There are many factors that can help or hurt your personal injury claim. The things you do or choose not to do after an injury matter. Here are the seven biggest mistakes we see people make after an injury that can negatively affect their personal injury case.
1. Not seeking medical treatment in a timely manner.
Waiting too long to seek medical treatment is the most common mistake we see people make after a personal injury. We understand that life is hectic and that seeking medical care and following a treatment plan is a process. However, popping some Ibuprofen and hoping injuries get better on their own is not a good choice to make. If you do not seek medical treatment and fail to comply with the doctor’s orders, the insurance company will argue that your injuries must not be that bad or you’re not really hurt, simply because you waited to seek treatment.
You also want to avoid any gaps in treatment. Be consistent with your treatment plan. If you don’t follow up with your doctor’s recommendations or appointments, the insurance company will dispute the seriousness of your injuries and the validity of your claim.
2. Not taking pictures at the scene of the injury.
Cellphones are ubiquitous these days. If you are able, take as many pictures as possible. Capture the property damage, injuries, the scene, and weather conditions. Document as much as you can. Take a video, too. Record witness information. If a wreck looks like a clear liability case to a police officer, he/she might not take witness statements, but those statements are valuable to a personal injury case.
As soon as an attorney gets your case, he or she will likely take pictures of the property damage and the scene, but firsthand pictures and documentation are more valuable. Documenting all the evidence at the scene can be crucial to winning your case.
3. Trying to handle a case without a lawyer.
Honestly speaking, there are some cases where you might not need to hire an attorney. That said, you should always speak to an attorney first. Simply reach out and educate yourself on the process of a personal injury claim before tackling it yourself. Consultations are usually free, individualized, and can give you valuable insight about your case and how to handle it. If you try to manage things on your own without consulting an attorney first, you could miss vital steps that will harm your chances of obtaining a fair recovery.
4. Failing to research a lawyer before hiring one.
There are a lot of attorneys out there; unfortunately, not all of them are knowledgeable and/or trustworthy. Do your research before hiring an attorney. Look at their websites and social media; try to discern if the attorney is someone you can trust and work with.
Schedule an in-person consultation. You can do this with multiple firms. Lawyers are like doctors; they specialize in certain fields. You need to find a competent and trustworthy attorney who specializes in personal injury. You want an attorney who is experienced in settling cases and trying cases before a court or jury. If you hire an attorney because you saw them on several commercials or billboards, that attorney is probably NOT going to be your attorney. A common business model we see in personal injury law is to spend a lot of money on ads in multiple places and pass your case onto paralegals or lesser-known attorneys for a finder’s fee. These attorneys try to settle your case quickly and don’t have a lot of experience going to trial. Here are 15 essential questions to ask before hiring an attorney.
5. Giving a recorded statement to an insurance company.
You are not required to give a recorded statement to the at-fault insurance company, and you should never do this without consulting an attorney. Anything you say can potentially be used against you and insurance adjustors are skilled at asking questions for their company’s benefit.
6. Signing anything without a lawyer’s review.
You don’t want to sign anything an insurance company sends you without having a lawyer review it. If you sign the wrong document, you could destroy your rights to bring a claim against the at-fault insurance company or to pursue an underinsured motorist claim. Sometimes, insurance companies will send an injured person a check along with a full release and the injured person might think this is only partial payment. If the injured person signs the full release, the claim will end, and the insurance company will not pay any bills that come after the release is signed.
Additionally, if there are any liens placed on your claim by a health plan, hospital, or medical facility, the liens must be addressed out of any settlement. If you sign documents settling you case without knowing the full extent of any hospital or medical liens, you could walk away with nothing.
7. Waiting too long to file a lawsuit or make a claim.
If you wait too long to file a lawsuit you may be barred by the statute of limitations, which is basically the maximum amount of time the law allows for you to file a lawsuit. Also, it takes time for the attorneys to investigate the claim, send open records request, and review medical records. Attorneys need time to do all those things before filing a lawsuit or making a claim. If you want an attorney to do a good job, make sure you give them plenty of time to properly investigate all angles of your case before they must file a lawsuit.