Sometimes, an insurance claim is not enough to cover the cost of a car accident. You must go to court to receive compensation. When you need to file a personal injury case, there are things you must do to make your claim stronger. First, you must have solid evidence. Through a preponderance of evidence, you must prove that your claim is true. Next, you must prove that your injuries are not your fault and that you were injured because of the other driver.
In any case, every little bit of evidence helps, but every bit of counter-evidence hurts. Remember that the defendant has a lawyer who is fighting just as hard as yours. They want to build a strong case, and they will use whatever they can against you.
Here are 6 common mistakes that can hinder your injury claim.
- Avoiding the Authorities
When you are in a vehicle accident, it is tempting to avoid calling the police. Their involvement makes the process take much longer. You must wait for their arrival, answer questions, wait for them to fill out their paperwork, and so on. Some people also have an innate fear of authorities. Just having police around makes them nervous. Sometimes, you take pity on the other driver and don’t want them to “get in trouble.” These are all valid concerns, but they could cause problems later.
When investigating a car crash, lawyers want as many records as they can get. Ultimately, their job is to reconstruct the incident. Police reports are a big part of evidence collection. They are official city records, and courts give them a lot of credence. These documents can tell your attorney many things. For instance, they could reveal details about how the accident happened, or they could catch the defendant in a lie. Without these crucial documents, your lawyer will have a more difficult time proving the facts of your case.
- Forgetting to Collect Evidence
Accidents are confusing. A lot is happening, and your body is reacting. With adrenaline, pain endorphins, and anxiety running through you, it’s easy to miss important details.
You should always gather as much evidence as you can at the scene of an accident. Take pictures of everything. Remember, your lawyer needs to recreate the accident, and every piece of physical evidence tells a story. Tire marks can reveal when someone braked and for how long. The position and shape of impact damage show where, how hard, and in what way someone was hit. Surrounding property damage tells you how far away a car traveled and where. Record everything you can at an accident, and later, you will be glad you did.
- Delaying Medical Treatment
At the scene of an accident, it’s easy to assume that you haven’t been injured. You may feel fine and attempt to move on with life. Remember that when you’ve been injured, your body releases endorphins to manage the pain. It’s your body’s way of giving you time to get to safety before pain settles in. People commonly feel okay after a car accident and discover injuries later.
If you begin treatment long after an accident, it’s more difficult to tie your injuries to the event. In court, the defense can claim that you were injured by something unrelated, attempting to invalidate your claim.
Waiting for treatment also makes the evidence more difficult to verify. If you go untreated, your body attempts to heal on its own. As it does, your injuries change shape. Untreated bone injuries are particularly susceptible to permanent deformity. If you wait too long to seek treatment, you could have unrecognizable injuries by the time you do. In fact, you could have developed new problems from your lack of proper care. This will make your attorney’s job much harder. It will become far more difficult to prove that your injuries were the direct result of a car accident, as they no longer resemble the initial damage.
- Ending Treatment Too Early
Again, what you feel can be unreliable. People often discontinue treatment based solely on how they feel, not taking medical advice. If your doctors tell you that you need more treatment, trust them. Let them tell you when you no longer need attention.
Ending your treatment can harm your case. Because of Oklahoma’s comparative negligence laws, plaintiffs can be held partially responsible for their own injuries. When this happens, they cannot receive the full compensation awarded by the courts. At worst, plaintiffs can be held fully responsible, leaving them with nothing. If you end your treatment early, you could injure yourself further, making you responsible for your own injuries. The defendant can also use your actions against you. They could argue that you stopped trying to get better, so they shouldn’t have to compensate you.
- Admitting Fault
Amid the confusion of an accident, you may not fully understand what happened. You could find yourself admitting fault when you actually weren’t responsible. Guilt or social politeness may lead you to take responsibility even when you’re completely aware that you did nothing wrong.
Admitting fault, even just a little bit, can be used against you later. Insurance companies can use it as an excuse to deny your benefits. In court, the defendant’s team will use it as evidence. They will claim that you clearly believed yourself to be responsible, so the entire case is fraudulent.
- Accepting the Initial Settlement
Dealing with a car accident is a hassle, and people just want to get everything over with. It’s tempting to simply take an initial settlement and end the whole process. This is a mistake. You may not be fully aware of how much your car repairs or injuries will cost. Treatment can last a long time, requiring several doctor visits, surgeries, and therapies. You could easily spend the entirety of the original offer, leaving you with nothing as bills continue to mount.
The original offer is meant to be the beginning of negotiation. It is lower than it should be. The insurance company or the defendant hopes probably expects you to come back with a bigger number.
After accepting the first offer, it’s almost impossible to continue the claim in court. You already made an agreement, signed the paperwork, and spent the money. Your agreeing to take no further action is part of the settlement. Unless you were overtly defrauded or conned into the initial agreement, you are most likely stuck with it, unable to collect any more benefits.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, call our firm today. Even if you made one of the above mistakes, we might be able to help. Contact us online here, or call us at 918-492-7674