Top 10 Personal Injury Claim Mistakes Car Accident Victims Make Without Knowing
There are two kinds of mistakes. First is the mistake of not doing what you knew you should have. The second is the mistake you had no idea you were making. The best way to deal with mistakes is to avoid making them in the first place. Below are a few tips that will help your car accident injury claim succeed.
Denial and wishful thinking – Refusing immediate medical attention
You tell yourself you’ll be fine! It’s common for those injured in a car accident to refuse medical attention. This can happen even when the signs of serious injury are immediately apparent. For many, the thought of serious injury is overwhelming and gives way to periods of denial. Denial is a natural coping mechanism that in some situations can be a good thing: giving an individual time to adjust to a painful or stressful situation. With regards to car accidents however, denial can interfere with treatment, rehabilitation and your claim.
Refusing to seek immediate medical attention often leads to disputes with your insurance company. Claim requests are often met with this reply, “ If you didn’t need medical attention, then your injuries were not serious.”
Failing to seek follow up medical attention
It is important that you follow your doctor’s medical recommendations and take all reasonable steps to prevent any worsening of injuries. Remember to see your family doctor regularly and keep him updated with symptoms and new developments regarding your physical mental and emotional well-being.
Failure to follow the above steps can affect the handling of your personal injury claim. Delayed treatment can make injuries worse and rehabilitation more difficult. Insurance companies often contend that deteriorating injuries are due to plaintiff inaction; therefore defending their right, to reduce financial obligations.
Neglecting to report the accident
Be sure to report, or have your lawyer report any car accidents to your insurance company. This must be done within seven days of the incident. Some policies may provide more time, but time limits do apply. In some cases, failure to do this could mean the insurance company will deny your claim. With car accident injury lawsuits in Ontario, a statement of claim must be filed within two years of the injury. This document is completed by your lawyer and will name the person or entity, the lawsuit is against and the amount of damages/compensation sought. If those named wish to defend against your claim, a statement of defense must be served within 20 days of being served your statement of claim.
Forgetting to take photos of the car accident scene
In a personal injury lawsuit, there are always opposing arguments and theories as to how the accident happened and who is to blame. Photos documenting the road conditions, skid marks, damage and injuries are hard to dispute. They can provide proof and reveal contributing acts of negligence that can support your claim. Its important to take photos before evidence is cleaned up or disappears. If your injuries prevent you from taking photos of the scene yourself – have someone do it for you.
Failure to use caution when speaking to the insurance adjuster
Be careful what you say when discussing the accident with anyone other than your personal injury lawyer.
It won’t be very long after an accident, that the phone will ring and there will be an insurance adjuster on the line. It is commonplace for insurance adjusters to request formal statements or engage in seemingly casual conversation. But, before you do – remember that it’s the adjuster’s job to either deny or settle personal injury claims as cheaply as possible. Insurance adjuster will:
- Look for statements regarding your employment and schedules
- Solicit details from before, during and after the accident (Time, dates, occupants, distractions, injuries, conversations, police, medical attendants etc.)
- Pursue details about your injuries
Do not discuss details of the accident, your injuries or your employment. Say that you are unable to talk with them at this time. Advise the adjuster that all information they require will be provided through your lawyer, and that they should not contact you directly by phone. If you do not have a lawyer yet, you can always send the adjuster his/her contact information at a later date.
Being too chatty on social media
It is best to stay clear of social media. If you must engage, be extremely mindful of what you say or post online.
Social media evidence is often admissible in court and is a potent weapon used by defense lawyers when disputing the merits of a plaintiff’s personal injury claim. Be strongly advised that information found on social sharing sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter is often taken out of context and used against you in court.
- Never post or discuss anything about your car accident online.
- Never post pictures of yourself on the web and never speak of your daily activities, your injuries, your employment, personal life or vacations that you have been on.
- Speak to you lawyer as soon as possible about your online and social sharing habits
Exaggerating or embellishing
Always be truthful and consistent.
It’s your lawyer’s job to establish your credibility and it’s the defense lawyer’s job to make you look like a liar.
It’s important to be consistent with what you know or don’t know about the car accident. Don’t open yourself up to credibility issues. Never exaggerate symptoms or physical limitations to anyone, including: doctors, your lawyers, insurers or examiners. The insurance defense lawyers will scrutinize even the smallest testimonial discrepancy.
Accepting early settlement offers without legal consultation
What amount of injury compensation is fair? How do you know if the amount offered is enough to cover your future losses? Don’t rely on the defending insurance company to answer those questions for you. In efforts to limit their financial exposure insurance adjusters may offer to settle your accident injury claim before discovery or negotiations have been initiated.
Injuries can take days, weeks, months and even years to be fully realized and documented. If your injuries are worsening and have not plateaued, or been resolved, then it is not in your best interest to settle quickly. Only with a clear diagnosis or prognosis of your injuries will the amount of your future losses be known. It’s important to always seek experienced legal advice before signing anything from an insurance company.
Failure to discuss defense medical examinations with your personal injury lawyer before going
The insurance defense team has a legal right to request your attendance at medical examinations conducted by practitioners of their choosing. You will be seeing a real medical practitioner, however, its important for you to realize that his job is not to treat you medically, but instead, dispute and disprove your injuries.
Your lawyer may:
- Outline what you can expect at the defense medical examination
- Ask you to go over copies of your past medical history
- Insist that you are truthful, consistent and give short answers without elaborating.
Giving up and giving in to the bully
Insurance companies are extremely difficult to deal with. Their process of “Delay, deny, dispute” is well documented. Insurance companies are focused on making profits, not paying claimants fairly. They know very well that seriously injured victims are physically, emotionally and financially vulnerable after an accident. Stay the course and don’t let tactics used by the insurance company force you to surrender your rights to fair compensation. A good lawyer can be there to support you every step of the way. Go to him with your concerns and seek his advice.
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