Following an injury, your life has likely been changed in many ways. Suddenly, you are forced to deal with issues you never thought you would have to manage. You are unexpectedly faced with pain and injury, emotional trauma, medical bills, loss of income, and perhaps even permanent physical damage. Fortunately, the law provides support for those who have been injured through the fault of another party. People who have been victims of injury-causing accidents are able to file personal injury lawsuits which help recover losses and hold negligent parties accountable for harmful actions.
Most people who file personal injury claims have never done so before, and it is easy to make a mistake at any point of what can be a complicated legal process. Educating yourself is imperative, as is enlisting the backing of a trusted legal advisor. Working with a competent personal injury lawyer will help you avoid making some of the most common mistakes, in addition to many others you may not be able to anticipate. While every case is uniquely intricate, the following five mistakes are detrimental to most personal injury claims:
Not Seeking Medical Treatment
Many people who have been injured in an accident do not realize that the medical attention they receive following an injury is a critical component of their personal injury claim. Your medical records can show that you were injured, the nature and extent of your injuries, and that your injuries were the result of the accident and not a preexisting condition. Medical records also document the treatment you needed, time spent in recuperation, diagnostic tests, and other information concerning your recovery. Your lawyer will use this information to determine the amount of compensation you should receive.
Allowing yourself to be examined by a doctor after an injury is essential to your healing process. You may be tempted to skip the doctor’s visit for a variety of reasons, but you are likely unaware of how serious your injuries are or may become, even if you feel fine. It is very common for health complications to appear later in time following an injury. Failure to receive medical attention is dangerous to your physical wellbeing, and it can also put your personal injury claim at risk. Not seeking medical attention immediately following an accident can be used as evidence against you, showing that your injuries were less substantial than you claimed, or even non-existent.
Accepting the First Settlement Offer
It is sadly commonplace to find that insurance companies take advantage of a victim’s vulnerability immediately following an accident, making an incongruously low settlement offer before you have time to speak with your lawyer or fully assess what damages you have sustained. You should never accept an initial settlement offer from an insurance company without speaking to your lawyer, even if the amount of compensation seems sizeable.
After you have been injured, you need to be able to recover your losses. An insurance company’s initial offer does not focus on your losses, but rather on the minimum amount they can pay and get away with. The compensation you need and deserve is dependent upon the particulars of your unique case. It is the job of your lawyer to conduct intensive research to determine that number. Most people do not know how to find and use information such as medical records, proof of negligence, or loss of current or future income to calculate the damage they sustained. There are many forms of damage you may not even consider when thinking about calculating damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional stress, loss of enjoyment of life, or loss of consortium.
There have been too many cases in which personal injury victims deserving of recovering their losses were denied fair compensation due to an issue as minor as a missed deadline. You must be aware of all the mandatory deadlines applicable to your case in order to avoid being unfairly saddled with the financial responsibility of an accident that was not your fault.
Each state has a “statute of limitations” which determines the amount of time a person has to file a personal injury claim after an accident. In Texas, the statute of limitations under most circumstances is two years following the date of the incident. You should also take care to effectively manage timelines related to your injuries. To protect your safety and health, no settlement should be reached until your injuries are fully accounted for and there is no risk of future health complications related to the accident.
Posting about Your Case on Social Media
If you have been involved in a life-altering event, it is natural to want to share the details of your experience with friends and family. You want to involve those who care about you and keep them informed of your status and recovery. You may be one of the millions of people who use social media to communicate with loved ones, particularly if you are bedridden or experiencing limited mobility due to your injury. However, insurance companies are notorious for mining social media accounts for information that can be used to discredit the plaintiff’s claim. Even a well-meaning post letting your family know you are safe can be a weapon directed against you in a personal injury case.
There are other factors to take into consideration, beyond merely the content that is directly relevant to your accident or injury. While your case is active, try to avoid posting about other activities or topics that show you seemingly healthy and enjoying life. These posts can be used to prove that you are not actually injured or emotionally affected. Similarly, whenever possible, urge your friends and family to refrain from posting about you on their accounts. Consider adjusting your privacy settings or taking some time away from social media all together.
Not Understanding the Law
Understanding the legal process of filing a claim and the actions to take immediately following an injury-causing accident is not a simple matter. Even for those with legal training and experience, it takes active and continuous learning to make sure you are well-versed on current and emerging legislation, federal, state, and local laws, the specifics of the personal injury case in question, and the situation of the defendant. In addition to statutes of limitations, regulations such as shared fault rules and limits on compensation must be handled in specific ways depending on the laws of your particular state. It is a serious mistake to believe that your case is simple and that nothing can go wrong. The defendant and their insurance company will be able to exploit any ignorance or lack of information on your part in order to discredit your personal injury claim.
Partner with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Midland
You deserve to work with a lawyer who makes you the priority. We at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm are passionate about the community of people around us. When injustice has occurred, we work diligently to make sure that it is made right. With a strong foundation of legal experience and knowledge beneath our feet, we know we have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of our friends, family, neighbors, and clients in Midland. Give us a call today (505) 388-0066 to set up a consultation. Let us know how we can help you.