Here are Goodnow}McKay's top 10 guidelines you should follow if you are injured:
1. Go to a qualified doctor immediately and to document your injury. Understand that almost everything you say will be written down and become part of your medical record, so you should be truthful, accurate and complete in describing your injuries. Be sure to get referrals to specialists from your primary care provider, or else you will be accused of overtreating.
2. Be specific when you describe your physical symptoms throughout your treatment. We all want to feel better so we often tell the doctors that we are feeling better. But that will only be used against you in the future. Instead, be succinct but detailed. For example, "the pain keeps me awake at night and I cannot sleep," and "the shooting pain is gone but my knee is still stiff" are going to be more helpful than "the pain is a three out of 10," or "I'm feeling better than last week." Report the truth to your healthcare provider and be specific.
3. Be a good patient and follow your doctor's advice. Show up for your appointments. Doctors do not like to be in the courtroom and would rather treat patients. But your doctor will be one of your most important witnesses. If the doctor likes you and believes you followed his directions, he may be more willing to help you present your claim. But if you ignore the doctor's advice and fail to show up to appointments, he may be unwilling to help.
4. Don't exaggerate your injuries. You have a right to be compensated, but if you lose your credibility because of inconsistent statements in your medical records or on social media, your recovery will be greatly reduced.
5. Take pictures. Lots of them.
6. Be careful with social media. Insurance companies and their attorneys will be quick to use your social media to make you look bad, especially if you post pictures of yourself playing basketball a week after claiming to have a broken leg.
7. Immediately educate yourself about the statutes of limitation that apply to your case. It is important to let some time pass after your injury to let yourself recover, but don't wait too long or else you will be barred from making a claim.
8. Be patient. Your case will likely not be ready for evaluation until after you are released from your doctor's care.
9. Use a journal to document the day-to-day/week-to-week/month-to-month impact of the injury on your life. It may be years until you present your case to a court. Having a journal to refresh your memory will help create a powerful demand letter as well as a powerful closing argument.
10. Don't be fooled by insurance adjusters. They want to resolve your claim as soon as possible before you contact an attorney. They will think they can push you around and give you a lowball offer. But if you settle your case too early you may not receive adequate compensation for your injuries and damages. Additionally, although some people are capable of resolving their claims by themselves, insurance companies seem to pay significantly more on claims when an injured person has a lawyer representing them.
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Chris Goodnow is licensed in Arizona. Justin McKay is licensed in Arizona. Matters in other areas are handled by licensed attorneys employed, associated, or co-counseled with Goodnow|McKay.