If you are involved in a car accident, there are steps you should and should not take regardless of whether you feel an immediate injury, or not. In fact, I have included a list below of the top things people often screw up before they hire a lawyer.
Take a look, and try NOT to make the same mistakes if you are involved in an accident.
1. Give a recorded statement to the insurance company. Why is this bad?
If you are dealing with a claim against your own insurance company, for medical payment benefits or uninsured or underinsured coverage, you are required to cooperate and give a recorded or written statement. However, if you are dealing with an insurance company for the other driver, giving a recorded statement is not required.
A. When you’ve been involved in an accident, it can often happen in a matter of seconds, with little time for you to react. “The car came out of nowhere! It was flyering down the road at 100 miles an hour!” In the heat of the moment after an accident, you may say exaggerated statements, which can ultimately hurt your case in the future. It is very difficult to make accurate estimates of time, speed and distances; people are uniformly bad at that. Insurance companies know this, and will attempt to catch you saying exaggerated statements to devalue your claim. Beware!
B. People exaggerate or embellish their injury. Many people think that a little exaggeration will help their claim, but that is a bad idea. Your credibility is probably one of the most important factors in your case. If you exaggerate or embellish on one thing, even though it is not pertinent to your case, you will be viewed as exaggerating on everything.
C. People talk too much and volunteer too much information. They go beyond answering the question they are asked and that in turn can lead to further questions. It opens up new areas of inquiry that can come back to hurt the case. Insurance companies and defense lawyers like to nitpick. Do not give them something to work with!
D. They guess or assume things they should not, often incorrectly. People should not guess about what they don’t know.
E. They do not disclose prior accidents or injuries. Most insurance companies can do extensive background checks, including what is known as an ISO report, that lists claims history going back a long time. (link to blog). That hurts your credibility.
2. They do not realize the importance of medical follow-up.
Sure, you may have children to take to sporting events and work and other activities, but putting off that follow up doctor’s appointment is going to significantly hurt your claim. Follow the advice of your doctor completely, attend all doctor appointments promptly and be sure to take care of yourself.
3. They are not accurate or complete in describing their problems.
Certainly, do not exaggerate or embellish your injuries, but be complete in describing all body parts that were injured. And if your doctor asks about prior injuries, be sure you disclose everything. If a doctor bases an opinion on incomplete or inaccurate facts, that opinion will be worthless.
4. They post about the accident or their injuries on social media.
This again gives the defense lawyer or adjuster something to nitpick about. Learn more about the dangers of posting on social media.
5. They let someone else control their medical care.
Sometimes, employers tell their employees where to go for medical care. You are never required to see a specific doctor, or receive treatment from a workers’ compensation doctor. You may be required to go to an examination by a doctor chosen by the insurance company, but you are not required to submit to treatment by that doctor. You should go to your primary care doctor, who will order the appropriate tests and make the appropriate referrals.
6. They may not realize that when health insurance or other types of insurance pay for medical bills or disability, they typically are required to be paid back out of any settlement.
The settlement you are awarded for your accident injury case is intended to help you cover lost wages, medical bills and other incurred expenses. This is why it is important to wait until your injuries heal so you know the full extent of the costs you need covered. Let your attorney take their time to help you settle your case properly, or let your lawyer take your case to court to help ensure you get the financial compensation you need and deserve for the scale of your injuries.
7. They settle too quickly.
Sometimes accident injuries can take a few weeks, or even months to fully develop. I’ve seen it too many times where accident victims settle for a quick cash settlement. This is not a good choice because you don’t know the full extent of the injuries, and settling too early means you are out of luck if the medical bills or other expenses start piling up.
Questions about your recent car accident? Let us help you now.
At Murphy & Prachthauser we practice personal injury law the way it should be practiced – motivated and equipped to do our best for you. We take pride in being good lawyers who help people.
If you have a case you would like to speak to a lawyer about, please contact us to schedule a free case evaluation and get an experienced team working on your behalf.