It’s only natural to feel shaken and perhaps even a bit disoriented after a serious injury. But how you conduct yourself in the aftermath of the accident and over the weeks and months that follow will be a huge factor in determining the outcome of your personal injury claim. Read on to learn some of the most common mistakes injured parties make that can lead to complications, delays, and even the denial of claims:
1. Calling the Insurance Company Before You Speak to a Lawyer
Any phone calls you have with the insurance company will likely be recorded, so the statements you provide might be used to dispute your claim. Even if you are careful about what you say, it’s possible that your statements will be taken out of context and misrepresented.
The best way to handle correspondence with the insurance company is to avoid talking to them altogether. Rather, you should direct any phone calls or emails from the claims adjuster to your attorney. A seasoned personal injury lawyer will know what to say and what not to say to give your claim the best possible chance of success.
2. Waiting Too Long to Speak to an Attorney
Facing the possibility of falling into debt and perhaps having to file for bankruptcy can be immensely stressful. This is why personal injury victims often accept low settlements early in the proceedings. But if your payout won’t cover all of your damages, you might end up in financial turmoil down the road. An attorney can evaluate your case objectively and help you make informed decisions that will serve your long-term interests.
Here are a few more reasons to consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible:
- Gather Evidence: Some of the most valuable evidence will likely be time-sensitive. If you were hurt in a car accident, for example, any dashcam footage might be overwritten in a matter of days. If you slipped and fell, the hazard that caused your fall might be remedied before it can be documented. Also, eyewitness statements become less reliable as time passes. The sooner your attorney can investigate your case, the higher the chance that essential evidence will still be available.
- Avoid Costly Oversights: A skilled personal injury lawyer can help you avoid critical mistakes early in the proceedings that might jeopardize your case. For instance, your attorney will advise you against discussing your case on social media because claims adjusters often review Facebook and other sites to gather evidence that can be used to dispute liability or damages. Pictures on Social Media following your accident showing you on vacation or even smiling can and will be used against you. Your lawyer can also explain the importance of following your doctor’s instructions, even if that means abstaining from exercising and taking off work for an extended period of time.
- Investigate the Available Insurance Coverage: Your attorney can investigate the insurance coverage that might be available and help you make strategic decisions regarding your medical care. For example, if the coverage limits won’t be high enough to afford the treatment you need, it might not be wise to undergo procedures that aren’t absolutely necessary.
- Meet Deadlines: There are strict deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits. Some attorneys won’t even accept cases unless there’s enough time to perform a thorough investigation before the statute of limitations expires.
3. Hiring the Wrong Personal Injury Attorney
Just because a close friend or relative used a particular lawyer to help with a car accident claim doesn’t mean that attorney has handled cases like yours. It’s important that you find a lawyer with the right experience. Here are a few qualities to consider:
- Results: Your lawyer should have a track record of success in both settlement negotiations and litigation.
- Limited Scope of Practice: Your attorney should primarily or exclusively handle personal injury cases.
- Positive Online Reviews: Reading reviews from past clients will give you an idea of what it’s like to work with the prospective lawyer.
- Accessibility: Your attorney should provide you with a direct line of contact.
4. Accepting a Low Settlement Early in the Proceedings
As your debt mounts due to medical bills and other expenses, it’s only natural to seek whatever relief is available to you. Insurance companies know that personal injury victims are eager to alleviate their financial burden, so they sometimes offer low settlements early in the proceedings—before the injured party knows the full extent of their damages.
The first settlement offer might not account for non-economic damages like pain and suffering, and if you need ongoing medical care, you should never accept a settlement before speaking to an attorney. A skilled lawyer can bring in medical and financial experts to assist with the settlement calculations so you don’t end up accepting an unfair payout.
5. Not Following Your Doctor’s Instructions
It might be easy to follow your doctor’s orders if you only have to rest for a week or two. Unfortunately, a serious injury could leave you out of work for well over a month, and your healthcare providers might advise you to abstain from exercise and strenuous activities during that time. Following your doctor’s orders can be challenging, but if you fail to do so, the claims adjuster might argue that your own negligence caused your injuries to worsen.
6. Discussing Your Case Online
As previously mentioned, claims adjusters often review social media profiles for posts, photos, and videos that can be used to dispute claims. Even if you assume a post could only strengthen your case, it’s best to refrain from using these sites until your claim has been resolved.
If you choose to continue using social media, you should never post photos of you participating in physical activities. You should also avoid discussing your injury. It’s not uncommon for claimants to post about the progress of their recovery to reassure loved ones that they’re okay, but these posts might be used to argue that your injuries are less severe than you are claiming.
7. Failing to Keep Important Evidence
The types of evidence your attorney will need to support your claim will depend on the facts of your case. If you were hurt in a slip and fall, for example, your attorney might need the shoes you were wearing when the accident occurred. If you crashed your car due to an auto part defect, your lawyer will want to assess the vehicle before it gets repaired.
You should carefully store any evidence you have gathered. If you took photos of the accident scene, be sure to save them on multiple hard drives or a cloud drive. You should also make copies of the incident report and any other documents that relate to your accident or injury.
Discuss Your Case with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Long Beach
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you were injured in a serious accident due to another person’s negligence, turn to the Law Office of Michael D. Waks for representation. Attorney Michael Waks can evaluate your case in a free consultation, answer your questions, and help you avoid critical mistakes.
Michael has more than 30 years of experience and has won numerous six- and seven-figure settlements and verdicts for his clients. To schedule a free case review, call our 24/7 phoneline at (562) 206-1939 or send us a message on our Contact Page.
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