Were you or a loved one injured due to someone else’s negligence? Read these 3 personal injury tips, then call our Hamburg lawyers today.
1. Injury Claim Medical Bill Minimum
There is no minimum number of medical bills that must be paid before a claim can be made and considered viable. With rare exceptions, the majority of the potential claims that could be made for personal injuries do not require that a certain number of medical bills be paid. However, it is required to show damages before a recovery can be obtained. Co-pays and related expenses can be used as evidence of additional damages, and an attorney can ask that those be recovered. If a client has health care that is high-quality or has been paid for by some third party, he or she is not required to show that there were any minimum out-of-pocket damages for that medical care before bringing a claim.
2. Understanding the Discovery Phase
As we begin the process of signing up a lawsuit, many of our clients are curious about the process. To begin with, we seldom simply put a case in suit right away. Instead, we prefer to conduct our own investigation before any insurance company gets involved. We like to collect your medical records and make sure we know exactly what we’re dealing with. Only then do we put our case in suit. What happens after we put the case in suit? First, we serve what’s called a summons and complaint on the other side. They, in turn, hire lawyers – whether through the insurance company or otherwise – and put in what’s called an answer.
Their answer to our complaint may contain some defenses, such as why they think they’re not responsible, and we have to address those. There may be some counterclaims against us, and they may also have cross-claims against other people for causing this injury to occur. If multiple defendants are involved, that part of the process can get quite complicated. That’s the paper discovery phase. When they answer, they will serve us with requests, such as demands for discovery, demands for bills of particulars, and sometimes interrogatories. We have to respond to all of those. Then, we send them all of our requests – our discovery requests, our discovery bill of particulars request, interrogatories, and things of that nature. It’s a big paper exchange.
Sometimes there’s a lot of argument back and forth about what’s to be turned over and what’s not. Many times, we find ourselves in court – and that contributes to delays in litigation. When people don’t want to give us information we need, we have to go to court and make sure that the court orders the other side to turn over the required information. Beyond that, we have to take depositions. That’s where you give testimony – under oath – in a law firm’s office before a trial. As a plaintiff, you will definitely have to give testimony, and your spouse, as well as some of the witnesses to the accident may also be deposed. We also want to depose the defendants. We want to question the person who was driving the car, or the people who manufactured the product. We want to get all of the people who may be able to contribute information to the lawsuit on record to help prove our case.
Once the deposition process is done, either side – or both – may make motions to the court for what they call summary judgment. That basically says, “Judge, you should dismiss this case because of A, B, and C.” On the other hand, we might bring up a motion saying, “Judge, you should say that they’re totally at fault at this point because there’s no question that they were responsible for the accident.” If that motion is granted, the only thing the jury has to consider at the trial is the amount of damages. That could become important, too, because if we get a judge to rule that someone’s responsible ahead of time, the requisite 9% interest will start to run from the date of that ruling and, by the time we get to trial and a verdict is reached, we’ll have a pretty big interest add-on to whatever verdict we get.
3. Discontinuing Injury Medical Treatment
Sometimes, clients call us and say they want to discontinue treatment with their medical providers. For several reasons, however, we always discourage them from doing so. First and foremost, your goal is to get better, and discontinuing your treatment won’t produce the best results. In the long run, as far as your lawsuit is concerned, you have an obligation to continue your treatment and work consistently toward getting better. If you don’t, the attorneys for the insurance company will throw that in your face at trial and say that, by discontinuing your medical treatment, you failed in your duty to mitigate your damages.
The fact is that you may even make your condition worse by deciding not to maximize your medical treatment. The insurance company can also throw that information in front of a jury and use it to reduce the amount you receive when the jury renders its verdict. Also, that defense is sometimes used to get cases dismissed when an attorney says, “Judge, look at this guy. He treated in 2015, and he hasn’t seen anybody in 18 months. Obviously, he’s not that hurt. We think this case should be dismissed.” For a lot of reasons – both strategic and to ensure that your injuries continue to get better – you should continue your treatment. We always urge our clients to continue their treatment to make sure they reach the maximum possible recovery level.
Have you or a loved one been seriously injured due to another’s negligence and have questions about these 3 personal injury tips? Contact the experienced Buffalo injury attorneys at Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP for a free consultation. We treat your case and your injuries seriously and do everything in our power to bring you relief.
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