10 Easy Ways to Get More Value Out of Your Personal Injury Claim

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10 Easy Ways to Get More Value Out of Your Personal Injury Claim

By Steven Jensen
December 10, 2021

1. Don’t Neglect Medical Treatment. Once you are diagnosed and out of the ER or past your visit with the first doctor, don’t expect for your symptoms to just go away. In most cases, you will need to follow up on your treatment. This may seem obvious for more serious injuries, such as burn injuries, broken bones, and open skull fractures. However, for soft tissue injuries and mild traumatic brain injuries, it may not be so obvious that you need to return to see a medical provider. If you continue to have headaches, soreness, pain, aching, numbness, tingling, or shooting pain, you need to continue to see the right doctor.

Even for more serious injuries, it is important to continue treating until there is nothing else the doctors can do to help or until your symptoms resolve. “Treatment fatigue” is common for serious injuries. Treatment fatigue is where a patient slows down or stops treatment after several weeks or months of regular visits to doctors, physician’s assistants, nurses, therapist, counselors, and more. The patient accepts that he is permanently disabled or impaired, and rather than go on with constant treatment, the patient decides to live with the injuries as is. While this is completely understandable, and I don’t envy anyone in this position, stopping treatment before you are well will not help your personal injury claim.

Getting the best treatment is also critical. For example, for stitching up lacerations, don’t just rely on a nurse practitioner, especially for facial scars. Request a specialist, a plastic surgeon, to stitch up lacerations. If your neck pain and nerve pain from a disc injury persists for months despite medication and physical therapy, set up a consult with an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon. Don’t rely on general practitioners, chiropractors, and therapist alone to address your injuries. Use all available resources to get the best results.

I know what you’re thinking: “But how can I afford all of this treatment?” And this is a great question. Obviously, before you can go on treating, you need a way to pay for the treatment. If you have health insurance, then health insurance is the obvious answer. Although you will have a patient responsibility amount to pay after your health insurer has made payments, the patient responsibility amount will be only a fraction of the bill, usually 20% of the bill. Additionally, payment of the patient responsibility portion can often be placed on hold until you receive your settlement from the responsible party.

If you do not have health insurance paying your medical costs, then you need to figure out what other insurance money is available to you. If you were injured on the job, you will likely have workers compensation insurance available to pay for your treatment. If you are uninsured and do not have workers compensation available, then you will have to figure out how much liability insurance the responsible party has before receiving extensive medical treatment. Most commonly, liability insurance will come from an automobile, homeowners, or commercial general policy. These policies can have as little as $25,000 available to you or several millions of dollars. In addition to the responsible party’s insurance, you may have additional coverage under your automobile insurance policy or an umbrella policy. Once you have determined that there is enough insurance coverage to cover your medical treatment, continue receiving the best treatment possible.

2. Communicate Thoroughly with Medical Treaters. Unless you tell the doctor something is bothering you, he or she will not be able to fix the problem. Don’t feel bad for complaining about all your aches and pains. During visits is not the time to act tough. Report everything that is bothering you when you fill out intake forms and when you speak with all medical staff. Don’t assume that they will know what hurts. Be as descriptive and detailed as possible, but do not exaggerate symptoms. Be honest about the presence and levels of pain and symptoms.

Keep in mind that everything you say at the doctor’s office or hospital will be recorded in the patient notes. This includes facts about the accident. Therefore, don’t guess about what happened in the accident because this could come back to haunt you if you guess wrong. On the other hand, be as comprehensive as you can when describing your injuries and symptoms.

Lastly, make sure the doctor includes in the medical notes your need for future treatment. If the doctor tells you that you will likely need surgery in the future to address your knee pain, for example, ask him to include that in his notes. Oftentimes, the client tells that the doctor mentioned at the appointment that the client would need surgery, but the medical note says nothing about it. We have to then call the doctor, ask him or her to amend the note, then get the updated note. This can take weeks to complete depending on the doctor. You can save time and money by making sure the doctor includes his recommendations and important highlights about your treatment in the notes.

Whenever possible, bring a family member with you to medical appointments. The family member you choose to bring with you should be someone you trust and who brings calmness, not stress, into your life. This can benefit you in a few ways. First, a family member can help explain how the injury is impacting your life. For many of us, it’s uncomfortable to complain to a doctor about our health problems. If this is true for you, bring a family member who has seen you struggle getting out of bed, suffer through headaches, or grimacing in pain while climbing up the stairs and who can complain for you.

