Personal injury cases are often fought vigorously when the negligent respondent or their insurance carrier thinks there is a possibility of a reduced settlement or an outright denial of coverage. Many insurance companies actually negotiate in bad faith as standard business policy if they think the claimant will attempt handling the case personally, looking to statements or actions by the claimant that can be used against them. Accident victims should always remember the legalities associated with a potential personal injury claim and consult with a personal injury attorney immediately. Here is why.
1. Failure to Document the Accident Scene
The time to remember that you may have a personal injury claim is immediately following the accident, especially with a vehicle accident. Cell phones or digital cameras can be very useful tools following a crash. Even in minor accidents, it may be a sound decision to take pictures of all vehicles, including a snapshot of the license plate numbers, and especially when someone attempts to leave the accident scene. Document as much as possible, including questioning witnesses.
2. Giving a Statement Without Legal Advise
It is never a good idea to give any incriminating statements to police or other individuals involved in an accident, especially admission of fault. Always let the police officers conduct an accident investigation and only answer the questions without offering additional information. This is important with premises accident reports also. Personal injury claims follow the same basic rules regardless of the type of accident, and all injured victims will eventually be assessed for comparative negligence or personal assumption of risk.
3. Not Seeking Medical Attention
It is important to always be examined by a medical professional following any accident because injuries can manifest later and it may be difficult to attribute causation or duty of care. Even when it appears you are not hurt, let the medical professionals make that determination. Certain injuries such as rib cage injuries, back injuries or whiplash all fall into this category. Seek some form of treatment and secure documentation of the treatment and diagnosis.
4. Signing Away Your Rights
Never sign anything without legal counsel approval. Insurance company adjusters are well-known for acting sympathetic to accident victims who are attempting to settle a claim without the expense of an attorney. Many times the attorney earns their fee merely by proving the injury deserves maximum settlement because of the possibility of future medical needs. When you sign a settlement offer without discussing future medical coverage, it is assumed by the court that the future medical rights have been waived.
5. Failing to Meet Medical Treatment Appointments
Missing a doctor’s appointment is a bad decision by an injury victim who is pursuing damages. The insurance adjusters can use this as leverage to claim the injury is not as severe as is reported by either the patient or the doctor. This can shed a very bad light on your claim and give cause for at least a settlement amount reduction.