Occasionally I’ll meet with a potential client who is a paragon of organization. This happened twice last week: in both instances the injured person came in with a three ring binder complete with labeled tabs. Inside the binder were medical bills; information about the person’s auto coverage; pictures of the vehicle damage; estimates for the vehicle repair; and handwritten notes.
This information is quite helpful in evaluating the claim and can considerably speed up the initial work on the client’s file. Obviously, individuals who are this energetic about tending to their affairs are accustomed to dealing with personal matters in an efficient, hands-on manner. After we complete the interview and sign the necessary contracts and authorizations, I know what final question to expect, “What should I be doing now?”
It’s the right question! At my office we hand out a list of items the client should do throughout the time their claim is pending. Here are a few:
- GET BETTER! The proactive client rarely delays in seeking legal representation and is probably still under medical care. Jurors and adjusters are always impressed with people who demonstrably want to recover from their injuries and get on with their lives. Two of the best ways to demonstrate a desire to recover are by conscientiously following the doctor’s instructions and keeping scheduled appointments. During your recovery, the doctor will likely ask you to be at reduced physical activity. If there are circumstances in your life that will make it hard for you to comply with part of the doctor’s instructions then say so. Most doctors are understanding people and, if possible, will modify their instructions to accommodate your needs.
- Let us know how you’re doing. Give us a call and tell us about developments in your medical care. If your diagnosis changes, or if the doctor schedules you for surgery, we need to know as soon as possible. Also, if you are referred to another doctor or if you are sent out for physical therapy, x-rays, MRIs, etc., let us know. We can only obtain records and bills from the medical providers we know about.
- Send us a copy of your medical bills. Yes, we will request account statements from your medical providers. However the bills you receive do not always match the information provided to us. Billing errors can cost you money; comparing account statements with bills sent to you is one way to catch errors.
- Send us a copy of your EOBs. If you have a health plan we also need your EOBs. EOBs, or Explanations of Benefits, are the forms your health plan sends to you that show how much the plan paid to your medical provider and how much you were required to pay. The EOBs also show the discount that the medical provider was required to write off under the contract with your health plan. Some medical providers will not inform us of the amount of the health plan discount. This is important in North Carolina, because the law doesn’t allow medical providers to collect more from you than the contract with your health plan allows. Comparing your EOBs with medical providers’ bills saves you money!
- Keep up with your expenses. An injury costs you more than just medical bills and lost income. You may be out of pocket for any number of expenses resulting from your injuries. Travel expenses to and from medical providers; bills for prescriptions and over the counter medications; payments for lawn or household work you couldn’t perform because of your injuries; these are just a few of the expenses you may encounter. Not every out of pocket loss is compensable under the law, but many are. Keeping track of these expenses helps us save you money.
- Don’t stay out of work longer than your doctor advises. Jurors and adjusters have been programmed by the media to see injury scams behind every corner. You can improve your claim by making sure you have a doctor’s note for every day you miss from work because of your injury even if your employer doesn’t require one.
These are only a few of the answers to the question “What should I be doing now?” This article continues the series on practical perspectives by attorneys from around the country on common questions people ask of injury lawyers. Below is a list of my colleagues who are writing about the topic followed by a list of the articles so far.
Series about Common Questions Clients Ask
I was in an automobile accident. What should I do? Ten Tips For Hawaii Drivers, Wayne Parsons on September 14, 2009 – 3:59 AM EST.
What would a caveman bring to meet with the lawyer?, Steve Lombardi , September 15, 2009 11:00 AM
Solving Legal Problems, Being a Client, Back to the Basics, Steve Lombardi , September 15, 2009 8:48 AM
Car Accident Injury Client: What Makes the Case Good or Bad? (The Collision & Medical Care) , Rick Shapiro September 16, 2009 9:38 AM
Being a Client: More Tips To Help Improve Your Case If You’ve Been In An Car Accident , Devon Glass , September 17, 2009 8:39 AM
Presumed Guilty: How to Avoid Having Insult Added to Injury When You’ve Been Hurt in a Car Crash, Pierce Egerton , September 18, 2009 4:28 PM
What To Do After An Accident When The Adjuster Is There First, Mike Bryant| September 19, 2009 6:26 PM
What Questions Is The Lawyer Going To Ask Me At The Initial Interview For My Injury Or Death Case?, Wayne Parsons | 20 September 2009 12:01