Personal injury claims are one of the most common legal proceedings in the world. Every day, people are getting injured in motor vehicle accidents, negligence, or just random events. However, when someone else could be held liable for those injuries, it often becomes a legal matter.
Unfortunately, the promise of financial remuneration for these injuries can result in errors for victims who want to rush the process. Making even one mistake can sabotage a case and complicate the process. Understanding these errors is critical to ensure that your case isn’t jeopardized or slowed down unnecessarily.
Below, we’ve covered the ten most important things not to do when pursuing a personal injury claim.
#1: Do Not Lie to Your Attorney
This first mistake is perhaps one of the most common mistakes made by victims of a personal injury seeking a claim. Because retaining a personal injury attorney is a business transaction, most people feel like they need to be on guard around them rather than being honest and open.
In some cases, people lie about essential details that directly impact the resolution of your accident or even whether or not you have a good case at all.
Lying to your attorney is the biggest mistake you can make since it jeopardizes your personal injury lawsuit and can land you in hot water with the judicial system. It may even cost you a settlement of any kind in a personal injury case.
- There are several details you need to be extra honest about when it comes to a personal injury case.
- Do not lie about how you sustained the injury, who was involved, or the circumstances surrounding the event.
- You also need to be completely honest about any worker’s compensation claims being filed if the injury occurred while you were on duty at your place of employment. This last part is significant since in most states you cannot file a personal injury claim against your employer and simultaneously file for worker’s compensation. Only the latter is legal when the injury occurs due to your job.
When you retain legal representation, take the legal advice that your experienced personal injury attorney gives you and answer their questions honestly and truthfully.
#2: Do Not Put Off Medical Treatment
Another mistake many people make when preparing to pursue a personal injury claim is delaying the initial medical treatment they might need after the injury is sustained. For example, you will most likely have adrenaline running through you after a car accident as your body works to keep you moving following the collision.
When this type of accident happens, you most likely will not register the pain from any types of injuries you might have sustained from the accident. It’s called the shock response, and it’s prevalent in these cases.
However, just because you are not feeling the pain at that moment does not mean you are not hurt. In some cases, you might not even start feeling the symptoms of your injuries for a few days after the accident.
Not only does this open you up to more severe consequences medically, but delaying seeking treatment for too long can present issues for the validity of your case.
If you wait too long to seek treatment, the credibility of the treatment stemming from injuries sustained in the accident comes into question. So, seek immediate medical attention following an accident to be evaluated.
#3: Do Not Ignore What the Physicians Say
Keeping in line with seeking out medical treatment as soon as possible following an accident, you also need to heed the advice the professionals give you.
Your physicians and the emergency room staff you might have seen will inform you what kind of treatment you need to pursue.
Do not put off this treatment and instead seek it out immediately. The most important reason for this is that it will allow you to avoid further complications and long-term effects from your injury.
Regarding your case, your treatments will affect your settlement offer. Seeking the treatment you need will allow you to gather a comprehensive list of medical costs, which will dictate the settlement amount you will get in a successful claim.
The sooner you provide this information to your personal injury lawyer, the sooner your attorney can process a demand letter and settlement negotiation.
#4: Do Not Overtreat Injuries
When it comes to light that the medical expenses incurred directly affect the settlement you are liable to receive, some people think this means they should maximize treatment in general.
However, overtreating can significantly hurt your chances of a favorable resolution.
Typically, the proceedings involve your law firm negotiating with the defendant’s attorney or claims adjuster to determine the most reasonable settlement.
However, if the insurance company adjuster of the defendant does not agree to a fair settlement, it will go to court, and a jury will decide the amount of money you are awarded.
Your treatments will be scrutinized and cross-referenced to ensure you are only seeking the medical treatment you need and only therapy in relation to the accident.
Suppose it comes to light that you have sought excessive treatment in an attempt to maximize your settlement or are attempting to bury unrelated medical costs into the claim. In that case, you may receive a smaller compensation than the fair compensation you may have received with honesty.
#5: Do Not Fail to Document the Evidence
Following an accident, people tend to forget that gathering evidence related to the incident is not necessarily left to others. You can gather evidence yourself to help expedite the process of your legal proceedings and bolster the odds of a successful claim.
There are several ways to document evidence supporting your side of the events—everything from photographs to video recordings and witness statements.
You can also expedite the acquisition of medical records and medical bills for your attorney by requesting copies following your appointments to hand to your attorney personally rather than having them go through the provider’s channels.
