FAQ – Martin W. Hodges
The Law Office of Martin W. Hodges provides professional and personalized legal representation to people hurt by the negligence of others.
What should I look for in a personal injury lawyer? Aren’t all lawyers the same?
All lawyers are not the same. If you are injured in an automobile collision or suffer physical or emotional harm as the result of another person’s negligence, consult with an experienced attorney focusing on the area of personal injury law. There are many lawyers who claim to do personal injury, but not all lawyers are qualified to handle complex personal injury matters. When looking for the right attorney for your case, do not hesitate to ask whether the attorney specializes in personal injury and how many years experience they have specifically practicing personal injury law.
How do I know which lawyer is best for me?
Choosing the right lawyer can be critical to the success of your personal injury case. Choosing an experienced personal injury lawyer is important. It is just as important to choose a lawyer who is a good fit for you. When consulting with a prospective lawyer, ask any and all questions you have and make sure you receive satisfactory answers. Make sure the lawyer is someone who understands your situation and can connect with you on a personal level. Although you don’t necessarily have to be friends, you must be confident in your attorney’s legal experience, knowledge and skill, and your ability to successfully work together.
What are the keys to a good attorney-client relationship?
A successful attorney-client relationship is built on trust and cooperation. You must be able to trust your lawyer’s advice, be confident your lawyer will protect your legal interests, and be assured your lawyer will successfully move your case forward to conclusion. Because personal injury cases often take months or even years to resolve, the attorney-client relationship is often a long term relationship. Just like any relationship, not all lawyers and clients are a good fit. Ask enough questions during your initial consultation to both determine the attorney’s experience handling your type of case, and whether your personalities are a good match to form a successful professional relationship.
How often do I need to talk to my lawyer?
Always let your lawyer know about any relevant changes in your life, such as a change of address, telephone number, email address, change of Doctor or medical care provider, change of employment and any other significant life changes. Always let your lawyer know if you will be out of town for extended periods on business or vacation. Always keep your lawyer informed as to how you can be reached you at all times.
Is it ok to discuss my case with other people?
Don’t talk to anyone about the facts of your accident, except your lawyer, persons from your lawyer’s office, or your lawyer’s private investigator. Don’t be afraid to ask for information regarding the identification of any person contacting you regarding your accident or personal injury. Do not give a statement, recorded or otherwise, to any insurance company (yours included) until you notify your attorney so that he or she may be present. If you are contacted by any insurance company, you should refer that call to your lawyer without hesitation.
Should I go see my Doctor after an accident?
Always see a doctor as soon as possible after an automobile collision or other type of incident causing you personal injury. Successfully establishing you have been injured and are entitled to monetary damages requires medical evidence of your injury. You should always go to the emergency room or your regular doctor directly after the collision. It is standard practice for insurance companies to argue that since you waited to see a doctor, you couldn’t have been injured too badly. While we know this isn’t usually true, make it your priority to seek medical treatment in a timely manner. You should return to each of your doctors as frequently as necessary and follow all of your doctor’s orders.
What information should I give to my Doctor?
You should always give your doctor a complete history of your current physical complaints. Please be aware that everything you tell your doctor will go into your medical file. Therefore, do not guess or speculate about any questions your doctor may ask you. If you don’t know the answer, simply say I don’t know or I don’t recall. Always be accurate with your medical history and current physical complaints. You should not minimize your ailments to your doctor, as your doctor needs to know all relevant information in order to properly treat you. Always keep your lawyer informed of all medical care you receive.
Should I call my insurance company about getting my medical bills paid, or is that something my attorney will handle?
Some lawyers prefer that you have no direct contact with any insurance company involved with your case, and will handle all insurance aspects for you. This is an area to discuss when first interviewing your attorney.
Who is going to pay my medical bills?
If you have Personal Injury Protections (PIP) insurance, have your automobile insurance carrier pay as many medical bills under the medical provision of your insurance policy as possible. Your lawyer will assist you in opening a PIP claim with your auto insurance carrier.
What if I don’t have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance? Who pays my medical bills then?
If you don’t have medical coverage (PIP) under your auto insurance policy, you should then use your private health insurance to pay as much on your medical bills as possible
What if I do not have PIP or private medical insurance?
