Pursuing a Personal injury claim can be confusing. Especially when you also have to deal with the pressures of being off of work, getting medical treatment, and concerns over the mounting expenses. Worse yet, many accident victims have no experience with making an injury claim or filing an injury lawsuit. With all these moving parts, it should come as no surprise that folks make mistakes that can hurt their injury claims costing them thousands of dollars in potential compensation. We sat down with Guy S. DiMartino and discussed some of the biggest mistakes he has seen accidents victims make over the past 15 years
Failing to Following the Doctor's Orders
All accident victims are required to take action to minimize their injuries. The legal concept is called mitigation of damages. Failing to follow your doctor's orders, even if you have a valid reason, can hurt your claim. This comes in many forms like missing appointments and not following treatment recommendations. Another nail in the coffin are seemingly gaps in treatment. If you're supposed to go to physical therapy three times per week and you show up once, miss a couple of weeks, and then return. This is something that the insurance company and its lawyers will use against you. They will take the position that you were not injured because if you were injured you would have followed the prescribed treatment. A second argument you will hear is that - if you would have followed your doctor's recommendations you would have gotten better sooner. Why would you put yourself in this position?
Giving a Recorded Statement to the Adverse Insurance Company
Injury victims believe that the insurance adjuster is going to do the right thing. The belief is that if you are open and cooperative with the adjuster, she will take care of the medical expenses and compensate you for your injuries. The truth is the opposite. The insurance adjuster is not looking out for you. She is looking out for her insured and her company. Thinking that there is some human behind all of this that's going to be sympathetic and understanding to your plight, is just not the wake that it works. Insurance companies use actuaries, computer programs and guidelines in an effort to take the human element out of the equation. Nothing good can come out of giving a recorded statement to the other insurance adjuster, she will always find something that you said to use against you to minimize your claim. I'm sorry to repeat this again, but the insurance adjuster is looking out for her company and her insured.
Making an Injury Claim Without the Help of an Attorney
Another big mistake folks make after an accident is trying to handle their claim by themselves. There are claims that can be handled with the assistance of a lawyer. Click here to see the characteristics of these claims. Remember, insurance companies have their attorneys advising them throughout the whole process, and the insurance adjusters are trained in handling injury cases in the best interests of their company. It's inconceivable to me that anyone injured in an accident would not at least talk to a lawyer about their claim. Almost all personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. Even if you do not hire the lawyer, you will receive valuable information about the process. For instance, if you were involved in a car accident, you can download a free copy of my book that will answer the most common questions about accident cases. Don't become a victim twice by being misinformed.
Failing to Document Facts of the Accident
For example, if you're involved in a car accident in a parking lot and you don't call the police because it's on private property, that's a huge mistake. All accident should be documented immediately because people's viewpoints change after they've had a chance to reflect on or be advised about things. Documenting facts includes getting the names and contact information of any witnesses. Taking photos of the scene and vehicles (if any), and documenting your injuries right away. If feel like you may be injured, a big mistake is waiting to see if it will go away. You could have something serious going on under the surface, or if you plan on making a claim, the insurance adjuster will use a delay in treatment against you. Insurance adjusters always take the position - "If you waited weeks to go to a doctor, then you couldn't have been that hurt.”
Settling Your Claim Too Early
Because of financial or other concerns some accident victims cut themselves short in that the insurance companies will pressure them to settle their claim before they've undergone treatment or right after an initial round of treatment. I've had a number of folks tell me that an adjuster will come to their home with a check for a few hundred or a thousand bucks and pressure them into settling the claim. An injury victim's signs and symptoms after an accident frequently come and go. It is not uncommon to think you're okay one week, and the next week your neck or back locks up. You may think that you're fine and resolve your case, only to find out that you've been rushed into settling. Now, you have continuing problems, and there's nothing that a lawyer can do about it because you've settled the claim and signed away your rights.
Not Understanding that Making a Claim is Adversarial
A strange thing happens in our society after an accident. People begin to rationalize the events. It's human nature. When you couple rationalization with the insurance company that is in business to make money for its shareholders, the roles reverse. The accident victim becomes the greedy villain - and the negligent person who caused the accident becomes the victim. I've seen this phenomenon happen time and time again which is why it is important for you to understand that if you choose to make a personal injury claim, you've entered an adversarial process and must look out for your own interests.