Don’t Make These 8 Mistakes In Your Nashville Injury Case
There are just some things you don’t want to do if you are involved in an injury case in Nashville or anywhere in Tennessee. Think about it like this – you, and perhaps a loved one, were injured through no fault of your own. Now you have medical bills, time off work, damage to your car, emotional distress and other expenses and problems brought about through someone’s else’s negligence. However, you have to remember that person’s, or company’s insurance company doesn’t care about your ordeal. They only care about settling your case for the lowest dollar they can. They’d rather not give you a fat nickel. Keeping that in mind, how you conduct yourself from immediately after the accident until your case is finished could impact your settlement or judgment amount. I’ve written a fairly comprehensive article “So You Had a Car Wreck” about how to prepare in case you have a wreck and what to do (and not do) immediately following a wreck, but wanted to talk a little more in depth about things you should or shouldn’t do after your case has been filed.
1) Tell you attorney everything. Don’t gloss anything over, leave anything out, or “rewrite” any facts. Your attorney is building a case for you that is based on facts. If you don’t tell the attorney everything (the good, the bad, and the ugly), then chances are whatever you’re hiding will be found out by the other side’s attorneys and your case will be put at an immediate, and probably permanent, disadvantage. It will also be a strain on your relationship with your attorney. Trust is a two-way street in an client/attorney relationship.
2) Facebook, Email, Instagram, Twitter, or any social media – Nothing on the internet (or your computer) is ever really private and never really goes away. “Delete” is just a false sense of security. The only way to clean a hard-drive is with a sledgehammer and fire and you can never be sure that something cannot be pulled back in from the “etherworld” and used against you. And, incidentally, if you take a sledgehammer to your computer after the accident and the other side finds out, they will accuse you of destroying evidence. Let me give you a little advice and it goes for any type of legal action (criminal charges, injury cases, divorce) – your computer will throw you under the bus. If you have any “friends” on Facebook who are less than desirable or who could cause you trouble, delete them now. To be specific to an injury case, posting pictures of your totaled car or you in the hospital may be tempting, but the comments people make could open you up to some problems. What if someone posts “oh man, you’re messed up, dude – hope you’re better soon. But bro, seriously, CHA CHING$$$$” and you respond back “I know, right?” then you just gave the other side some ammo. Or, and this happens more than I can believe, DON’T TWEET FROM THE WRECK SITE! If you’re hurt, why are you tweeting? #stupidmistake Please overcome the urgent need to share your ordeal with everyone around you. If you want to talk to someone, talk to people you trust and do it in person or on the phone. Do not leave a paper trail (and online is a paper trail) for the other side to subpoena and use against you.
3) Do take pictures for your own use and for your case. Take pictures of your car, your injuries, your bedside commode, your walker, anything that you have to endure because of the wreck, take a picture of it (and don’t post it). This will be very useful for your attorney especially in the event of a jury trial. People respond to photos in a more fundamental and basic way than they do to someone just telling them facts.
4) Don’t talk to anyone until your attorney tells you it’s OK. Adjusters can be really nice. Case Managers can be ever so much nicer. No. They are not your friends. Their job is to undermine your case and you’ll see soon enough what their angle is. The insurance company case manager may be waiting for you in the elevator after your doctor’s appointment and ask “well, how’d it go?”. Your response is “you’ll need to contact my attorney” and nothing else. Don’t yell, don’t threaten. Then call your attorney’s office and report the incident. You won’t believe what sneaky tricks they will do. If someone calls and leaves a message, and you don’t know who they are and suspect they are related to your case, don’t call them back until you run it by your attorney’s office.
5) Assume you are being watched to a certain extent. While it’s not unheard of for insurance companies to hire detectives who hide in the bushes like some kind of evil special forces sniper, most likely if you are surveiled it will be a long-range photo of you in your yard, or shopping, or going out in public somewhere. While we understand that you want to enjoy your life, throw the ball with your child, see a Titan’s game and you may power through the pain and just endure it for a few hours or take a pain pill and have someone drive you, a photo snapped of you in a compromising position (changing your own oil, planting a garden, waterskiing) can just lay waste to your case. You have to remember that this ordeal, while long, does have an end and you need to adjust your expectations accordingly.
