5 Actions that will Hurt your Personal Injury Case
Your action or inaction after an accident can reduce the value of your personal injury claim. If you have suffered serious injuries, injuries that may affect you for the rest of your life, you need to do everything you can to maximize the value of your injury case by avoiding these mistakes.
1. Not seeing a doctor right away after an accident. Unless you see a doctor soon after an accident, the insurance adjuster will argue you weren't really injured or you would have treated sooner. The insurance adjuster won't buy your rationale (that you don't have health insurance, or that you wanted to give it time to see if the pain would go away, or that you couldn't afford to take time off work to treat). If you need assistance in getting medical treatment, our firm can refer you to a doctor who will treat you on a lien basis. A lien means that the doctor agrees to wait to be paid until your case settles.
2. Gaps in medical treatment. Like delays in seeking treatment after an accident, lengthy gaps between doctor visits, or erratic treatment, will be used against you by the adjuster. The adjuster will contend that you would have treated more consistently if you were really in pain.
3. Not reporting every accident-related injury to your doctor. Here's an all-too-common scenario we see: the records from your initial medical visits (hospital and follow-up treatment) mention the main injuries you reported, but leave out your pain complaints that weren't as significant at the time. Later, once those main injuries heal, you start to realize you are still suffering pain in some other area of your body. You may never have mentioned those body parts in your early medical visits.
The insurance adjuster will take the position that those later-reported injuries were not caused by the accident because those complaints of pain do not appear in the early medical records. For example: early medical records focus on your neck pain, with no mention of knee pain. Three months later, you finally get a knee MRI which shows a torn meniscus. It will be very difficult connecting the torn meniscus to the accident since it doesn't appear in the medical records until three months post-accident.
4. Giving a recorded statement to the insurance company. The adjuster wants to lock in your version of how the accident happened. If later, at trial or arbitration, you deviate from that version, the insurance company will use it against you. Also, without a lawyer representing you to object, the insurance adjuster will ask all kinds of questions that the adjuster is not entitled to ask. They will extricate information from you that they can use against you in order to decrease the value of your claim.
5. Providing a signed medical authorization to the insurance adjuster. A signed medical authorization gives the insurance company unfettered access to your entire medical history, including access to unrelated medical records to which they are not entitled. The adjuster will use what they find in these records against you in order to justify a low ball settlement offer.
To maximize the value of your personal injury case, you should not only avoid these 5 mistakes, but you should also consult with a personal injury attorney to find out if you need legal representation on your accident. If after discussing your accident, we are of the opinion that you would not benefit from hiring an accident lawyer, we will be straight with you.
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