When I think about the strength of your auto accident case, or your personal injury accident, what I'm primarily looking at is something called "Causation." Sure, somebody had to have caused the accident. Clearly, you're not going to come across town to visit me if you're not injured, but connecting the injury to the accident while it seems obvious, that's where all of the insurance company tricks and the best defense attorneys you can buy focus.
How does the insurance company or the attorney hired by the insurance company battle back from your personal injury case? How do they fight when clearly, it was the driver that rear-ended you? Clearly, you've got an orthopedic surgeon talking about the back surgery they had just performed on your back. How on earth is it that the insurance company and their lawyers win so many of these cases at trial?
The answer is simple. The insurance company lawyers don't worry a lot about the damage to the cars at the scene of the accident unless they're minor impacts. They just accept that as it is. They don't worry that much about the fact that you did or didn't really need a back surgery. They're generally going to admit to that.
Causation - What Does it Mean to Your Personal Injury CaseDenver Personal Injury Lawyer Chad Hemmat talks about legal causation in Colorado personal injury cases.
How they attack your case and how they win so often is with an understanding that there needs to be some connective tissue between that car crash and those injuries. That connective tissue between those two is what's called "Causation." Every encounter you have from the moment of the car crash to your last doctor visit is going to be looked at by the insurance company or the lawyers they hire, on this one issue.
Think about your car crash and the scene of the accident. When you look at the accident report, does it identify that you were obviously injured at the scene? Surprisingly, most of my clients, the accident report doesn't show any injury. Is that because they weren't injured at the scene? Or is that because the police officer didn't feel that you needed life support? Or an emergency visit through an ambulance in order to leave the scene? Most people leave an auto accident injured but not so injured that they need the ambulance.
In terms of causation, what an insurance company looks at this accident report and it says no injuries, that's a flag. That is a red flag that you can expect at some point, an insurance adjuster or an insurance attorney is going to be saying, "Wow, that was the first witness on the case. The first eyewitness was the police officer and he didn't even think this guy was injured."
Emergency rooms. Emergency rooms are dealing with gunshots, knifing's, people getting beaten up. They deal with, it's triage. They deal with major things and so they very rarely have an emergency room visit that you'll see in your own records and in my experience, you would very rarely see a comprehensive, full physical of anybody who came in to the emergency room.
If you come in and you have a bleeding head, they will identify that you came in with a bleeding head, but if you also have a sore neck and a sore back and an elbow that's bothering you, it's very very common for an emergency room to not mention it at all. It wasn't the reason why you're actually sitting there being bandaged or sutured in the emergency room, so they don't mention it.
Every single thing that's not mentioned in that emergency room visit that ends up being a major issue of pain or injury later, ends up being a red flag for the insurance company in trying to upset the causation chain that you have to establish in your case.
Remember, you're the injured person. You're the plaintiff. You have the burden of proof. If it isn't clear in the records, it's going to be... You're going to be faulted, going down into different care and treatment. When you saw the orthopedic surgeon as a specialist, did you mention that you've had a numb ankle since the date of the accident? Did you mention that you were feeling numbness and tingling in your fingers? Did you mention all those things that later become a major issue when you have your next surgery or your back surgery?
Every single thing that a specialist doesn't mention that ends up being a point in your case, ends up being something the insurance company can focus on. The way we combat this is knowing it's out there. We know where the insurance attorneys are going in their hunt to try to upset the causation, delicate balance. We address it head on. It's our approach to go talk to the police officers first and get to them and say, "We noticed that you put zero injury here. Is there any particular reason you did that given the fact that our client was sent into the emergency room within 45 minutes?"
Ask the police officer and he'll tell you. "Well, in my view if I let him leave the scene on their own power, I'm going to put no injury." Takes care of that issue. I've even seen situations where a person who might have a closed head injury in a concussion goes to an orthopedic surgeon, a field of specialty that has absolutely nothing to do with the brain, not mention a concussion. The insurance company later says, "We think it was notable that when your client went to the orthopedic surgeon about his elbow or his shoulder, he didn't mention his head injury."
Every one of these things is a problem. However, the good news is, causation is something that if you focus on, you don't need to have a hundred percent. It isn't necessary that absolutely every doctor mention absolutely everything, but you need to have a lawyer who's going to help navigate and explain this thing appropriately. The way I do it is, I take it head on.
Sun Tzu in his famous book, Art of War, said the first rule in combat is to know your enemy. We at Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, know that it's the insurance company and their lawyer's way, they avoid responsibility and they've been doing this for decades. It's the call of the question causation. We need to get there before they get there. Frankly, if you don't have an attorney who's prepared to get there before they get there, you probably need to find yourself another attorney, and we're happy to help.
For more information, contact us at 303-782-9999.