6 Common Mistakes to Avoid in the Personal Injury Claim Process

Closeup of woman hand reaching out for greeting. Female handshake to go over personal injury claim process

Do you feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the personal injury claim process?

This aspect of the law is complex and filled with opportunities for mistakes. No matter how well-educated or diligent you may be, there is no replacement for legal expertise.

You do not have to continue to stress about a personal injury claim alone. This guide will allow you to learn from the mistakes others have made after car accidents.

Moreover, you will have the opportunity to meet with an attorney who can help you regain control. Start taking custody of this process by reading this short article today.


1. Failing to Collect Enough Evidence

The adrenaline rush after a car accident can leave you in a fog. While you may have the state of mind to take pictures, taking this action alone is often inadequate. A more comprehensive approach includes securing the following types of evidence:

  • Video
  • Police Reports
  • Witness Testimonies

Taking video on your cellphone can offer compelling insight into the details of the incident. However, you do not want to neglect to consider the other ways you can collect footage. Traffic or surveillance cameras in the area could have captured different angles to present in court.

Police reports may include evidence that carries significant weight in a personal injury case. The most useful ones have statements, details about broken traffic laws, and even contact information.

Finally, do not rely on the police alone to collect testimonies. If able, talk to anyone who stopped after witnessing the accident.

Ask these individuals for their contact information and if they are willing to be a witness. Limit the conversation to these two topics initially to avoid discussions about who was at fault.


2. Admitting Fault

Miranda warnings start with, “You have the right to remain silent,” for a good reason. Every American has the right to protect themselves against self-incrimination.

The Fifth Amendment is a bedrock of the legal system that applies to criminal and civil proceedings. Therefore, you serve your best interests by refusing to discuss fault with anyone other than your attorney.

There is another crucial reason why you do not want to discuss responsibility for the incident. The court could find you partially responsible for what happened. This fact may seem shocking, but it is a critical aspect of civil law in California.

The Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) includes a section on comparative fault. This legal doctrine means the plaintiff may lose a portion of their damages due to their share of the blame.

It is worth noting that California uses pure comparative negligence. In some states, a plaintiff will not receive anything if they are more than half responsible. But, a victim in Tustin can have 99% of the responsibility placed on them and still recover some damages.


3. Refusing or Forgetting to Discuss Previous Injuries

Treating car accident injuries can involve teams of doctors that have not treated you previously. Accordingly, you will want to discuss any previous incidents or conditions with them. Ensuring you share these essential details will help your physical recovery and personal injury claim.

Insurance carriers have obvious incentives to claim treatment is not related to an accident. As a result, you do not want to give them any reasons to believe you hid facts about your health. Considering that one in two Americans have pre-existing conditions, you can count on adjusters to use your medical history against you.


4. Agreeing to a Medical Authorization Release

An insurance adjuster may ask if you agree to a medical authorization release early in the process. They will make this document sound benign, but you will want to decline at first.

Insurers will attempt to access your previous medical history, claiming that the injuries were not related to the crash and instead were due to a previous injury or condition. Depending on the circumstances, the only medical records an insurance company will need should be directly related to the personal injury accident.

Proof of the medical treatment that was applied, like X-rays or surgeries, are the only forms of records insurance needs in order to process a claim. However, it is best to let a qualified personal injury attorney handle communication with the other party’s insurance and legal team.


5. Waiting to Find Medical Care

There are many reasons why you might delay finding medical treatment after an event like a car accident. You may have a phobia about going to the doctor’s office. Alternatively, you may have convinced yourself your injuries are manageable without going to the local clinic.

Regardless of the justification, waiting to seek medical care can be a noteworthy mistake.

First and foremost, this lack of action does not back up any statements you make about pain. Avoiding going to the doctor gives insurance companies exactly the evidence they need to contest your claims. A perfectly reasonable cause for the delay may not be enough for them to let this go.

Another argument they can make is that your inaction caused your conditions to worsen. As a result, they may deny that they owe further treatment. If they take this action based on notes from your chart, that can be critical to their defense in court.


6. Settling Before You Consult With an Attorney

The temptation to settle and move on with your life can seem appealing. You get a payout and don’t have to deal with adjusters anymore. But, you run the risk of accepting significantly less than you deserve.

Insurance companies have a wide variety of tactics they use to get people to accept lowball offers. A few of the strategies they have tried in the past include:

  • Denying liability
  • Delaying the claims process
  • Requesting a written statement
  • Offering a settlement quickly after the accident
  • Asking you to sign a medical authorization waiver
  • Pressuring you by using your share of the fault against you
  • Misstating the details of the insurance coverage or the law

If your adjuster has used any of these tactics, they likely hope you don’t talk to an attorney. After all, the Harvard Business Review states that over 90% of civil cases settle without going to court. Once your legal representation steps forward, the opportunity to get you to back down disappears.


Schedule a Consultation to Discuss the Personal Injury Claim Process

Did you recognize a mistake that you made in this article?

In many cases, our clients never imagined they would have to deal with the personal injury claim process. While a lack of experience can lead to errors, they do not have to define what happens next. Request a free consultation with Legacy Accident Lawyers today to learn how we can help.


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