Getting injured in an accident that was caused by someone else is one of the most devastating events anyone could ever experience. A moderate to severe injury will often leave you hospitalized for an extended period of time, and you may also require a significant amount of ongoing medical care in order to fully recover or reach maximum medical improvement. The injury could keep you out of work for a while, which will take a heavy toll on your finances, and in some cases, you may not be able to return to the job you previously had.
On top of all this, injury victims typically have to deal with untold amounts of physical pain along with the stress and anxiety of not knowing when all of this is going to end so their life can return to normal. This can be especially hard on others in the household, particularly the children who have always seen their injured parent as a strong provider.
While no amount of money can make up for many of the intangible losses you have suffered, monetary compensation is the only legal remedy available to make an injury victim whole. Unfortunately, recovering damages for your losses is not an easy process, and there are many potential pitfalls that can trip you up and cause you to lose out on the compensation you deserve.
Here are five critical mistakes to avoid for those who have been injured in an accident:
Waiting Too Long to Seek Medical Treatment
People who are involved in an accident often hesitate to obtain medical help right away. There are many instances when the effects of an injury do not show up immediately, and this can create the mistaken assumption that your injuries are minor and there is no need to get checked out. A week or two later, the pain begins to worsen, and it becomes clear that you need to see a doctor. If you wait too long, you could even forfeit your right to file a claim because you failed to take reasonable steps to mitigate the effects of your injury.
The best thing to do when you are involved in any type of accident – no matter how minor it may seem – is to seek immediate medical attention. It might turn out that you don’t have any significant injuries, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Letting your Guard Down with the Insurance Company
Shortly after reporting an injury to the insurer, you may receive a call from an insurance adjuster or another company representative. This is billed as a “courtesy call” to find out how you are doing and to assure you that you are going to be “taken care of”. No matter how friendly and down-to-earth they may seem, you must always keep in mind that insurance company officials do not have your best interests in mind.
Their goal is to pay out as little as possible for your injuries, and one way they do that is to try to earn your trust so you will let your guard down and say something that might be damaging to your claim. Whenever you talk to an insurance company representative, be courteous and polite, but never admit fault for anything and do not give them any information that they do not have a right to ask for.
Accepting an Early Settlement Offer
If an insurance company knows that their client was clearly in the wrong, they will often give you a settlement offer early on so they can get the case off their books. They know that your finances are probably pretty tight, and you may be motivated to get your settlement check sooner rather than later. The problem is that these types of offers often come long before you know the full extent of your injuries and thus the amount of losses you have suffered. For this reason, it is not a good idea to accept an early settlement offer without at least talking to a lawyer first.
Posting Something that May Be Damaging on Social Media
Just about everyone is on social media these days, and for some people, the first thing they do after an accident is post a photo with some commentary about it on Facebook or whatever their favorite platform is. This could be a very big mistake, because whatever you say could be twisted by the other side in order to undermine your claim. And do not count on strict privacy settings to protect you, because insurance companies have large budgets and well-paid investigators who know how to obtain difficult to uncover information from the web.
Waiting Too Long to Speak with an Attorney
If you suffered a significant injury, you should be working with an attorney. Yes, your lawyer will take a percentage of the compensation you recover, but statistics show that the average amount of compensation recovered by personal injury claimants who have a lawyer is more than four times higher than those who do not have a lawyer.
It is true that a lawyer is not necessary in all cases, and many minor claims can be handled by the claimant. But it never hurts to at least speak with an attorney to have your case reviewed and find out what your legal rights and options are. This way, you will know exactly where you stand so you can make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed.