How NOT to handle your car accident claim
I’m often contacted by potential clients a few days after they’ve been involved in a car crash. As an experienced personal injury attorney, once I get involved in a case, I talk with the insurance companies and advise my client on how best to proceed. I always urge my clients not to discuss their case with anyone, especially insurance adjusters. I explain what it means to have a “gap in treatment” and how that can affect your case and damage your claim. Clients are always advised to follow up on prescribed medical treatments, follow doctors advice, and be clear and upfront with medical providers about their symptoms and issues, as these notes will end up in their medical records, and can be used to bolster a claim.
5 Common Errors Made By Personal Injury Clients
It is not uncommon that some clients contact me weeks to months after their crash. Often, this results in some problems. Here are the common problems that arise when the client has waited too long before speaking to an attorney:
1) Refusing medical treatment at the scene of the crash.
Refusing EMS treatment makes it look like the client is uninjured. This refusal also eliminates the possibility of a medical record documenting the specific complaints following the crash that can be useful in demonstrating a more serious injury. It is ALWAYS wise to let an EMT evaluate you at the accident scene, just in case.
2) Failing to complain about the specific injury that becomes a major problem later on.
Often, an injured person will later tell me that their shoulder hurt, but not bad enough to mention to the doctor. If you don’t tell your doctor about your symptoms, they will not be recorded in your medical record, and insurers can use this lack of documentation as a means to diminish the severity of your injuries.
3) After being treated immediately after the crash, failing to follow up with their primary doctor, or a specialist for weeks.
A gap in treatment after the emergency room visit is very common, and very harmful because it makes it look like the person is not injured. It is crucial that you follow your doctors instructions about office visits, and contact them if your symptoms persist, change or worsen.
4) Speaking to the insurance adjuster about the crash.
Insurance adjusters will attempt to contact a person as soon after the crash as possible. Their intention is not just to investigate, but to obtain statements that harm the injured person’s claim. I advise my clients to not speak to an adjuster after a crash, in order to limit the possibility of saying anything they can use against you when the time comes to negotiate a settlement.
5) Unintentionally settling a claim.
In a worst case scenario, I have had clients who have unintentionally settled their injury claim for $500. The insurance adjuster insinuated that the settlement was for property damage only, but the signed release states that the $500 was a settlement for all claims, including the injury. Once that document is signed, it becomes very difficult to walk back.
Obviously, these are problems that cannot be corrected. I have had previous clients who, years later, are injured in a car crash. They almost always call me immediately, from the scene of the crash. After going through the legal process once, they have learned to be “better safe than sorry”
If you or your loved one has been in a car accident and has questions about how to handle your injury claim, please feel free to contact my office by phone or email. It is wise to speak with an experienced attorney, and I often advise people on how to settle their claim without a lawyer, if the circumstance is appropriate. Consultations are ALWAYS FREE, and we’re more than happy to answer your questions.