Court

Advice & Recommendations

General advice and recommendations to car accident victims who wish to get the most compensation for their damages.

 

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Advice and Recommendations

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INSTRUCTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS

  1. Do not discuss the case with anyone other than members of this firm, your spouse, our private investigator, your health care providers, or other persons with whom we authorize you to discuss your case.

  2. Consult us before you do something that might affect your case, including changing health care providers.

  3. Sign nothing dealing with your claim until you have received our instructions or approval.

  4. Do not discuss your claim with your own insurance company adjuster, refer them to us and we will handle matters such as arranging for you to have a statement taken.

  5. Tell your health care provider about all your current systems and any prior similar complaints, to ensure that an accurate and complete record of your condition is well established.

  6. Follow your health care provider’s instructions.

  7. Send us copies of all bills you receive as a result of your claim (whether paid by insurance or not). Please indicate, on a separate piece of paper, whether you have paid them.

  8. Obtain a receipt or bill for all drugs or appliances purchased by you, and mail those items to this office.

  9. Obtain a receipt or bill for any household services utilized by you as a result of your injury, and mail those items to this office.

  10. Notify us at once of any changes in employment, raises or reductions in salary, or loss of job. Similarly, if you are required to miss any work due to your injuries, send us a note identifying the dates of work missed.

  11. If you are self-employed, keep a record of all the times you are unable to work or perform your duties, and discuss with us how we might best demonstrate your loss of income.

  12. Notify us right away of any change of address or of home or business telephone numbers.

  13. If you are going to be out of town for more than one week, please advise our office of when you will return and how you might be reached while away.

  14. Keep a record of any other expenses incurred as a result of the collision, including payments to persons you employ to do work that you would have done but for your injuries.

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While your case is in progress, it is of great importance that you do your part and that you keep your attorney informed.

Here are some suggestions that you will find helpful:

(1) PRESERVE EVIDENCE IN YOUR POSSESSION.

(a) Save physical objects that relate to your case, such as braces, belts or traction devices that were prescribed because of the accident. Keep these items in your possession.

(b) Do not delete social Media posts, emails or text messages until those are archived.

(c) Do not give away, trade or discard a cell phone or personal computer before archiving emails, text messages, etc. It is better to resist production of irrelevant material in court than to be accused of destroying relevant evidence.

(2) FORWARD ALL BILLS. At frequent intervals send your attorney all bills related to your accident or injury.

(3) NOTIFY OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS OR PHONE. Keep your attorney informed of your correct address and phone number (including temporary changes). It may be necessary to reach you quickly.

(4) INFORMING YOUR TEAM. Please inform us immediately if any of the following occur:

A. Your condition worsens.

B. You get better.

C. You have another accident, injury, complication or other illness.

D. You are hospitalized.

E. You go back to work or are discharged from treatment by your doctor.

F. You change doctors or go to another doctor or you are referred by your doctor to a specialist (please call us before you have your first appointment).

G. Any other circumstances occur that you think will affect your claim or your health.

(5) BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY. Discuss your case only with your attorney. Do not give information to anyone except your doctor(s), without your attorney’s approval.

(1) Talk to No One—Do not talk to anyone—in person or online—about your accident except one of the lawyers or investigators in our office. You should always require identification so that you are sure who you are talking to. Do not talk to your own insurance company; railroad claim agent; company representative; or any type of agent, attorney or investigator without first notifying our office so we can have these statements taken with one of our lawyers or investigators present.

(6) KEEP GOING TO THE DOCTOR(S). This is very important. Follow your doctor’s instructions and treatment and do not stop seeing your doctor(s) until discharged from further treatment. FAILURE TO OBSERVE THIS MAY RESULT IN SERIOUS ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES TO YOUR CLAIM.

(2) Your Doctor—You should return to each of your doctors as often as necessary and should always tell them about all your complaints. You should neither minimize nor exaggerate your ailments to your doctors. A doctor must know these things in order to properly treat you. If you plan to see any additional doctors, please advise us before you see them and tell us their names and addresses.

(7) TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS of all visible injuries that were caused by the accident, during the healing process.

(8) SOCIAL MEDIA PRECAUTIONS.

This information applies to all social networking sites, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Mashable, FourSquare, Reddit, Pinterest, Vine, Tumblr, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.

 We have seen an increase in electronic surveillance of these accounts and sites by the insurance companies, investigators and defense attorneys for purposes of embarrassing and humiliating claimants, and claiming that your injury was exaggerated or even caused by anything other than the incident related to your claim.

Insurance companies have successfully used such information, even those considered innocent, harmless joking between private “Friends,” to convince a judge and juries that plaintiffs have been dishonest.

Please always be aware that what you say or post, including photographs, in any format on your computer or internet may be brought into and affect your claim.

Also be aware that the insurance companies may be entitled to request all information contained within your home computers, laptop, hard drives, external hard drives, and other storage devices, including memory sticks and cell phones. They may also be able to ask a judge to grant them access to your social media pages or sites, even if you have the highest privacy settings established and they have not been able to access them to that point.


We cannot emphasize strongly enough how much these things have the potential to affect your claim, so please follow our advice:

DO

1. Archive current account contents before deleting anything. Because destruction of potential evidence may create bigger problems than the information itself, it is important to preserve whatever you now have on your social media accounts. Most social media sites include directions for archiving.

For example, in Facebook, go to the down arrow (▾) in the top bar, click on “Settings,” click “Download a Copy of Facebook Data,” then follow the directions to download an “expanded archive.” Save that and either email it to ken@shigleylaw.com or put it on a CD or USB drive to send to our office. Other social media sites generally include comparable provisions for archiving. If that is too confusing, ask us to assist in archiving your social media.

