What can you do if you are involved in an auto accident that isn’t your fault? You’re injured, your car is wrecked, and you’re unsure how you will pay for medical bills and vehicle damages. This can be very stressful. Can you trust that the negligent driver and their insurance company will take responsibility and pay for your expenses? Your first decisions after the accident will determine how your legal case will play out, and it could mean the difference between receiving the compensation you deserve and getting nothing. Here are 8 mistakes that could ruin your injury case.
Failure to Receive Proper Medical Treatment
One of the most important aspects of a personal injury claim is proving that you are injured, and that those injuries resulted from the accident. If you don’t seek medical treatment, how can you expect anyone to believe that you are injured? Always go to the doctor’s after an accident, even if you don’t feel like you’re hurt. If you fail to get the proper medical care — or even if you delay going to the doctor’s a week or two after the accident — the insurance company will use that against you.
Failure to Document the Accident and Injuries
As your case goes on, people start to forget the facts. Memories get foggy and details are forgotten. After an accident, if you are physically able to, make sure to collect evidence from the scene. Take pictures of the crash and damage to the vehicles. Get medical records from your doctor for any injuries you might have. Collect witness statements and contact information. Everything you document will greatly improve your claim, especially if your case goes to trial.
Giving a Statement to an Insurance Company
Insurance companies are not looking to help you. They are looking to help themselves. They don’t want to pay for your expenses and would be perfectly fine if you walked away with nothing. It’s important to remember: the insurance companies will try to trick you. Don’t trust them. That’s why you should never give a recorded statement without seeking the advice of an experienced attorney. Just say no and let your attorney deal with the insurance companies. Anything you say can and will be used against you.
Never Sign a Release
If you sign a release or authorization to make your medical records public to an insurance company, you might as well close your case. It’s that simple. This will almost always result in your claim being thrown out and you’ll have nothing to show for it. For example: your knee is badly injured in a car accident. You sign a release, and the lawyers for the insurance companies find out that you had previously torn your ACL years ago playing basketball. They will use this as evidence against you. Only allow your own attorney to have access to your medical history, or else you could be blindsided in the courtroom.
Always Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
If you don’t follow up your initial trip to the doctor’s with more medical treatment, it will appear that you aren’t injured at all. Keep going to the doctor’s until you are discharged. Ending your treatment early will not only be detrimental to your health but will also be terrible for your case.
Never Accept an Early Settlement
Often, the long-term impacts of your injury won’t be immediately known to you. Maybe you’ll need surgery for a back injury many months after the accident. If you accept an early settlement offer, however, you will have to pay for these medical expenses yourself. A case can’t be reopened after a settlement has been accepted. Never accept a settlement offer until you reach maximum medical improvement and are aware of the full extent of your injuries. It could mean the difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation.
Never Accept a Settlement Without an Attorney
As mentioned before, the insurance companies are only out for themselves. They will try to trick you into accepting a lowball settlement offer. They’ll make it appear as though this is a substantial sum and you’d be a fool not to take it, but this is not true. Our experienced personal injury attorneys deal with insurance companies every day. We know how they operate, and we know how to properly value your case. The offer they give you will likely only be a small fraction of the compensation you could be eligible for. Let your attorney deal with the insurance companies so you can focus on your recovery.
Never Feel Bad About Your Case
People may feel nervous to pursue litigation against someone else. Nobody really wants to sue anyone, even experienced trial lawyers. This is a last resort. But sometimes the insurance companies force our hand and leave us no other options. You need an experienced attorney with a proven track record of successful results to handle your case. The best attorney will aggressively pursue litigation on your behalf and make sure you are fully compensated for the accident.
Avoid these case-ruining mistakes and contact Murray Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation with our dedicated Stillwater personal injury attorneys. Let our experience work for you.