Months after your accident, when your lawyer is ready to begin settlement negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you might find yourself answering questions you never expected. Here are three questions you may encounter that might seem to come out of left field. But being prepared to answer them may help your lawyer in getting you a fair settlement.
1. Were or are there any activities, hobbies or sports you performed on a regular basis before the accident that you were, or have been, unable to do after the accident?
For this question, think carefully about every kind of activity you do, from household chores, to picking up your children or grandchildren, to gardening, hiking, jogging, sitting through a movie, or going to the gym. Were those activities affected in any way? For how long? Can you do them now? List out every activity that was affected and give details.
2. Are there any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred as a result of the accident?
You probably didn’t keep a record of every ice pack, box of over-the-counter medication, or back pillow you bought after the accident, but that is exactly what this question asks for. Documentation of out-of-pocket expenses is required for you to be compensated, so keep all receipts in a safe place. If you needed to hire household help because of your injuries, list those expenses also and be prepared to document them.
3. How did this accident adversely affect your life?
This can be one of the most difficult questions to answer precisely because it’s almost too easy to answer. Where do you start? You’ve been injured, you’ve spent weeks or more in pain, your time has been taken up with talking to doctors, going to physical therapists and dealing with repair shops.
Write down anything you believe is pertinent, including emotions if those emotions have had a demonstrably negative effect on your life. Ultimately, your case will be decided based on hard, verifiable, evidence, and your lawyer’s job is to take your words, sift through them, and find what he or she needs to help your case come to a fair conclusion.
Generally it is simply best to make a list of the things that are difficult for you to do or that you avoid doing because they are painful. Additionally, if you are having trouble remembering things, difficulty at school or work whether or not it is effecting your grades or quality or work, you need to tell your lawyer. There are some types of injuries that are not visible on an MRI and may need further investigation from different types of diagnostic testing.
Answering this question thoroughly will help your lawyer and your doctor understand the extent of your injuries.
Additionally, it is important for you to keep notes/records of every conversation you have with your insurance adjuster and the at-fault driver’s adjuster. Record the dates, times of conversations, what was said, and what you may need to follow-up on. If the at-fault insurance adjuster takes an unreasonably long time to respond, you may be able to take legal action in the future.
Missed work and inability to perform activities. Record activities you would normally be doing if you weren’t injured, like household chores, driving your kids to soccer, or going to the gym, even carrying grocery bags in from the car.
Writing down some basic things about your life and how this accident has effected it can definitely help your case and give your attorney and doctor an accurate assessment of your injuries and your case.