Waggoner Legal Group
529 W. San Francisco Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501

 

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What to Avoid if You Want to Pursue a Personal Injury Case

Interviewer: What have you noticed that people do unintentionally or intentionally that may hinder their chances to have a successful case, once the problems happen to someone?

People Who Have Sustained Injuries Should Seek Prompt Medical Attention

Will: The first thing is people do to harm their potential case is NOT being seen promptly seen by a doctor. Or they think the injury is just going to go away so they wait a bit too long. It doesn’t prevent the case from getting settled or getting compensation but it can make it difficult.

Keep All Your Doctor’s Appointments

Another thing people that do that does not sit well with juries is to miss their doctor’s appointments. Insurance companies or juries are going to be fairly convinced that not making their doctor’s appointments means that a person’s not that injured. This is because if they’re hurting and they really need the medical attention, they’ll seek it, they’ll go to their appointments when scheduled.

Have Your Lawyer Present When Speaking to Insurance Companies

The other thing that a lot of folks do is they’ll give a statement to the insurance company before hiring our firm, and during the course of that statement they may make an admission or they may get tricked into making an answer that later could be used at trial against them. So they should always have us there to help them through that statement.

Take Your Own Photos of Your Injuries for Evidence

Quite often, I will tell the insurance company, I will only allow my client to give a statement if I get a statement of their insured. And sometimes, the companies decide not to trade statements. I also advise people to take pictures, especially if the injuries arose from an automobile accident. Be sure to take the pictures right after it’s happened because we need to see as much evidence as possible to help us understand the cause of the accident, the severity of the accident, the cause of the injury, and the severity of the injury.

Keep a Journal of Your Experiences After An Injury

Interviewer: So people should take pictures of everything if they can. How about a journal or a diary on what’s going on with them day-to-day to document what they’re doing and experiencing. Would that help?

Will: Good point. I won’t fire a client for it, but I really lean on my clients to keep a journal. I give them my email and my fax number because by the time they see me it a bit of time may have elapsed since the accident. I ask them to go back and keep a journal.

These Are the Details to Document Since You Have Been Injured

I want to know not just how it happened, but I want to know what depth was of the mental anguish that you went through? What was the pain? How did it feel? How is your sleep? What was it that you could do before the injury that you can’t do now? What things were you planning on going to do? What happened to your family life? What happened to your personal life? How much time did you miss from work?

I’ll give them a list of the 11 convincible elements of damages. I instruct them to examine each area because that’s what you’re entitled to. Tell me everything that happened because we have a mechanism in our brains to forget the bad and remember the good.

And that’s what’s going to happen. By the time we get to trial or maybe by the time we get to settle the case, I then want to know what it was like on day three when you had to get out of bed on your knees before you could stand up. You’ll have forgotten that, and that’s why the journal is really important.

Interviewer: Have you ever had clients that say after a few months, “I can’t take it any longer, I just want to get the case over. Can I settle it? I don’t want to go through with it.” What happens then?

You Want to Avoid Settling the Case Too Prematurely

Will: In 25 years in doing this, I’ve never had a client say, “Thanks so much. I’ll settle it from here.” But we have a clause in our contract that says if you’ve done that, we’re entitled to compensation for our time into the case, and we’ll make a reasonable adjustment on that figure. Attorneys call this a charging lien.

But we’ve never had that happened. I know other attorneys who have had that happen. I’ve had a few cases where the clients have been unreasonable with their demands. We’re not a cookie cutter law firm.  We don’t make demands that aren’t real and unnecessary. We only take those cases where the client has been injured and it was a breach of the duty and the negligence is evident.

If Your Attorney Has Agreed to Represent You in a Personal Injury Case, It Is Because They Believe in the Merits of the Case

With that being said, quite often we’ll get the insurance company saying, “No, there’s no negligence.” That doesn’t bother us. It’s our perception. That’s where we go and fight for the client. And we don’t take just those cases where the negligence is obvious. Some of our greatest wins have been proving either to a jury or convincing the adjuster that, indeed, negligence has occurred. So to answer your question, I haven’t had it where a client’s gone behind my back, but if they do we’re still entitled to some compensation.

Interviewer: The whole process can fatigue People. They’re just exhausted and they want to give up. Do you ever encounter that situation?

Will: No, I never have. I have had some cases where, “Well, I’m really ready to settle this thing.” So we’ll write a letter and we’ll discuss it with the client if we think that they’re trying to settle it a little bit early. But at the end of the day it is their case and if they really want us to go ahead and try and settle it, well then we’ll do what’s instructed and we’ll all have a clear understanding that we may be settling this case a little bit earlier than what we think is prudent, but we’ll get the client what they need. And sometimes, quite frankly, the clients reached a point monetarily where, “I’ve got to settle this case because I’ve got to get the money now.” And then we do what we can.

By Waggoner Legal Group