If your situation mirrors this unfortunate scenario, consultation with a Minnesota personal injury law firm could be just what you need to reclaim the life you once knew. Personal injury lawyers first evaluate and then build your case. Essentially, a personal injury lawyer’s mission is to attain maximum compensation for your pain and suffering with a minimum amount of hassles. Empathetic attorneys who practice personal injury law understand what you are up against in all aspects of your life. Personal injury attorneys want the parties responsible for your physical, emotional, and financial woes to justly pay for what they have wrought.
Untold accident victims have consulted with professionals in personal injury law and been represented by dedicated men and women who fought for the best settlements possible. Personal injury lawyers either work for free or for a sum of money. The paperwork presented to the court and the dexterity of your personal injury lawyer, may lead to the achievement of the case.
Generally, personal injury lawyers are trained to work on numerous cases nevertheless they drift more to cases involving tort law. Many individuals experience injuries due to no fault of their own, which is what California personal injury law is for. Dealing with an injury someone else caused can be a rather stressful time. One individual who can help a great deal is a personal injury attorney. There are also some injuries that are more common than others. Fortunately, a police report is filed in this case and this can serve as a significant piece of evidence in a court case. The accident scene can be recreated, medical experts may be needed, and witnesses can testify in a case in order to help personal injury law in California work for the injured.
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Advertisements for law firms are everywhere-Billboards, local television channels, football game programs at the local high school. Many of these advertisements allude to promises of getting money for clients fast. According to a recent law review article by Nora Engstrom, a Stanford Law School professor, many personal injury firms with large advertising budgets practice as, what she labels, ‘settlement mills.’
According to Ms. Engstrom, settlement mills are high volume firms handling injury cases that practice almost exclusively in settling individuals’ claims. The article weighs the pros and cons of these high volume firms, revealing shocking information of their general practices, ultimately calling for reforms to remedy some of the more questionable, shady practices of such firms.
Although settlement mills appear to reduce court congestion and seem to provide legal services to those individuals which would otherwise not have access to legal redress for their injuries, high volume firms commonly settle cases for much less than their actual worth and typically do not provide adequate information to their clients to ensure informed consent has been received. Simply put, high volume firms do not, and cannot, provide customized legal services.
Through case studies, Ms. Engstrom, found some settlement mill attorneys would handle about 200 to 700 cases at a time, obviously leaving only a minimal amount of time an attorney could devote to each case. Ms. Engstrom, found that lawyers in those firms rarely met with clients. More surprising is the amount of delegation at work within settlement mills; with the vast majority of settlements being handled by case managers and paralegals. A major point of Engstrom’s article was that small claims automobile cases were handled on a predetermined formula to encourage settlement with insurance companies.
What Can You Do?
Engstom’s concluded her article with a strong push for more regulation and transparency of the practices of settlement mills and other firms which use contingency fees in representing clients. However, in the meantime, clients should always do research on the firms they are looking to hire. Consider what type of lawyer you want. Do you want someone who will only meet with you for 15 minutes at the beginning of your case and then again when the settlement is release, or do you want an attorney who will give your case individualized attention and keep you informed of the progression of your case? Do you want someone who is willing to go to trial, or do you want someone who will settle the case quickly and cheaply? Whatever you choose, always do your research.
If you are scheduled to receive an Independent Medical Exam (IME), you already know how stressful the process can be. Companies who are responsible for paying disability compensation are entitled to select a physician to examine you.
Unfortunately, the physicians selected by these companies are not “independent medical examiners.” The physicians selected by the insurance companies are often biased in favor of the insurance company so the conclusions, reports and testimony they offer can make receiving a settlement much more difficult.
However, by following some tips you can help protect yourself against these examiners who have a clear incentive to aid the insurance companies who are paying for their services.
Before going to your Independent Medical Exam, gather your medical history so you can give consistent answers to the IME’s questions. Inconsistent answers give the examiner ammunition to use against you and bring into question your reliability. Speak with your attorney and your personal physician before your appointment and schedule an exam with your physician for the same day as your IME.
Remember, you may be under surveillance around the time of your IME so follow your doctor’s orders completely. Not using crutches or doing activities you are not supposed to will give the insurance company reasons to doubt the severity of your injury claims.
At The Office
When going to your IME, bring along someone who can take notes on what was done and ask questions for you. While in the office, take pictures of any obvious physical ailments such as bruises or swelling. Speak up if the IME is hurting you during the examination, but do not overreact or exaggerate symptoms. False of exaggerated symptoms are grounds for not believing your legitimate injury claims.
While being examined, do not forget that the examiner is NOT your doctor. Do not ask him questions about treatments or your injuries. Simply answer the questions he asks. Most questions require a yes or no response. Don’t elaborate. Anything you say that can be interpreted as inconsistent can be used against you.
After The Visit
After your Independent Medical Exam you should request the credentials of your examiner from the insurance company. You should also request a copy of the IME’s report. Finally, ask for a copy of the insurance company’s in-house physician as well.
Going to an Independent Medical Exam can be a stressful experience. No one likes to be treated as though they are attempting to commit fraud against an insurance company. However, if you go to your IME well-prepared and answer all questions truthfully, you will give you and your attorney the best chance for receiving a positive settlement.