Filing a personal injury claim is a serious matter requiring a good deal of caution. Without the legal guidance of a personal injury attorney, new claimants frequently make mistakes that reduce or even destroy the value of their claims. If you want to recover the maximum possible settlement for your injury in San Antonio or anywhere else, avoid committing the following ten common errors. Hiring an experienced car accident attorney early on can help ensure you handle your claim well.
What Are the Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Personal Injury Claims?
1. Failing to Collect Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
To recover compensation from the defendant, you’ll need to prove that they acted with negligence and that their negligence caused your injuries. This usually requires evidence, especially if the defendant or their insurance company is denying their liability for the accident.
With car collisions, slip-and-fall accidents, and many other kinds of accidents, the most important evidence is often collected from the scene of the accident. This might include photos and videos of the scene and any injuries, eyewitness details and statements, and detailed notes about the road, weather, and other important factors. Without this early evidence, your claim may become far harder to prove later on, and it’s your word against that of the other driver.
Your Car Accident Attorney Can Help Gather Evidence
Sometimes an accident victim is in too much shock to remember to collect evidence on the spot. Or you may be too injured to do so. Perhaps you thought the accident was so minor that you didn’t think any evidence would be necessary. This is often a costly mistake.
No matter the severity of the accident or your injuries, always collect whatever evidence you can at the scene. If you’re incapacitated, ask a family member or friend to help. You can even contact a car accident attorney right away, and they can arrange for an investigator to visit the accident scene and gather evidence on your behalf.
2. Not Obtaining a Copy of the Police Report
The most important piece of on-the-scene evidence is usually the police report. When an accident victim fails to collect a copy of the police report or worse yet, they fail to call the police at all, the insurance company can later dispute many details of your claim.
Police reports usually become available a few days after an accident. When you collect it, review it carefully as mistakes sometimes happen. If you notice an error in the report’s depiction of events, politely request that the investigating officer make the correction. If the accident was recent and still in their memory, they’ll often agree to update it.
3. Delaying or Failing to Seek Medical Attention
Medical expenses are usually a large portion of a compensation claim. You wouldn’t want to have to foot your own hospital bills and doctor’s fees, especially if you have a serious injury. But sometimes accident victims don’t seek immediate medical attention following an accident because they feel fine and think it’s unnecessary.
This is also often a very costly mistake. If pain and symptoms of an injury develop days or weeks later, the insurance company may claim that your injury was caused by something else because you didn’t even visit a doctor after the crash. For this reason, it’s essential to always see a doctor directly following an accident, no matter how minor it seemed.
4. Disobeying Your Doctor’s Instructions
For a similar reason, it’s also a bad idea to miss scheduled follow-ups with your doctor or neglect any medication or treatment they recommend. Any such deviance from your physician’s ordered treatment plan is giving the insurance company ammunition to dispute the extent or cause of your injuries.
5. Not Informing Your Doctor About Your Pain and Suffering
Your medical records will later be used to prove the medical expense damages in your claim. But your doctor’s records can also be used to help prove pain and suffering damages, which sometimes add up to a significant portion of a settlement payout.
But this requires your doctor to be kept abreast of all the pain and suffering you’re experiencing. Many injured victims neglect to inform their doctors about new developments in their pain after the crash, making it harder to prove later.
6. Admitting to Contributory Negligence
While initially filing your claim, the insurance adjuster handling your case might ask to take a recorded statement. Some inexperienced claimants think the insurance company is on their side and agree to give the statement. But it’s important to understand that the insurance provider is almost always seeking to minimize or deny your claim, and one of the best ways to achieve that is to get you to admit to a degree of contributory negligence.
While interviewing you, they’ll ask leading questions and encourage you to speak a lot. Their aim is to have you admit that you might have been partially responsible for the accident. If you fall for this, you’ll no longer be able to claim that the other driver was wholly responsible for your injury. It’s generally safest to avoid making such a statement and consult with a lawyer instead.
7. Posting Carelessly on Social Media
Anything you post on social media after the accident might be used to discredit you, your injuries, or your claim. If you discuss the case with your friends on Facebook, you might say something the insurance company can use against you. Even pictures you post might be used in court to show that your injuries weren’t as bad as you claim.
8. Accepting a Settlement Offer Without Negotiating
A huge mistake some claimants make is accepting the very first settlement figure the insurance company offers them. The insurer will often throw out a quick lowball offer, hoping you’ll accept it before speaking to a personal injury attorney. Rather than accepting, talk to a lawyer who can calculate the full value of your damages and negotiate hard to win you the compensation you deserve.
9. Leaving Too Much Time Before Filing Your Claim
Some claimants put off filing their claims for various reasons. But the longer you leave it, the harder you make it to prove and win the case because evidence sometimes becomes lost, and eyewitness memories can fade over time.
On top of this, Texas has a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases. If you pass this deadline, you’ll lose your legal right to make an insurance claim or file a lawsuit entirely.
10. Failing To Consult With a Personal Injury Attorney
The Insurance Research Council found that personal injury settlements are three and a half times larger on average when an attorney is hired than when the claimant tries to handle the case on their own. Apart from helping you avoid all of the above mistakes, an experienced attorney can gather extensive evidence, build a strong case, and negotiate with insurance companies.
Your lawyer can also take your case to court if it becomes necessary. Experienced attorneys offer enormous value to injured accident victims; neglecting to hire one is always a mistake.
Hire a San Antonio Car Accident Attorney on a “No Win, No Fee” Basis
Some injured victims worry about the cost of legal representation, but most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. They take a percentage of the final settlement as their payment, and if they don’t win, you don’t pay a dime.
Contact Joe A. Gamez Law Firm, PLC today
at 210-951-2024 for a free case evaluation. Our mission is to help our local San Antonio friends and neighbors to recover the full financial compensation they deserve.