5 Critical Mistakes People Make With Personal Injury Claims
Bad things happen to everyone. We’re involved in car accidents, get hurt at work, or are injured in some other way—often through no fault of our own—and then we’re left wondering how to pick up the pieces. A personal injury claim is something that many people end up filing in such instances.
If you’ve been injured and think you may have a claim against someone else, it’s important to understand that how you handle things (from the point of injury onwards) can have huge consequences for your case.
Here are five of the most common mistakes people make concerning personal injury claims.
1. Not Hiring an Attorney for a Personal Injury Claim
You may read this and think, “Of course, an attorney will say that,” but this is absolutely the most common and critical mistake. People who are injured and have a potential legal claim are unlikely to understand the real value or the full extent of that claim. They are also much more likely to make a huge mistake that can undercut their case.
Think of it from the defendant’s side. Insurance companies and other business entities will definitely have lawyers on their side. The standard playbook for those lawyers is to get a potential plaintiff to settle the case for little or no money before talking to an attorney.
If the defendant can’t settle the case, the next best thing is to convince the plaintiff to delay hiring an attorney as long as possible in hopes that they will trip themselves up and spoil their own case. They do this because it is in their best interest, and their interests are directly opposed to yours.
Most plaintiff’s attorneys who handle personal injury cases do so on a contingency basis. This means the client does not pay any upfront fees, and the attorney instead receives a percentage of any compensation the client collects. There is no downside to consulting with an attorney in this scenario, so don’t delay.
2. Failure to Document Evidence
A personal injury claim only has value if it can be proven, so it’s important to collect and retain evidence. The more objective the evidence, the more helpful it is (as opposed to relying solely on your own testimony).
For example, if you are in a traffic accident, call the police. They will investigate the scene and create a report. If there are witnesses, talk to them and get their contact information. Take photos of everything and if other people take photos, ask for copies. Anything that documents the event and its consequences has the potential to be helpful.
3. Making Unnecessary Statements
As a general rule, starting from the moment of the injury, it is best to make as few statements about the incident as possible. This includes statements to family, friends, and especially to potential defendants. Don’t post anything on social media. Everything you say can be used as evidence, and defendants will be searching intently for anything that weakens your case. One common issue is that some people are naturally very polite, and they end up apologizing for something that isn’t even their fault—that apology can be used as evidence of their guilt.
This rule goes hand in hand with having an attorney. If anyone wants to talk about the incident, you can (and should) simply refer them to your attorney and politely end the conversation.
4. Not Documenting the Full Extent of Your Injuries
If you don’t document your injuries, it will be more difficult to receive compensation for them later. Some people are accustomed to suffering in silence; they receive treatment for broken bones after an accident but never mention that they’ve started to have migraines or nightmares every day. If you tell a healthcare provider about any issues you are having as they arise, other people are more likely to believe they are real.
5. Settling Too Quickly
It’s natural to want to settle a case quickly. Lawsuits can take a long time to resolve, and people often just want to move on with their lives. They may also really need the money that is being offered just to pay for basic necessities or medical care. Defense attorneys know this, and they will try to take advantage of it. They will drag out the case and offer $100,000 to settle a claim that is worth a million dollars or more.
If it is at all possible, avoid falling into this trap. Holding on a little longer is usually worth the trouble.
Speak to a Personal Injury Claim Attorney
If you’ve suffered an injury and think you might have a legal claim, don’t make one of these mistakes. Contact our office to speak to an experienced personal injury claim attorney as soon as possible.