Winning Your Personal Injury Claim-Best of Philadelphia
My book, Winning Your Personal Injury Claim is written for people who would represent themselves in injury litigation. It is also for people who would like to be better able to monitor their lawyer’s performance. Call me at 610 642 7676 if you would like a free copy. Here is an overview.
Overview of Winning Your Personal Injury Claim-4th Edition
The litigation of a personal injury claim begins at the very moment an accident occurs. In some cases, relevant events may have occurred long before that. For example, if the accident was caused by faulty design, manufacture, or maintenance of a vehicle, your claim will involve learning about those events.
With the average fender-bender, the first significant event is the accident itself. Chapter 1 of this book discusses what you should look for, what you should and should not say, what you should ask the other driver, how you should deal with eyewitnesses and the police, etc.
You may want to keep a checklist of what to do after an auto accident in your glove compartment. (See p. 266-Checklist 1.) You should fill it out once you have collected your thoughts. If your phone does not take photos, keep a camera in the car so that you can take scene-of-the-accident photographs. You should photograph the cars, skid marks, the area of the crash, and anything else of relevance. Beware that heat can affect a camera. So keep it out of direct sunlight
Chapters 2 and 3 address issues concerning the hiring of a personal injury attorney. These chapters should help you decide: 1) whether to hire a lawyer, 2) which lawyer to hire and 3) how to negotiate a fee agreement with the lawyer you hire. Chapter 3 lists the information you should bring to the first meeting. Chapter 3 also addresses the issues involved in firing your lawyer, hiring a new one, and how to keep your lawyer on top of your case.
INJURY CLASSIFICATION AND TREATMENT
Chapter 4 describes the various kinds of injury cases. If you have been injured in a car accident or a fall down accident, by a defective product, a negligent doctor, vicious dog, or tainted food, or on the job, you will want to check out Chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 5 looks specifically at medical malpractice cases.
The doctor you select to treat your injuries is vitally important-both for your physical health and for the viability of your personal injury case. See Chapter 6 for a detailed discussion of medical treatment.
If you decide to pursue a claim against the other person’s insurance company without a lawyer, you will need to understand the concept of damages. Damages include your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and any other losses that are related to the accident. Damages are discussed in Chapters 4, 7, and 11.
DEMAND LETTER AND SETTLEMENT
When you finish your medical treatment, you will need to gather all of the documentation relating to your damages. This includes:
·photographs of your injuries and property damage;
·the property damage appraisal;
·your medical bills and reports;
·a wage loss statement from your employer;
·a disability statement from your doctor regarding your lost time from work; and,
·any other proof of your losses and damages.
You will need to prepare a letter in which you fully describe your losses and damages. This is sent to the defendant’s insurance company. You must forward all of your proof of losses and damages with that letter. The settlement process is discussed in Chapter 8.
If you are not satisfied with the insurance company’s settlement offer, the next step is to file a lawsuit. In almost every case it is in the best interest of a plaintiff to hire an attorney at this point. If you wish to continue to litigate your personal injury claim on your own, Chapter 9 will help you become familiar with the process of filing a lawsuit.
DISCOVERY AND TRIAL
Chapter 10 explores the all-important discovery process. In this chapter, you will find much of what you need to handle interrogatories, requests for production of documents, depositions, and the “independent” medical examination. Chapter 11 takes you through the trial itself. It is during the discovery stage of litigation and trial where unrepresented individuals are at their biggest disadvantage. Please be sure to read Chapters 10 and 11 very carefully if you are unrepresented. These chapters are also good reading for those who have retained counsel. The knowledge you gain will help you ascertain whether your lawyer is doing the job he or she should be doing. The text concludes with Chapter 12, which addresses the problems of insurance fraud and ambulance chasers.
This book will not give the unrepresented person all of the legal expertise an experienced personal injury (PI) lawyer has. But it will help a lot. If you want to fight on a truly even playing field, you will need to hire a lawyer. This book will help you decide if you should represent your self.
The confidence you gain from reading this book can make the difference in your case. Outward confidence is crucial in litigation. The insurance claims representative and their lawyers can sense desperation, fear, and naivete. They will not hesitate to exploit their advantages over the unprepared litigant.