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Honesty is not always enough

Credibility is everything. Without it, there is no hope for fair compensation for typical car crash injuries.

While the technology may be coming, I cannot yet attach my clients up to a machine that will give a read out of the level of pain they are suffering or the level of depression they have fallen into because of that pain. That would make my job so much easier.

I wouldn’t care about my client’s credibility, because the machine would verify the existence and severity of the pain my client is suffering. Without that machine, or any other way to objectively prove pain, the evidence is largely limited to what my client says about the pain. If what my client says is not believed, then the evidence of the very real pain my client is experiencing disappears.

It’s not just as easy as being honest. In order to protect against a credibility attack, not only must you ensure that you are being honest, you must also ensure that everything you say is accurate, because those who prejudge car crash victims as dishonest fraudsters will equate inaccuracy with dishonesty.

Our memories work in interesting ways. We sometimes completely forget about things; generally things that hold little significance to us. Honestly forgetting about something can result in a credibility attack.

For example, if you are being asked about your medical history and you honestly forget about the incident in 1997 when you pulled a muscle in your lower back resulting in pain that resolved completely within 3-4 Chiropractic treatments, you are opening yourself to a credibility attack even though that incident nine years ago has nothing to do with your car crash symptoms and you honestly forgot that the event even occurred.

The spin the defending insurance company will want to put on it is that you purposefully withheld the information so as to help your claim.

Not only do we sometimes forget things, we can also remember things somewhat differently than they actually occurred. Are you able to say how often you get a headache? Imagine being in a car crash tomorrow, suffering daily headaches for the next two years and then being asked about your pre-crash headache pattern. You may remember that you had periodic headaches, but not remember how often.

Your best recollection might be once every couple months. When your medical records later reveal a questionnaire you filled out a month before the crash, indicating that you were getting a mild headache once every week or two, you are again opened up to a credibility attack.

The spin the defending insurer will want to put on it will be that you purposefully understated your pre-crash headaches in order to increase your claim.

In order to maximize your chances of fair compensation for car crash injuries, there is a need to go further than being your ordinary honest self. You must also be hyper vigilant that nothing you say can possibly be misconstrued as being dishonest.

How do I protect my clients against unfair credibility attacks? I make sure they keep a diary so that they can ensure accuracy when describing the impact of the their injuries on their lives when it comes time to do so. I ensure they have reviewed their medical records before being subjected to questioning about their medical history.

I also keep my fingers crossed that the technology will come that will objectively verify pain so that my clients can go back to simply being honest.

Published January 14, 2007 in the Kelowna Capital News