There are no silly or stupid questions asked by clients. Okay, actually that is not entirely true. I once had a client tell me that he had concerns that his auto accident injury was "healing too quickly" and so he was wondering if I thought it would be a good idea to throw himself down the stairs of his apartment building. Stupid question? Yes. But the jokester in me did consider telling him to do it. That was a very silly question.
Obviously, no one should do additional harm to themselves to maximize an insurance claim. But I mention that example because, other than that one question, over the past 20 years in my profession, I have never been asked any OTHER silly questions by a client. Clients should feel comfortable asking their attorney ANY question that comes to mind (silly or not). Answering client questions is a huge part of our job.
This article gives me the opportunity to answer questions that clients had the courage to ask me even though they were concerned that I would think the question was stupid. The fact is, these questions were NOT stupid or silly and definitely should be asked. They are good questions, and they deserve a good, succinct answer.
This article is specific to questions I have been asked in the context of clients with automobile accident injury cases.
1) Is it Better to See a Doctor Selected by a Lawyer?
In fact, attorneys who advertise that part of their services is to make sure you are seen by one of THEIR doctors are doing a tremendous disservice to their clients. Nothing looks worse to the insurance company, their lawyers, or ultimately the jury than the lawyer referring a client to THEIR doctors. While sometimes a client will have no health insurance and no other means. In that case, there may be no other choice but for a lawyer to suggest names of doctors who treat on a lien, but it truly should be a last resort.
2) Do I Have to Share My Whole Medical History with the Insurance Company?
Generally, if you are claiming a back injury, the part of your medical history that you MUST disclose is prior back-related complaints. Any medical history not involving the area of your body injured from this car accident should not be disclosed without a very good reason for doing so.
3) Do I Have to Do a Recorded Statement with the Insurance Company?
Answer: Depends. You always need to do a recorded statement if is for your own insurance company. Never do a recorded statement for the insurance company of the at-fault driver.
Colorado statute, C.R.S. §13-21-301, makes it illegal for the insurance company (yours or the at-fault driver's) to attempt a recorded statement within 15 days of an accident IF the person is actively treating for injuries. Despite the law, insurance companies regularly disregard this statute. Arming yourself with this knowledge will help you stand up to their bullying tactics.
4) Why do Motorcyclists Not Have to Wear Helmets, But Passengers in Cars Have to Wear a Seatbelt?
Answer: Mostly because the Colorado legislature said so. There is no other logical reason.
Helmets save lives and so do seat belts. While the law imposes no punishment for not wearing a helmet, if you are caught not wearing a seat belt, and you claim injury from the crash, the jury is free to reduce the value of your injury award all the way down to zero for not wearing that belt.
5) What are the Chances that if I Lie to the Insurance Company, I Will Get Caught?
Answer: About 115% chance of getting caught.
Insurance companies share databases with other insurance companies. They will know about all of your fender benders, all of your prior property damage and injury claims, any efforts you have ever made to get on disability in the past, and even injury and property damage claims made in your same household.
If you lie about prior injuries, accidents, or claims, you will get caught. Tell the truth. It is much easier to remember and won't get you in trouble.
At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, we understand that you very likely have never been injured in a car accident before and have never had to deal with what happens after that. This will be a whole new experience and a lot of questions [even ones that seem silly to you] will come up along the way. If you want answers, call and speak with one of our attorneys about your case.