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As far as dos and don’ts for clients, I would say the first thing is call an attorney right away. Even if you’re not planning to hire that attorney, you’re going to get a free consultation. You’re going to get good advice from an attorney who practices in this field about what to do after an accident. If you do hire that attorney, most of us work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you’re not going to pay until the end of a case. And it’s going to be the same percentage whether you hire that attorney for a day, or whether you have that attorney for three years working on your case. So you might as well take advantage of the attorney’s resources and time and hire that person right away.
I would say don’t give recorded statements to the insurance company unless you have an attorney present with you. Don’t sign any documents for the insurance company. Oftentimes, they’ll ask you to sign a medical authorization or waiver, and they indicate to you that the purpose for that is so that they can get their medical records for this case to help them decide what they’re going to pay out. What clients often don’t understand is that medical authorization may be more broad, that it might allow the insurance company to gain access to records that have nothing to do with this case and may go back in time several years prior to the particular accident.
Seattle, WA personal injury lawyer Mark O’Halloran talks about what to do and what not to do after being involved in an accident. He explains that when it comes to advice for clients, there are a few important dos and don’ts to keep in mind. Firstly, I recommend calling an attorney promptly after an accident, even if you’re unsure about hiring them. Most attorneys offer free consultations and can provide valuable guidance on what to do next. If you do decide to hire an attorney, many of us work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t have to pay until the case concludes. The fee percentage remains the same regardless of whether you retain the attorney for a short period or several years, so it’s beneficial to take advantage of their resources and expertise from the beginning.
On the other hand, I advise against giving recorded statements to the insurance company without having an attorney present. Additionally, it’s best not to sign any documents provided by the insurance company without careful review. Often, they may request you to sign a medical authorization or waiver, claiming it’s for accessing relevant medical records for your case. However, clients should be aware that such authorizations can be overly broad, potentially granting the insurance company access to unrelated records from years prior to the accident.