Mistakes during a personal injury claim can be costly and can have a negative impact on your case. We understand that personal injuries can lead to a stressful time in your life and it is important that you are educated on how best to handle the situation. Avoid making these common personal injury claim mistakes:
Not taking immediate action at the scene of the accident
If you are involved in an accident and you feel the symptoms of injury your personal health and safety is of the utmost importance and you should call an ambulance immediately. It is also important that the police are notified; if you cannot contact the police you should have someone at the scene do it for you. Do not allow the other party to try and talk you out of contacting the police. If you are able, it is also important that you make written notes of all of the names, addresses, phone numbers and license plates of all parties involved in the accident and any witnesses to the accident. Most cell phones come equipped with a camera; if you are able it is important to take photos of the damage to your vehicle for your personal records. If you are injured and cannot take photos or notes, it is important that you ask someone at the scene to assist you. Photos and notes can be very important throughout the claim process. It is also important that you remain calm following the accident, do not argue or accuse anyone and never admit fault. This can be extremely damaging to your case.
Not documenting everything that happens after you leave the scene of the accident
As mentioned above it is extremely important that you document everything for proof of the facts and damages. Write down everything you can remember about the accident and any injuries. It is helpful to:
- Keep a detailed pain diary
- Keep detailed notes of all conversations with insurance companies
- Document your doctor visits
- Keep contact information, such as business cards, for each doctor, physical therapist or healthcare provider that you see
- Document your lost wages
- Photograph your injuries
- Save medication bottles, casts, braces, and other similar items that you receive from your healthcare provider
Not seeing your doctor or not cooperating completely with your doctor’s orders
If you have suffered an injury it is important that you seek medical attention immediately. Remember that not all injuries will be apparent immediately following the accident; some injuries may take days to develop. Failure to see a physician regarding your injuries could be used against you later by the insurance company. For example, an insurance adjuster may argue that your failure to immediately seek medical care indicates that your injury was not related to the accident. The longer you wait to seek medical treatment the more difficult it will be to prove that your injuries were related to the accident. It is important that you make a commitment to see a doctor and that you keep your scheduled appointments, this will allow the doctor to thoroughly document your pain and suffering and validate your injury claim. It is also important that any doctor you see is given an accurate description of the accident and that you always cooperate with your doctor and the instructions that the doctor gives you.
Not getting legal advice
You should always seek the legal advice of a personal injury attorney before giving any statements (written or oral) to anyone concerns your accident. Your personal injury lawyer will determine what the best course of action is. It is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to contact an accident victim to try to get a recorded statement before the victim has had an opportunity to seek legal advice. Remember, the adjuster is only looking to get damaging statements that may result in the insurance company paying less money. In order to fully protect your legal rights you should not discuss the accident with the defendant’s insurance company without legal counsel. It is also important that you not give medical authorization to the defendant’s insurance company.
Do not accept any check from the insurance company that says “final payment” unless you are ready to settle your claim. Checks that say “final payment” or “a release of all claims” should not be accepted because it could mean you are giving up your claim for bodily injury. Insurance companies have been known to use tricks on injured victims to get you to release all of your rights. Do not accept a check or sign a release from the at-fault driver or their insurance company until you have obtained legal guidance from a personal injury attorney. It is important that you only seek the advice of an experienced attorney and do not make the mistake of settling the claim before knowing the full extent of your injuries or what you’re entitled to.
Not hiring a lawyer or hiring the wrong lawyer
Many people are hesitant about obtaining legal representation primarily because they have never had to before or they do not know of a good one. It is important that you contact personal injury attorneys and discuss the details of your case to find the best fit for you. Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation that will allow you to meet and discuss your options confidentially. It is important that you act quickly to avoid making any costly mistakes that could damage your case. Hiring an attorney will allow you to be on a level playing field with the insurance company and you are more likely to receive maximum compensation for your injuries.