Why do I need an Attorney?

If you are asking this question, then it is worth a phone call to us.

It is often said that the best defense is a good offense. Unfortunately, most people do not realize they need a defense, much less an offense, until much damage has been done. This is usually because you have never experienced what can happen after a serious or catastrophic injury. But here is why you need a really good offense.

 

THE OTHER SIDE

Frequently, after a major incident, insurance companies and corporations have teams of hired professionals and investigators that immediately begin working to protect the insurance carrier or the company. While the client and their family are just coming to grips with what has happened, the defense is working to make sure the “facts” keep them from being found liable. Recently, a morning commute turned into a nightmare for a driver when they were involved in a serious collision with a tractor-trailer. Within an hour of the collision, the tractor-trailer company had hired an out of state engineering firm and flew them to the scene of the collision.

Their purpose? To begin working the scene of the collision and making sure the tractor-trailer driver knew what to say had happened so as to put fault on the driver he hit. Simply put, they were already working hard to protect the company. Within three hours, just as the driver was being taken into surgery, the team was at the scene attempting to recreate what had happened. They were also securing witness statements and photographing the vehicles involved.

All of this was taking place less than 12 hours after the incident. The defense was trying to put the injured driver at a disadvantage. And they were doing a good job. While these facts may seem incredible, it happened. And it could happen to you. We have also seen a recent trend for defendants to hire defense lawyers immediately and send them directly to the scene of the incident. This enables the defendant to keep the results of its investigation secret. Witness statements, photos taken and evidence gathered is frequently withheld as being privileged because the defense had their lawyers doing the investigation. Insurance companies lull claimants into a false sense of security. While one individual with the company seems like they are trying to help the claimant, another side is quietly working against the claimant. We have found cases where the insurance company inaccurately states the law applicable to the situation or misrepresents the coverage available to gain an advantage over the injured party.

Something as simple as giving a statement to an insurance adjuster can be harmful. Insurance adjusters/investigators are extensively trained to get those that have been injured to make statements that put all, or part of the fault for the incident on them. The adjuster will also work to get the injured person to make statements that minimize their injuries. A very wise orthopedic surgeon once said that “treating a patient who has been hurt is like peeling an onion. You deal with the outer layer first. Then you frequently find another problem or condition in the next layer.” Despite this truth of medicine, adjustors push the injured to give a recorded statement immediately after an incident. This push has one purpose: to use that recorded statement at a future date to say that the injured person is lying about their injuries or what happened.

 

DESTRUCTION OF EVIDENCE

Several years ago, we were involved in a case where a defective piece of steel rail broke causing a locomotive to derail and crash. Immediately, the defendant removed the piece of rail and sent it off to be analyzed. Shortly after being analyzed, the piece of rail was destroyed.

The railroad actually melted the piece of rail. This piece of rail became crucial to proving liability for the engineer’s injuries.

Unfortunately, the engineer had waited over a year to hire an attorney to represent them. Because the client waited to hire an attorney, the defendant did not have any notice that it needed to keep the crucial piece of rail. As a result there was no penalty or wrong assessed against the defendant for destroying the rail. This is because the law says that a party has no responsibility to retain evidence until after they have been put on notice of a claim.

Evidence can literally make or break a case. Although many commercial establishments have video surveillance that records everyone’s movements, these establishments have no duty or responsibility to keep video surveillance that shows someone getting hurt. Recently, we were involved in a case where a shopping mall was being re-roofed. On a particular day, the roofing contractor was required to work on the roof in winds that were exceeding 45 miles per hour. The contractor did not secure any of the new roofing panels on the roof. The wind picked a 6 foot by 8 foot panel off the roof and sent it flying off the building. Video surveillance showed the panel flying off the roof and striking a customer in the head, knocking him out. The video showing the incident was destroyed at the end of the week “in accordance with normal business procedures.”

The opposite is true for a plaintiff. The law requires a plaintiff preserve any and all evidence related to a claim. Failure to do so can be fatal to holding the responsible party accountable. It can virtually wipe out any chance to hold the responsible party accountable. Often, after a serious or catastrophic injury, talking to or hiring an Attorney is the last thing on someone’s mind. However, it can be one of the most important decisions you or your loved ones ever make.

So, the question becomes, should insurance companies and large corporations be the only ones who protect themselves? No. You should at the very least speak to an Attorney about what has happened to understand your rights and how you can be taken advantage of by the responsible party. And as always, all consultations regarding your case are free of charge.

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What is an Injury Accident Plan?

No one likes to think about the unthinkable. It is not pleasant to consider what might happen if you or a family member were involved in an incident and were rendered unconscious or incapacitated. Worse yet, what if you were killed? Unfortunately, the unthinkable happens to someone each day. Disaster can and will strike.

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