When you are in an accident, there is typically some level of shock involved. In the midst of the aftershock, most people are not thinking as clearly as they normally would, so mistakes can be made. Even after the initial shock has subsided, many are of the mindset that they don’t want to “make a big deal” out of the accident and may ignore problems that arise – until those problems become a limiting factor in their life. Here is a list of common mistakes that personal injury plaintiffs make both directly after an accident or in the subsequent weeks or months.
Failure to Call Police or Make a Report
Whenever you are in an accident that has even the slightest chance of resulting in an injury claim, it is important that you call the police to the scene. Failure to do so can greatly decrease your chances of recovery, because even proving that the incident happened in the first place can get difficult if there is no record of the event.
It is human nature to simply say that you are fine and move on with life. The trouble is that, after an accident, you are in some shock – as mentioned earlier. You’ve just had a traumatic incident and your instinct is to get it over with and not let it interfere too much with your life or the lives of anyone else involved. You want to be “nice” and pleasant and not cause too many waves. So you may tell the other driver that the police don’t need to be called, or you may tell the business where you feel that you are fine and they don’t need to file a report. This is a mistake.
Make sure that the incident is documented as fully as possible. If the police cannot make it to the scene, you can always go to them the next day and file a report. Always remember that, if you are the plaintiff in an injury suit, you have the burden of proving that the accident happened. Don’t make your job harder.
Failure to Gather Evidence
At the scene, gather as much evidence as you possibly can. If you are too injured and you have anyone with you, have them collect the evidence. Take photos of the scene from as many angles as you can. Take photos of the damage to all cars involved or of the slip and fall scene. Try to capture the fault of the incident if you can. For instance, in a slip and fall case where an object caused your fall, make sure to get a photo of the object and where it was when you tripped over it. If there were no warning signs, you want that to be clear from the photo.
Also, get the contact information from all of the witnesses that you can, and be sure that your attorney follows up with them soon so before their memories have had a chance to fade. All of this is strong evidence that will hold great value both during negotiations with the insurance company, and at trial if that becomes necessary.
Failure to Document Each Day After
It is a very good idea to document anything related to your injury, every day. This may be as simple as a note stating that you felt pain walking down the stairs today, or may be a retelling of an important doctor’s visit or surgery. But writing down what you are experiencing every day in some type of accident journal can come in extremely handy when your memory of the incident or the aftermath begins to fade. Sometimes injury cases can take years to settle – sometimes only months. But recording your pain and suffering can only serve you later.
Not Seeking Medical Treatment
This is an extremely important facet of your case. Medical treatment, or the lack thereof, can make or break your case. And if you wait to get treatment or fail to follow through with your doctor’s directives, you will harm your case and possibly lose any chance of getting just compensation.
So don’t “tough it out” by waiting to see if your injury gets better with time. Whether or not you feel any significant pain, go to your doctor after an accident. He or she can make a determination as to the extent of your injuries and even send you for further testing. They can see what you may not feel yet, and if you wait, opposing counsel will assuredly accuse you of not having been that injured. If there is a gap between the accident and your first doctor’s visit, they will even try to say that any injury that the doctor spotted was likely caused after the accident and not related to the accident at all.
Do not risk this. See your doctor immediately, even if you are not badly injured. And follow through with any and all treatment. These actions will disallow any arguments by the defense that you exacerbated your own injuries by failing to follow the doctor’s orders.
Not Seeking Legal Assistance
Do not trust insurance agents. That cannot be stressed strongly enough. They are not your friends. They do not have your best interests at heart. Adjusters have one job, and that is to pay you the least amount of money possible for your claim. That is their top priority, and they do their job well. They are trained to lull you into a false sense of security by trusting them to do their best for you. They will attempt to dissuade you from involving a legal practitioner, but this is to their benefit only – not yours!
Insurance companies have a team of lawyers on their payroll that work hard to protect the assets of the company. The more insurance companies pay out in claims like yours, the less profitable they are to their shareholders. So they spend a great deal of time and money on making sure that you do not get the money that your case is worth. Level the playing field in the only way you can by speaking to a lawyer immediately.
Do not even speak to an insurance adjuster until you speak to a lawyer. They will attempt to get you to give them a recorded statement. Do not do this under any circumstances, until you have spoken to a lawyer who is working to protect your interests. The reason the insurance company wants a statement is to find anything that you say that will lower your compensation. Do not give them the chance. An experienced injury attorney is your best defense against these tactics.
Continuing to Use Social Media
Once you are in an accident, stay off of social media until your case is over. This may seem difficult at first, but it is well worth the effort. Opposing counsel will scour your social media accounts looking for anything that you say or any photo that you post that can make it look like you are enjoying your life and are not as injured as you claim. This can kill a case, so it is best to stay away from it entirely until your case is resolved.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help
When you have had any type of accident and are injured, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get an experienced attorney to protect your interests. The team at Batson Nolan PLC is ready and able to help. Call us today, or contact us online to set up a free consultation in our Clarksville or Springfield office.