Our Advice to new Personal Injury Clients
Settlement Funding Companies
You may see or hear advertising of companies willing to lend money against any settlement you may receive in the future. We strongly advise our clients not to do so. These companies charge huge interest rates and additional fees which absolutely must be paid out of any settlement you receive. For example, clients borrowing $1,000.00 sometimes have to repay the lending company $1,500.00 to $3,000.00 (and sometimes more) given the length of time it takes to resolve a personal injury case.
Of course, borrowing money against your settlement does not increase the value of your case. Further, it makes settlement of your case very difficult in that the amount you receive out of a settlement is greatly reduced by having to repay the loan, making what may be a reasonable settlement offer seem unreasonable to you. Please contact us before you deal with any settlement funding company.
Maximum Medical Improvement
Maximum medical improvement (“MMI”) means that you have healed as much as you are going to heal following an accident. This means that any injuries you still have after reaching MMI are permanent. It does not mean that you have healed 100% from your injuries. In order to know the value of your claim, we need to know the extent of your injuries which are permanent. Reaching MMI typically takes anywhere from four to nine months. For cases involving surgery, MMI is often not reached for a year following an accident.
For extended periods of care, there will be a lull in correspondence and other communications that you receive from us. This is because the rest of our investigation and legwork is usually completed within several months of you hiring us. After that, we are waiting for your medical care to be completed in order to send a settlement demand on your behalf.
Medical Decision Making
We advise all of our clients to make their medical decisions without regard for any potential claim they may have. Such medical decisions may include: whether to have surgery; whether to see a specialist; and whether to engage in physical therapy that does not seem to be helping. When clients call me to discuss a medical decision, I always advise them to make their decisions as if they had no claim at all.
The same advice applies to returning to work. You should return to work as soon as you and your doctor feel that you are able.
Facebook and Other Social Media
It is important to know that insurance companies are entitled to obtain Facebook and other social media postings if a lawsuit is filed on your behalf. Given the natural tendency for people to post on positive things and activities they are doing, such posts can give the incorrect impression that a person is not experiencing any problems. As such, our recommendation is that you make no Facebook or other social media posts at any time prior to your claim being resolved.
Possible Adverse Consequences
As discussed with you, there are possible adverse consequences if suit is filed. Prior to suit being filed, there are no such concerns. If suit must be filed, you need to be aware that, if you lose your case, a judgment may be entered against you for the other side’s legal costs and, in some circumstances, attorney fees as well.
Our clients often ask how they could possibly lose a clear liability automobile collision case. The answer is that Florida law requires that a person suffer some degree of permanent injury in order to recover for pain and suffering. For injuries that do not involve broken bones, surgery, or significant scars, the insurance companies will often hire a doctor of their own choosing to examine you. The insurer’s doctor may state that you have not suffered a permanent injury. Both your doctor and the insurer’s doctor will testify at trial. If a jury agrees with the insurance company’s doctor, it may find that you have suffered no permanent injury, resulting in a loss.
In addition, if a defendant serves a formal written offer on you and you do not receive a judgment for more than 75% of the offer, you may be responsible to pay the insurance company’s costs and attorney fees. If the defendant serves such an offer, we will counsel you accordingly and answer any questions you may have.
Documenting Your Injuries
Once you have reached MMI, we will be sending a settlement demand on your behalf. It is very helpful to include specific examples of how your injuries have affected your life. As such, keep a diary and record any activity or hobby you find that you cannot do. In addition, if there are activities you can still do, but only with pain, record those as well. Provide this information to us once your medical care is complete.
If there is a hobby or other activity you can no longer do, provide any evidence you may have of your prior participation in the activity. Documents and photographs reflecting gym memberships, participation in organized sports, or other physical activities can be very helpful.