6) First impressions ARE everything. I’ve been horrified a few times to have a client show up for depositions wearing a micro-mini skirt and a mid-drift top or saggy jeans and a sleeveless t-shirt. Don’t present yourself to the other side like that. You just made yourself look weak to them. You need to command respect so anytime you’re doing anything regarding your case, be clean, well dressed (at least nice jeans and a dress shirt or dress top), be modest (cover yourself and leave the stilettos or t-shirts with grumpy cat at home), watch your language (cursing automatically lowers your IQ in the eyes of whomever you’re talking to), and don’t make jokes. This goes for doctor’s appointments as well, doctors get called to testify quite often – if you’re doctor thinks about you in respectful and friendly terms, that’s going to come across to the jury. Also, I’ve called my clients before only to get a voice mail with some awful music and a message telling me they were unavailable using vulgar language or just sounding rude. If you’ve got some “cutesy” voicemail recording, turn it off. Most every conversation you might have with an insurance adjuster etc. is being recorded and that just won’t sound good to a jury. Use the same good judgment on social media as far as your comments or photos, if you don’t want your grandmother to read/see it, you don’t want the judge or jury to read/see it.
7) Keep your doctor’s appointments and, if you can’t, call ahead to cancel them and reschedule. The other side’s insurance company/attorneys are following (and perhaps showing up at) your doctor’s appointments. If you’re having a really bad day and feel horrible, that’s actually the best reason to KEEP your appointment, not cancel it. You want your doctor to see you at your worst and to make note of it, plus you want them to treat you for the injuries and to do that, they have to be aware of them (some injuries don’t present themselves until weeks or months after a wreck. Plus, the main date in your case is when you hit MMI (that’s Maximum Medical Improvement). MMI is when the doctor involved in your finds that you’ve reached the maximum improvement you can reach with your injuries. We’ll discuss MMI and Demands in another article as there is alot involved in those two little words. Once this happens, you’ll be sent to the other side’s doctor for an IME (insurance medical examination). That doctor basically gets paid to say there is nothing wrong with you or to diminish your injuries. Don’t get upset, just call your attorney and let them know one has been scheduled. You will have to endure it unfortunately, but don’t worry about it too much. A good attorney (and hopefully you’ve got one) will know how to mitigate an IME.
8) If you’re faced with a situation you need direction with – ask your attorney or your paralegal. Don’t ask your friends, your brother-in-law, your co-worker, etc. I’ve heard my clients start so many sentences with something along the lines of “my friend’s ex-stepmother had an accident and this is what she got” or “my brother’s wife’s boss said I needed to do this”. Just no. They aren’t your attorney. While advice is freely given to victims of accidents from family to cashiers at Kroger, your case has it’s own particulars and set of circumstances that make it unique and your attorney will build a case around it accordingly. Don’t muddy with waters with bad advice and excessive expectations.
We’ve helped many people in Tennessee with their accident case and we know full well that the process of an injury case is a long one and can be an emotionally stressful ordeal. Sometimes the financial and emotional impact of an injury accident can destroy people’s relationships with those they love the most, even ending friendships or resulting in divorce. These types of impacts on your life can cause you to make less than rational decisions and can be snags and pitfalls along the way that can damage or undermine your case. No matter who you hire to help you with your case, please keep the above in mind and never hesitate to ask your lawyer if you have any questions or concerns. I think I can speak for all attorneys when I say we’d rather have the opportunity to guide you and help you than watch you put in a compromised position. We want you to be fully compensated for the loss you incurred and we will use our experience and knowledge to help you obtain that and to protect the integrity of your case at all times, but you have to let us.