WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT
Q. Should I give a recorded or written statement to the liability insurance company?
A. If you are involved in an automobile accident you will probably be contacted by the insurance company for the driver at fault and asked to provide a written or recorded statement. These statements can be used against you to deny or limit your claim. They can also be used against you in a trial. Prior to providing any such statement, you may wish to consult a Missouri attorney.
Q. Should I take photographs?
A. Photographs of the vehicles involved in an accident and the scene of the occurrence can be very useful. Do not rely on the photographs of your vehicle that the insurance company has taken. They may refuse to voluntarily share this information with you or your attorney at a later date. It is also helpful to take photographs of any visible injuries you sustained as soon as possible following the accident.
Q. Should I sign a release of liability document?
A. You should not sign any release document given to you by the insurance company without closely reviewing it and consulting an attorney. A release signed in exchange for payment of your property damage should clearly state that it is a property damage release ONLY and does NOT apply to any bodily injury claim. Any check issued to pay for property damage should also state that it is payment for property damage ONLY and NOT for all claims.
Q. Should I sign medical or employment authorizations sent by the insurance company?
A. The insurance company will usually ask you to sign medical and employment authorizations. Many of these authorizations are vague and give the insurance company access to your entire past medical and employment histories beyond what is needed to investigate your claim. These authorizations may also permit the insurance company to directly correspond with your doctors. Missouri attorneys normally do not allow their clients to provide these authorizations or the attorneys will edit the authorizations to reduce their scope.
Attorney Strauss represents personal injury clients on a contingency fee basis.
Q. What is a contingent attorney's fee?
A. This generally means that there are no attorney's fees paid if there is no recovery in the case. All contingent attorney fee agreements must be in writing by Rule of the Missouri Supreme Court. Most attorney fee agreements also provide for cost reimbursement to the attorney in addition to attorney's fees.
Q. How are the costs or expenses of the case paid?
A. Many attorneys will advance the costs of your personal injury case and deduct those costs from any settlement or verdict in the case. However, some attorneys require that their clients pay all costs of the case even if there is no recovery in the case. Some attorneys even require that their clients pay the costs as they are incurred during the pendency of the case.
Q. What constitutes costs or expenses in a case?
A. Costs or expenses usually involve money the attorney has paid to third parties for services rendered on your case. These costs normally include payment to health care providers for medical records, payment to expert witnesses (ie. doctors, engineers, etc.), payment for court reporter services, payment for filing fees of any lawsuit, etc. However, some attorneys also include charges such as their photocopy charges, long distance telephone charges, mileage and postage as costs in your case.