If you have been injured due to the fault of another person or organization, you may decide to file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for medical care, loss of income, reduced earning potential, property damages, and pain and suffering.
Deciding to file a claim is an important step, but for your case to advance successfully, it must be well-supported. You will need to build a compelling, evidence-based case that will demonstrate the full range of your losses and prove negligence on the part of the defendant.
As you build your case, there are some important missteps to avoid. Here are some common mistakes that could jeopardize your claim and diminish your final settlement.
- Avoiding the doctor. You may think that your injuries are too minor or that you are too busy attending to other post-accident details to see a medical professional. This can backfire later, though. Some health problems don’t manifest until days or even weeks after the injury that triggered them. A doctor can help diagnose unseen problems early in the game. They can also document your injuries so that the opposing party doesn’t try to pass them off as pre-existing health problems unrelated to your injury.
- Failing to document accident details. The more evidence you have to support your case, the better off you will be. If you are well enough in the wake of an accident, you should document as much as possible (or have someone do it for you). For those injured in a car accident, for example, photos of the accident scene and testimonies from witnesses can be invaluable.
- Failing to document health issues and expenses. Documentation is also essential for supporting your injuries. Keep a journal reporting any changes in your health, such as the development of new symptoms. Keep copies of your medical records, doctor bills, pharmacy receipts, and any travel expenses you may incur for visiting out-of-town medical specialists.
- Jumping at the first offer. Insurance companies are committed to their own bottom line. This means that they will try to pay out as little as possible. Many people take the first settlement offer from an insurance company. They may be impatient for cash to replenish their losses from the accident and fail to realize that they are eligible for more benefits. Do your research and consult a qualified attorney. An experienced accident injury lawyer will have a good sense for what is a fair offer and what isn’t.
- Not hiring a personal injury attorney. Some people seek to advance their personal injury claim without the guidance of an experienced lawyer, only to find themselves spending countless hours on confusing paperwork, being taken advantage of by insurance companies, and receiving a settlement that is far less than what they are entitled to. A qualified personal injury attorney will know the ins and outs of your state’s personal injury law. They can cut through the bluster of big insurance companies, negotiate shrewdly on your behalf, and help you recover the full range of damages that are owed to you. If you are worried about expenses, most attorneys work on contingency fees, meaning that you don’t have to pay them unless you win your case.
By steering clear of these pitfalls, you can save yourself time, avoid unnecessary frustration, and dramatically increase your chances of winning your personal injury case.
Nobody wants to be involved in any personal injury case. However, there are circumstances that you cannot control and other people might force you to be part of this unfortunate incident. When this happens, you must know what to do and avoid to ensure that there will be no mistakes when you are about to get your personal injury claims.