Second, a family member can help remember what was discussed during the visit between you and the medical staff. It is difficult to remember everything that goes on and is said during a visit. It can sometimes be useful to have another person to witness the events that go on during medical visits. While much of the visit is documented in office notes, some aspects of the visit are not documented. In these instances, it is useful to have a family member that can support your version of events, including the important recommendations the doctor gives for future treatment.

Third, a family member can give you emotional support. Visiting a doctor’s office or hospital can be scary and stressful. The more stressed and anxious you are, the less effective you will be in communicating with the doctor and remembering your conversations with the doctor. Having a trustworthy family member with you can help alleviate the fear and stress, thereby improving the overall visit.

3. Get Letters from Supervisors, Co-Workers, and Potential Employers to Bolster Your Wage Loss Claim. Lost wages or salary, as well as the loss of the ability to work and earn money, can be a significant part of your personal injury claim. Just because you aren’t a high wage earner does not mean that you should overlook this part of your personal injury claim. The bottom line is if you missed work because of your injuries from the accident, you can make a claim for lost wages.

The most common and obvious way to support a claim for lost wages is through tax returns, pay stubs, and W-2s. You simply add up what you were making, then figure how much money you lost for the length of time you were out of work. However, simply adding up the amount of wage loss doesn’t provide a complete picture of your work losses.

Your employer can help you gather information about other aspects of your wage loss claim. For example, consider the benefits you used up because of the accident, such as vacation time, family leave, or PTO, which you wouldn’t have used had the accident not happened. Ask your HR department to summarize these benefits and the amount that you used up following the accident.

Also, have your employer draft a letter explaining any awards or recognition that you were on track to receive but did not because of the accident. Maybe you were on track to get promoted, but because of the accident, another employee got the promotion. Or maybe, because of your injuries, you aren’t doing as well at your job and people are starting to notice. Employers can help explain how your injuries clearly were impacting your job performance in a negative way.

You may have gotten injured just before starting a new job. Then, because of the accident and your injuries, you were not able to start the new job, and the position was given to someone else. In this case, it is extremely helpful to get a letter from the company listing out your job title, duties, pay, compensation package, and start date. It’s also important that the letter explains you were not able to start the job because of the accident, and that the someone else filled the position. Additionally, the letter should state why you were hired in the first place and highlight all of the positive things about your qualifications. This will help highlight your strengths as a candidate for a particular job, and how the accident disrupted your career from moving forward.

4. Take Photographs and Video of Your Recovery. It is critical that you document as much as you can about the accident and your injuries. Photographs and video recordings are the best way to do this. As we’ve heard so many times before, a picture speaks a thousand words. Pictures and videos help avoid a lot of disputes about your case.

From the moment the accident happens, until the moment your case is closed, you need to take photos and video. You can never have enough. At the accident scene, photograph and video every aspect of the scene. The quality of the photos and video don’t have to be perfect. If you take the photo or video, don’t delete it. Just keep them all. Most cell phones have more than sufficient quality cameras that take great photos and video.

Don’t assume that someone else will take the video and photos for you. If your injuries are more serious, there’s a higher chance that a police officer or investigating officer will take photographs. It is rare that we see them taking any video. If you are not too injured at the scene, take your cell phone out and start snapping photos and recording video. If you are too hurt to do this, have someone else take photos and video right away. If your accident happened several weeks or months ago, still go back to the scene and take photos and video. You can point out important location points and help explain how everything happened.

Photograph and video your injuries and your recovery, as well. Most clients send us several photographs of their injuries right after the accident, and this is great. We see cuts, bruises, burns, compound fractures, and a lot of other injuries, some of which are really hard for most people to stare at. However, don’t be shy. Send us everything you have. Continue taking photos and video of your injuries and recovery. Document the progression from hospital bed, the wheel chair, to crutches, to leg boot, to walking with a limp, and on and on. This helps the insurance company or whoever is paying you for your injuries understand the full story. Even you will forget how frustrating it was to have to hobble around everywhere or complete basic activities like brushing your hair. Looking back at photos and video during your struggle will help spark those memories.

If you see cameras or surveillance video, be sure to ask for it as soon as possible. For example, if your child was injured on the playground at school, ask the school immediately for a copy of the video. Send a letter or email right away to the principal requesting that the school preserve the surveillance video. The same is true if you are injured in a store, gym, parking lot, loading dock, or anywhere else that might have a camera. Surveillance video footage disappears quickly. Most surveillance cameras hold the footage for only 2-3 days before it is recorded over with new footage. Therefore, it’s important that the footage is requested right away.

