In the confusion after an accident, it’s easy to make mistakes that affect your insurance claim & compensation. Avoid these common mistakes.
If you’ve ever been in an accident of any kind, you know how it feels. One minute you’re driving along without a care in the world, and the next you’ve been jarred, jolted, and maybe even spun around. You are disoriented, worrying about damage to yourself or your vehicle. You may be shaken and overwhelmed.
While thinking about a personal injury claim may be the last thing on your mind, taking the right evidence to ensure you get the compensation you deserve should be. To make sure you don’t make mistakes that could affect your ability to receive compensation, speak to an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
How to Build a Strong Injury Claim
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, there are so many different concerns that it can be confusing. You may have trouble keeping track of what you should do to ensure you are helping your legal case. Avoid these costly mistakes that may harm your personal injury claim.
Neglecting to Document the Accident and Injuries
Contact the authorities immediately after the accident. Once you have done this, document the accident, your injuries, and their treatment. People often forget what happened. You may think you have a clear memory of what happened, but if you don’t document it, you may forget key facts. And if the other side has different information, or if your memory clashes with any official reports of the accident, you’ll look like you’ve misremembered at best and are lying at worst.
Write down everything as soon as you can, including all your pains and issues, even if they seem insignificant. This goes for your medical issues, as well. Keep all your medical records, report every possible problem to your doctor, and seek treatment. If you’ve had a head injury, report any fogginess, behavior issues, or emotional instability, and be sure to keep a journal of how you feel after the accident.
You’ll need documentation that includes photos of every vehicle involved in a car accident, images, or a sketch of the area where the accident occurred, witness names and contact information, and pictures of your injuries. The more and the better documentation you have, the better your personal injury compensation claim will be.
Failing to Get Medical Treatment Immediately after the Accident
Avoiding or delaying a doctor’s visit after an accident is a common mistake. Often, people think they are not injured or not injured badly. They may feel fine or think they just have some bruising, and going to the hospital or seeing a doctor seems excessive. Don’t fall into this trap.
Sure, your injuries may seem superficial, and you think you can handle them on your own. But, if you don’t seek medical treatment immediately after the accident, you’ll have trouble claiming the accident caused your injuries. If you’ve been in a car accident, you have 14 days to seek medical treatment or your PIP (no-fault) insurance will not cover the costs. This may affect your ability to get personal injury compensation.
Stopping Treatment Too Soon
If you stop getting treatment for your injuries, then you are not hurt. Keep going to the doctor until they discharge you. Most injuries from an accident take at least 6 months to heal completely. Your doctors will prescribe treatments such as chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, pain management, and even surgery.
You must adhere to every therapy prescribed by your doctor, or your claim will be devalued. Don’t skip appointments, or the insurance company can use it against you.
Talking to the Insurance Company without Talking to Your Lawyer First
Insurance companies are smart and tricky, and they want a statement as soon as possible. They do not want you to get a lawyer. They often look for ways to trap you into a set of facts that give them a reason to limit the damages and lower your compensation. They may seem friendly, but they are not your friend. And they are definitely not looking out for your best interests.
Someone from the insurance company will call you very shortly after the accident, asking for a statement. Don’t give them one. Politely tell them you don’t feel comfortable talking to them about the accident without your lawyer present. Even if you don’t have a lawyer, and if you don’t, go get one. You can let them know your lawyer will be contacting them.
Settling Before You Are at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
The insurance company will want to settle your case quickly, but don’t let them hurry you. Never stop getting treatment or settle your case until you know the long-term prognosis of your injury. Despite pressure to settle before you are at Maximum Medical Improvement, don’t do it. You don’t want to be stuck with medical bills your settlement doesn’t cover.
Settling a Personal Injury Claim without a Lawyer
Settling a personal injury claim without a lawyer may be tempting, but it is not advisable. In any instance where the other side has a lawyer, and you don’t, you are at a disadvantage. When filing a personal injury claim, a personal injury lawyer is familiar with the tricks insurance companies use to get out of paying you what you deserve.
Accepting the First Offer
It’s tempting, you want the case to be over. But keep in mind that the first offer from an insurance company is usually less than the full amount you or your lawyer requested. They are trying to settle the case for less. Do not agree to any offer before your lawyer has reviewed it.
When to Expect Compensation
When you’ve been through an accident and personal injury lawsuit, it’s normal to wonder how long it will take and when to expect compensation. In general, liability and the amount of compensation demanded are the main factors that affect how long it will take for your case to be concluded. Your personal injury attorney will keep you updated on the timeline and what to expect throughout the case, including when the settlement check is ready for you.