Listing out your injuries and providing the expenses you accrued due to those injuries is not enough in a personal injury claim. The claim process is involved, and can be particularly complicated to anyone not familiar with it. The first mistake that most people really make is they underestimate the claim process, assuming that their “logical” choices are sufficient to make their claim. While we would first tell everyone to never underestimate the complicated nature of a claim, there are actually other more common mistakes people make that could potentially jeopardize your personal injury case. This post will outline five important ones. A quick read, and following these guidelines will help save you a lot of added frustration while dealing with a claim.
Mistakes To Avoid That Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim
You Do Not Adhere Completely to Your Medical Care Plan
If you are injured in an accident, the first thing you may do is seek medical attention. This act alone links your injury to the accident. If you sustained substantial injuries — and even then, if the injuries are relatively minor — you will be provided with a treatment plan. Even an Emergency Room physician’s common treatment plan is to follow up with a medical professional. This plan and any other “doctor orders” you are given should be strictly heeded. When you fail to follow the plan, take prescribed medicine, show up for medical visits, or followup with your doctor, or the specialist you are referred to by your doctor, an insurance company will use this as a defense or as a means to reduce its financial obligations to you. The argument is: by not following the orders of the medical professionals, you contributed to your own injury, or were not hurt has bad as you claim. Juries are often suspicious of lawsuits, and those that file them. Not following through with doctors instructions or treatment, is an easy way from them attack you as not credible.
Not Providing an Accurate Medical History
After filing a claim, insurance companies often request authorization from you to obtain your medical history. You need to be careful here. You want to provide an accurate medical history, but you do not need to provide your full medical history. An experienced attorney will advise you on this matter. This is a crucial issue, because an insurance company will review your medical history with a literal fine tooth comb. Their intention is to identify anything it can use against you to lower the value of your compensation. But not being honest about your medical history, allows the insurance company to again, challenge your credibility.
Not Filing a Claim within the Allotted Time Period per the Statute of Limitations
In Nevada, for most personal injury claims, you have two (2) years to file a claim. If it is one day after the two-year mark, then the court will dismiss the case. These are arbitrary deadlines with little to no wiggle room unless your case fits within vert few well-defined exceptions. For instance, in some personal injury cases, you may not have been aware of the harm done to you, so it is not until you discover (or should have reasonably discovered) the harm at which time the statute of limitations begins — as opposed to the date the harm actually was inflicted. Do not wait until the last minute to being negotiating your claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can help. BUT, if you show up on an attorney’s door with weeks before the statute of limitations is set to run asking for help, you likely will not get it. Attorneys are very leery of getting involved in cases where the statute of limitations is set to run in a short time frame.
Not Declining the First Settlement Offer
Auto insurers and other insurance companies know that directly after the accident you are most vulnerable. They use this understanding — indeed prey on it — to offer you a quick settlement deal. They know you have property damage issues, and could use the money. They know you fear you may not get a better offer, and you really have no idea what your claim is even worth. They know you just want the whole matter over, and move on. As such, the first settlement offer will almost always be well-below what the auto insurance actually should pay. Be prepared to negotiate.
Not Providing a Strong Legal Analysis of the Case
A claim is always more than providing the details of what happened in the incident, the details of your injury, and the costs of the injury. Often it requires a thorough, persuasive legal analysis identifying why the other party is at fault (and not you). Without strong legal analysis, your case may be weakened with holes that the insurance company will fill with its own legal analysis. They can use this as a means to reduce the compensation owed to you, and in some cases, insurance companies may altogether deny your claim. Many people believe that if a dog bites someone, the owner is liable. This is actually not always the case. Many people believe that if you get rear ended in a car collision, the other driver is always at fault. That is not always the case. Without a strong legal analysis from the beginning, you may have to fight an uphill battle later. And when you have suffered considerable injuries, this additional battle is stress you don’t need.
If you are ever injured in an incident that you do not believe was your fault, it is always in your best interest to obtain personal injury legal representation or at a minimum, a free consultation so you do not go down this road making any one, or all of these mistakes.
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If you've been injured in an accident you need to speak with an experienced personal lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Henderson office directly at 702.405.6000 to schedule a free initial consultation.