Accidents that are caught on tape are much more likely to result in a higher, quicker settlement. Defendants and insurance companies can’t dispute what’s caught on tape. Confusion and ambiguity is an insurance company’s best friend. The more uncertainty there is about the facts of an accident, the more the insurance company can poke holes in your story. It’s worth all the time and expense to get surveillance video.

5. Record Phone Calls. This can be a game-changer. Some of the best support for your side of the story will come from your early conversations with the at-fault party/company, insurance adjusters, police officers, witnesses, and anyone else with knowledge of your accident. Once attorneys get involved, people get nervous to talk to you and will start ignoring your calls. The earlier you can get them on the phone or in person to record your conversations, the more likely you are to get helpful nuggets of information.

No, it is not illegal to record your conversations in Utah. Our clients often don’t record their conversations because they are afraid of breaking the law. Utah is considered a “single-party consent” state, which means that only one person the conversation needs to consent to the recording. That one person is you. The great thing is you don’t have to tell the other person that you are recording the conversation. In fact, never tell the other person that you are recording them. Some people won’t talk to you or aren’t honest when they know they are being recorded.

How do you record? If you are using a cell phone, you’ll need to download an app on your phone or use an external recording device. You can purchase an app on your iPhone or Android phone for $10 or less, which is money well spent considering the great evidence you can get from your recorded calls. These apps include nonotes.com, Tapeacall Pro, or Call Recorder.

Using an external audio recorder is another great way of recording calls. You can purchase a decent recorder on Amazon.com for $20 or less. If you have another cell phone nearby, which you probably do since nearly everyone has a cell phone these days, just start the recorder and hold it up to the phone. For best audio, put the phone on speaker as you record.

Once you have finished recording, make sure you download a second copy of the recording onto a computer, a CD, or anywhere else you can access it in case the original recording is lost. I’ve had clients lose their recordings then try to get the other person to repeat what he said during the first conversation; however, it’s difficult to replicate the first conversation, and people become suspicious if you are asking them to repeat the same conversation. It will save you a big headache if you backup your first recording.

6. Keep a Journal. Helen Keller, the famous deaf and blind educator, American author, and lecturer once said, “I don’t want to live in a hand-me-down world of others’ experiences. I want to write about me, my discoveries, my fears, my feelings, about me.” This means a lot coming from Keller who was born with life-changing disabilities. Keller’s words of advice perfectly apply directly to my injured clients.

After several weeks, then months, then years, you will forget your struggles, fears, worries, stress, and pain you experienced as you slowly recovered from your injuries. The time to record your experiences of dealing with and overcoming your injuries is during the time you are struggling the most. All of the emotions you are feelings now will probably change in the weeks and months to come, so write it all down while it’s happening. Don’t “live in a hand-me-down world of others,” which will happen if you don’t record your experiences.

Your journal entries will be a great tool to use when explaining to the insurance adjuster how the accident and your injuries have impacted your life. Without specific stories from your life, your case will get lumped in with the hundreds of other cases that your insurance adjuster is working. Journal entries give specific details about your life that will make your claim more memorable to the adjuster, separating you from the others. Your attorney can use the journal entries to get more value out of your case.

Journals are great for adding value to your case, but there are other reasons to keep a journal. Writing your thoughts down can also be therapeutic and good for your mental health, which in turn, improves your physical health. Study after study has shown that writing down your thoughts and experiences in a journal does great things for your health. Don’t take my word for it; here’s a list published by PsychCentral of some of the benefits of journal writing:

  • Clarify your thoughts and feelings.Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside, unsure of what you want or feel? Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and emotions (no editing!) will quickly get you in touch with your internal world.
  • Know yourself better.By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you — important information for your emotional well-being.
  • Reduce stress.Writing about anger, sadness and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.
  • Solve problems more effectively.Typically, we problem solve from a left-brained, analytical perspective. But sometimes the answer can only be found by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Writing unlocks these other capabilities, and affords the opportunity for unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
  • Resolve disagreements with others.Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another’s point of view. And you just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict.

Journal keeping is also important to write down names of witnesses and other facts about your case. For example, I recently met with a high school student and her mom about an accident that took place at her school. They had several conversations with several different students and parents about what they had heard and seen. By the time I met with them, they couldn’t remember the names of these people and who had said what. Suddenly, all this great information becomes less useful because nothing was written down. Don’t assume you’re going to remember a thing. Write it all down.

