When someone suffers a personal injury that was the fault of another party, they are entitled to full and fair compensation for their losses. However, the fact that you have a right to compensation does not guarantee that you will recover the amount that you deserve. The party responsible for your injury is highly unlikely to write you a check to cover full damages, and in most cases, you will be filing a claim with their insurance company in order to get paid.
During the injury claims process, there are a lot of potential pitfalls, and a single misstep can jeopardize your ability to recover the just compensation you deserve. Here are five crucial mistakes you should avoid making while you are pursuing a personal injury claim:
- Delaying Medical Treatment
Any time you are involved in an accident, you should get medical treatment right away, even if you do not feel like you are injured. Sometimes, the adrenaline rush during the heat of a traumatic event masks the effects of an injury, and you may not start to feel it until several hours or even a few days later. Whether your injuries are minor or severe, they must be evaluated by a medical professional and fully documented so you can prove a causal relationship between them and the accident or event they resulted from. You also have a legal duty to mitigate your losses from a personal injury, and this means getting treated for your injuries as early as possible.
During the coronavirus pandemic, getting proper medical care has been an issue. It is not so much that the hospitals and clinics lack the capacity, it is more that injury victims are understandably apprehensive about seeing a doctor with the possibility of COVID-19 patients being in the facility. It is important to understand, however, that medical facilities are taking every reasonable precaution to keep their patients safe. For example, everyone is wearing masks, surfaces are continually sanitized, and patients are kept at least a 6-foot distance from each other. Although there is always a slight risk of catching a virus when you go out, the risks are much greater if you do not get the medical treatment you need.
- Exaggerating or Embellishing your Accident or Injuries
It may be tempting to exaggerate the severity of the accident and/or the extent of your injuries, but this is always a bad idea. If you fail to tell the truth, you will always be trying to keep your story straight, which could come back to haunt you later on. Keep in mind that insurance companies are large organizations whose goal is to pay you as little as possible for your injuries. They have well-funded investigative teams, and they are very good at uncovering any information that is available that might help their case and hurt yours.
- Signing a Release from the Insurance Company
Be very careful about any paperwork you are asked to sign from the insurance company. For example, you may be asked to sign a medical release, and it may be presented to you as a “formality” that is needed to get your medical bills paid and move forward with your claim. The problem is that the fine print within the release might give the insurer the right to look at your entire medical history, and the only reason they would want to do that is to uncover something that can be used to claim that the injury you suffered did not result from the accident their client caused.
- Handling the Case on your Own
At the risk of sounding self-serving, we believe there is a strong case to be made for hiring an attorney to handle your personal injury claim rather than trying to do it on your own. As we talked about earlier, the insurance company dedicates their vast resources toward ensuring that their losses are mitigated, and their interests are not aligned with yours. With so much at stake, it is extremely important to have a strong legal advocate in your corner who is looking out for your best interests. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to handle all the complexities involved with your case from start to finish and give you advice and counsel along the way. Having a lawyer with proven litigation experience will also show the insurance company that you are serious about going to trial if necessary, and this factor alone will most likely motivate them to give you a much better settlement offer than you would otherwise receive.
- Discussing your Case with Anyone other than Your Attorney
Under no circumstance should you discuss your personal injury claim with anyone other than your lawyer. This includes the other party (or parties) involved, representatives from the insurance company, or even your best friend. One mistake far too many people make is to continue being active on social media while they are in the middle of a personal injury claim. But as we mentioned previously, insurance companies have professional investigators who are very good at uncovering social media posts that might be damaging; such as comments you make about the accident or photos of you and your family relaxing and enjoying a vacation. Take a break from social media for a while, and do not talk about your case with anyone other than your attorney.