How to Avoid 7 Common and Costly Mistakes After You Are In an Accident
I want to congratulate you for taking the time and reading this information entitled “How to Avoid 7 Common and Costly Mistakes After You Are In an Accident.”
The reason I am congratulating you is because you are spending valuable time right now learning about what happens after you’ve been injured in and after an accident so that you can best protect you, your family and ultimately your future.
The purpose of this article is to give you a brief overview of how a personal injury case works.
It cannot possibly cover all of the details involved in a case, but it can give you a good outline of how most personal injury cases work. I believe that by reading this document in its entirety, you will have much more knowledge and you will feel much better about some steps you can take to protect yourself if you are ever in an accident.
Components of a Claim
The first thing I want to cover briefly is the components of a claim after an accident or after someone has been injured. The first thing to remember is that the person who is injured or the person who has property damage or the person who seeks to make a claim always has the burden of proof. This means that it is always on that person and their attorney to make the claim.
In doing this there are 3 components that we need to review.
1. Liability : What the other party did wrong.
2. Injuries caused by the other persons fault.
3. Damages caused by the other person’s fault.
In essence it is up to the injured party and their attorney to show the other party was at fault, and to show that injuries were caused by the other party’s fault, and that those injuries resulted in damages.
Examples of Damages: medical bills, lost wages, the need for surgery, having surgery, permanent scarring and disfigurement, pain and suffering and the inability to lead the same life you did prior to the incident.
It is always the attorney’s job and the client’s job to show that the other person’s fault or negligence caused those injuries or damages.
the 7 common and costly mistakes
The first mistake is not photographing the vehicle seen and visible injuries that a person has after an incident. Because we just learned as always the injured party and their attorney’s job to prove their injuries and damages, the taking of photographs of the vehicles at the scene and any visible injuries is absolutely critical. It is so much easier to prove how the accident happened or where an injury to a person occurred with photographs taken quickly after the accident where these things are depicted. The scene should also be photographed especially if it involves construction or there are any parts of the scene that may be changing rapidly.
The second mistake is not seeking prompt and consistent medical treatment. Again, if you have a personal injury case the medical records and the doctor’s opinion is going to be absolutely critical to your case. Sometimes people delay in seeking treatment and they think that they will be better after the incident. The better route is to go and seek treatment sooner, have your injuries completely documented and then if you are better after the fact then that is fine. But you have protected yourself in the event your injuries were to continue.
By delaying and seeking treatment you are opening yourself up to a problem with causation. It is always incumbent upon you to prove that the other person’s fault caused your injuries.
Delaying and seeking medical treatment from the date of the incident forward starts to create a causation problem because the other side will make an argument which does have some effect. If this person was injured why did they wait 2 months, 3 months, 4 months from the day of the incident to ever go to the doctor?
The third mistake is not explaining or listing all of the injuries to the doctor no matter how minor. Again, this is aimed toward the issue of proving causation. Many times people go to the doctor and they may have two things wrong with them and a third thing that is minor but they only listed the major problems. The problem then becomes they start doing better in one area, but after they feel better in one area then another problem arises.
For example, they had a back problem that was severe and a knee problem that was minor and they did not mention the knee problem. Later on if their back does better but their knee causes them more trouble they then have the same causation problem because there will not be any documentation in their records showing that the knee was injured at the time of the incident.
The fourth mistake is giving a taped statement without legal advice. You have to remember that the insurance companies have handled thousands and thousands of accident and injury causes. As a result they understand what we were talking about briefly and they understand that any liability they can shift back on you decreases the amount of any payout they have to pay, therefore, if they can in a taped statement that you give almost immediately after an accident put liability back on you, in other words, fault back on you whether you realize it or not, then they are helping their insured and they are helping themselves because they are decreasing the amount of the ultimate payout they may have to make you.
You can also hurt yourself with this mistake depending on how the questions are answered. Perhaps you were just not listening closely enough to the questions. The reason the taped statement without legal advice can be so detrimental to your case is because it is your words, you say at the end of the statement that everything has been true and correct to the best of your knowledge, and it is your voice on the tape. If you say anything inaccurately, it is almost impossible to overcome.
The fifth mistake is signing forms without legal advice. This should never be done without seeking the advice of an attorney if you want to make sure you’re protected. This is because the forms may ultimately cause you to jeopardize some of your rights in another area. They may cause you to extinguish your claim all together without realizing it. They may release your medical records to the insurance company and if this happens you really have no absolute way of knowing all the medical records that the insurance company obtains. You also may believe you have settled and done the right thing only to realize that you inadvertently extinguished another claim you may have had. So, signing a release or any other kind of form without seeking the advice of an attorney is something that should be avoided.
The sixth mistake is failing to obtain the names and the addresses of any witnesses who may have witnessed the incident. This gives you someone to follow-up with in the event liability does become questioned or there is something at the scene that becomes pivotal. Collecting names of witnesses is very important for your case.
The need to prove your case rests on you and your attorney. Doing the small things correctly is what leads to the best result in the long run. Obtaining the names and addresses of any witnesses is extremely important. Follow up with them to find out the names and addresses of other witnesses. If it is on the police report that is a good way to start. Go back to the location and see if anyone witnessed the incident. All of these things can be ways to determine the names and addresses of possible witnesses to your case.
The seventh mistake that people make after an accident is they choose an attorney that is not experienced in personal injury litigation or they choose an attorney that they never meet with individually. The proof of your case ultimately depends on you and your attorney and the documentation for your claim, the medical records, the photographs of the injuries at the scene of the vehicles, perhaps video, taped statements of witnesses.
You want to make sure that you have an attorney who is experienced in the area of personal injury litigation and the attorney should be able to share with you cases similar to yours that they have handled and the general results of those cases.
Further, if the attorney is the one you are retaining and the attorney is the one who is willing to help you in the event that you’re not able to meet with that attorney for whatever reason then that should be a red flag to you because that is the person you are trusting to see your case through to a good conclusion and not being able to meet with them is very difficult to have the level of trust that you need.
In a personal injury case the three things you want to avoid are uncertainty, doubt and confusion. The things we have just gone over and the topics we discussed are all designed to help remove those uncertainty, doubt and confusion from your case. By doing so, you are making your case as strong as possible and you are helping yourself obtain the recovery that you are entitled to after an incident.
This article has been provided as an overview for you to help you be able to protect yourself in the event you’ve been injured. I hope that you’ve found it informative and helpful. If at any time you need some additional information please feel free to contact our office at 850-785-3400. Please feel free to ask to speak with me, Douglas Dykes. I would be happy to take your phone call.
You may also visit our website for more information at www.Syfrett-Dykes.com Again, I thank you for your time. I hope you found this information helpful and I wish the very best. God Bless.