Let me set the scene – you are having your initial consultation with your personal injury lawyer. You were recently involved in a motor vehicle accident and you tell your lawyer that your lower back and left knee are absolutely killing you. You relay that you are treating with one, two, even three health care providers and that you want to be compensated for your injuries.
Your lawyer is going to ask you many questions during your consultation. They are all designed to obtain the most information possible about the accident and your current injuries. But that’s not all. You will be asked about any prior accidents or injuries you may have sustained during your life.
You may think to yourself, “Well, I was in a fender-bender about seven years ago and I hurt my back and went to the doctor for it, but I didn’t sue anyone because it was really no big deal, so, I won’t say anything.”
It may seem innocuous, but it isn’t. Here’s why you shouldn’t start a professional relationship with your attorney with a seemingly irrelevant omission:
Your lawyer needs you to tell the truth to him or her about prior accidents, so that they are not blindsided by the insurance company once you make a claim or file that lawsuit.
How can that happen? ISO.
What is ISO?
It’s something that the insurance companies have that the plaintiff attorneys don’t.
ISO is the acronym and trademark for the company Insurance Services Office Inc. ISO provides claim information only to insurance companies and their agents, including any and all reported injury claims of an individual. An ISO search will reveal the date, insurance company, claim number and possibly the injuries reported on that lower back injury you decided not to tell your lawyer about. Think of ISO as a social network just for insurance carriers. They want to get their hands on as much information as possible so that they can minimize their payouts.
What if your prior accident involved a different area of your body, for instance, your shoulder, which has nothing to do with your current complaints? It’s still important for your lawyer to know this information before an ISO search is done (and it’s done quickly), so that any irrelevant information can be addressed during litigation.
So, when your lawyer asks you questions at your initial consultation (or any time during representation), don’t try to out-think him or her, or the insurance company. It won’t make you or your case look any better. Help your attorney help you by being completely forthcoming about all aspects of your health and your case.