Accident victims often make several personal injury mistakes. The sooner a driver, passenger, construction worker, pedestrian, patient, or anyone hurt in any type of accident call a lawyer – the better chances they have to make a just settlement. In Florida, in 2017, there were more than 400,000 vehicle accidents. Most of those occupants should have been checked by a doctor. Some personal injury mistakes happen at the accident site, some before the victim sees a lawyer, and some during the litigation process. Some of the more common types of personal injury mistakes include:
Not seeking medical attention immediately
It is important to seek immediate medical care for several reasons. First and foremost, the sooner you go to the emergency room or see your family doctor, the sooner you can be on the path to recovery. A delay in diagnosis or a delay in treatment can mean that your disorder doesn’t heal correctly. A second reason to seek immediate help is that delay can be used against you. Often, the insurance company or defense lawyer will argue that if you waited to see a doctor, it means that you weren’t hurt that much. Another reason to seek prompt medical care is that insurance adjusters often examine your medicals bills. The more necessary medical treatment you have, the more they will offer for your pain and suffering.
Not taking photographs of yourself and the accident site – unless you are suffering from serious injuries
Preserving evidence can help your case in two ways. It can help prove that another person or company caused your injuries. If you are in a car accident, for example, it is a good idea to take pictures of the damage to the vehicles. The location of the damage on the vehicle is an indicator of fault. Pictures of the lanes of travel, stop signs, obstructions, and other factors can also help show that someone else is responsible for your injuries. In the same manner, if you slip and fall, then pictures of the cracks in the sidewalk or spilled milk in the supermarket can prove the property owner did not put your safety first. It is also important to take photos of yourself. Most times, accident victims look their worst right after the accident. Pictures of the blood, cuts, and scars can help convince insurance carriers and juries how much pain you were in.
Not taking the case one step at a time
It’s easy to think about the jury trial or the settlement from the moment you first are aware you were in an accident. Victims need to understand the litigation process takes time. In a typical case:
- The plaintiff will file a complaint
- The defendant will file an answer
- There may be different motions made by the lawyers
- There will be a written discovery of the parties
- Oral questions of the parties and witnesses will take place
- There will be more motions
- The lawyers will try to work out a settlement
- If no settlement is reached, the case will be listed for trial
Each of these steps requires that the accident victim prepare ahead of time with their Florida accident lawyer.
Concern about having to testify at a deposition or before a jury
Experienced accident lawyers understand what questions to ask to avoid personal injury mistakes. They will normally prepare the witnesses by asking them the questions they think the defense lawyer will ask. Skilled lawyers will explain that the victims and others should make sure they understand the question before answering. Victims and witnesses should only answer the question asked – they should not volunteer more information.
There are no stupid questions
Accident victims need to know that the lawyer is working for them. There are no dumb questions. Victims who have any concerns or questions should raise them with their lawyers. They should ask questions for peace of mind and to make sure the lawyer has all the information he needs.
Settling your case before you know your complete medical condition
One of the many personal injury mistakes accident victims makes is that they settle before they know their complete medical diagnosis. Once you settle a claim, you don’t get a do-over if you need additional surgeries or additional treatments. Many times, doctors do know what your likely course of treatment is – but only after they’ve conducted the right tests, and only after they’ve examined you. Sometimes, they need to wait a good amount of time before they really know your prognosis. Some accident victims settle because they do not have insurance. Some settle because they only see what a settlement can buy. Experienced personal injury lawyers work with your doctors so that settlement demands are made at the right time.
Not choosing the right law firm
Accident victims should hire law firms that have a track record of success. This includes settling cases for just sums and being able to present a case before a jury. Victims should also choose lawyers they can feel comfortable talking to. It also helps to work with lawyers who have the resources to help. Resources include an ability to work with independent doctors, investigators, accountants, engineers, and other professionals.
Other personal injury mistakes
Other mistakes accident victims make include:
- Not informing your doctor of all your aches, pains, and, systems
- Not keeping a record of all your expenses and economic losses
- Failing to inform your lawyer and doctor of your emotional worries and anxieties in addition to your physical problems
- A new mistake many victims make is posting on social media after an accident. The insurance adjustors will look up your Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts. If they see anything that can show their client did not cause the accident or that you’re not hurting that much, they will use the post against you.
- Failing to disclose pre-existing conditions and your prior medical history to your doctors