If you or a family member suffered serious injuries in a car crash, the thought of your right to compensation from the negligent driver may be far down your list of priorities. However, after getting the medical attention you need, taking steps to protect your claim should take center stage. The last thing you want to do is make an inadvertent mistake by not focusing on the details of your claim that could reduce the amount of your settlement.
Mistakes Not to Make in Your Car Crash Case
Some accident victims do not receive all the compensation they are entitled to because they make mistakes that reduce their attorneys’ abilities to negotiate a larger settlement. Mistakes you don’t want to make include:
- Not contacting the police. If you do not contact the police at the scene of the accident, the negligent driver’s insurance company could dispute the accident occurred or that the other driver was the cause of it. In addition, you would lose important information contained in the police report as well as having a possible ticket issued against the driver that hit you—which could be used to prove his negligence. If possible—stay at the scene, call the police, and obtain a copy of the police report.
- Not obtaining medical care. If you do not obtain prompt medical care, the insurance adjuster could argue that your injuries were caused by something other than the accident or that your injuries were not that serious. Another problem is not following up with your medical treatment. This can give the adjuster ammunition to argue that your injuries are not severe and entitle you to a lesser settlement.
- Not obtaining contact information. Besides obtaining the other driver’s information and his insurance company’s contact information, you want to do so for any witnesses to the crash as well. Failing to obtain witness contact information could result in you losing vital proof that the other driver caused your crash. You cannot rely on the police to get all the contact information for you.
- Failing to preserve evidence. You need to preserve evidence such as photographs of the scene of the crash, damage to the vehicles, your injuries, bills for medical expenses, documentation of your lost wages, and any evidence that could be quickly destroyed such as business surveillance tapes that could be taped over. All these pieces of evidence are critical to proving the other driver’s negligence and your injuries.
- Failing to tell your doctor everything. Your medical record will be a key piece of evidence that establishes the extent of your injuries and the physical and emotional distress you are suffering. If you fail to tell your doctor about all of your symptoms, it could reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
- Not contacting an attorney soon enough. Many people make innocent mistakes—like the ones listed here—when they do not contact an attorney soon after their accident. An attorney can preserve evidence, build your case, and negotiate your settlement—all better than you can do yourself.
- Agreeing to a recorded statement. You should never agree to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster without first obtaining the advice of an attorney. Insurance adjusters are trained to get statements from you that you may not have meant to say or that can be twisted to help them deny or reduce your claim.
- Signing documents without an attorney’s review. Signing any documents—even a medical release of information form—without having an attorney review them can result in you providing more information than you have to or waiving important legal rights, including your right to compensation.
- Withholding information. While a preexisting injury will not prevent you from obtaining compensation, failing to disclose a prior injury or accident to your doctor, your attorney, or the insurance company could significantly hurt your claim.
- Settling your case too soon. You want to wait until you have received all the medical treatment you need or receive a final prognosis from your doctor to ensure that you receive compensation for all of your losses.
Did you make one of these mistakes in your car accident case? Don’t worry. These mistakes are not fatal to your case. An experienced car accident attorney can help you minimize the damage and obtain a fair settlement. I urge you to start an online chat today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with me.
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