If you have no insurance and can’t pay your medical bills in full, it is important to let your attorney know. We will do our best to investigate all avenues to pay for your medical care. If there is no PIP or private medical coverage, sometimes DSHS can provide medical coverage. If you are not eligible, and don’t have medical coverage, we will attempt to work with your medical providers to secure their services. Often times an attorney can work out a payment schedule and keep unpaid balances out of collection. Although this may be successful, keep in mind that attorneys can’t work miracles when it comes to getting your medical providers to wait for payment.
If I have no insurance, should I be making payments to my healthcare providers?
Medical providers are generally more cooperative when their bills are paid. You cannot expect all of your medical providers to wait for payment until your case has settled to receive payment. Pay as much on your outstanding balances as soon as possible, and keep copies of all bills you pay. Always provide copies of all payments and correspondence with your healthcare providers to your lawyer.
Should I keep any type of records regarding how the accident has affected my life?
Yes. Please keep a written record of any difficulties you experience in your daily life because of the injuries you suffered in your accident. Keep a list of activities you are unable to do and why you can’t do them. For example, sitting or standing in one position for too long, housework, gardening, skiing, playing with your children, or climbing stairs. Keeping a written record will help you recall all of the pain you suffered more clearly. Please note, in the event a lawsuit is filed, your attorney will likely have to provide a copy of this log to the other side.
What if I need to seek medical treatment for something not related to my accident?
If you seek medical treatment for a condition that is not related to your personal injury, tell that medical provider about your accident and your present condition resulting from your accident. If you are seeking treatment for a medical condition not related to your personal injury case, always let your lawyer know immediately. It is important your lawyer knows about all medical conditions or other factors that may affect your personal injury claim so that they can help you accordingly.
What should I do if I am arrested or cited as a result of my auto accident?
Never admit fault and never plead guilty to any traffic offense if you are arrested or cited in connection with your accident. Always call your lawyer immediately for legal advice on how to proceed. In the event of a court hearing, be sure to notify your lawyer so that they will be able to represent you in connection with that hearing.
Should I take photographs of my injuries?
If you have bruising or other visible injury, please take as many photographs of your injuries as possible, and document the time and date the photographs are taken. As you progress in your recovery, take additional photographs to document the status of your recovery over time. While we realize the potential sensitivity of physical injury photographs, they may be essential to successfully convey the extent of your injury to a mediator, arbitrator, judge or jury.
Should I take photographs of the damage to my vehicle?
Do not have your automobile repaired without first taking photographs of the damage to your vehicle. As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words. Pictures can be extremely valuable as evidence. Please take as many photos as possible of the automobile from all sides and all angles. Take good pictures of broken glass, windshield, dents, the points of impact, steering wheel, interior seat tracks, front and rear bumpers, etc. You can never have too many pictures. Once you have taken an ample number of photographs, have your insurance carrier repair your automobile as promptly as possible.
Should I provide information regarding witnesses to my lawyer?
Yes. Always provide your lawyer with the correct name, address, email address, telephone number, and any other form of contact information you may have for all witnesses you may know or learn of.
How can friends and relatives help regarding my accident case?
Be alert to friends, acquaintances, neighbors, family, fellow employers and supervisors who can testify as to the state of your health, work ability, physical activity level and limitations, and social activities both before your injury and after. Do not hide your pain or complaints from these people. It is important that you caution your friends and relatives not to discuss your complaints with persons representing the other side (insurance company) without first talking to your lawyer.
What should I disclose about my injuries on a job application?
Be sure to reveal your accident or injuries on insurance and job applications. Also, inform any doctor who examines you for employment or other reasons about your physical complaints. Discuss this issue with your lawyer before proceeding with any employment related medical examinations.
Can I receive compensation for missing work?
Keep accurate records of all days lost from work due to your injuries. Your lawyer will likely ask your employer to provide written verification of your time lost from work, wage loss, and any other benefits you may have lost as a result of your injuries. Your lawyer may request your employer to provide written documentation of any lost work capacity you experienced after the collision in comparison to your performance before the collision.
Can I make a claim for unemployment as a result of my accident?
Always inform your lawyer before applying for an unemployment claim. You must swear that you are employable and not disabled from work when you file such claims. If you make an unemployment claim based on those representations, you can’t later testify that you were unable to work as a result of your automobile collision at the time you make the application.