Your Lawyer CAN Handle the Truth
In a personal injury case, several acts or omissions by the injured party can have a negative impact on the viability of the case. These things typically concern communicating with any of the insurance companies involved, as well as providing full disclosure during the course of the case in order to avoid problems down the road.
When an accident first occurs, many times injured parties get called by their own insurance company or an insurance company that represents another party. The companies often ask if they can record a statement from the injured.
It’s not unusual for insurance companies to quickly seek statements from people because they know that it usually takes a few days for people to retain an attorney. Before getting legal advice, people will often give information freely in these statements for emotional reasons, but many times they are actually hurting themselves in the long run.
Our advice to clients is simply to convey all insurance company phone messages to us, whether it is their own insurance company, a disability carrier, or an adversary’s insurance carrier. The simple script below is all that needs to be said:
I have an attorney. My attorney asks that I refer all calls to them. Please give me your name, your contact information, and the claim number. I’ll also give you my attorney’s information.
You may still end up giving a statement, but we may prefer to be in the room, or on the line when you have that conversation. When dealing with other parties’ insurance companies, we categorically deny those requests to make recorded statements. If the case proceeds there are other opportunities in the future for insurance companies to get information about a client’s case and the particulars of what happened.
It’s human nature for an account of something that happened in the past to change slightly with each retelling. The insurance companies are eager to exploit this trend to bolster their case. That’s why it’s important for clients to have the advice of counsel before having any discussions that are being recorded.
If your insurance company contacts you within a day or two of an accident, you might be feeling fine at that moment. The stress and the adrenaline of the accident may have you feeling physically well, but perhaps experiencing some anxiety. Once the anxiety and the adrenaline subsides, it’s not uncommon for people to have aches and pains. Sometimes these aches and pains relate to injuries that can be serious, but not noticeable, in the first day or two after an accident.
The spontaneous utterances of an injured party to an insurance company will often lead to a determination about liability. Without the advice of an attorney, the ramifications of what you say are not always obvious. You may cause an insurance company to find fault with your acts or omissions, thus impacting their liability determination. However, if you are partially at fault, it is even more important to discuss with us how you convey your version of an accident. Ultimately, if you are in the right, we are not so concerned with the insurance company’s evaluation. If we have to, we will litigate to ensure that the proper result is obtained.
Any type of injury that you’ve had in the past can impact your personal injury claim and should be revealed to your attorney. Misrepresentations have the potential to come back and ruin the outcome of your personal injury case. Examples of things to disclose include:
- past car accidents;
- past slip-and-fall/trip-and-fall accidents,
- sports-related injuries;
- injuries that were nobody’s fault; and
- any medical conditions which may have an impact upon your current injuries.
You might not think your past injury is relevant, but it’s important for us to use our expertise to decide if it’s relevant or not relevant. The same is true for medical conditions such as diabetes, etc.
Once you begin a personal injury case it’s important to realize that insurance company representatives might be watching you at any given moment, and it’s perfectly legal. That doesn’t mean you should be paranoid. However, if you have a personal injury case or an on-the-job accident, an investigator could be hired to videotape your activities. How to comport yourself outside of the attorney’s office is an important issue to discuss with your attorney.
Generally, any misrepresentation of facts can have a negative impact upon your case, and that may not happen until immediately before what you hoped would be the conclusion of your case. We’ve seen cases where clients sitting on the witness stand are presented with information that contradicts things that they’ve said and represented. The case momentum can change rapidly when this happens and the years of time, effort and expenses invested in your case can be destroyed for everyone.
By following some of the suggestions in this article you can increase the likelihood that you’re going to have a viable personal injury case that justly and fairly compensates you at the end. James F. Leonick, Esq. has 30 years of experience in handling personal injury cases and can advise you properly on all of these issues.
If you find yourself in need of our services, first take a deep breath. Then contact us here.
James F. Leonick
Leonick Law, P.L.L.C.
TEL: (631) 486-9500