I Cannot Accept Every Injury Case, and Here is Why
I get a lot of calls from people who have been injured in auto accidents. I regret that I cannot help everyone. In fact, I just got a call from a former client telling me he was in an automobile accident. I asked him a few questions about the accident and he told me a lot about what happened. He was rear ended on a major street and told me his neck and back were hurting a lot. He then proceeded to send me a bunch of photographs of both his car and the car that hit him. The problem was that neither car had any visible damage. Now I know this client rather well. He is a former professional bicyclist and no stranger to pain. He told me he was in pain and I believe him. I know he wasn't just looking for the quick buck from a car accident case. I told him that he should go ahead and see a doctor for his pain and he went to see his chiropractor a few times until the pain subsided.
Unfortunately, I had to tell my former client that I couldn't represent him for an injury claim regarding the new accident. This was because I don't want to put him in a worse position than when he came to me. If I had taken him on as a client, he would likely have accrued several thousand dollars in medical bills for therapy. We would submit a claim to the other side and they would deny our claim based on the fact that there was little or no property damage to either car. Now, this is not to say that my client wasn't really hurt. I know he was in pain. But, I am not willing to put my client in debt to some doctor for a claim that I know would never settle. Thus, I encouraged him to seek medical treatment on his own and reserve the insurance claim for an accident that would support such a claim.
Generally, I find that car accident cases require not only visible damage to the vehicles, but the damage must be of substantial amount. As a policy, I try not to accept any case where there is vehicle damage less than $2,000. This is $2,000 to my client's car, not including the damage to the other car. I know there are cases where people get injured in accidents where there is less property damage than I require. For example, if a pedestrian or a bicyclist is hit by a car, there may be no damage at all to the car.
Another reason why I might not be able to accept an injury case is because the client failed to seek medical treatment in a timely manner. I understand that never every car accident requires that the injured people be taken to the emergency room. I also understand that we all have busy lives and it may be impossible to get in to see our doctor on a same day or next day basis. Finally, I know that sometimes the pain, soreness and stiffness that sets in after a car accident, may take a day or two to manifest itself. Thus, there may be some minor delays in a client getting treatment after an accident. But, when the client waits a week or more after an accident to first seek medical treatment, there will likely be a problem on my end. Insurance adjusters are looking for almost any manner in which to deny a claim. One of those reasons is either a delay or gap in treatment. This could occur in one of the two ways: One, if the client waits too long before starting treatment and two if the client has large gaps in the dates of the treatment they do get. If an adjuster sees either one of these, they will likely assume the client is not significantly injured and may deny a claim.
In order to avoid this, I may turn a case down when the client did not seek treatment right away. As with the property damage issue, if I take a case on and the client pursues significant medical treatment and racks of thousands in bills, he may be left having to pay these bills if I am unable to resolve his claim in a favorable manner. Rather than put the client in a worse position then when I found him, I would opt to reject the case and encourage the client to seek treatment on his own, if necessary.
Finally, I will normally reject a case when a client has unreal expectations. In the 1980's it seemed like almost any personal injury case was worse over $10,000. We would put the claim in and the insurance companies would write a check to make the problem go away. That type of free-flowing insurance money dried up may years ago. Nowadays, insurance companies are looking for any reason to deny a claim. They deny claims for too little property damage; They deny claims for not treating soon enough; They deny claims for treating too much and, of course, for not having auto insurance at the time of the loss. I try to do my best to ensure that every case I take, I can settle. When I say "settle", I mean settle in a manner where I can pay all the medical bills, pay myself and save the lion's share of the settlement for my client. This is the difference between being a greedy lawyer and being a good lawyer. This is the difference between doing the right thing for your own pocket and doingthe right thing for your client. As a lawyer, and a business man, I have to look at every case on a long term basis. Happy clients refer me new clients. New clients make me new money.
If you have been injured in an auto accident or any other accident which was not your fault and you need a lawyer to help you out, call me:
Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to meeting you.
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