If you have been injured in an accident, there are many things you should do and many things you should NOT do if you want to win your case. Being aware of the most common mistakes accident victims make will help you make a big difference in the final result of your accidental injury claim. These are valuable secrets that the insurance companies hope you'll never learn!
Mistake #1: Not taking immediate action at the accident scene to ensure your rights are preserved.
Immediately after an accident, shock and confusion can make anyone forget to use their common sense. However, there are certain steps you must take right after the accident.
If you are in a car accident , get to safety and out of the way of oncoming traffic, but do not leave the scene! Assist anyone who may be injured, but do not attempt to move seriously injured people. Call for an ambulance if necessary. Call the police and cooperate fully with investigating officers. Ask the police officer to make a written accident report and give you the incident number of the report, and get the name, badge number, and agency of the investigating officer.
If you are injured at work , make sure you notify your employer and have your manager make a written incident report right away. Make written notes of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all parties involved, including witnesses. Take pictures of damages, injuries, your surroundings, and anything else that may help you in proving your case.
Mistake #2: Not documenting everything that happens after the accident occurs.
When your claim is presented to an insurance adjuster for settlement, or to a jury for verdict, neither the insurance company nor the jury has any obligation to believe what you say. You're going to have to prove your facts and damages by documenting everything you possibly can. Take pictures and videos, keep notes and memos, document your doctor visits and lost wages. It will all come in handy!
Mistake #3: Not seeing your doctor or not cooperating completely with your doctor's orders.
See your doctor immediately after the accident, even if you don't feel pain. Don't assume that just because you don't feel pain right away that you aren't injured. An insurance adjuster may argue that the failure to see a doctor immediately indicates that an injury must have resulted from an unrelated event after the accident. The longer you wait for medical treatment, the more difficult it will be to positively connect injuries to the incident. Make a commitment to your health and to your recovery by keeping your doctor appointments, even if it seems like a hassle.
Mistake #4: Giving statements, signing papers, or accepting insurance company estimates without first getting legal advice.
Do not give any statements, written or oral, to anyone concerning your accident or injuries without first getting your lawyer's approval. It is common practice for insurance adjusters to call injury claimants and attempt to record a statement before the victim has an opportunity to talk to an attorney. Often, the victim is still in shock and may not be thinking clearly - this is exactly what the insurance company wants! If you want to fully protect your legal rights, under NO circumstances should you talk to the other side's insurance company without knowing your rights..
Mistake #5: Not hiring a lawyer, or hiring the wrong lawyer.
Immediately after being injured in an accident, you are thrown into an adversarial legal system. In other words, the insurance company representing the party at fault for the accident has a team of adjusters, investigators, and attorneys who are working against you, seeking to pay as little as possible to settle your claim. Hiring your own experienced personal injury attorney is usually necessary to level the playing field and ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.