We gave important advice about what you should do if you have been in an auto accident in our last post.
Unfortunately, stuff happens. Here’s a photo of our client’s car after an 18-wheeler suddenly pulled out in front of her on a dark country road. She was seriously injured – it’s lucky she survived – and called us the next day. That was a smart move since the 18-wheeler company blamed her for the wreck. We quickly filed suit and fought to get her a large recovery of money.
Car crashes happen far too often here in North Texas, so we want to give you more tips about things not to do if you have been unfortunately involved in one and are thinking about representing yourself — which we do not recommend unless you want to get shafted.
1. Do not give a statement
Adjusters will insist on “asking you a few questions.” People agree and later regret the answers they gave. For example: “how are you?” – “fine” – will be used against them later.
Our office never allows statements unless there are extraordinary reasons and then Mr. Berenson refuses to allow them to be used in court. He meets with his clients after emailing a list of probable questions and practices with them so they are not blindsided.
Mr. Berenson objects to any questions asked to obtain confidential information about his clients. Adjusters dig to find damaging information including past injuries and doctors, criminal charges, bankruptcies, and other data that has nothing to do with their claims.
2. Do not mess up your medical file
The key to any personal injury case is how strong someone’s medical charts and tests are. If you are injured, you need to prove it and these records and bills can make or break your case. But you usually don’t see them or know what they mean.
These are some of the common mistakes we see injured people making:
- Failing to report all injuries;
- Minimizing or magnifying pain;
- Not treating on a regular basis, stopping treatment, or failing to treat after the ER or one trip to the family doctor; and
- Reporting unrelated injuries or old ones that healed years ago.
In addition, people harm their cases by treating with the wrong doctors. Some are biased in favor of insurance companies or seem to believe that everyone in a wreck is faking his injuries. Others don’t file on your (or any) health insurance plan or work with personal injury lawyers who will get them paid from your settlement or verdict. Still others are general practitioners who don’t handle car accident cases and only prescribe pain-relieving medicine that masks the injuries, not cure them.
It is extremely important that medical records be accurate and complete. The adjuster and/or jury will read them to analyze the extent of your injuries and pain.
3. Do not fail to give your requested file to the company
You will have no idea how to obtain ambulance, hospital, medical, diagnostic, and therapy records and bills. It’s a ridiculously complicated and expensive process. Our staff is trained to obtain these records quickly. We pay for them up front to speed up settlements or trials.
You must provide these documents to the adjuster so he knows how badly you were hurt and how much your medical bills were.
But that opens up a can of worms, since your health insurance company may have paid some of your bills and others may have been written off, which affects the value of your medical claim.
There are other factors that can affect the valuation of this category of damages which is the most important criterion of case value.
4. Do not agree to a settlement quickly
The adjuster knows that you have medical bills that are piling up and that you may have lost time from your job and need money. He can string you along to add to your misfortune.
Then when he finally makes a small offer, he knows that you will be tempted to accept it, especially since you do not know whether the offer is reasonable.
Adjusters can even get bonuses if they can get the case settled for less than the company had reserved for the claim.
5. Do not use social media to discuss your case
This should be obvious, but many cases have been ruined when the adjuster or attorney sees posts and photographs that contradict what they are being told.
We discussed this topic in more detail here: 5 ways social media can ruin your car wreck lawsuit.
Reasons to hire a good personal injury lawyer
We could add a #6 for do not handle your case yourself, but that should be obvious by now.
An experienced attorney can explain the complicated legal-insurance-medical process and walk you through it step by step, then fight to get you the best possible financial recovery.
He will immediately investigate the facts, build a case, file with all responsible persons, companies, and insurance companies, and handle all of the myriad details.
And his fee is usually built in to the insurance company settlement or jury verdict, so it’s virtually free.
Some jobs can be one on your own but representing yourself after a car accident is not one of them. There are exceptions, like where there is clear fault and you only have a minor injury.
Please contact us with your questions by calling 817-885-8000 (or toll-free at 1-885-801-8585) or by clicking here.