Why Accidents Over Labor Day Weekend Are Worth Less Money

It is Sunday afternoon on August 31st, 2014, and I am thinking of what I should write about for this week’s CV Weekly Legal Column that will be published on Wednesday September 3, 2014. As I sit here, I realize I have had 3 calls on new accident cases since Friday evening and all of these prospective clients had one thing in common—they all asked “how do I find a doctor to treat me during the holidays, let alone a lawyer to tell me what to do?” This also tends to happens over Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Memorial Day and July 4th weekend.

Every holiday weekend, prospective accident clients who had been injured earlier in the week or over the weekend, are left to “punt” trying to find a doctor that will see them. Many doctors are on vacations with their families or are over booked and cannot work a new patient in for two weeks. Most of these medical providers will be out of the office beginning on Friday and will not return until Tuesday.

An hour ago I was reminded of this when I received calls about two new accident cases—these individuals could not find a doctor that was open until Tuesday, and were unable to get an appointment until a few weeks later. In addition, they could not find a lawyer that would answer their call until the beginning of the week in order to get direction on what to do.

The last call this morning was regarding an accident that had occurred 5 days earlier. The victim thought he would be ok in a day or two, but this morning he woke up stiff and sore, and could hardly move his neck. He wanted to be sure he could see his doctor as soon as possible and to have it paid for by his insurance or that of the other party. I asked him his insurance coverage limits on his car. He did not know as the policy was at the office. I explained it was important to know this information because if the other driver did not have insurance we would want to present an uninsured motorist (UM) claim against his own policy if he had UM coverage and if not, against that of the other driver. It is important to note that a medical provider is often primarily concerned about getting paid for his/her work just the same as a hospital or urgent care. If the injured party cannot find their policies they often must resort to using a credit card to pay for treatment.

Insurance companies love claims during this time of the year because new claimants do the wrong things that ultimately reduce the value of their claim. For instance, new claimants may call the insurance company and say things they should not have said. On the other hand, the adjuster may write down things they think they heard the party say. The most important thing the victim can do is to take pictures of their injuries and of their car and video recordings of the witnesses statements to the accident.

In these scenarios, typically no one has advised the victim that they should see a doctor right away to document the injuries, let alone prepare a summary of their injuries. When preparing this summary, the victim should write down their symptoms/injuries by starting with the top of their head and moving to the bottom of their toes. Additionally, the victim should see a medical provider with whom they have not been previously treated since their current medical providers may have records on hand that document prior injuries, alcohol or drugs issues, STD’s, abortions etc. Though these previous records may have nothing to do with the accident, many jurors will think less of the victim on account of these issues.

As a lawyer, I always advise my clients to not post anything on social media following the accident. The last thing you want is for the insurance company to find posts of your client playing tennis, golf, running in a marathon etc. while they are allegedly complaining they cannot do anything because of the amount of pain they are encountering.

Because of the mistakes and challenges listed above it is hard to maximize the value of an accident case and these cases result in a smaller settlement.