When you’re the victim of an accident—whether you’re hurt by a motorcycle wreck, 18-wheeler crash, fall, medical mistake, or something else—there’s plenty you need to do to protect your rights.
But what might keep you up at night is worrying about the things you are doing that you shouldn’t do.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of those, too. Here’s a list of some neon-light sins we’ve seen over the years, which can really hurt you. Some of them we can fix (that’s what good lawyers do)—but some we can’t. After all, even the finest doctor can’t save a patient who’s DOA.
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I share the list to spare you untold anguish:
- Giving the Insurance Adjuster Info You Shouldn’t (or Aren’t Ready to Give Yet)
First things first- should you even speak to the adjuster without an attorney's advice? Insurance adjusters are trained to cheapen your claim as much as possible, and they have an impressive bag of tricks to do just that. One of the worst is forcing you to give a recorded statement you might not feel like giving, so you give incomplete information about your injuries or downsize them. This can be used against you later. Another is asking you to sign a release for your medical records—all of them. For example, if you have broken your back in a car crash, they will use the medical release to dig up every time you ever mentioned back pain or back problems so they can argue you’ve had a bad back your whole life.
- Not Using Health Coverage to Pay for Accident Bills
Using health coverage—including Medicare or Medicaid—literally helps your case’s bottom line, even if you have to reimburse your coverage provider for the bills it paid.
- Losing or Not Gathering Evidence
When you get hurt, the last thing on your mind is getting witness contact info or taking pictures of the scene. But a critical mistake people often make in car crash cases is not taking pictures of their crashed car before giving it to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The car will be promptly destroyed, ruining your best argument about how bad it looked after the crash. And if the at-fault driver got lucky enough to only have a slightly damaged car, it can really hurt your case.
Another problem we see when clients come to see us late in the case is that they haven’t taken pictures of their serious injuries before they healed. This includes photos of surgical scars, grotesque swelling and bruising, or other injuries a picture could show far better than words. Naturally, one service we provide our clients is doing exactly that.
- Not Knowing What the Law Allows You to Recover For
If you don’t know exactly what compensation you qualify for, how can you be certain you asked for enough? This can be a key way insurance companies cheat seriously injured victims out of money. Here’s a listing of typical items the law allows an injured victim to be compensated for.
One area victims find tricky is calculating lost wages. Married victims often overlook the fact their spouses qualify for settlements too.
- Not Knowing the Value of Your Case
This is where seasoned personal injury attorneys make a big difference in your case. Contrary to what some say, there’s no set formula to value a case because every single case is different.
In a case involving serious injuries, estimating the right amount for a settlement involves a complex consideration of many facts. Not only that, but to produce a compelling reason for a tightfisted insurance company or defense attorney to authorize payment, you’ve got to compile the evidence, organize it, analyze it, and present it in a powerful way to justify them paying enough to solidly compensate you for what you went through.
That’s why you get a professional to do it for you.
- Losing Track of the Harm Caused by Your Injuries
“Pain and suffering” is only the tip of the iceberg for “human loss.” But because the good Lord gives us a memory that fades fast for suffering, it’s easy to forget exactly how awful the injuries were and how they affected your life. That can shave value off your settlement. We keep up with our clients and give them a handy tool to help them keep track of their human losses, so we can maximize settlement value for them.
- Not Knowing How to Deal With Your Doctor
Injury victims who don’t realize their doctors are among the most important witnesses in their cases often minimize their symptoms because they don’t want to seem like whiners. I never advocate for blowing things out of proportion with the doctor to help your case. As professionals, they will figure that out, and it will hurt you. But you do need to be accurate and thorough so the doctor can give you the proper diagnosis and treatment—and clinically document it in your records.
There are two situations where you need the help of both a skilled doctor and experienced attorney:
- Prior injuries. How you describe injuries to your doctor is extremely critical if you’ve had a prior injury. You’ve got to have a clear timeline that shows how your prior injury was healed or how your accident made it worse. If you don’t, and your medical records are unclear on it, you’ve created an uphill battle with a giant excuse for the insurance company to deny payment—even if your injuries are totally legitimate.
- Future treatment. If your case requires future medical treatment or medical care for life, you’ve got to be able to prove it the right way to have a shot at getting a settlement for it.
- Waiting too Long to Start a Claim
Every legal case has a filing deadline. If you wait too long, you cannot be compensated, no matter how innocent you were in getting hurt or how badly you got hurt. Delaying also causes witness memories to fade and evidence to get lost, which can really hurt your case. One of the most important things we do is manage the information for you and present it in a dynamic way to achieve your goals.
- “Giving In” to the Insurance Company
For the seriously injured or families grieving the loss of a loved one, it’s easy to give in to insurance company pressure to settle cheap and quick. There’s too much information to manage, and every time you turn around, the insurance company seems to want more. But when you need help, the adjuster or claims rep never returns your calls. You are at a major disadvantage because you don’t know the law, what facts are important, or how to present them.
It’s easy to see why folks without a skilled lawyer can just “let a settlement happen.” But you don’t have to wear yourself out trying to deal with it when you’ve got a professional on your side who battles for you. An unspoken benefit of an experienced injury lawyer is that we really do lighten your load.
- Not Knowing the Amount of Insurance Available to Cover Your Injuries
This is especially true in car crash cases. You can actually find out how much coverage the at-fault driver has, if you know how to ask. But more importantly, you may have extra insurance on your own policy that can give you access to much more money to pay your bills. If you don’t know the law of insurance coverage, it’s easy to overlook this and cheat yourself out of money you could really use. An experienced accident lawyer can prevent that by reviewing all of your policies and getting the coverage amount from the at-fault driver and any other source that could pay.
Moral of the Story: If You Have Questions, Ask Now, Not Later
If you’re hurt bad, know that this is complex stuff—and you’ve got professional opposition bent on cheating you out of money. It won’t cost you a thing to ask us about your case. Our website is searchable, and it contains information that will answer many of your questions. In addition, you can download our free report on crash cases. And finally, you can always call (888) 230-1841 to ask us additional questions or even schedule a free strategy session on your case.