Saturday, February 28, 2009

Settlement Brochure: How to Prepare One For Your Injury Case

A lawyer and a wagon-wheel must be well greased. German proverb

If you absolutely cannot get a lawyer but you honestly believe you have a personal injury case then you have only one choice: you've got to go it alone.

Now, I don't recommend you do your case without a lawyer if you can get one.

First of all, studies show that an injured person with a lawyer gets more money even after paying the lawyer than one without.

Second, there are are pitfalls, which means you could fall in a pit which you could not get out of. An excellent example of that is the uninsured or underinsured motorist case and there is an article on that elsewhere in this blog.

Third, you have no idea what your case is worth.

But you've been turned down countless times and no lawyer wants your case but you believe in it so you are doing it anyway.

Step One: Do yourself a favor and don't settle too early. You have to wait till all your injuries are identified, diagnosed and treated. You'll reach a point where all your doctors agree you are at "maximum medical improvement." Don't settle before that point and there may be reasons to wait even further.

Step Two: Gather all the medical records from all the doctors you've seen and the clinics and hospitals you've been to.

Step Three: Do the same thing with the medical bills. You need every bill.

Step Four: Get a copy of the accident report.

Step Five: Get some idea of what your case is worth. See my blog post entitled: What’s Your Case Worth? Utah Injury Attorney Gives Guidelines

Step Six: Summarize your lost income. Now you can't just write a one page summary of your lost income or lost wages and expect to get paid. My clients have almost always had problems understanding what it takes to actually get paid on a lost wage claim.

You need something from your doctor saying you were unable to work because of the accident and for what time period. If you don't have this then you should probably just forget about it except for the fact that it won't hurt your case to throw it in.

And you need documentation from your work. This should include how much you earned per hour before the accident (actual proof: a pay stub or letter from human resources). And it should include the number of hours you were working per week just before the accident. Once again the letter from human resources would be a great place to include this information.

Step Seven: Gather pictures. Pictures that will help the outcome of your case include: 1) damage to your car if it is particulary bad (on the other hand a photo showing little or no damage is the opposite of helpful);

2) pictures of your injuries (this would include right after the accident and then, if the injury is not completely healed, some taken at the time you are putting together the brochure); pictures of scars are particularly useful;

3) If you have a nice picture of yourself you may want to include it as it won't hurt your case and it could "humanize" you for a claims adjuster who has hundreds of files.

Step Eight: Summarize very simply and clearly in a cover letter the information you have gathered. You want a "total" for medical bills and you want to quote the doctors as to their findings or "impressions" regarding your injuries.

Step Nine: At the end of the Summary letter you will need to ask for compensation. It's better to ask too high than too low as you can always come down but it is hard to raise a "demand" number when you realize you have set it too low.

Now take the Summary letter and attach accident report, photos, lost wage summary, medical records and medical bills and make a copy for yourself.

Mail the original to the claims adjuster.

About the Author

Rex Bush is founder of Bush Law Firm near Salt Lake City, Utah where he handles personal injury cases in Utah and throughout the United States and Canada. For more information on personal injury issues visit his website: Utah Personal Injury Attorney.

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