Types of Car Accidents and How They Affect Your Personal Injury ClaimNovember 30, 2022
When it comes to personal injury claims following a motor vehicle accident, making the wrong decision can have serious consequences. That’s why it’s important to be as informed as possible about the law surrounding personal injuries before filing a claim. By following these top 10 mistakes people make when filing a personal injury claim, you can avoid any unpleasant surprises and get through the process as smoothly as possible. So don’t wait – start planning for your personal injury claim now!
1. Filing a claim without consulting an attorney
This is the number one mistake you can make! Filing a personal injury claim can be a daunting task, but it’s important to consult an attorney before doing so. Kenneth Hancock is admittedly biased in this regard, but he feels the best option is to hire an attorney to navigate the case so that you can focus on what matters most: getting better. Not only will an attorney be able to help you understand the law and protect your rights, but they are also better equipped to file the claim and negotiate compensation with the insurance company. By doing this, you increase the chances of recovering damages from the person or business responsible for your injuries. By consulting an attorney, you’ll be able to avoid any of these pitfalls and emerge victorious in your case. Many of the mistakes you make can be unfixable.
2. Pursuing the wrong type of claim
It can be confusing when it comes to personal injury claims. There are different kinds of damages that are pursued under different coverages. Some damages are pursued under the at-fault driver’s policy and some are pursued under your own policy. It is easy to get bogged down in the alphabet soup that is the world of insurance coverage: BI, UM, Med Pay, PD, PIP…the list goes on. So, what’s the right type of injury to file a personal injury claim for? The answer is simple – you should file a personal injury claim for the injury that you’ve sustained. Not all injuries require filing a personal injury claim, for example, a slip and fall accident. It’s important to consult with an attorney before filing a personal injury claim, especially if you’re alleging negligence on the part of another person or entity. Filing a personal injury claim can be a daunting task, so make sure to follow all the necessary steps to ensure your case is successful.
3. Waiting too long to start the claim process
There is a saying in our line of work: Delay favors the defense. “Defense” in the context of a motor vehicle collision means the at-fault driver and their insurance company. Waiting just a few weeks can create insurmountable obstacles that impact not only your healing but also the value of your case. Also, evidence disappears or is destroyed; witnesses forget important facts; witnesses move away. There are many, many ways your case can go south if you sit on your rights. That’s why it’s crucial to file a claim as soon as possible after being injured – even if you’re unsure whether you have a case.
4. Failing to document evidence at the scene of the collision
When it comes to filing a personal injury claim, it’s important to take pictures or videos of the accident scene and ALL vehicles involved. Also, make sure to keep all relevant documents like medical records, police reports, and witness testimonies handy. Filing a personal injury claim can be a difficult process, but with the right preparation, it can be a success.
5. Failing to properly report or document your injuries
One of the top mistakes people make is not documenting their injuries properly. Internal injuries such as broken bones and soft tissue damage should be documented by your treating physicians via X-rays and MRIs, but sometimes immediate injuries go away. Terrible-looking lacerations heal. Black eyes and bruises go away. Airbag and/or seat belt burns disappear. Take pictures, even if you think they are embarrassing. Better to have them and not need them than the other way around. Properly documenting these injuries before they disappear is extremely important. Similarly, failing to disclose everything to your doctors can kill your case. If your shoulder hurts, say something. If you have an injury that shows up for the first time in a visit 3 months later, the insurance company will never believe that it is related to the collision.
6. Not obtaining witness information at the scene
This is HUGE, even when liability on the at-fault driver is 100% clear. If someone stops to help after a collision, ask them for their information. Sometimes people don’t want to get involved, but if they take the time to stop that is usually not the case. Maybe they saw the at-fault driver texting and driving, swerving all over the road, and speeding – you just never know how a witness can change the dynamics of the case.
7. Failing to accurately assess damages
Florida law gets kind of tricky when it comes to the damages for which you can be compensated following an automobile collision. Many people assume doctor bills are enough, but that is NOT always true. Your PIP (aka “no-fault”) covers some of the bills, medical providers make adjustments/write-offs, and health insurance is often involved. Florida law handles each of these situations a little differently. Failure to properly understand and present your accident-related damages could leave you owing money when the case settles.
8. Not understanding the law regarding personal injuries
When it comes to personal injuries, most people are unaware of the law and what they’re legally allowed to do. Number 7, above, is a prime example, but there are so many ways your case can go wrong without competent legal counsel. Is “making a claim” the same as “filing suit?” Does the other party pay my medical bills as I get treated? What happens if I don’t have insurance? What happens when my primary care doctor refuses to see me because I was in a car accident? Does Federal law apply to reimbursement of my health insurance lien? What about my pain and suffering? How do I prove my wage loss claim if I am self-employed?
9. Failure to obtain accurate information from the at-fault party
Most of the time the responding police officer gathers this information for you, but they don’t always get it right. Take pictures of the at-fault driver’s license and insurance card (if they cooperate with you). Also, ask if they own the vehicle. If not, request the owner’s information. And if they are driving a company vehicle, be sure to ask for their employer’s contact information. This can go a long way in identifying the proper part and, ultimately, the right insurance company.
10. Failure to follow the medical treatment regimen
This is extremely important! In short, you MUST do what your doctors tell you when they tell you, and how often they tell you to do it. Period. This is simple, but not necessarily easy. Life happens and you will no doubt be forced to miss an appointment here and there, but consistent treatment is one of the most important parts of your case. It is important for your health and it is important to paint the proper picture of the impact of your injuries. Gaps in treatment and failing to do what your doctors prescribe is a surefire way to tank your case. The insurance company will use anything they can to lessen the value of your case and these are the two most common ways they do so. Don’t make it easy for them. Stick to your treatment regimen for as long as your doctors recommend.
By making the ten mistakes listed above, you can really hurt your case. The best way to avoid these mistakes is by hiring a competent personal injury attorney to navigate these pitfalls for you. We are happy to help. If you need help weighing your options following a motor vehicle collision, call us today at 941.979.5229 or contact us online.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information provided in this blog is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice nor as creating an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different and legal advice cannot be provided by Hancock Law unless/until we meet to discuss the particulars of your case. Whether an attorney-client relationship exists can differ on a case-by-case basis, but at Hancock Law we consider such a relationship to exist only upon a potential client’s request and our agreement to accept that representation.