For most of us, cars are an essential part of life. Each morning, we ride to work, to school, or to other activities. We spend much of our lives inside a car on the road.
Most people will live their entire lives without a serious injury. What happens if you do suffer a personal injury? In prior articles, I’ve discussed numerous personal injury topics. If you have questions about medical treatment, insurance, accident claims or the legal process, hopefully you can find some good information on my blog.
Today, I want to discuss a few mistakes you can make right after a serious accident. Every week, I talk to car crash victims where one of these mistakes is a problem issue. Here are seven big mistakes Alabama accident victims often make:
1. Make Wrongful Admissions At The Scene
It’s a beautiful day. You are driving your car. Everything is great. In a split second, it all changes. You are in a crash.
If you are like most people, your first concern is that nobody was hurt. Maybe you ask about the passengers in the other car. That’s normal. When I had a wreck years ago, I immediately asked the other people if they were OK.
In the process of checking on the other car, many people will say “I’m sorry.” Face it, in the south, we often say “I’m sorry” simply to be polite. Yet, while the words “I’m sorry” may just be a polite expression, many people will interpret the phrase as an admission of fault.
After a wreck, you should express concern about all people involved. But, be careful with your words. Don’t apologize for something you did not cause. Also, don’t speculate at the scene about what you could or could not have done. Your admissions can be used against you in a later case.
2. Minimize Injuries Or Pain
After an accident, the adrenaline may be flowing. That’s normal. Because of the adrenaline or shock, you may not feel hurt at first. I’ve listened to countless accident victims describe how they started hurting badly “later that night” or “the next morning.”
Don’t minimize your injuries at the start. Hopefully, you are OK. But, you may not know in the immediate aftermath of a crash.
Don’t minimize your injuries later with the doctors. Be honest. It is essential for your claim to document all injuries. It is essential for your healing that the doctors know and treat all your injuries.
When you ignore or minimize your injuries, you risk your health and healing. And, you risk your later claim which will be much harder to prove.
3. Sign Papers From The Insurance Company
Following a car accident, many insurance companies send medical releases / authorizations. Whether the insurance company calls it a medical release or medical authorization, don’t sign it. The insurance company wants to dig into your past. These documents are often far too broad. Many people receive and sign these broad documents without question.
Usually, the paperwork involves insurance company efforts to dig into your past. However, it could be worse. In a prior blog post, I discussed an incident where the insurance company actually had an accident victim sign a document releasing all his claims. You can read more in my post titled Hurt In An Accident? Be Careful What You Sign.
4. Give A Recorded Statement To An Adjuster
Insurance adjusters are trained to look for reasons to deny or defend a claim. An experienced and well-trained insurance adjuster knows what questions to ask and how to ask them. A recorded statement may later be used against you.
In the days after a serious crash, you may be in pain or on pain medications. This can also impact your ability to understand and communicate. It’s another reason why you should not agree to a recorded statement.
You should assume that every telephone conversation with an adjuster is recorded. Be careful what you say. When it comes to a request for a recorded statement, seek good legal advice before agreeing.
5. Ignore Doctor’s Advice
Ignore the doctor. Refuse to follow-up on medical care. Skip medical appointments. These are all bad. If you ignore medical advice, you are risking your long-term health and healing. You health is too important.
If you have a personal injury claim, you are also risking it. When you try to settle your case, the insurance adjuster will review your treatment records. The adjuster will note that you did not seek medical care or did not follow your doctor’s advice. It will impact insurance company settlement offers. If your claim proceeds to court, the judge and jury will also hear the medical evidence. And, they will likely devalue your case. If you are hurt, you should seek treatment and document the injuries. You should definitely follow-up with medical appointments and treatment plans. If you want the insurance adjuster, judge or jury to take your claim seriously, then you must take it seriously as well.
6. Allow Evidence To Disappear
Some car wreck evidence is only available for a short period of time. Photographs of car damage. Photographs of the accident scene or skid marks. Defective vehicle parts. Surveillance video from nearby cameras. Key witnesses who could provide statements. These are just a few examples of potential evidence that can disappear with time.
Trucking companies understand the importance of accident scene evidence. That’s why many trucking companies use rapid response teams to investigate accidents.
While you need to focus on healing, you should consult a skilled attorney in cases of serious crashes and injuries. A skilled attorney will know the steps to investigate the accident and preserve important evidence.
7. Discuss The Accident, Injuries Or Limitations On Social Media
We live in a world full of information. People often share thoughts and events on social media. If you have an injury claim, it is highly likely that the insurance company will look for your social media accounts. Any posts that appear to contradict your accident claims or injuries may be copied and later used against you. Social media posts and comments are regularly used at trial to attack the claimant or other witnesses. You should avoid posting any details about your accident or injury. And, you should carefully consider whether any post you make could be used against you.
Avoid Mistakes That Could Harm Your Serious Personal Injury Claim
Serious personal injury claims take time. The claim should be prepared. You should focus on medical care and healing. Your health, healing and future are too important for you to trust that the insurance adjuster will simply do the right thing. They are also too important for you to trust any lawyer who promises a quick check or fast settlement. From the very beginning, you should take the issues seriously. If you have questions, call an experienced lawyer who offers free advice. At our office, we advise countless people every week. We are happy to answer questions that may help you.
At the Blackwell Law Firm, we focus on serious personal injury cases. From our office in Huntsville, we represent clients across Alabama. We have pursued claims to settlement and trial in counties throughout Alabama. We are happy to answer your questions.