7. Gather Statements from Family Members, Friends, Co-Workers. Those closest to you are often the best people to talk to when it comes to understanding your injuries. Especially with brain injuries, you, the injured person, is not always the best person to describe the impact of the injury on your life. The people you spent a lot of time with before the accident are in the best position to describe how you’ve changed after the accident. The changes may be subtle, so you’ll need someone that really knew you well before the accident. For example, family members might tell you that you seem depressed, more emotional, less fun, quieter, and just “off.” Casual acquaintances might not notice these subtle changes, so you’ll need to rely on family members and close friends.

Co-workers can also be a great source of information for your before v. after life. Many of us are at work more than we are at home. In many cases, your doctor requires you to take time off of work or cut back your hours. Then, once you return to full-time, your job performance may take a hit. Co-workers always take notice whenever another co-worker isn’t performing. The co-workers you consider friends will be sympathetic and have helpful information about your time at work.

Stories are what we want from these people. Telling a story with details about a time you couldn’t take a road trip to Yellowstone because of your hurt back or how you couldn’t remember how to work the remote because of your concussion is much more impactful than simply describing your back pain or concussion symptoms. Stories help the audience understand you better and make your injuries more memorable to them. They help draw sympathy from your audience, who might be a jury, judge, mediator, insurance adjuster, or defense attorney.

8. Gather Pre-Accident Photographs and Video. Your life has probably changed after the accident. It may have changed dramatically depending on your injuries. Perhaps you love to cook, and since the accident, you can no longer cook the 4-course dinner that your family looked forward to each night. Or maybe you loved to hunt, hike, camp, fish, and ride your four wheelers to remote places, but now you can’t because your neck hurts too much. If you try to do these things, you pay for it the next day or week. The point is, your life has changed since the accident, and you’re not happy about it.

You are entitled to get money for your “loss of enjoyment of life,” or the change in your lifestyle because of the accident. The better you can describe your life before the accident, the better you can contrast it with your life after the accident. A great way of showing this contrast is using photographs and video of your life before the accident. For example, you’ve probably seen these side-by-side comparisons of Presidents Bush and Obama:

[insert photos of Bush and Obama]

It’s obvious which photo is at the beginning of their term and which is at the end. These photos also give a clear impression that 8 years in office took a toll on these men. What better way to make this point than with these side-by-side comparisons? We could sit down with each of these past Presidents and have them tell us all the stories about how stressful the job was, but that still would be less impactful than a quick look at these photos.

Nowadays, many of us take hundreds of photos and video each week. Pick the very best photographs and video from 1-2 years before the accident and send them to the insurance adjuster. Explain how you can no longer enjoy the activities that are shown in the photos and video since their insured injured you. Explain how this has affected your mental and physical health. Maybe you’re more depressed and have less self-confidence. You may have gained 20 pounds because you’re less active, which leads to health problems and depression. The point is, you want to highlight the before and after.

I once had a client that was a professional photographer and videographer. He was an adrenaline seeker. He loved to travel to extreme places, cliff jump, skydive, ski, and whatever else he could do to get an adrenaline rush. I didn’t have to take his word for it. He had hundreds of photos and video of him doing these activities. Then, one day, a car pulled out in front of him while he rode his motorcycle down the highway. He hit the front of the car, and flew into the roadway. He broke several bones and tore ligaments in his knee. It took months of rehab to get him back to 50% of his activities before the accident. He took professional photos and video of his physical therapy sessions and his trips to the hospital, then edited them for the highest quality. It was no surprise that the insurance company offered the most it could pay on the claim, despite some great arguments that my client was at fault for the collision. I believe the effective use of the before and after footage is what largely convinced the insurance company to pay the money.

I bring this case up to emphasize the importance of using photographs and video from before the accident. You don’t need to have professionally produced photos and videos to add value to your case. You just need to make a conscious effort to collect what you have and pick the most effective photos and video from before the accident, then compare them to photos and video after the accident. This will be the most impactful memorable way to show the decline in your quality of life.

9. Stay Off Social Media. Insurance companies love to have in inside peek at your life. They’ve been known to send private investigators to spy on clients at home, work, school, etc. to catch them in a lie. What better way to embarrass you than to show pictures of you water skiing as you claim that you can barely get out of bed because of your hurt knee? This can kill your case and even lead to potential argument for insurance fraud.

This leads me to my rule regarding social media: stay off it. Don’t use it at all during the life your case. Silence is best. When you post on social media, you are giving information directly to the insurance company that they can use against you. If you have an attorney, you are cutting your attorney out and speaking directly to the insurance company. Your attorney loses the ability to filter what you do and say, which can hurt the value of your case. If you don’t have an attorney, you may not be sure which posts can hurt your case, so it’s better just to not post at all.

