Once the lawsuit is filed in a personal injury case, both sides engage in the legal process called discovery. Each party is allowed to investigate what it is the other side is going to try to prove or establish at trial. In discovery, the defendant will be permitted to access medical and work history, including your your income records. The attorneys at Donahoe Kearney have devised a list of mistakes that will RUIN your case. Order our free consumer guide before you speak to an insurance adjuster!
1. The client is referred by the lawyer to a doctor or chiropractor
You want a doctor with your best interests at heart, who will offer you the best medical care and treatment your condition requires, not just one dependent on your lawyer because of a referral relationship.
You may have a very special need for a doctor with a special expertise. It is perfectly legitimate for the attorney to make that suggestion/recommendation. But it should be based on other clients' recommendations who have had similar injuries or medical conditions. If every client, though, is getting referred to the same chiropractor or the same orthopedist, then that is a huge problem.
So beware of the attorney who has a stack of doctor/chiropractor brochures in the office. You need to ask the right questions and fully understand the relationship between that attorney and the doctor and make sure you are choosing the right provider to treat your injury.
2. Hiding past accidents from your lawyer
Once you begin your case, the other side will be interested in knowing how many past accidents you have been in. The reality is that they probably already know the answer or have easy access to that information.
Just tell the truth to your attorney.
If you have been in other accidents, your lawyer can investigate this and make a determination as to whether this is a valid problem in your case or not. If you do not tell your lawyer, however, and you misrepresent your accident history to the insurance company, then it is almost guaranteed that you will lose your case.
3. Hiding other injuries
It goes without saying that you should be upfront and honest with your attorney about any injuries that occurred before or after this accident. Again, if you saw a doctor or other healthcare provider, then there is a record in existence that the insurance company will find.
If your doctor keeps "two sets of records" because he's been treating you for years for another injury you never told your lawyer about, how will that doctor look in front of the jury? Like he's hiding something. And how will you look?
We've represented a lot of hardworking people of the years. Some jobs are more dangerous and risky than others. For example, we've represented union workers with several construction site accidents over their career--those are heavy duty, physically demanding jobs. As long as we know about it, we can deal with it.
But if you're not honest with us, we fire you. Simple as that.
4. Not having accurate tax returns
In almost every case, someone will have lost income because of the accident. You will only be able to claim that lost income if your past tax returns are accurate and honest. You do not want to risk going to jail by claiming a loss of income, only to have your past tax returns not back your claim.
5. Misrepresenting your activity level
Insurance companies routinely hire private investigators to conduct videotape surveillance. Now, they also troll YouTube, Facebook, and other social networking sites or Google you. If you claim that you cannot run, climb or stoop, and you get caught on videotape doing any of those things, or brag about break dancing on Facebook, you can forget about your claim. There is no explanation (other than "you got my brother or sister, not me") that can overcome the eye of the camera.
The good news? These 5 mistakes and many other are completely preventable.
For more advise on personal injury cases, pick up a copy of our e-Book, The Truth About how to get started with a serious accident case in D.C, Maryland, and Virginia.