diminish the value of your claim.
Insurance companies may hire a private investigator to film your physical activities in public. In substantial injury claims, insurance companies may even try to set you up by having their investigators trick you into engaging in physical activities such as carrying a heavy package, bending to pick up bulky objects or changing a flat tire.
Insurance company private investigators have been known to carry concealed tape recorders to interview claimants and their friends or acquaintances. You should never discuss your case with anyone other than your attorney and your treating doctors or therapists.
It is extremely important that you advise your attorney of any PRIOR ACCIDENTS, PRE-EXISTING INJURIES or PRE ACCIDENT PHYSICAL COMPLAINTS. Many good cases are compromised or lost because the injured person forgets or conceals previous injuries or history of physical complaints from his or her own attorney.
Be certain to provide your attorney with the names and addresses of all doctors who have treated you in the past. Insurance companies will try to obtain all of your past medical records in an attempt to prove that your injuries existed before the accident, thereby reducing the potential value of your pain and suffering damage claim.
Insurance companies keep records of all claims ever made and share that information with each other through their Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange Database. Once the insurance company has your identifying information, i.e. your name, date of birth and SSN number, the insurance company is certain to find virtually any claims you have ever made in any state.
Never be embarrassed to tell your doctors about all of your complaints. The value of your claim is due in large measure to the doctor's diagnosis and treatment. The doctor can only treat what he observes of what you tell him. The doctor's records will only be as complete as information that he receives.
Keep track of all prescriptions and medicines taken, preferably saving all bottles or containers of medicine. Provide your attorney with receipts for all medications, both over the counter and prescription medications as well as any other items purchased such as crutches, canes, neck braces, splints and bandages.
Keep a diary of all of your complaints and limitations on your physical activities. This will help you remember details many months later when you are required to provide a statement or testify about how your injuries impacted your daily life.
Start thinking about the witnesses you may need in the future. It may be necessary someday to have friends, neighbors or co-workers testify regarding your disability and pain and suffering.
Keep your attorney informed of anything that might affect your case. Certainly nothing should be signed without first consulting the attorney. Applications for insurance benefits, reports to the State, any change in doctors, returning to work, any change in treatment, etc., should be reported promptly. Disability or unemployment applications should first be checked by the attorney.
Keep your attorney advised of any vacation times when you may not be available. An emergency telephone number and an alternative way of reaching you must be in your attorney's file at all times.
You may be entitled to other insurance benefits. If you have PIP, auto med pay, group or private health insurance or are covered under a spouse's or parent's insurance, your attorney can coordinate submission of all collateral insurance claims to maximize your total recovery.
Never settle your claim before its time. It sometimes takes many months to settle a claim. Occasionally a claim may take a year or longer to be resolved. In fact, it is not in the accident victim's best interest to settle certain types of claims too soon because it often takes a long time for serious injuries to become evident or for treatment or surgery to provide the maximum benefit to the injured party.
Know your state Statute of Limitation. All claims for personal injuries must be settled before the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or a law suit must be filed to preserve the claim. For example, the personal injury statute of limitations in Utah is four (4) years from the date of the accident for most claims; defective product claims must be filed within two (2) years of the injury and claims against government entities have special shorter time requirements.