1. Explain their right (in motor accident cases) to have treatment costs covered or reimbursed
A client can incur thousands of dollars of treatment costs and be a burden on them. In some claims they are entitled to either have the insurance company pay these directly or reimburse the injured person. Even a few hundred dollars back can help make the client feel better about their case.
2. Ensure they know their duty to mitigate
Most people want to get back on their feet and do their best to resume a normal life. It pays however to ensure a client is aware that if a medical practitioner has recommended a course of treatment, their refusal to undertake it may be a problem for getting them full damages. An injured person must also use their best endeavours to replace lost or reduced income as soon as reasonably practicable. Letting an injured person know from the outset the expectations the law has of them will help minimise nasty credit attacks later in the claim.
3. Disclosure traps – social media
A common mistake injured people make with social media like Facebook is to paint the rosiest picture of themselves possible, or even beyond that! A client needs to know insurance companies and their lawyers will likely inspect their social media profiles, even trying to friend them with fake accounts, to get to see private posting. A client should not delete existing material. Warning clients about keeping posts fair and accurate and being consistent in what they put online with what they do and say to those involved in the claim is again important to keep their credit intact.
4. Properly prepared for the settlement conference
A client cannot be told what to expect at a conference in the hour before it and be properly ready to handle what can be an extremely stressful event in their life. Preparation should involve their input into the claim being made for them, full updated instructions and review of all relevant documents, discussion about likely attitude and conduct of the other parties and realistic advice on claim worth and expectations for any settlement. The worst feeling a lawyer can have is thinking “how could they think their claim was worth that much?”
5. Know their story
Following on from 4, a client should not be correcting their lawyer during a conference because their advocate is not being accurate. It starts from day 1 of meeting the client, and is especially important when putting their claim together.
6. IME/DME – what to expect, do and say
Medical examinations would have to rank highly in stressful events during a claim process. Help your clients by making sure they know where to go, give themselves plenty of time to avoid being late, know what to expect during the examination and how to present themselves.
For example, an insurer arranged psychiatric examination can involve giving urine and/or blood tests.
Advice on how to present is not coaching, but ensuring the client fairly presents their symptoms. A stoic client can do themselves no favours by downplaying the real impact on them simply because they are so used to doing it at home, for example.
7. Communications – preferences and cost
Find out how often your client wants an update. How they like to receive this information. If a client appears to be heavily claim focused and taking up a lot of time, they should respectfully be advised how this will impact their costs by the end of the claim. Do they need counselling support? What is making them anxious? A solid relationship built on the right communication is critical to running a claim successfully and having a happy client.
If your case can be settled without going to court, this is usually best for everyone. To find out if alternative dispute resolution is appropriate for your case, book a consultation with an expert at Salerno Law. Contact one of our offices today to discuss any legal issues you may have.
By Peter Matus