The Biggest Mistakes After An Injury Car Wreck
Written by Greg on January 10, 2014
In the almost 30 years in the practice of personal injury law, we have seen a repeat pattern of mistakes by accident victims and the following are the biggest mistakes made by victims and their family.
1. Trusting the adjuster
Often, especially in a crystal clear liability situation such as being rear-ended while stopped at a stoplight with witnesses, the insurance adjuster for the negligent party will indicate something to the victim that they will accept responsibility or be responsible for the accident.
The victim or the victim’s family assumes that the adjuster will be fair with them and that the nice demeanor of the adjuster will translate into a reasonable and fair settlement for the injuries suffered.
Unfortunately, the victim is usually find out for the very first time that there was never intentions to be fair only many months down the road after the nice treatment no longer is the case and a take it or leave it attitude is presented.
In quite a few cases, the victim or the victim’s family has gone the extra mile to accommodate the insurance company by signing releases to obtain medical records, giving statements that are recorded or written and then find out that the same will be used against them in the claim.
2. Failing to get prompt medical treatment and follow the doctor’s orders
Adjusters for insurance companies are paid to adjust the claim for as little money as they possibly can for their companies. If a personal injury victim has a gap between the accident and initial treatment or a gap between initial treatment and follow-up treatment the adjusters will often attempt to write off some of the medical treatment and not even offered to pay for the expenses incurred.
Additionally, a long delay in seeking medical treatment can lead to evidence issues when the treating physician is deposed and ask about the cause of the injuries.
3. Not documenting the trauma
It is very important for an accident victim to obtain demonstrative evidence such as photographs to document how hard they were hit in the accident. Photographs of the vehicles involved, skid marks and also of the victim’s injuries can all be very powerful evidence when shown to a jury. Likewise, the absence of such evidence can make a claim much harder.
4. Failing to account for subrogation or medical payback
Many health insurance policies contain contractual provisions demanding repayment if the policyholder is in an accident and collects money from a third party. That insurance company upon settlement will seek a reimbursement for the expenses that they have paid in many cases. Failing to account for this can have devastating results to the personal injury victim’s bottom-line recovery.
Recent changes in Texas law have made it much easier to negotiate with some non-ERISA health insurance companies making the subrogation process much simpler for the victim or their counsel.
5. Not understanding the process
The personal injury claims process and litigation process can take much longer than many people realize. It is almost always a mistake to rush into a settlement when the injuries or the amount of treatment needed is unknown. Many injustices are done by people who settled their claim only to find out later that their injuries were much more serious than they initially believe that they would be.
6. Not taking advantage of a free consultation
Many personal injury attorneys offer free consultations for injury victims to answer questions about the process and a potential case. During these consultations, the victim should ask questions about the process and also steps to maximize their potential settlement. If one attorney is not answering questions to your satisfaction pick up the phone and call another attorney.
The claims handling process can be maddening for those who have not handled insurance claims previously and don’t understand the mechanics of the process. Cases always take longer than victims would like and many times without an attorney, the victims find themselves with a disadvantage in dealing with the insurance company for the negligent party.