If you can’t help yourself, and you have to post for personal or professional reasons, make sure you set all your privacy settings to allow only friends to view your postings. Never accept friend requests from someone you don’t know. It could be an insurance agent or private investigator looking to sabotage your case. If you leave your social media pages open for all to see, you’re inviting your opponent to get an up-close look into your life in the easiest, non-intrusive way possible. Never post anything that contradicts the claims you are making in your case. If you hurt your neck, don’t post a picture of you sitting on a boat or a four-wheeler, even if it’s not moving. Also, don’t post anything about your accident no matter how innocent the post may seem.

Social media posts can affect your case in ways you may not expect. I once had a nice lady come to me after her 5-year-old child was seriously injured in a car accident. This lady’s husband, the child’s father, was driving and the 5-year-old was sitting in a car seat in the rear seat. According to the father, another car ran a red light and collided into them as they turned left when the turning arrow turned yellow. The child sustained a traumatic brain injury from the impact. The mother hired me to make a claim against the other driver that ran the red light. I asked to see her and her husband’s social media posts. I was shocked to see photos on Facebook of the father holding a gun while flashing gang signs. Marijuana and liquor bottles were pictured in the background. None of these posts were private and were available to the whole world to see.

You may be thinking, “Sure, he’s probably not an outstanding citizen, but what does this have to do with his case?” Well, you’re not crazy for asking this question. In fact, I’d agree with you. Except, there was one problem. I requested the police report, and it became clear that the accident may not have happened the way the father described. The other driver told the police office that the light was green and the father turned left in front of her and caused the accident. There were no other witnesses. This was going to be a “he said, she said” battle. The credibility of the two drivers became key. The father’s Facebook photos killed the father’s credibility, and we had an image problem. This now meant that we’d need to also bring a claim against the father because he could be seen as the person who caused the accident. The father obviously did not like this, but I represented the minor child and had to do what was in her best interest, which meant pointing the finger at the father.

Now, do the Facebook photos prove what happened in the accident? No, not at all. The father may very well be telling the truth. Many judges may even exclude the Facebook pictures at trial so that the jury would never see them. But I can’t wait for trial to find out how it all plays out. I can only deal with the information I have at the moment. It became clear early on that we were losing the credibility battle. The Facebook photos were the cause.

Caveat: If you’re reading this post and in the middle of your personal injury claim, don’t go back and delete your posts that violate these rules. You can get in trouble for deleting evidence. Just set your settings to private and hope that nothing has already been downloaded.

10. Hire an Attorney. Based upon a study by the Insurance Research Council, the average person makes 3.5 times more on a personal injury claim when represented by an attorney. If this alone isn’t enough to convince you to hire an attorney, consider all the services you’ll receive when you hire an attorney:

Collaborate and Listen. The first thing an attorney does is help you think about your case. It is critical that the attorney listens to your story to gain an understanding of what you have been through.

Open Your ClaimOnce you decide to move forward with a claim for your injuries, we send letters of representation to all responsible parties and their insurance companies. A letter of representation not only informs the recipient that we represent you, but it also instructs the recipient to notify their insurance carrier immediately and to preserve all evidence that may be relevant to the accident.

Investigate. Simultaneous with opening your claim and sending letters of representation, we immediately begin investigating your accident.

Identify All Available Sources of Payment. In many cases, there is more than one person at fault for an accident. Or, if there is only one person at fault, then he or she may have more than one source of insurance to cover your loss. In rare circumstances, the at-fault party may have assets that you can successfully recover. Whether there is one person at fault or several, it is critical that you find all potential sources of payment. In almost every case, this means finding the applicable insurance policies that will cover the accident.

Coordinate Medical Bills. It doesn’t take long for the medical bills to start piling up after you’ve been injured. Having health insurance or worker’s compensation coverage can help lessen some of the stress that comes with increasing medical bills.

Coordinate Medical Treatment. If you are uninsured or unsure of who to see for your particular injury, we can direct you to the right place. We can refer you to someone in your area who will give you great treatment and get you back on your feet.

Minor Settlements. When a minor (person under the age of 18) receives a personal injury settlement or award, the court must approve the settlement. This is a complicated and time-consuming process. We represent the minor through this process.

Negotiate Liens and Medical Bills. If you receive a settlement or an award, you will likely owe money to medical providers or health insurance companies for medical treatment. After obtaining the outstanding balances, we work diligently to get these amounts reduced to as little as possible in the fairest way possible. This means more money in your pocket.

