5 Mistakes that Can Cause You to Lose Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal injury law is complicated. It would be nice if you could simply explain what happened, layout your expenses, and receive compensation, but it rarely works that way.
Obviously, you want to win your case. To do that, be sure to avoid these five mistakes.
1. Failing to Hire an Attorney
This is by far the biggest mistake people make going into a personal injury lawsuit. Lawyers understand how the system works, and they can make sure your court filings are completed correctly, that you meet all your deadlines, and that you gather all the evidence you possibly can. They know how to overcome problems and issues that may arise, and how to achieve the best results.
A good personal injury attorney will also have the skills needed to negotiate a successful settlement and maximize your recovery. The insurance company has adjusters and attorneys who handle thousands of claims. An experienced personal injury attorney will level the playing field in your case. Remember—most attorneys require no payment unless you win, so don’t hesitate to get this important individual on your side.
2. Not Having Enough Proof
The more evidence you have concerning your injury and the circumstances surrounding it, the better your odds of negotiating a successful settlement (or of winning a verdict in a trial). What you know or remember matters less than what you can prove. That means you’ll want to document everything you possibly can.
If you’re able, use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident after it happens. If you can’t do it, try to have a witness do it for you. Have the police file a report if applicable. Keep a detailed written record explaining what happened, and how your injuries affect you over time. Get and keep contact information for anyone involved and any witnesses. If you learn of any news articles or social media posts about your accident try to get copies or save them.
If you are hurting after an accident, see a doctor as early as possible, and keep track of all your medical records. Work with your lawyer to gather evidence on any other parties involved, and to recruit credible witnesses. One missing piece of evidence can impact the outcome.
3. Saying Too Much Online
After the accident, you may be tempted to take your frustrations out on social media or to share posts of you and your family. You may also want to update family and friends on what happened and how you are doing. You must be especially cautious until your case is resolved, however. Anything you say or post on social media can potentially be used against you in court.
If you are claiming to have suffered a serious back injury, for example, simply posting that you are having a good day could be used against you later. Unclear statements by you online about what happened in the accident could be interpreted as you admitting fault for the accident.
4. Saying Too Much to the Insurance Company
Keep in mind that insurance company representatives care most about their own interests. Paying out injury claims eats into their profits, so they will be looking for ways to avoid paying what they may believe is “too much.”
That means it’s best to avoid talking too much to any insurance company without your lawyer’s protection. If you talk to an insurance representative on your own, for instance, that person may try to get you to admit fault, to state that you are unsure if your injury is related to the accident, or agree to an inadequate settlement.
Your lawyer can protect you from these traps. Simply tell the insurance representative that you’d prefer to talk to him/her when your lawyer is present. If you have already hired a lawyer, tell the insurance representative that they must no longer contact you and only speak to your attorney.
5. Failing to Follow Through on Medical Treatments
Once your accident is over, you may be tempted to cancel your doctor’s appointment or skip your physical therapy session. You may have trouble making appointments because of work or family commitments.
It is important to get those appointments for your health and for your claim. Those treatments are documentation of your injuries and insurance companies will use “gaps” in your treatment against you to pay you less than you deserve.
Follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter and be sure to make all your appointments. Gather documents for them all, as well, as you will present these as part of your case.