What are the FIRST FIVE mistakes injury victims make?
1. They talk to an insurance adjuster without a lawyer.
The insurance adjuster knows things that you don’t know. She has information that you don’t have. The adjuster works for the insurance company. The adjuster’s job is to save money for the insurance company by paying you less.
“What happened?” the adjuster might ask. Your answer to that question may be scrutinized by lawyers later. Do you know what information they will be looking for? Of course they want to know what happened. They need information for their file before they pay a claim, right? That sounds reasonable. But, what else are they looking for?
They are looking for ways to avoid paying your claim. This is what they do in every case. They do this even if the accident is 100% completely the other driver’s fault. The worst mistake an injury victim can make is to think, “It was completely the other driver’s fault. I did nothing wrong. I don’t need a lawyer. I don't want to sue anyone. I just want to be treated fairly. It is just a question of how much they are going to pay me.”
In all the years I have been doing this work I have not seen one case where a person would have been better off if they had not called an experienced injury attorney after an accident. The call is free. The consultation is free. There is no obligation. You can get the information that you need to make good decisions and handle your claim responsibly.
2. They don’t obtain proper medical care.
Most of us get up and go everyday whether we hurt or not. We have jobs, obligations and responsibilities. After an auto accident most people refuse medical treatment unless there are obvious or life-threatening injuries. They suffer through a couple of days or weeks hoping it will get better. Sometimes it does and sometimes it does not.
Know this. When you wait to get medical treatment after an accident, the insurance company is happy. You may be calling every day to update the adjuster about your injuries. She may listen politely. She may write it down. She will tell you that she cannot give legal or medical advice and then watch in silence as you make mistakes that cost you thousands of dollars.
If you wait to seek medical treatment you are reducing or eliminating the value of your claim. You have a legal responsibility to mitigate your damages by getting better as soon as you can. By refusing treatment, you give the insurance company a defense. They can say, “You would have gotten better sooner and required less treatment if you had sought and received medical treatment from the beginning. You did not. You are responsible for some or all of your medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages.”
3. They don’t document medical care properly.
Proper documentation is an essential element of every successful injury claim. The law allows compensation for reasonable and necessary medical expenses ONLY. Proper documentation flows from a good treatment plan. You should review your treatment plan with your medical provider and then your lawyer to insure that your medical care is properly documented.
We meticulously document each case. Properly documented cases settle more quickly and for fair value. If we have adequately accessed liability and properly documented medical treatment, the case should settle quickly and for maximum value. That is our objective in every case. If your case is not properly documented, it will never settle for full and fair value.
4. They don’t follow the advice of their physicians.
After an auto injury, a medical provider will perform an evaluation. The provider will then prescribe a course of treatment. The course of treatment may include surgery. Most will include office visits and home exercises. All will include instructions such as “Do this.” and “Don’t do that.”
Following the instructions of your treating medical providers is critical. If you do not, the insurance company will have a defense. They will say, “You would have gotten better sooner if you had followed your doctor’s instructions. You did not. You are responsible for some or all of your medical expenses and other consequential damages.”
5. They try to resolve their case on their own before they hire an attorney.
Like insurance companies, most people want to save money. Lots of people think, “Maybe I could get more money for my claim if I used an attorney, but I don't want to go to court. And, I don't want to pay a lawyer. If I settle this claim myself, I will not have to pay an attorney. It will probably work out the same and be easier, faster and less costly if I handle it myself. After all I am smart, tough and organized.”
I understand this thought process. It sounds practical and reasonable, but it is flawed. There are too many things about this process that you don’t know. This is not because you are dumb or lack intellectual capacity. It is because the insurance adjuster has the great advantage of knowledge and experience. There are hundreds of factors that the adjuster may use to try to reduce, eliminate or avoid paying some or all of your claim. There are hundreds or factors that may affect the legal distribution to you of any payment do receive. What about other issues that will affect the outcome such as the Release, future medicals, and health insurance? Are you legally required to pay back your health insurance company, Medicare, Medicaid, Tri-care or other third party? What are the tax consequences?
What is the best decision an auto injury victim can make?
It is best to contact us right at the beginning. Ask questions? Listen to the answers. The consultation is FREE. There is no obligation. Get the knowledge you need and then decide. Call (910) 341-7570 now for more information or click here to email us your question or click here to receive a FREE copy of my book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book.