Accident victims who have suffered as a result of wrong doing by someone else, whether in an auto accident or otherwise, often make mistakes which result in their being unable to successfully negotiate a fair settlement to cover their injuries and losses. These mistakes are usually the result of a lack of knowledge concerning the necessary steps one must take immediately after such an incident. A personal injury attorney can help you to avoid such mistakes, however, in many cases the mistakes occur too soon after the accident for a personal injury lawyer to make any significant difference to the outcome. Therefore it is important to arm yourself with the necessary knowledge just in case.
1. Informing the driver of the other vehicle involved that you are ‘fine.’ – Although it may be your first instinct to immediately approach the other party involved and allay their fears by showing them that you are unhurt, this is extremely inadvisable. Doing this can jeopardize your chances of receiving compensations for occurred damages later on. The first thing the other party will do is inform their insurance companies exactly what you told them – you were okay. This is exactly what the insurance company needs to use against you either to refuse a settlement or use as evidence if the case is taken to trial. Inform the other driver of any symptoms you may be experiencing no matter how small.
2. Failure to call the police. – Don’t assume that the driver of the other vehicle will take responsibility and call the police. Do it yourself and ensure that there is an officer on scene to make a report. This report will greatly aid you and your personal injury attorney when pressing for a fair settlement.
3. Admitting that you were at fault. – Never admit that you are at fault for the accident in ‘any’ way, no matter how small because doing so will negate your case against the other party. Discuss the matter with a personal injury attorney before mentioning any such thoughts you may have on the matter and your attorney will advise you further.
4. Failing to call a tow truck. – Again, showing the other party AND their insurance company that your car was barely damaged in the accident will only work against you further down the line when it comes to negotiating a settlement. Even if the damage seems negligible call a tow truck anyway.
5. Failure to gather evidence at the scene of the accident. – Take photos, the names and addresses of all eye witnesses and those who assisted and any other details that may help better tell the story later. This evidence will help later when meetings with the insurance company of the other party take place.
6. Failure to seek immediate treatment either by going in an ambulance to ER or to a nearby clinic. – If you are experiencing any uncomfortable symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, aches or stiffness of limbs it could be a sign of a more severe injury that isn’t yet clear. Request to be taken for care in an ambulance in such a case and not only will you avoid further injury; you will also subtly inform the insurance company of those responsible that you were genuinely hurt in the accident. This will help to strengthen your case further.
7. Failure to inform the doctor treating you of ‘every’ single ache or pain you are experiencing following the accident. – If you are experiencing severe pain in one part of your body, such as your neck, due to whiplash don’t let this overshadow any other injury you may have. Other more minor injuries that seem too small to report could turn out to be much worse later on. During a trial it is much too late to inform your personal injury attorney of a further injury suffered that wasn’t reported at the time of the accident.
8. Signing a medical records authorization. – If the other party’s insurance company approaches you and requests that you sign an authorization that will ‘innocently’ allow them to review your medical history, don’t sign it. You are not obligated to sign, although they may make it seem that way. Signing will enable them to go over your entire medical history and use it against you, possibly building a strong case to relinquish any liability for your injuries.
9. Supplying too much information to the insurance company. – This often results because of a lack of knowledge on what is required by law. Certain information is required to be given to the insurance company; however, it won’t be made clear exactly which information that is. You will be asked a number of questions and may give information which could be used against you later. The best way around this is to hire a personal injury lawyer to meet the insurance adjustor for you.
10. Accepting a fast settlement. – Insurance companies don’t want the case to drag on and they most certainly don’t want a long drawn out litigation process. As a result, they will present you with a swift settlement – for their own benefit. As it is not yet clear of the extent of your injuries, it isn’t wise to accept the first settlement. Hire a personal injury lawyer like Jorge L. Gomez of the Gomez Law Firm to represent you and assist you in receiving a fair settlement that reflects the full extent of the damages.
11. Using social media sites to post accident related content. – Before and during the case, refrain from sharing photos or any information related to the case that could contradict your case. This information will be readily available to anyone that may be searching for it, and be aware this may well happen and could work against you.
12. Failure to hire a personal injury attorney. – This is something that cannot be stressed enough, a personal injury attorney can get you 3.5 times more in damages than you would get if you were working the case alone. Disregard what the insurance adjustor might say about this, as they will tell you an attorney is unnecessary which is wrong. Bear in mind that most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis which means if you don’t get paid, neither do they.
The Gomez Law Firm can provide you with all the legal assistance you need in the above situation. For expert help, advice and a free consultation with one of our competent attorneys, call us today at (713) 868-5528.