When another person’s negligence causes you harm, you may decide to pursue compensation via a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Despite how clear-cut you believe your case is, compensation is not guaranteed.
There are mistakes you can make that may compromise the integrity of your case. These mistakes can result in a reduced settlement or award or, in the worst case, the complete forfeiture of compensation. To help you avoid making costly mistakes while your case pends, The Daily Journal identifies four common mistakes people make in their personal injury cases.
1. Delaying seeking medical care
Ideally, you will seek medical care as soon after your accident as possible. Failure to do so can weaken your case, as delays tell insurers and the courts that your injuries were not all that serious to begin with. A delay also provides the opposing party with the opportunity to claim that you sustained your injury after the accident.
2. Ignoring doctor’s orders
To maximize your personal injury settlement or award, you must demonstrate that you are willing to do whatever is necessary to recover quickly and completely. Part of “whatever is necessary” is following doctor’s orders to a T. If you ignore your doctor’s orders, or if you pick and choose which orders to follow, the opposing party may try to claim that your injuries are not all that serious, that you are not serious about recovery, and/or that you contributed to the aggravation of your injuries by not sticking to the prescribed treatment plan. Each of these assertions can negatively affect your settlement amount.
3. Posting on social media
Insurance companies often go out of their way to prove that claimants have misrepresented their injuries in some way. One way in which they do this is by scoping out claimants’ social media accounts.
If the adjuster handling your claim finds you on social media, he or she may try to use the information and pictures he or she finds to discredit your case. To prevent this from happening, avoid posting pictures of yourself or talking about the accident online until your case settles.
4. Accepting the first settlement offer
One of the biggest mistakes claimants make is accepting the first settlement the insurance company offers. Most insurance companies count on this happening and offer settlements that are far below what cases are worth. They do this knowing that, once a claimant accepts an offer, he or she cannot pursue additional compensation in the future.
Even a single minor mistake can cost you part or all of your settlement or award. With the right counsel, however, you can avoid making mistakes and do what is necessary to maximize your recovery.