Information Booklet for Personal Injury Clients
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Personal injury lawsuits can be complicated and time-consuming for all parties
involved, regardless of which side of the “v” they’re on. Claimants should be sure to avoid these common pitfalls.
1) Declining to Purchase Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance Underinsured or uninsured motorist insurance (sometimes known as “UM” insurance) is an optional type of insurance that can supplement a claimant’s liability insurance. It may end up coming in very handy in the event of a collision with another vehicle if the driver of that vehicle happens to lack insurance coverage of his own, or is only carrying the minimum coverage required under state law.
2) Communicating Excessively at the Scene of an Accident
Car accidents can be stressful and emotionally-charged experiences. In the moments immediately following a collision, there’s a natural urge for drivers to get out of their vehicles and speak about what just transpired. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, but it’s important to be aware of the legal ramifications. All statements made at the scene of an accident have the potential to be admitted as evidence at a trial. Accident victims need to choose their words carefully when speaking, and should limit their interaction to the exchange of insurance and contact information.
3) Failing to Seek Medical Attention After an Accident
Insurance companies know that people may sometimes have strong financial incentives to exaggerate bodily injuries stemming from an accident. One of the key ways insurance defense lawyers catch on to this is by examining the timeline of medical treatment following the accident. Any unreasonable delay between the time of the injuries and the time medical treatment is sought is usually considered a red flag. This is especially true where the plaintiff claims to have suffered serious injuries but failed to go to the emergency room or seek immediate medical attention after the accident. Inexplicable gaps in treatment and missed doctor’s appointments are also viewed with suspicion.
4) Going Pro Se
Many people assume they can handle their personal injury claim on their own without the assistance of a lawyer. While this might be true in some situations, it is usually much wiser to hire professional legal representation. This is especially true if you there will be a suit for serious or complicated injuries involving significant damages. Personal injury litigation can be highly technical in nature, with major consequences for failing to follow proper procedure.
5) Failure to Cooperate
Some clients are hesitant to disclose all details about their medical history to their lawyers because they feel this will hurt their case. It is crucial for claimants to disclose everything about their medical history so that the lawyer can be fully prepared.
6) Failing to Gather Important Evidence
Contact and insurance information should be gathered from all parties involved in an accident. Obtaining contact information of witnesses is also essential. As time passes, evidence can disappear and witnesses’ memories can fade. Photographs of the accident scene, any bodily injuries, and damage to all vehicles should be taken as early as possible.
7) Trusting Insurance Companies
Once an accident claim is submitted, insurance adjusters usually begin contacting the drivers and injured parties in an effort to obtain recorded statements or written reports from them. Adjusters hope to use these statements and reports against claimants as the claim progresses. The problem is that many claimants are unaware of this and make the mistake of agreeing to give a recorded or written statement to an insurance company before consulting an attorney. Similarly, they need to avoid being tricked into signing any written acknowledgement, admission of fault, or someone else’s recorded or written statements.