James E. Betz - Attorney at Law


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HOW WE WORK WITH CLIENTS

After you have retained our firm to represent you in a claim for personal injuries, my staff and I will be working as a team to put forth the strongest possible case for you, and to bring about a speedy and just resolution of your claim. Over the weeks, months and perhaps years, a great deal of time and effort on your part and ours will be necessary to ensure that these goals are met. The more we work together toward these future goals, the better we will be able to settle or try your case and to recover the full amount of damages to which you are entitled.

Our firm utilizes a team of lawyers, legal assistants and secretaries to handle your case. Please feel free to call on any one of the team. We request that you call after you begin a new type of medical treatment, when there has been a change in your treatment plan, or if you miss work due to your injuries. Please ask for my secretary or me when you call with an update on your medical status. If you are unable to reach one of us, please leave a phone number where you can be contacted, and we will get back to you--usually the same day, but if not, the next.

Please do not talk to any insurance company without our permission. Refer them to us. Also, if you desire an office conference with us, please call and make an appointment, and we will be happy to discuss your case with you. Please do not get discouraged. The investigation of the facts in your case will be ongoing, and many times, we will not be able to make any recommendations until your medical status becomes stable, and we know that you have a permanent problem.

We encourage you to keep a personal injury diary, making entries on a daily basis. We also encourage you to do everything possible to remember any facts and details about the accident/incident, any conversations you had with anyone regarding it, and any statements you may have given to anyone about it. It is important we have the names and addresses of all witnesses with information about the accident and when, how, and why it occurred. It is also important we have names and addresses of any witnesses who would be likely to testify against you at any trial. We must have all of the facts to evaluate the case fully and to prepare it for eventual settlement or trial.

It is also important that all information we require be maintained on a regular basis. You should send us your personal injury diary at least monthly. The diary should include how you are feeling, what limitations of activities you have, how much pain you are experiencing, and how the injuries and/or pain have affected your lifestyle that particular day. This journal will help us to prepare your deposition, to answer interrogatories, and to help you get ready to testify at trial. Furthermore, the diary will help you to be as specific as possible about the kinds of damages you have suffered. You should review your diary prior to seeing your doctor so you can explain your injuries and their effect on your activities as specifically as possible.

In addition to the diary, you should keep a list of all expenses that result from your injury. Copies of all medication bills, physicians' bills, hospital bills, etc., should also be sent to us as they are incurred so we can submit them to your no-fault carrier for payment.

We may need to know some personal things about you, which you may consider private or irrelevant to your claim for damages. These can include your relations with your family, spouse, and even some personal information concerning your past, including your driving record, criminal problems you may have had, or other experiences of yours which may bear on issues raised at trial. Our purpose is not to invade your privacy, to insult you, or to in any way embarrass you. Rather, our own purpose is to prepare you thoroughly for trial. If there are any difficulties with your case, we need to know about them to be prepared. You must be frank and candid with us about any problems you may have had with the police, the courts, or with any third party.

Furthermore, if you have had physical problems which may bear on the case, or if you have made claims or filed other lawsuits of a similar nature, it is very important we have this information now. Be assured that the defendant, the other insurance company and its attorney will have this information and will try to use it against you. Do not think you can avoid any of these problems by not discussing them. They will surface. We must know about them now so we can evaluate them and weaken the effect that they will have at your trial.

Under our rules of procedure, the defendant has a right to conduct discovery, too. It is quite likely, therefore, that the defendant will be sending you interrogatories or questions which ask a lot of facts about your personal background, the accident, and your medical history. The information we have gone over with you during your initial interview, as well as the information you keep in your diary and on your lists, will supply many of these facts. By keeping accurate records, you will greatly assist both you and us to prepare answers to these interrogatories.

It is also likely that sometime during litigation, the defendant will want to take your deposition, which is a statement you make under oath. At the deposition, you must be prepared to respond to certain questions asked by the defendant's counsel. These questions will focus upon your injuries, your claim, and other aspects of your case. Before your deposition, we will prepare you for testimony. We will be with you at your deposition.

Furthermore, because we have claimed damages as a result of your injuries, and have also claimed that you may have suffered lost earning capacity, as well as pain and suffering, the rules of procedure allow the defendant to have you examined by a physician, a psychiatrist, or vocational analyst at its own expense.

Under some circumstances your no-fault benefits in connection with a car accident may be terminated. What usually happens, is that the insurance company will either claim your medical bills are not reasonable, not necessary, or that they are not caused by the accident. In addition, the no-fault carrier may have a provision in its insurance contract that you treat with your doctor at least once every 12 months for the injuries you have sustained. Of course, if you have complaints and difficulties more frequently than that, you should see your doctor as needed. Please be aware, if you do not treat at least once every twelve months, you will endanger having your no-fault benefits cut off under the insurance contract.

As I have described, a great deal of mutual effort will be necessary to assure that we conduct a well-prepared and well-informed presentation of your claim, and that we move toward a fair resolution of it. By following the suggestions I have made to you, and by keeping the records requested of you, we will go a long way toward that fair resolution.
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