Interviewer: What are some of the documents that a client should typically have prepared or ready? What information should a client provide to you?
Robert Cummings: At the first consult, I generally tell my clients to bring anything they have, including if there’s a citation issued for a car accident case, any pictures you have, any of the medical records done so far. A lot of clients don’t have that, because it’s early on in the process. At the first consultation, I give the clients what I call homework. I hate giving assignments to clients, but it’s necessary. This packet of information has questionnaires on it that relates to any medical procedures they’ve had done, or medical care they’ve had done, related to the injury, Any medical care they’ve had done in the past 5 years, who their providers are, what the description is, insurance policy numbers … Stuff of that nature.
Under Utah Rules of Civil Procedure The Plaintiff has to Turn Over Certain Information Related to Medical Care to the Defendant
The reason I give that to them is, under the Utah rules of civil procedure, rule 26.2 requires that after the filing of a personal injury action in Utah, and after the defendant answers, the plaintiff has to turn over certain information related to medical care, specifically as to the injury at issue, as well as the past 5 years. This allows the defendant to assess early on what the injury is and what the liability potentially is, and hopefully to resolve the case. That’s stuff that, even if you’re not going to file a law suit, I would like to have it, so I can review it, have a better understanding of what the injury is, what the client’s past history is, what medical issues, so that I can have the most ammunition necessary when trying to negotiate with the insurance company or the defendant.
The Role Of Insurance Companies in Regards to Automobile Accidents
Interviewer: How do insurance companies come into play in regards to auto-accidents? What should I do when working with insurance companies?
Robert Cummings: The insurance companies come into play when either side submits their claim. If you’re the plaintiff and you’ve been injured, you need to get the insurance information from the defendant, if possible, at the scene of the accident, or if you’re bit by a dog, on premises liability case, to the extent that the defendant will give you that information, you can then either yourself contact the insurance company, or contact an attorney who will send a letter of representation to the insurance company, and begin the negotiations.
In an Accident One of the Parties Files a Claim and the Insurance Company is Notified
The defendant can also submit their claim to their own insurance company, either for their vehicle and their injuries, or some defendants will just let their insurance company know that, “Hey, I got in an accident. It was my fault,” and expect that you’re going to be contacted. On a dog bite case, a person gets bit by the dog, they have the name of the dog owner, but they don’t necessarily have the insurance policy information, and you hire an attorney, the attorney can write the defendant a letter and say, “Look, I need certain information for your insurance, so I can file a claim and we can get this resolved with your insurance company. If not, we’ll sue you, and get the information, in any event, through discovery.” That’s generally how the insurance companies get involved. I guess the baseline or bottom line would be, one of the parties files a claim.
A Treatment gap is Often Detrimental to a Favorable Outcome in a Personal Injury Claim
Interviewer: When insurance companies refer to a treatment gap, what does that mean, or what may that refer to?
Robert Cummings: This goes into generally what would occur after an injury. If you are injured, and you wait 3 months before consulting a chiropractor, especially after you contacted your attorney, the insurance company could say, “You went to a chiropractor based upon your lawyer telling you, ‘Go get treatment.’ The insurance company, when asking about a treatment gap, is most likely saying, “What’s going on here? Why didn’t you go for 3 months? You went only after you went to your lawyer.” There can be issues with that. If you’re injured, and you feel pain, go to the doctor. If you have insurance, and your insurance will cover it, go to a doctor. If you don’t have insurance, there are providers out there who will work on a lien, meaning they’ll treat you, and then if you get any recovery in a verdict or settlement; They will get paid off of that amount, with a negotiation between you and the provider.