Injured in an accident? Do you know what to do next?
Here’s how not to ruin your case so you’re taken care of both medically and financially
SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION IF YOU ARE INJURED
As obvious as this may sound, many clients don’t seek immediate necessary medical treatment for a number of reasons. Some believe they can live with the pain, some don’t have medical insurance, while others may not want to incur any medical expense. It is extremely important to seek prompt medical attention, not only for your health and well-being, but also to document your injuries as soon as possible.
If you delay seeking medical treatment, it may adversely affect your case. The insurance company may bring up this delay in an attempt to diminish your pain or may claim some other cause, other than the accident caused or contributed to your injuries. Don’t let the insurance company diminish your claim or try to shift the causation. Seek immediate medical attention.
IF YOU SEE A DOCTOR, TELL THE DOCTOR ABOUT ALL OF YOUR INJURIES
It is crucial to your case to have all your injuries documented. Sometimes, you may be focused on one overwhelming injury and may forget to mention other injuries to your doctor. Remember, doctors see a lot of patients every day and are usually very busy and may not have time to document all of your injuries. Pay close attention to ensure your doctor understands and documents all of your injuries.
Sometimes, doctors forget to document an injury and that injury may get worse over time. During your case, the insurance company lawyer may try to argue that you didn’t mention this injury to your doctor during your visit. The inference is that if you didn’t mention the injury, you didn’t have the injury.
HIRE AN EXPERIENCED PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT YOU
Insurance company adjusters are trained to evaluate claims. They may offer a quick settlement in exchange for a release, which results in your case closing. They usually offer you far less than what your case is worth. This is done quickly so you don’t get a chance to hire an attorney so that they will ultimately pay less money for your injuries and less medical bills. An experienced personal injury attorney is in a better position to evaluate, handle and negotiate your case on your behalf.
DON’T SPEAK WITH THE OTHER SIDE’S INSURANCE COMPANY ABOUT YOUR INJURIES
It may be acceptable to speak to the insurance company about fixing your vehicle, but not about your bodily injuries. Remember, you are under no legal obligation to do so. If the insurance adjuster calls you, simply tell the adjuster you are still investigating and you will call him/her back when you are ready. Then call a personal injury attorney in San Diego immediately for assistance. If you tell the insurance company that you are represented by an attorney, they can no longer speak to you about your case.
DO NOT GIVE ANY RECORDED STATEMENT TO THE OTHER SIDE’S INSURANCE COMPANY
Be cautious if a friendly insurance adjuster calls you after an accident to talk about your injuries. The real reason the adjuster is calling is to weaken your case by having you make certain statements that pin you down which may harm your case.
Here’s an example. Suppose Jane is involved in rear end auto accident on January 1. The next day, on January 2, a friendly insurance adjuster calls her to take her recorded statement about her injuries she sustained in the accident. During the recorded statement, the adjuster asks Jane to state all of her injuries. Jane says “I’ve got neck and back pain”. The adjuster then asks Jane to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, the pain level in her back. Jane says “it’s a 3 out of 10″. The adjuster then asks, “Have you told me about all of your injuries?” Jane says “yes”. Then, two weeks later, Jane notices she’s got shooting pain (8 out of 10) running from her lower back down to her right leg. If the case goes to court, here’s what the insurance defense attorney will likely argue to the jury. “Ladies and gentlemen, we asked Jane in a recorded statement the very next day if she had any injuries. She told us that she had neck and back pain and the level of her back pain was a 3 out of 10. When we asked her if she had any other injuries, she said no. She never told us she had any pain running down her right leg and now she claims it’s an 8 out of 10.” The defense attorney will make Jane out to be an exaggerating liar who sees this as an opportunity to make money. All this could have been avoided if Jane simply didn’t give a recorded statement.
DO NOT SIGN ANY MEDICAL AUTHORIZATIONS PROVIDED BY THE OTHER SIDE’S INSURANCE COMPANY
The insurance companies want you to sign a HIPPA medical authorization which would allow them to get copies of your confidential medical records so that they can go on a fishing expedition through all of your past medical records to try to find injuries that are similar to the injuries you are claiming were caused by the accident. You are not legally required to give them any signed authorization, so don’t do it.
Here’s what the insurance company is trying to do. Suppose Jane saw her doctor two years ago because she slept wrong and had some back pain. The doctor’s report from two years ago states “Patient complains of lower back pain”, but doesn’t mention anything about the cause which was that Jane just slept on it wrong. Two years later, Jane is rear ended and complains of lower back pain. The insurance company will argue that they didn’t cause Jane’s lower back pain, that it was a preexisting injury that is evidence by a doctors report from as far back as two years ago.
NEVER ADMIT YOU ARE AT FAULT
Even if you think you may be at fault, subsequent investigation could determine that you may not be at fault or that you may be only partially at fault. An accident reconstruction expert could recreate the accident using various factors such as speed, distances, vehicle weight, etc., which may show you were not at fault or that you are partially at fault. You are under no obligation to admit to any fault during a car accident scene.
We’re Here to Help
Our San Diego personal injury lawyers have, throughout the years, been focused on the handling of a variety of injury cases ranging in severity from major multiple fatality automobile accidents to minor impact collisions. You may call our office at (619) 444-2244 for a free no-obligation consultation regarding your personal injury case. We’ll let you know if we think you have a case. There is no fee until we win your case.