After an accident, the insurance company will likely say that you are not hurt. If you are hurt, the insurance company will likely argue that your injury was pre-existing. It is also likely that the person who caused your accident will say that you did not appear to be hurt at the accident scene. Many injuries do not show up in X-Rays and MRIs, therefore, juries must be able to trust you and take you at your word when you say that you were injured. One false statement to an insurance company can ruin your case. Always assume that the insurance company and its lawyers know everything about you. Consult with a lawyer before providing a recorded statement to an insurance company.
If you have questions in this regard, there is no charge to meet with us. We only charge if we recover money for you.
2) Failing to Seek Medical Care within 14 days
Your car insurance company is required to set aside up to $10,000 if you are ever involved in a car accident. These benefits are called No-Fault benefits (also known as PIP benefits). Your PIP benefits will pay out regardless of who caused the accident. In a case where the accident is not your fault, your insurance company is still required to pay your medical expenses, wage loss and out of pocket expenses. However, if you fail to seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident, you waive your right to your PIP benefits. Be sure to seek medical treatment soon after a car accident in order to qualify for your PIP benefits and to make sure you are okay.
3) Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media pages can ruin your car accident case. Your social media page contains a wealth of information about you. It is common practice for insurance companies to download or print social media pages after an accident. Once your page is downloaded, your social media posts can be used against you in court. For example, posting photos on Facebook of you riding a horse can lead to an insinuation or argument that your injuries came from horseback riding, not the accident. Insurance companies love photos of you playing sports, working out at the gym, even dancing at a party. Do not post pictures of alcohol, tobacco or drug use on your Facebook and other social media pages.
Additionally, do not post anything about your car accident, your injuries, or any conversations that you have had with your lawyer. If you have already posted something about the accident, do not delete it. Do not delete anything on your Facebook page after an accident. Your Facebook page is evidence, and removing or destroying the evidence could subject you to legal penalties.
Change your privacy settings immediately after an accident so that only your friends can view your page and posts. Here is a link that explains how to do this: Secure Your Facebook Page.
4) Signing Your Rights Away
After your accident, you will be mailed several documents to fill out and return to the insurance company. Read each of these documents carefully before signing them. Be absolutely sure that you have not signed a settlement release. A settlement release releases the at-fault driver from all liability. In other words, once you sign a release, you lose your right to present a claim. Sometimes insurance companies will send you a settlement check with language printed on the check that releases the at-fault driver. If you have a question about a document that was mailed to you, give us a call for a free consultation.
5) Do Not Talk About Your Case
Any statement made by you could potentially be used against you in court. A conversation with your friends, family member, hair dresser, neighbor, etc. could rear its ugly head in your legal case. Shortly after your accident, insurance companies will call you to take recorded statements. Your recorded statement will likely be used against you in court. It is important to consult with a lawyer before providing a statement to an insurance company. Limit your conversations about your car accident to just your attorney and doctors.
Photographic evidence is often critically important to your case. Photographs of the skid marks, roadway damage, damage to the vehicles, location of the vehicles after the crash, and photographs of injuries are very important. Do not assume that the police will take photographs or that they will correctly document the accident. If there is a dispute about how the crash occurred, get any available red light camera or video footage showing the accident. Adjoining property owners may have video which document important information regarding how the crash occurred. Look for cameras pointing toward where the crash occurred.
7) Talking To the Other Driver
Never admit responsibility for the crash. It is natural to say that you are sorry about an accident, but once you say you are sorry, the other driver may think that you are admitting to have caused the accident. This could result in them telling their insurance company that you said it was your fault. What you say to the police about the accident is privileged, but what you say to anyone else can be used against you.
8) Missed Doctor Appointments
If you miss a doctor appointment, the insurance company is going to claim that you weren’t/aren’t really hurt. More importantly, if the doctor advises you to come back, it is for further care and treatment to get well and progress efficiently.
9) Destroying Evidence
Evidence should never be destroyed or altered. The destruction or alteration of evidence undermines the integrity of the judicial process and the judge could dismiss a claim or defense, strike a party’s pleadings, or enter a default against a party who has destroyed or altered evidence. The destruction of evidence is such a great offense that attorneys or parties may face additional sanctions including a fine or disbarment.
10) The “My Case Is Too Small” Mindset
Right after an incident it is very hard to tell the true value of the case. That is why it is so important that all of the evidence is gathered and preserved. All too often, an accident that didn’t seem to be a big problem at first, turns into a huge problem over time. That is also why it is so important that all problems are reported to the doctor so that the doctor can determine what is or isn’t related to the incident.
11) Independent Medical Examinations (IME)
There is no such thing as an independent medical examiner. Insurance companies commonly suggest that you should be examined by an “independent medical examiner” to determine the extent or truth of injuries. Insurance companies have turned their hand-picked doctors into multi-millionaires because they can count on that doctor to testify that the injured person is: 1) not injured; 2) suffering from a pre-existing condition; 3) was slightly injured, but is now all better; 4) was injured after the incident in question and the current condition is related to that later injury; 5) exaggerating, malingering or faking. In other words: testifying that the injured person is a liar, fraud, or a cheat. Under no circumstances will an insurance medical examiner ever acknowledge the full extent of an injury.
12) Doing It Alone
The insurance companies have a team of people including investigators, medical examiners, adjusters and attorneys who are working hard to defeat claims and save the insurance company money. In fact, these people are paid and given bonuses and promotions based on how much money they save the insurance company. That team will bring decades of experience to the fight to deny you justice. They know that someone who is not represented will eventually accept pennies on the dollar to resolve their case. Insurance companies will do everything they can to make you either accept much less than you are owed or make you abandon your case entirely.