You are hurt. You may have been hospitalized. You can’t work. You are concerned about your immediate recovery and even start to think how this could affect your future. How is all of this going to be covered?
In regards to the insurance claims, you know you need help, but where do you turn?
Here are some tips on selecting the right lawyer when you suffered a serious injury. These tips were drawn from an interview with Attorney Doug Horn, Lead Attorney of the Horn Law Firm. Doug has been a personal injury lawyer in Kansas City for over 25 years.
Although he handles a wide variety of injury cases, he concentrates in representing persons to have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents.
What constitutes a serious injury?
A serious injury can be defined as a sudden on set of traumatic injury that requires medical treatment and rehabilitation resulting in an extended period of recovery.
After recovery from a serious injury, when maximum medical improvement is obtained, a serious injury typically carry with it permanent impairments that effect physical function and quality of life.
In contrast, a minor or mild injury is an injury that requires a short period of medical care that results in a person making a full recovery in several weeks.
Why is early legal consultation so important in a serious injury case?
There are several reasons, but the top reason is that early legal consultation allows a lawyer like me to take care of immediate problems. Generally stated, in early legal consultation, I can sort out the legal, insurance, medical, and investigative issues that need immediate attention. For sure, handling the claim adjuster is usually at the top of the list.
You mentioned the claim adjuster, should an injured person talk to a claims adjuster after an accident?
No, especially in the instance of a serious injury. It is just best that the case be reviewed face to face with a lawyer who concentrates his or her practice in claims for serious injury.
From your perspective as an attorney, what is the critical work that must be accomplished right after a person suffers a serious injury?
No. 1, I must ESTABLISH LEGAL LIABILITY. After learning the basic facts, and assessing the important evidence, I must establish legal liability. That is, proving fault and stating a cause of action under the law. This is an essential building block to a successful case.
No. 2, I must determine the INSURANCE COVERAGES in play. I many injury cases, particularly cases involving a motor vehicle accident, there are 3, 4, or 5 different insurance coverages that will be part of what makes up a total recovery.
It is up to your attorney, based upon their expertise, to recognize all the different avenues of compensation. Without good counsel starting in initial consultations, it can spell trouble.
No. 3, I must identify the IMPORTANT EVIDENCE I am going to need to make a maximum recovery. The critical evidence at the outset of the case is that type of evidence and documentation that helps prove fault. Fault is not always clear.
Over the course of my legal career I have been involved in hundreds of accident investigations in cases resulting in serious injury. The evidence we secure in those early investigations has been a big factor in being able to maximize recovery later on.
So given all of this, and the importance of early legal consultation, who should a person call for legal consultation?
Great question, because it is a very important decision. Here are some guidelines I think are important in selecting the right attorney for a claim involving a serious injury.
- Don’t rely upon an advertisement.
- Select a lawyer to call who has a concentration in personal injury law and has handled similar cases to your case.
- Call a lawyer, not a law firm. Identify by name the lawyer you want to handle your case.
- Make sure the lawyer you identify has a track record of success going back through a number of years.
- Check out the lawyer’s Google reviews. See what others are saying.