Acting as counselors, good personal injury lawyers regularly discuss a client’s settlement offers alongside the risks of taking their case to trial. It is a basic part of being a personal injury attorney. The list of mistakes that people can – and do – make when it comes to their personal injury claims is pretty darn long. Unfortunately, these mistakes often lead insurance companies and juries to award less in damages than they would had the case been properly represented. In my experience, the greatest cause for personal injury claims falling short of proper damage awards or failing all together, is the regular Joe-Schmoe who fails to understand how the liability system works: They don’t get that their behavior can and will be used against them in the litigation and injury settlement process.
Clients who Have Made Mistakes During the Injury Claim Process Cost Themselves Money
I created this list of mistakes people make that I have seen over the years. The more of these things you avoid, the better off you likely will be. No one factor makes or ruins any particular claim. No question that there are some of these that are less important. But some can have significant impact in particular situations. While this list is not exhaustive, it does give an idea of the types of issues people cause for themselves.
IF you are evaluating an insurance companies settlement offer and it seems low, or is a jury award is smaller than you thought, this list might help explain the reason why.
People cause themselves problems, and reduce the value of their claims when they:
1. Don’t to seek needed medical attention;
2. Put off needed treatment when symptoms are evident;
3. Make the decision to not get police involved or don’t call 911;
4. Fail to file “walk-in” collision report when police do not investigate the collision;
5. Refuse treatment, tell the first responder they are “OK” or “fIne” or refuse emergency care and transport, particularly when they are nervous, confused or disoriented;
6. Don’t get the driver’s name, insurance company and vehicle information from the person who caused the collision;
7. Fail to take basic on scene pictures and videos (almost everyone has a camera phone these days);
8. Let witnesses leave with getting contact information and names;
9. Don’t take pictures of visible physical injuries;
10. Move the car before police get on the scene;
13. Not reporting all your problems or minimzing them to the company, I.e. saying thinks like “I’m Fine” or I’m not hurt”;
14. Providing an inaccurate prior injury or collision history to their own attorney;
15. Fail to give the doctor an accurate medical, and complete accident and injury history;
16. Forgetting to get in for, or not attending recommended medical treatment and follow-up;
17. Missing doctor’s appointments without reason and not calling to cancel;
18. Not getting a doctor’s note to miss work (even if the note is not mandated by an employer;
19. Forgetting to inform, or just not informing, an employer about the injury;
20. Not keeping a record of time of missed work off work including the dates;
21 Don’t report their physical symptoms—all of them small or large- to the health care provider until weeks or months later;
22. Don’t get medical care for their symptoms just because a doctor “discharged” them;
23. Fail to follow instructions and take prescription medication as directed;
24. Tell their doctor they are fully recovered or 100% when there are still issues (even minor ones);
25. Give inaccurate reports about past medical history to a health-care provider;
26. Give inaccurate explanations of the aggravation of a pre-existing condition;
27. Have a history of working “under the table” or filing false tax returns;
28. Ignore their attorney or the staffs requests for information during the case process;
29. Fail to review the written “discovery” answers prepared in conjunction with the attorneys office in the lawsuit in litigation (Interrogatories and Requests For Production or Admission) and ensure there are no errors (100% accuracy is needed);
30. Get in an argument with a lawyer working for the other side during in deposition, in arbitration, or at trial;
31. Have our deposition or trial testimony be the first time some prior injury or incident comes out;
32. Have new medical treatment, or see a new doctor without letting their attorney know;
33. Fail to manage co-pays and deductibles on medical bill and having the go into collections;
34. Not have a referral from a “traditional” western medicine doctor for a course of “non-traditional/complimentary/alternative” treatment (Chiropractic, Acupunture etc.);
35. Don’t make sure they explain to treating heath care providers about the practical limitations caused by an injury;
36. Lie, exaggerate, make false statements or misrepresent anything at any time in the claim process.
Certainly there are other issues that cause problems. These are just some of the important ones we’ve seen. HAving any one of them in your case will impact your claim and the value of your injury claim. It might be by a lot, it might be by a little. The best thing is always to consult with an attorney about your injury case and understand the insurance company and its representatives are not your friends.
Please call if you have any questions about an Idaho personal injury claim. An initial consultation with us is always free. And if we take your case, we will do the work on a contingency fee basis. If we don’t help you recover money, you do not have to pay us.