Dos & Don’ts: How to Help Your Attorney Handle Your Claim THE DO’S If your claim is a result of an automobile accident, report this accident to your insurance company immediately. Your claim for benefits will not be processed until an Application for Benefits has been completed, signed and sent to them. Your attorney will assist you in completing the form and sending it on to your insurance company. If you do not own a vehicle or have automobile insurance, advise your attorney immediately, so he or she can determine whether you are entitled to benefits through the insurance policy of a resident family member or the owner of the host vehicle. Provide information to your attorney promptly. Let your attorney know how to contact you. Advise your attorney of changes of address or employment, new phone numbers or emergency contact information. Contact your attorney promptly in the event of new developments. Let your attorney know about changes in your treatment status, additional diagnoses, new doctors, hospitalizations, tests performed, witnesses you have found, etc. Keep a record of your losses. Maintain copies of pay slips, vouchers and other wage information, as well as disability notes and return to duty notes. Save all receipts for expenses of any sort incurred as a result of your claim. Follow your doctor’s advice. Do not cease or alter your treatment course unless instructed to do so by your physician. Do not “self-treat” or “self-refer” to non-mainstream practitioners without consulting with the care provider who has primary responsibility for you. Do something about your pain. A person in need of treatment seeks the necessary treatment. A person who does not seek treatment is thought not to need any treatment. If you are suffering, seek help. Few people will believe you later on when you try to explain why you hurt, but failed to seek treatment. Be honest and truthful about prior injuries and claims. The insurance industry maintains a Central Indexing Bureau, which is a nationwide indexing system which contains information about prior claims and injuries. If you have asserted a claim at any time in the past, it is probable that the insurance company which handled your claim has recorded information about you and your claim or claims in the C.I.B. Your attorney can deal with the impact of a prior claim, if he or she knows about it at the outset of your claim. Failure to make a full and complete disclosure about prior claims will harm your efforts to recover for the present claim. Send your attorney all bills and correspondence you receive relating to your claim. Keep a journal. Maintain a written chronological record which describes your pain, tells how your injuries affect your life and your family, and documents physical and emotional problems you experience from your injuries. Notify your attorney when you are discharged from treatment. Your attorney requests narrative reports from your care providers after you have been discharged from their care. These narrative reports are important for your case. Some care providers do not view their preparation as an important task, causing delays in our ability to present the medical evidence necessary to prove your claim. Your attorney will request this information as soon as you tell him or her that you have been discharged from care. Save your evidence. Don’t discard your cast, brace or appliances. Keep the shoes you were wearing when your slip and fall injury occurred. Preserve soiled clothing showing a foreign fluid on the floor caused your fall. If you have photos, give your attorney a full set of the photos or the negatives. Do call Stark & Stark at 609-896-9060 THE DON’TS Do not discuss your case with anyone other than your attorney and your doctors. Do not give oral or written statements to anyone except your own insurance company. You have an obligation to cooperate with your own insurance company. They may wish to take a statement from you. Your attorney will assist you and will provide a location where this statement can be taken. A member of your attorney’s team will prepare you for the statement and will be present while it is taken. The opposing insurance company does not have any right to any statement from you. Do not sign anything with respect to your claim until you have first checked with your attorney. You should never sign any document until your attorney has approved the document. Unscrupulous persons could cause you to release any rights and claims which you might have. Your attorney will review any document which you are asked to sign to protect your rights. Do not stop treatment until your doctor discharges you. If you stop treatment before your doctor feels that you are ready for discharge, the doctor may assume you have stopped because you are completely cured and have no complaints or problems. If you stop medical treatment, it is reasonable for others to assume that you did not feel that the treatment was needed.