INSTRUCTION TO NEW CLIENTS
** This document is intended solely for our client and is subject to attorney-client privilege. **
Thank you for choosing Samuel Johnson and Associates to represent you in your personal injury case. In an effort to serve you in the most efficient manner, we have listed a few steps that will help us both get some of the minor problems taken care of before they begin.
Most Important Rule – No Talking: From this point on, if you receive any calls from the person that injured you or any insurance company, you should refer the calls directly to us. Please do not answer any questions or provide any information to such person. Members of your family or other who are likely to answer your phone should be given the same instructions. The only exception to this rule is that you may talk directly with the insurance company to arrange payment for the damage to your vehicle and for a rental car, if needed. Please DO NOT discuss any other details of your case with the insurance company.
Property Damage: We will assist you in resolving your property damage claim. We will contact the at-fault party’s insurance carrier and obtain a claim number and request that an appraiser be assigned to evaluate the damage to your vehicle. Once the appraiser make contact with you, it will be your reasonability to settle the property damage with them. However, you should NOT discuss any details of your case with the appraiser or insurance company.
When arranging for payment to your vehicle, there are three rules which should be followed:
- Get Your Own Estimate: If your vehicle is repairable, then please obtain an estimate from a body shop of your choosing as soon as possible. While most insurance companies will insist upon sending out their own appraiser, it is in your best interest to already have in your possession a detailed estimate from a qualified reputable body shop (preferably your vehicle’s dealer.)
- Signing Documents or Checks: Do not sign any documents or endorse any check which releases or refers to anything other than “property damage only.” If you have any questions about the language on a check or document regarding payment for your vehicle, you should contact our office to obtain clarification prior to signing the document or check.
- Do Not Deposit Checks: Do not deposit or cash the check for repairs from the insurance company until after you have verified that the repairs have been performed to your satisfaction and at the agreed upon cost. If the repairs are incomplete or exceed the amount of the check, then the insurance company must be contacted before you deposit, cash, or sign over the check. Most body shops will permit you to simply endorse the back of the insurance check at the time you pick up your vehicle.
Medical Treatment: We encourage appropriate and consistent medical treatment, until you are fully recovered from your injuries. This means that you must NOT miss doctor appointments. Gaps in treatment give the insurance company ammunition, which they will use to shoot holes in your claim.
Independent Medical Examination: An insurance company may ask you to appear for an exam by their doctors to be eligible for some insurance benefits. Contact our office to confirm whether you should attend the requested examination in your case.
Medical Bills, Repair Bills, and other Documents: Copies of all documents concerning your accident or injury should be sent to your office, including your medical bills, prescriptions, vehicle repairs bills/estimates, and any letters from the insurance company. Please also provide us with a copy of your health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare cards.
Telephone Calls to Your Paralegal: In order to serve you best, we will assign a specific paralegal to work on your file. When calling our office concerning your claim, you should ask to speak to your paralegal, who should be able to answer most of your questions.
Value of Your Claim/Settlement: We cannot predict at the beginning of a case what its value will be in the end. There are too many factors which affect the value of your claim. These factors include the extent of your injuries, the consistency of your medical treatment, the amount of your medical bills and lost wages, and the damage to your vehicle, just to name a few. As you can see, there is just no way to predict the value of your claim, until all facts and paperwork are in, and negotiations completed.
Borrowing Money on a Potential Settlement: We are prohibited from advancing any money on a claim, settlement, or lawsuit. So please do not make such a request.
- Disability Slip: If you cannot work due to injuries sustained in the accident, then you should obtain a Disability Slip from your doctor. A copy should be given to your employer and this office. If you do not get a disability slip, then you should go to work, if you are able. Missing work without a doctor’s excuse will likely result in lost wage which we cannot recover.
- Wage Form: Your employer must complete and return to us the Wage and Salary Verification in order for us to recover lost wages.
Release from Medical Treatment: Once you have completed your medical treatment and all doctors have released you from their care, it is important that you contact us immediately so that we will know it is time to obtain your remaining medical records and discuss with you the preparation of a settlement demand.
Settlement Package: Upon receiving all the documents from the doctor and all other sources, we will prepare a settlement package and forward it to the insurance company. Once the insurance company received your settlement package, they will conduct their usual review, which takes approximately one (1) month. They will not make any offers of settlement until that review has been completed.
Negotiations: Please remember that settlement negotiations are not easy. It is the insurance company’s goal to pay you as little money as possible. So please understand that this process will take time, as it is our goal to recover for you as much money as possible.
Settlement: You are in charge of your case, and only you have the authority to instruct us to settle it. Once you have agreed to settle, you will be notified when your check and release papers are available. You may complete the entire transaction by mail, or you may make an appointment to come into our office. The choice is yours. Note: If you are married, your spouse’s name will appear on the settlement check, and he/she will be required to sign the release as well.
Change of Address, Phone, etc.: Any changes of telephone number, address, employment, marital status, or anything else that may affect your claim, must be reported to our office immediately.
Duration of the Case: These cases have the potential to take approximately twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months or more. Please be patient while we bring your case to a resolution.
Phone (404) 666–LAWS • Fax (404) 891–9334 • www.mrlawman.com