Coordinate Presettlement Loans. Being in an accident may cause financial stress. In these situations, there are companies that will loan you an amount of money now with the agreement that you will pay them out of the settlement. Beware that these loans are very expensive and carry very high interest rates.

Coordinate No-Fault Benefits. If you are injured in an auto accident, you can receive payments for medical bills, lost wages, and household services benefits. These benefits are called No Fault Benefits, and they are required under every automobile insurance policy.

Receive the Best Outcome Possible. In a nutshell, we want to get you the best result possible. This does not mean that you will always get the result you want or hoped for, but that you receive the best possible result. We want each client to know that no other person or attorney could have received a better result.

Provide Some Guidance on Financial Planning. Research has shown that most people that receive money for their personal injury claim spend it all within a few months on depreciating assets or consumables. We want to help our clients grow their money as much as possible. This requires some thought, discussion, and planning. We can direct you to the right people that will help your money grow and become an asset that you can rely upon for years to come.

Mediations. Negotiation is a skill. In many cases, your claim is settled through mediation, which is a formal negotiation process with a mediator. We have mediated numerous amounts of cases. We have the experience and skill set to maximize the value of your case through artful and scientific negotiation practices. We know the right buttons to push and levers to pull to get the other side to properly value your case and pay the settlement you deserve.

Litigation. Sometimes the insurance company will not offer you a fair settlement or anything at all. In these instances, you will need to file a lawsuit. Litigation requires skill and experience. I have litigated hundreds of cases leading to great results.

Trials. If the case still does not settle, then trial begins. Trials can last anywhere between one day to several months. Most trials are decided by juries who the court selects randomly. Jury selection is one of the most critical parts of the trial. If you select the wrong jurors, you can lose no matter how persuasive or skillful you are in your arguments and presentation. If you select the right jury that agrees with your side of the case and awards you money, this can be very exciting and rewarding.

Arbitrations. Rather than go to trial, the parties may choose to arbitrate the case. Arbitration is like trial but much less formal. You do not have a judge but an arbitrator who decides the case. The parties put on their evidence in the allotted time, and the arbitrator makes her ruling. If you put on enough favorable evidence, she will award you money. If you do not put on enough favorable evidence, then you will get nothing. Arbitration is much less costly then jury trials and the rules are not as stringent, which allows for some flexibility during the discovery process.

Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee. This means that you don’t owe your attorney anything unless you win your case. If you do win or get money from your claim, you pay your attorney out of the settlement. If you lose, and your attorney has spent $20,000 on your case, you owe that attorney nothing; the attorney eats those costs. You have nothing to lose by hiring a personal injury attorney who works for you on a contingency basis.

Keep in mind that not all attorneys are created equally. Consider the attorney’s experience, approachability, responsiveness to your calls and emails, and the contingency fee. You want to hire an attorney that does only personal injury law. Many attorneys throw up “personal injury” as one of their practice areas on their website, but be sure to quiz them on this in more detail. If their practice isn’t at least 80% devoted to personal injury, stay away. Also, you need a personal injury attorney that has litigation experience. If the insurance company doesn’t settle, you need an attorney that can fight them all the way to court, if necessary. Many attorneys don’t offer this service or have the experience to effectively litigate.

Be sure to hire an attorney that has excellent customer service. Check their client reviews on avvo.com and lawyers.com, the two main attorney review websites. You can also check reviews on Yelp.com and Facebook. Lastly, call the local state bar association for any disciplinary action that’s been taken against the attorney. If the attorney has been disciplined by the bar, stay away. This should put you on notice that the attorney will be less than honest with you. In Utah, you can contact the Utah State Bar by calling 801-531-9077 or visiting www.utahbar.org.

Lastly, make sure the attorney charges you a reasonable fee. With very few exceptions, the fee you pay your attorney should never exceed 33% if your case is settled pre-litigation (before filing a lawsuit) and 40% post-litigation (after filing a lawsuit). Fees, however, should be negotiated depending on the claim. If your attorney is not flexible on the fee, particularly if your case settles pre-litigation, you may be overpaying on fees. At Parker & McConkie, we have flexible fee program, which means, we set your fee only after we’ve heard the facts of your case. This works out better for you. If your case is one that will settle more quickly with less costs, we take less fee. Other firms will charge you a flat fee that is determined before you tell them one thing about your case. In our opinion, this is an unfair approach and could costs you thousands of dollars.

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