 2. Discontinue Using:

Consider taking down your Facebook or other social media pages and profiles entirely. If complete discontinuation of usage is impossible, weed out any “friends” who you do not know well in real life, remove (after archiving) anything that could in any way touch upon your injury or activities, and avoid posting anything about your activities.

3. Highest Privacy Settings:

If you won’t take down your social media pages and profiles, make sure your privacy settings are at the highest levels. This means making sure that only friends can see ANY of your information and NOT friends of friends or the general public.

4. Be Careful Who Your “Friends” Are:

Create Friend Lists which can help you further narrow what even you friends have access to. You can create lists so that only certain friends can see your photo albums and status updates. REMOVE ANY “FRIENDS” YOU DO NOT ACTUALLY KNOW, AND ONLY ACCEPT FRIEND REQUESTS FROM PEOPLE YOU ACTUALLY KNOW. Remove people you have as “friends” currently who are only acquaintances or people you don’t or barely know.


5. Make Yourself “Invisible”:

Remove yourself from Facebook search results by selecting “only friends” under search visibility in your profile settings. Remove yourself from Google by going to your Internet Privacy Settings and unchecking the box for Public Search Listing. Make comparable changes to privacy settings in all other social media.

6. Take Down Photos / Untag Yourself:

After archiving current content, remove all photos of yourself from social media pages other than a simple “head shot.”

7. Be Cautious:

Assume anything you write on your social media pages, including status updates, messages and wall postings, will at some point be seen by the defense lawyer(s), a judge and maybe a jury of people who don’t know you. Think about how things can be perceived differently than how they truly are, especially when taken out of context.

Be aware that Facebook’s new settings publish your interests, even if they are private.

DON’T

1. Assume You Are Safe:

Sometimes “friends” can unintentionally pass along information to strangers who may be working on behalf of the defense lawyer or an insurance company. Sometimes “friends” can also have different interests, be mad at you and want to settle a score, or have a grudge and willingly disclose information to lawyers and insurance companies that will seriously hurt your claim.

2. Send Emails or Information Regarding Your Case:

Do NOT send emails to anyone except your lawyers regarding your claim and its progress, your health and activities. We have seen people absolutely destroy their case with careless emails.

3. Join Web-Chat Groups:

You do not own the information you post online, and it is highly searchable. Do not enter insurance websites, post on message boards, participate in or comment on blogs, go into chat rooms about insurance and claims-related issues. Do not create your own website or start your own blog about your experience.

(3) Records—Please keep accurate and detailed records of the following:

a. Lost time and wages;

b. Hospital, doctor, drug and other medical bills;

c. Other losses directly resulting from your injury;

d. Your complaints and progress as set out in your “My Day” instruction sheet.

All your bills should be paid by check or you should obtain and keep receipts. Keeping such records may be very helpful when, a year later, you will be asked by the defense to recall your pain, difficulties and your expenses.

(4) Repairs—Do not have your automobile, boat, airplane, farm implement, piece of machinery, household item or other object that was involved in your accident repaired until we have had time to examine it; have it photographed; have it examined by an expert or impounded as we feel is necessary in order to preserve the evidence as needed for your case. If your case involves a product or instrument not in your control, please try to see that it is not repaired or disposed of until we have photographed it and had it examined by an expert, if necessary.

(5) Offenses, Fines or Disciplinary Action—Do not appear or give statements before: a traffic court; a coroner’s inquest; a Federal Aviation Agency investigating board; a railroad investigating agency; a union investigating agency; a maritime investigating agency; or any other type of disciplinary board, panel or other proceedings without first notifying this office in order that we might have one of the attorneys from this office be with you and represent you at such a hearing. The reason for this is to be sure that you do not prejudice yourself in the action in which we represent you.

(6) Witnesses—Immediately furnish us with the correct names, addresses and telephone numbers of any and all witnesses you may learn of. This includes fellow workers and My Day witnesses. If someone will be leaving the area permanently, please call us so we can take their deposition if necessary.

(7) Evidence—Give to your investigator the negatives and prints of any photographs pertaining to your case which you or any of your friends have taken. If you are required to be in the hospital and are receiving any type of treatment such as traction or physical therapy, please notify our office so that we can have you photographed by our investigator or one of the members of your family. If your injury requires a cast, a brace, traction, or other appliance, save the appliance for evidence in trial. You should notify us that you are keeping these items, and when the case is set for hearing, you should bring these items with you. Please contact your own insurance carrier or company for a copy of all their photographs and investigative materials on your case. Please talk to us about any evidence that you have or know the whereabouts of that may help us to prove your case. Save any physical evidence and discuss it with your lawyer and investigator.

(8) Hospital and Doctor Bills—Have your hospitalization insurance, such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield, pay as much on your bills as possible; also, consider any other carrier that may have the obligation to make such payments. Doctors and hospitals are more cooperative when their bills are paid. You should not expect them to wait until your case is tried or settled to receive payment. You should, therefore, pay any balance as soon as possible.

(9) Questions—We will probably not contact you until we have something definite to report. We will be contacting you for depositions, answers to interrogatories, and when your case is ready for trial. If you have any specific questions in regard to these instructions or any other matters in regard to your case, please feel free to call or write us, or come in and review your file. Please be patient and remember that many things will be done on your file without your presence. For everyone’s convenience, please do not come into the office expecting to see one of the attorneys or investigators without an appointment.

(10) Your contact information—Be sure to keep us advised of any change in your address, email or telephone number(s).

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