Insurance

Personal Injuries: Legal Speak for the Lay Person

Image of law books to illustrate Personal Injuries: Legal Terms for the Layperson

Almost any type of personal injuries resulting from the actions or carelessness of a person or business may be grounds for a lawsuit. If you are suffering from physical, psychological or financial injuries, or have been accused of injuring someone, speak to a qualified attorney in your area.

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Be Ready for Surgery! Getting Your Docs in a Row

Geting your docs in a row before surgeryBe ready for surgery by getting your docs in a row! If there is surgery in the future for you or a family member, these tips for planning ahead will lessen your stress and make the process run smoother.

It’s time to “get your affairs in order”. Depending on your perspective, that can sound pretty dire … or may conjure visions of a wild weekend in Vegas!  A non-dramatic reality is that we all have administrative responsibilities to deal with in our everyday lives and planning for surgery adds to the list of forms and documents we have to deal with. Dealing with them in advance will make your life easier in the weeks before and after surgery.

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Legal Speak For the Lay Person: What You Say May Be Used Against You!

Legal Speak for the Lay Person

When a person is arrested for a criminal matter, there are legal procedures like the Miranda warning to advise that you have the right to an attorney and anything you say may be used against you.

Do you know your rights when it comes to civil matters? There is more than one legal way that you may be asked to give testimony – that means talk about something – that can later be used against you in a civil matter, even if you are not yet involved in a lawsuit.

This article explains some of the common civil circumstances where you may be asked to speak, and what to keep in mind to help protect yourself. For legal advice, always seek guidance from a reputable attorney in your area!

Recorded Statement

If you are involved in any kind of insurance claim, you can pretty much expect to be contacted by the insurance company for a statement or interview. The insurance company representative or claims adjuster will ask you a series of questions, and will usually record the conversation.

The insurance company representative may contact you by phone or come to see you in person, even if you are in the hospital or recovering from injuries.

Do you have to give a statement? The insurance company will say they have to get your statement to investigate the claim. If it is your insurance company, there is probably wording in your auto or home policy that requires you to cooperate with the investigation.

If it is the insurance company for the person or company at fault, they will say they have to get your statement before they consider paying your damages.

While you will likely have to provide a statement – and will want to tell your side of the story – you don’t have to give your statement right away. You do not have to provide a statement while you are upset, ill or medicated.

Most importantly, you do not have to provide a statement to the insurance company before you have contacted an attorney.

Remember that an insurance company will try very hard to make sure your claim is covered under the policy before they will pay any money. That also means they will try very hard to determine if your situation is not covered, even if they are your insurance company.

Even if your claim will be covered by the policy, then the insurance company will decide how much the claim is worth. That often includes cutting back on the amount because they think you could have avoided the situation or that you brought some of it on yourself.

You see why your recorded statement is so important?

Examination Under Oath

An Examination Under Oath is a sworn statement from an insured taken by an attorney representing the insurance company. The insurance company attorney will ask you questions about yourself, your background, your finances and the reason for your insurance claim. A paid court reporter will be there to take down every word you say.

Insurance companies in every state will use an Examination Under Oath to investigate claims, especially if there are large dollar amounts involved or if the insurance company thinks fraud may be involved.

The insurance company can arrange for an Examination Under Oath even if there is no lawsuit involved. You will get a letter telling you when and where to show up.

You may be told to bring copies of your personal information, for example: phone records, bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, utility bills, mortgage and deed, and tax returns. You will be questioned about any or all of these things.

You could be asked questions about who lived with you, arrest records, your physical or mental health, or medications and injuries from before and after the incident that is the basis of your claim.

If you don’t show up or refuse to answer questions, your claim may be denied for failing to cooperate.

You do not have to bring an attorney with you to an Examination Under Oath. You need to know that you have the right to hire an attorney before an Examination Under Oath even if you did not have one when you filed your claim.

Depositions

Depositions are similar to an Examination Under Oath but are more formal and not limited to insurance companies.

Depositions are part of the discovery part of a lawsuits, when both sides are allowed to ask questions and gather information they will use to prove their case to a judge or jury. You can be deposed whether you are the one who filed the lawsuit or if you are defending yourself against a lawsuit.

In the United States you have the right to represent yourself in a lawsuit, but it is usually not a good idea. You will want to have an attorney with you if you are going to be deposed.

Deposition testimony will be taken down by a court reporter and sometimes will be filmed. Any part of what you say can be used against you during the lawsuit and at trial.

You might be questioned on your personal life, employment history, military service, daily activities, finances and your education, in addition to details that have to do with the lawsuit.

Your attorney will help you get ready for a deposition so you have an idea of what to expect.

At the deposition, your attorney will speak up if the questions are something you should not answer or are not proper. He or she will make sure you get breaks when you need them if the questioning goes on a long time or ask to postpone further questioning if needed.

 

Do you have question about giving statements in insurance claims or legal actions? Do you have an experience to share? Please leave your comments below!