When clients come to us, they are usually in a great deal of pain and they are sleeping fitfully. We recognize that in normal situations, people only retain about 20% of what is said to them. This means that our clients need special assistance to learn how to deal with their pain and to learn how to preserve evidence for their case so that they can eventually be awarded a fair settlement. We will do everything we can to understand who our clients are and to help them with their problems.
1. Doctors today don't have the time or take the time to become knowledgeable about a patient's problems. About 90% of the time if the doctor has a complete medical history and a good description of the complaints, an accurate diagnosis can be made. Because the patient has more knowledge of his/her history and complaints, the patient is in the best position to control and determine which treatment is proper. For these reasons, we talk to our clients about what their complaints are from the first day we meet. As healing progresses, we evaluate the complaints and treatment; and when indicated, we suggest different treatment and consultation with other doctors. Every person's situation is unique, and everyone heals differently.
2. Liens: Not everyone has medical insurance. Without the ability to pay for treatment, it isn't possible to get a fair settlement from the negligent party. Some doctors are willing to give treatment if the client and the attorney will sign a document promising to pay the doctor from the proceeds of the settlement. This document is placed in the file and is called a lien against the file which must be paid when the case settles.
3. Second Opinions: Frequently, doctors are biased to give treatment that they are most familiar with. For example, medical doctors like to prescribe drugs because that's what they learned in medical school. Chiropractors like to prescribe manipulation while orthopedic surgeons like to prescribe physical therapy and surgery to fix problems. In our office, we recognize that every branch of medicine can offer the potential to resolve a medical ailment, and we will consider all the options in assisting our clients in making the best choice for them. We frequently suggest second opinions, especially on surgical matters.
When a client is healed, or when a client has reached a point that the client is medically stable, we will create a demand package to submit to the insurance adjuster. This consists of a letter outlining why the client is entitled to the sum demanded and evidence such as photographs of the vehicle, the police report, medical illustrations showing their injuries, medical records and billings, video tapes, life expectancy tables, and research. The client will have the opportunity to review and approve every item in the demand prior to its submission.
Most cases are settled prior to trial, probably between 95% and 98%. I seldom have to take a case to the jury, but I have and will if necessary. I understand that most people don't like the prospect of baring their souls to the community, and that's what trials require. Trial is the ultimate threat because defendant insurance companies also recognize the uncertainty of the jury verdicts. However, in the present social environment, most juries favor defendants, and the defendants usually request a jury, while in the recent past, it was the plaintiff. My last jury trial was in 1999 against Denny's in Carson City where my client fell and injured her back becoming disabled. Although slip and fall cases are hard to win anywhere, especially in Carson City, Nevada, everything fell together and the jury awarded $1,115,000 in damages which was reduced because of comparative negligence of 47% to $591,000. Defense insurance companies have to factor this information into deciding how much to pay so that they can avoid this possibility.
Nevada allows the jury to consider the conduct of all parties to the lawsuit in determining how much of the damage award will ultimately be given to the plaintiff. The easiest scenario is where the plaintiff is a passenger in a car. Since the passenger did nothing to contribute to the accident, the passenger would keep 100% of the damage award. However, if the plaintiff were a driver entering an uncontrolled intersection from the right, the defendant would probably claim that the other driver contributed to the collision by not slowing down or by not paying attention. As long as the plaintiff was 50% or less at fault, the plaintiff would get a portion of the damage award. For example, a damage award of $100,000 would be reduced to $50,000 if the plaintiff were 50% at fault.
Insurance companies have been actively creating an 'urban legend' that injured people were either exaggerating claims or making false claims. They have been accusing injury victims of a jackpot mentality and blame them for higher insurance premiums. Although there is little truth in what they say, because of their wealth and power, these companies have spread their message for the past 20 years, and now have a large following of prospective jurors who believe that too many injured people are getting too much money from accident cases.
I frequently have clients come into my office who start off by saying that they only want to get their medical bills paid; or they say that they wouldn't be here except they haven't been able to work and need help. These people are often embarrassed to ask for anything because they are afraid of what their friends and co-workers will say if it becomes known what they are doing.
The amount insurance companies pay for claims has been going down for the last 15 years because of their success in convincing the general public that greedy lawyer and their clients are undeserving. Small claims and 'low impact' automobile accidents have little success in obtaining what I consider to be reasonable compensation. Regardless, history shows that injury victims receive a better deal when they are represented by an attorney because it is difficult for the average person to deal with a professional adjuster. Having your attorney represent you levels the playing field.
These materials have been prepared by Gerald Madison for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, and attorney-client relationship. Internet subscribers and readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. The materials found on this page, and linked pages are meant for persons who have had accidents in Nevada since the laws vary from state to state.