Many common mistakes in a personal injury case can limit the amount of compensation you can recover or jeopardize your claim. You may fail to seek the proper medical attention, not file your case timeously, or not be completely honest about your injuries. Even posting on social media, or not getting an attorney, could have negative consequences.
If you have suffered a personal injury that led to bodily harm or damages, you can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation from the person responsible. While it is impossible to anticipate when a personal injury might befall you, it is important to be prepared. Knowing what mistakes can negatively impact your claim can ensure that you avoid them, so your claim has the best outcome and you can maximize your compensation for your injuries.
Mistakes to Avoid in Your Personal Injury Case
A personal injury claim helps you to recover compensation for any monetary expenses incurred because of injuries caused by someone else. These include medical bills, lost income, future medical care, and any monetary damages that you can prove. You can also get compensation for bodily harm, and physical, mental, and emotional harm. You will seek compensation either from the at fault person’s insurance, or the responsible person directly, like in the case of uninsured or underinsured accidents.
The steps that you do and don’t take can influence the outcome of your claim. Here are some of the common mistakes that people make.
Failing to Get Medical Attention
There may be several reasons why you might decide not to see a doctor after an accident. Perhaps you feel that the injuries are not bad enough to seek medical attention, or that they will heal on their own. You might be concerned that you can’t afford any medical treatment needed. However, you should always seek medical attention after an accident.
Even if you do not feel that you have been injured, there may be injuries that you are not aware of. These can cause more damage if they go untreated. If you delay seeking medical treatment, the person who caused your accident, or his or her insurance company, may claim that your injuries were from some cause other than the accident. They can also claim that you were at fault by not seeking medical treatment, resulting in your injuries worsening.
Seeking medical treatment documents all injuries that you have suffered, as well as the extent of them. It creates a link between your injuries and the accident. Your medical records can provide invaluable evidence in supporting your claim for personal injury. Failing to see a doctor can lower your claim, or derail it entirely.
Not Following Medical Advice
A doctor may advise that you need further treatment, prescribe medication, refer you to a specialist, or suggest surgery. If you do not follow your doctor’s suggestions, the other side can claim that gaps in your treatment, or non-compliance are signs that you have healed, or were not actually hurt in the first place.
Not seeking further required treatment, taking prescribed medication, or following a recovery program can also lead them to argue that your non-compliance has stalled your recovery. This will give grounds for the liable party to lay the blame for your injuries and any further damages on you.
Failing to Report the Accident
Regardless of what type of accident you have been in, or whether there is any immediate danger, you should notify the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. Whom you will notify depends on what type of accident you have been in. If you are in an auto accident, you should call the police. If you slip and fall at the gym, or at a shop, you should report it to the manager.
The authority who attends the scene of the accident will likely create an accident report, especially if it is the police at the scene of a car or pedestrian accident. There will likely also be statements taken from the at-fault person at the scene. This creates evidence of the events that took place at the scene, leaving no room for interpretation or stories to be changed later. If there is no report, your case is open for interpretation, and different stories can be given, making it difficult to prove what happened.
Once you have alerted the appropriate authorities, you should ensure that a report is created, and that you obtain a copy of the report.
Taking Too Long to File Your Case
There is a time limit on how long you have to file your personal injury case, known as the statute of limitations. In Nevada, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is usually two years from the time that the injury occurred. If you let the statute of limitations expire, the court will refuse to hear your case, and you will have no recourse to seek compensation for your injuries.
Underestimating Your Damages
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, especially if you do it without having an attorney helping you, it is easy to underestimate the value of your damages. This is because most people only look at their medical bills. However, you may need to consider future damages, such as future medical treatment and diminished earning capacity.
You can also claim compensation for non-economic damages, which include pain and suffering, impaired cognitive function, or mental and emotional suffering from depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the accident. A personal injury attorney will be able to assist with calculating the full extent of the damages that you can claim.
Posting on Social Media
Anything that you post on social media is public information, and the insurance companies or their attorneys have access to it. You should expect that they will investigate you, including going through your social media accounts for evidence that your injuries might not be as serious as you claim. Any photographs or posts that can be interpreted as contradicting your claim might be used as evidence to dispute your claim.
How to Establish Credibility
Knowing how to handle a personal injury claim from start to finish includes not only knowing what mistakes to avoid, but also how to handle yourself to establish credibility. If you are trustworthy and credible, you are likely to recover more compensation. This is because being credible makes your case seem more solid, and a jury is more likely to sympathize and side with you than an insurance company. The likelihood of being able to win a case provides more incentive for the insurance company to attempt to reach a settlement rather than risk losing the case.
If you have less credibility, you are less likely to be able to yield a favorable outcome from the jury, so an insurance company is likely to feel emboldened about offering a low settlement or taking the matter to court.
Credibility means being believable, or worthy of trust. There are factors that are scrutinized when considering your credibility. These include your past behavior and history, including your personal background, criminal history, and financial stability. Factors specific to your type of personal injury claim may also be considered. For example, if your claim relates to a car accident, your driving record might be considered.
While some factors considered relate to your past or current situation that you cannot change immediately, there are some things that you can do to establish credibility:
- Seek immediate medical attention after your accident.
- Keep up with medical treatments and advice given by your doctor.
- Be consistent in all statements regarding the accident.
- Avoid any public activities that may contradict your claims about your injuries.
- Ensure that you have a good appearance and demeanor.
If you make consistent statements about the accident, do not have a reputation for exaggerating or lying, have followed all medical advice, and generally come across in your appearance and demeanor as being trustworthy, you are likely to be seen as credible.
However, if you have a poor driving record, or a criminal history, it is more likely that your credibility will be called into question. If you have made inconsistent statements, it makes it easier for an insurance company to question and find contradictions, which will reflect on you badly. If you have financial problems, an insurance company might be suspicious of your motives for pursuing compensation.
In any interactions, either with the insurance company during a deposition, or giving evidence before a jury, there are steps you can take to come across as credible. Always listen carefully, so that you can give accurate and thoughtful responses, and keep your responses concise and direct to any questions asked. Make sure to keep responses truthful and avoid exaggerations. This prevents the possibility of inconsistencies or inaccuracies. Also, be sure to be polite and courteous, and dress appropriately to show that you have proper respect for the occasion and the people that you are interacting with.