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Will a personal injury lawyer talk directly to a client’s physician while their case is pending?

Generally, the attorney will not talk directly to the client’s physicians while the client is undergoing treatment.  I would not want there to be a note in the client’s medical records that an attorney was trying to guide the doctor towards a specific treatment for our client.  However, an attorney can reach out to the physician for clarification in the medical records or to discuss the need for future medical treatment.  

There are conversations sometimes between my law office and the doctor – when preparing the doctor for deposition or a trial.

In regard to treatment, what happens in instances where a doctor is not communicating well with a client?

If we hear this from our clients, we encourage two things. First, we encourage the client to continue discussions with their doctor about their symptoms, how they are feeling and what their complaints are. In an extreme instance – we would suggest the client write a letter/note to the doctor, letting them know specifics. 

For example, their arm, shoulder, or back continues to hurt after surgery or therapy. This way, the letter/note is recorded into the medical record, which may vital to our case.

When it comes to expressing to your doctor how you feel, we stress to be honest about your aches and pains and don’t be brave or worry that you’re complaining to your doctor. Your aches and pains are important and need to be included in the doctor’s medical record.

Should you gather your own evidence after an accident?

If you can, you should start taking photos of the accident scene. However, if vehicles are moved from the road to a parking lot or to the shoulder of the road, you’re going to lose the juxtaposition of the cars. We certainly don’t want the other driver, who may have caused the accident, to now say they weren’t driving in a particular lane; which photos wouldn’t show if vehicles were moved.  Pictures of the damage to your vehicle and the at-fault driver’s vehicle are important to have. 

In slip and fall cases, it’s critical to photograph the area where you fell, so you can show the condition of the exact area where you fell. If you have to be transported to the hospital by an ambulance, encourage a friend or relative you may have been with to take pictures of exactly where the injury happened.  If you cannot take a picture at the time of the slip and fall, make sure to return to the scene as soon as possible to take the pictures.  

I had a call recently from a woman who is a home health care phlebotomist. She went to a client’s house to take a blood test, left the client’s house, and fell. It was later determined her foot was broken. These slip and fall cases are tough to begin with, but I asked her for a picture of where it happened – and she got a picture. There is an old saying that “A picture is worth a thousand words”  I say “pictures say a could be worth tens of thousands of dollars.”

What are a client’s rights when it comes to repairing their vehicle? Can they take it to their preferred repair facility? 

The client has the right to take the car to wherever they want the repairs to be completed. However, different insurance companies have different approved labor rates. If the body shop the client takes their car to has labor rates that are different, which normally would be the case – because the insurance labor rates are negotiated reduced rates, then the client will be exposed to paying the amount of the additional labor rates and sometimes there could be 60 to 70 hours of labor and a client could be on the hook for more than $1,000 out of their own pocket.

When a person is self-employed, how is loss income calculated for them?

It first starts with the doctor’s authorization to not work. In a client’s medical records, there will be notification that advises a client to not work for a set period of time – let’s say two weeks. To compute lost wages, our client would tell us how much they make on an hourly basis or a daily basis and our law firm will have them sign a wage loss authorization. If the insurance company asks for verification – which they frequently do, we can give a copy of our client’s tax returns for the previous business year.

In some cases, an individual may try to “goose up” their actual earnings and say they make $1,000 a day, yet their tax returns show they lost $20,000 in the business last year, obviously we’re not going to be able to verify that component of the accident. However, it doesn’t kill the case, because a client will still have medical bills, injuries, and pain and suffering.

We frequently see this situation with cab drivers or Uber or Lyft drivers. Due to COVID, a self-employed driver is not going to be able to prove their lost wages in 2020, when people weren’t taking Ubers and getting out as much because of COVID, but we can review their 2019 tax returns, or we can compare it to other Uber drivers for reference.

Can a landlord be held responsible for a dog bite on the property of their apartment complex?

It’s rare for a landlord to be held liable. Generally, a landlord is not in charge of maintaining other people’s property, and a dog is someone else’s property. An example of an instance where a landlord might be liable is if the landlord has a no dog policy and has given warnings to the tenant who owns the dog and the dog bites somebody – maybe you could connect and hook in the landlord to the case.

Another instance where the landlord may be held liable is if they ask the tenant with a dog to have the dog work as security on the property. In this instance, the landlord uses the dog for their own purposes, and we may be able to connect the landlord to the injury.

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If you have more personal injury questions or wonder whether or not you have a case, call our Schaumburg personal injury attorneys today at 847-434-3555.

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