Kimberly D. Saxton, Esq.
Ada G. Vicuña, Esq.
William W. Toomer IV Esq.
Child Custody and Support
Estate Planning and Probate
9.0 Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury claims can be overwhelming because the burden to prove a claim rests on the injured person making a claim. There are four elements that must be established: duty, breach, causation and damages. The first two deal with proving the fault of the wrongdoer. The other two deal with proving damages. It is often believed that legal representation is not needed when the fault of the wrongdoer is clear because the case is “clear cut” and settlement is a given. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception because only half the battle is won, and proving damages without counsel can be overwhelming and detrimental for the outcome of the case.
Proving damages may include obtaining witness testimonies, photographs, videos, medical records, bills, receipts, disability reports, opinion letters, etc. The task of tracking down witnesses and facilities to request records can be tedious as it often requires letters, follow-up calls, filling out forms, and more phone calls. Insurance companies protect the interest of the wrongdoer and, because the burden of proof rest on the injured person, these companies have no incentive in obtaining corroborating evidence of the damages. A common practice of insurance companies is to request unrepresented claimants to sign documents giving the insurer authorization to obtain records. This, however, is to get all, even prior, medical records to find evidence that would suggest that the injuries were caused by a prior condition and not by the incident in question. The purpose of this practice is to lower the settlement value of the claim. Hiring an attorney alleviates the person from the tedious and stressful task of tracking down needed information, protects the person’s interests, and allows the person to focus on getting well.
Another overwhelming aspect of personal injury cases is dealing with the medical debts. Most people ignore the medical bills because they feel that the insurance company of the wrongdoer should pay all the bills. First of all, insurance companies will only pay for damages that are “reasonably related” to the negligent incident. Insurance companies rely on this “reasonably related” language to deny bills for services that they consider unrelated to the incident, thus, claimants may end up owing a bill. An experienced attorney would review the records and summit evidence showing how the injuries were caused by the incident, and the need of the medical services to treat the injuries. This is done to show that the bills are “reasonably related” to the incident, to ensure that all bills get paid, and to prevent an adverse outcome for the client.
Second, insurance companies only consider bills that are submitted properly. Again, it is the claimant’s responsibility to submit well-documented damages for consideration. The billing statements must be itemized, have diagnosis codes, and for every date of service there must be a corresponding report of the services provided. The insurance company would use any excuse to refuse paying a bill. Our experienced office would ensure that complete documentation is provided to avoid delays in resolving the claim.
Third, insurance companies only pay claims when the claimant has been released from care and has been done treating. Depending on the severity of the injuries and the length of treatment required, the payment of claims may not happen for several months. Also, medical providers view the patient as the primary responsible person to pay the bills. So, waiting for the settlement of the claim often results in unpaid bills being sent to collections and in negative reporting to the credit bureaus. Most unrepresented claimants, feeling pressure from the providers, would resolve their claims for a compensation significantly below the value of their claims. Our office would get involved and contact the medical providers to alleviate this pressure and prevent negative results.
In summary, there are lots of benefits in hiring an attorney (even in clear cut cases). So, contact our office and let an experienced personal injury attorney obtain the required evidence for your damages, evaluate and advocate a fair settlement, intercede with medical providers to prevent negative consequences, as well as sort out the debts and medical obligations.
6.0 CONTEMPT OF COURT