When you’re involved in an accident of any kind, it can be an unnerving and frightening experience. Even so, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself from a legal standpoint. Many people aren’t aware of their responsibilities in these situations and failing to react appropriately can cause you to sabotage your own potential personal injury case. In any accident, avoid these common mistakes.
Don’t Delay Consulting an Attorney
You should a personal injury lawyer consultation as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected. Almost immediately, an insurance adjuster working for the defendant will contact you with a settlement offer. He will attempt to coerce you into admitting fault in the accident, or he may try to get you to sign off on an unfair settlement. If you fall prey to these tactics, your case may be irreparably damaged. It’s best to contact a lawyer as early as possible, so the insurance adjuster will have to deal with your legal advocate instead.
Don’t Forget to Document the Scene
Every type of court case or insurance claim hinges on evidence and, without it, it’s simply your word against theirs. To avoid this situation and improve the strength of your case, make use of your smartphone. It can be used to record conversations (with the knowledge and permission of those being recorded) and its camera can be used to document the scene. Take close up pictures of property damage and injuries.
Don’t Delay Medical Treatment
Even if you feel fine, it’s important to your health and any personal injury claim that you submit to a medical exam and receive treatment as soon as possible. For health purposes, there are many injuries that take time to manifest symptoms, such as brain trauma, neck injuries, or spinal cord damage. Although you may feel uninjured, you could wake up feeling much worse on the following morning.
Additionally, the law allows for contributory negligence in personal injury cases. This means you’re required, as the plaintiff, to do everything within your power to mitigate the financial burden the accident caused. In simpler terms, this means failing to seek medical attention will make you partially responsible for your injuries and you will likely receive a smaller award for damages. In some cases, your case may be thrown out altogether.
Don’t Miss Appointments
In addition to seeking medical treatment right after your accident, it’s also important to keep attending appointments for therapy and additional treatment. If you start missing these sessions, the court will likely assume your injuries aren’t as serious as your lawsuit claims. In that case, the judge may drop your case or take other actions against you.
Stay Off Social Media
Many attorneys recommend staying off social media sites altogether, as well as limiting emails and text messages. People are often tempted to discuss their case on sites like Facebook or Twitter, or via emails and texts. Defense lawyers have tactics for obtaining statements made online, which can be taken out of context and used to damage your case. Your lawyer will likely advise you not to discuss your case at all, except in confidence with him.
Don’t Put Off Your Lawsuit
There’s a relatively short window of time for you to file your lawsuit. If you wait too long, you may lose the right to pursue your case altogether. This is another reason you should hire a lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will know to file your case efficiently, so your documents are received by the court within the statute of limitations. An attorney will be familiar with the process, so he’ll better know how to submit documents and meet the various deadlines established by the law.
Even in instances where your case may seem like an easy win, it’s not difficult to sabotage your case. By making these mistakes, or failing to follow your lawyer’s instructions, you may cause the judge or jury to reduce your award for damages. If you’re unsure about a situation, it’s always better to consult your attorney in advance, rather than make a damaging mistake and telling your lawyer about it afterwards.