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How to Prepare Your Personal Injury Case

Special damages, which are treatment expenses and property damage expenses, are an integral and necessary component to evaluating full damages. We ask our clients to assist us in determining damages, even though we may already have records to support them. Depending on the strategy and the case, a letter similar to the one below, is oftentimes sent our clients after a phone conversation on the subject:

A complete and accurate list of special damages will be required to determine the amount of your personal injury claim. Enclosed for your review is a list of special damages, to date. Please make any necessary changes or additions. When making changes, please bear in mind the following:

1. Medical expenses will include any immediate or follow up medical treatment pertaining to your (DATE) injury, which was supplied by an ambulance service, hospital, medical clinic or chiropractor. [To date, our file shows you have only received treatment at (PROVIDER).] Please contact me with the name of any other physicians that you have seen for this injury, along with the address of the clinic or hospital. Include any expenses, other than the above that you have paid for as a result of this injury. Examples of out-of-pocket expenses include prescription costs, whether or not covered by insurance, health insurance deductible, and any other expenses incurred since the date of the accident that result from your injury that do not appear on the provider’s bill.

2. All expenses will require proof, such as bills, receipts, etc. If you no longer have a bill, please attempt to obtain the account number and address of where the expense was incurred.

3. Loss of income will include any past or present loss of income that was a result of your (DATE) injury. (Future wage loss is often assessed, at a later time, by a vocational assessment counselor after the long term effects of your injury are assessed by a medical doctor.)

4. Please provide all documents you have from your insurance carrier that would indicate the amount they have paid toward your medical expenses.

5. Documentation of your injury and effect the injury has had on your life is very important in preparing a personal injury claim. Please start a journal of your daily activities so that we can track how the injury had affected your life. The following are a few thoughts and guidelines to get you started:

  • pick a particular time of day that you can set aside to write on a daily basis;
  • your journal does not have to be elaborate, a spiral notebook is fine; don’t worry about spelling or grammar, write as things come to mind;
  • structure your journal entries around your activities, pain or discomfort you may have, particularly any limitations you notice;
  • keep in mind when, where and how your pain, discomfort or limitation occurs;
  • rate your pain, discomfort or limitation on a scale of one to ten, ten being the most severe;
  • if you are pursuing continued medical attention, including chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy, please record them in your journal and describe to what extent you continued medical attention affects or interferes with the general course of your daily activities; and
  • whenever possible, describe the effects of your injuries in comparison to your lifestyle and goals prior to the injury.I look forward to receiving your response to paragraphs one through four by (DATE). In the meantime, should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call.

Do not keep a journal without first talking to a qualified personal injury attorney who has analyzed your case. This journal can be used as evidence against you if it is not prepared properly.

A good lawyer will never settle your case without having appropriate support from healthcare providers describing the extent of your injuries. We are careful to call you and send you a letter similar to this:

It was a pleasure meeting you today. We understand that you are still in treatment. As discussed, we would like to know whether or not your treatment is completed or your medical condition had stabilized to the point where we can get a reasonably accurate picture of your well-being, future pain and suffering, future limitations and restrictions, loss of earning capacity, and future treatment, if any. We do not want to rush your treatment because we do not want to settle your case when there is a risk that your accident related injuries may worsen.

Could you please contact us when you feel from the discussions with your chiropractor or doctors that you have reached this “plateau”? At that time, we will order your medical or chiropractic records, examine them, and if necessary order medical or chiropractic reports, from treating professionals. This will take a period of three or four additional weeks. At that time we will be in a position to get your approval on the value of your case which will be contained in a demand package that we will draft for your approval. This package will contain all records and reports regarding your injury, along with a description of our legal position and the rationale behind our evaluation of your case.

We await your response.

Our staff stays in constant contact with you and we appreciate it if you let us know when your appointments are scheduled so that we can call you the following day to get an idea of what discussions were had at the appointment. This helps us keep track of your pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is the legal term for the physical and emotional stress caused from an injury. Some damages that might be under this category would be: aches, temporary and permanent limitations on activity, potential shortening of life, depression, or scarring. When filing a lawsuit as a result of an injury, it is common for someone to seek money both in compensation for actual money that is lost and for the pain and stress associated with virtually any injury. In a suit, pain and suffering is part of the “general damages” section of the plaintiff’s claim, or, alternatively, it is an element of “compensatory” non-economic damages that allows recovery for the mental anguish and/or physical pain endured by the plaintiff as a result of injury for which the plaintiff seeks redress. The insurance company and the injured party’s attorney negotiate pain and suffering based upon Jury tendencies in the community where the case might be tried. Even though very few cases go to a jury trial, this is the benchmark that is used. It is for that reason that an experienced trial lawyer is necessary. We have tried cases all over the state of Wisconsin and in Minnesota. We know the jury’s and if we do not know the jury’s we know how to find out. Our firm is a member of the State Bar of Minnesota and the State Bar of Wisconsin. These State Bar associations offer us volumes of information on this subject. Even though jury awards for pain and suffering vary depending upon the socioeconomic and political factors in the particular jurisdiction of the suit, referral preparation and presentation will signal to the insurance adjuster or if need be the mediator or jury that this is a case that warrants the utmost consideration for top value. If the case goes to mediation or jury, we spend hours with our client preparing for the presentations. We have videos to view to assist in preparation for testimony and mediation. The presentation by the injured person, their witnesses will play a powerful role in any damage award. The power and personality of the lawyer representing his or her client also may factor into a high money damage award case. I have such a reputation.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident and if you are looking for an experienced personal injury lawyer to maximize the remedies that you have available to you and to reach the highest possible award for your injuries or if you wish to compromise, negotiate, or effectively deal with either your insurance company or the adverse insurance company we, the Michael Ablan Law Firm can help you. We have been serving injured clients since 1974. With an experienced and aggressive yet honest, trustworthy and friendly legal team consisting of a lawyer with 35 years of experience, specialized paralegals, and a tax accountant, the Michael Ablan Law Firm in La Crosse, WI can help you. We also have offices in La Crescent, Minnesota and Hayward, Wisconsin. Contact us for a free consultation. Our expert legal services are available to you anywhere in the State of Wisconsin including but not limited to the counties of La Crosse, Trempealeau, Monroe, Pierce, Crawford, Vernon, Grant, Sawyer, Jackson or any other county in Wisconsin or in the state of Minnesota, including all counties surrounding La Crescent, MN, such as Houston and Winona and any other county.