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Needlessly Walking the High-Wire: Risks Clients Take with Their Personal Injury Claims - Part 2

Posted by: Chad Hemmat | Friday, January 07, 2011 | 0 Comments | Back to Personal Injury Blog

As a continuation of last week's post, here are more lessons to be aware of when you are presenting your personal injury claim.

LESSON 6: NEVER IMPERSONATE ANYONE ELSE:
On occasion, I have known people who were hurt and needed medical care but had no health insurance and then decided to borrow the identity and health insurance card of a friend or family member to get treatment. This is a very bad idea.

Aside from the obvious, that this is insurance fraud, there also is no record that the person who actually was hurt in the accident went to the hospital. Instead, the record appears as if someone else did. In addition to committing insurance fraud, you are also calling your truthfulness into serious question. See above discussion of defense counsels effective "one trick pony" argument.

LESSON 7: EXAGGERATING SYMPTOMS OR BODY REACTION IN THE COLLISION NEVER HELPS YOUR CASE AND OFTEN CAN PROVE YOU TO BE A LIAR:

People often mistakenly describe themselves as wearing their seatbelt, being struck in the front or the back at moderate or lower speeds, and then striking their head on a windshield. However, that feat is impossible. It can only happen if they are not wearing their seat belt.

I had a client swear he was wearing his seat belt, though the police described that it was jammed in the door that could not be opened after the crash, thus proving it wasn't being worn at the time of the crash.

Also, with buses, such as RTD video recording their passengers, clients who describe extreme body motions during a crash, when the video shows little movement at all, ruin their case with reckless abandon.

Once again, the lesson here is to be truthful and not to try to change the facts to help your case. Often, your efforts will only result in irreparably hurting your case.

LESSON 8: NEVER ADD TO YOUR PROPERTY DAMAGE. IT'S FRAUD AND YOU WILL GET CAUGHT:

It is true that insurance companies put far too much emphasis on relating degree of property damage to the presumed level of personal injury. As people in the industry know, property damage and physical injury really have very little to do with each other.

That being said, some clients make an effort to, shall we say, add emphasis to their property damage. However, through the use of matching up the bumpers of the cars involved and measuring height of contact points, the insurance company is very good at figuring out this sort of misbehavior.

The lesson here is that you are much better to let your skilled counsel deal with the extent of property damage and all the arguments we have at our disposal that prove that minimal property damage does not correlate necessarily to minimal personal injury damage. If you "doctor" your car damage, it will only get you in real trouble and make you look like a heavy weight champion of supreme liars. That is bad for you and your case. So don't do it. You WILL get caught.

LESSON 9: WEAR APPROPRIATE CLOTHING TO YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY MEDICAL EXAM:

I have had this come up only one time, but it was reckless behavior on the part of my client that truly backfired on her.

The insurance company requested that my client see a doctor of their choice for an examination. My client arrived to the examination without underwear. They placed her in a small examination smock and put her in the examination room. When the doctor walked in, she announced that she was bottomless. Well, while the client's goal was probably to get the doctor to relent on some of the more revealing range of motion tests required by a full examination, or maybe refuse to examine her at all, he did just the opposite. Instead, the doctor went forward with his full, complete examination of my client.

The doctor noted the client's bottomless state in his report and went on to detail that she wasn't much hurt, if at all, from the crash, and the things that were ailing her, including a psychological disorder, had nothing to do with the crash. The stunt made my client look either like a flake or a sex addict. Either way, I'm certain this didn't play out as she had hoped and certainly should never be repeated by anyone else.

The lesson here is to never put yourself in a position where your character or your sanity can be called into question. Not only is it risky to do so, it also serves no purpose and is stupid. Wear underwear!

LESSON 10: TAKING A PHOTO IS GREAT EVIDENCE OF MORE THAN YOU THINK IT IS:

We often suggest to our client that during the healing process after an injury that they snap photos of scars, of burns etc. It is laughable how often the photo shows, for example, a client holding up their hair to show a gash on their forehead, and the client has a smile on her face like she just hit the jackpot in Blackhawk. These photos are vital pieces of the puzzle and often serve as the only evidence of the injuries our clients suffered. However, I cannot tell you how often I simply cannot use the photos I receive because of this "jackpot" look that my client has on his or her face.

The lesson here is that when you are injured and file your claim, the insurance company and possibly members of the jury will be trying to understand your motivations. If you look like you treated because you were genuinely injured, weren't looking to make more of it than it was, and were reasonable in your conduct, you will be treated far better at all steps of the process.

CONCLUSION:

Most of our articles are devoted to what you should do. This article boiled down to lessons on what not to do. This is not the time in your life to be reckless. As a personal injury victim, you should assume that you are being watched from the moment you leave your house to the moment you return. You need to be legitimate, act legitimate, and if you are out doing risky activities, you need to be prepared to be open and honest about them when asked --and you will be asked--because you will get caught. So, don't do it!

At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn L.L.C., we want to ensure that our clients fully understand the personal injury claims process and realize their role in that process. If you are unsure about what conduct is appropriate in your claim, please consider calling us and speaking to one of our attorneys before you make a rash decision.


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