All of this evidence-gathering not only speeds up the proceedings but lowers the stress on your attorney and even minimizes the costs your attorney needs to pay for medical records requests.
In addition to your medical costs, you should also document your property damage. This is especially true in car crash cases; you may be entitled to compensation to fix or total out your vehicle and any property damaged in the accident.
If an insurance adjuster is attempting to evaluate your vehicle, you want to speak with your attorney first so they can discuss a potential settlement with them directly.
If you cannot document the evidence yourself after a severe accident, law enforcement likely filed a police report with details about the accident. Your personal injury attorney can acquire this information on your behalf.
#6: Do Not Forget to Have Your Attorney Review All Documents
Though not entirely typical, some insurance companies will attempt to absolve themselves of paying you back by having you sign documentation that waves their liability. Nowadays, too few people read the documents they sign. As a result, many are unaware of what they agree to with these documents.
If someone is trying to get you to sign something following an injury, present the document to your personal injury lawyer first. They will review it and ensure there are no clauses that would invalidate a personal injury claim.
Signing documents like this can cost victims the remuneration they deserve and is a cruel tactic used by those unwilling to pay. Never blindly sign anything if you want to avoid becoming a victim of both a significant injury and underhanded contracts.
#7: Do Not Put Off Legal Action
Another mistake made by some injury victims is waiting to seek damages on the incident. While some people believe they have all the time in the world to seek compensation from the party responsible for their injury, they are wrong.
The fact is personal injury cases possess a statute of limitations that varies depending on the state in which you live. If a personal injury claim is not filed before the statute of limitations time limit expires you will no longer be allowed to pursue it at all.
Getting involved in a legal conflict of this nature can give certain people pause, but you are much better off pursuing a claim as soon as you can. This decision will allow you to avoid worrying about the statute expiring before you can take action.
#8: Do Not Forget Your Percentage of Liability
While some people are reticent to pursue legal recourse following an accident, others are eager. Some are so eager that they feel as though they will win no matter what, even if the accident was genuinely not 100% the at-fault party.
Before you pursue a case for a personal injury, you need to consider the details of the accident and the conditions of the environment.
There are a few questions you should ask yourself after the events that led up to your injury. For example:
- Were you distracted in any way before the accident occurred?
- Were there any signs or clues that would have alerted you that you risked injury by continuing along the path you were on?
- Were you somewhere you should not have been at the time of the accident?
- Were you able to stop, slow down, or swerve your vehicle to avoid the accident?
The answer to these questions can severely impact the validity of your case. If you can answer any of these questions with “yes,” you might have more fault for the accident than the party you want to file against.
#9: Do Not Spend Money You Do Not Have
Some people get ahead of themselves when a settlement is on the table and assume they can ramp up their spending with the promise of a payout down the line following their claim.
However, this could leave you in a predicament. For one thing, there is no guarantee that your settlement will ever come, even if you can prove fault. If you are recklessly spending your funds before your claim settles, then you will be in a worse financial situation than when you started.
Another reason this is a mistake is that there is no guaranteed settlement amount. You might have entered into claim proceedings with the idea that you would walk away with a 6-digit settlement due to stories you might have heard.
However, if the accident’s severity is not congruent with the maximum settlement amount, you will not receive the maximum.
Your settlement is generally dictated by the costs of your medical care and any permanent physical pain, physical limitations, damages, and the attorney contingency fee. Always wait to begin paying for medical services until after a settlement or trial award has been reached.
#10: Do Not Forget to Ask Legal Questions
When filing a personal injury claim, it can be tempting to leave all the particulars with your attorney and not ask any questions about what happens. However, this is a mistake since not asking questions can leave you at a disadvantage in understanding your case.
Learning more about how these cases proceed from your attorney can go a long way in helping you plan around the proceedings and prepare for any responsibilities you might have to see to the resolution of the case.
Knowledge is power, and knowing how personal injury claims are processed will give you the resources you need to prepare for the outcome as required. So, talk to your attorney, and do not be afraid to speak up and ask questions about things you don’t understand.
Personal injury claims are not necessarily a complicated legal process but can become complex by making poor decisions to steer the result. Making any of these mistakes can cost you your settlement in the long run by simply sabotaging the way your attorney can go about processing your case.
The basic rule of thumb is being honest and trusting your experienced attorney while still keeping abreast of how the proceedings will work. Doing that should ensure that your claim ends in a realistic amount of time with a reasonable settlement amount. So you can use the money to help you return to the quality of life you enjoyed before the accident.
Even when you avoid these mistakes, a personal injury claim does not pause the cost of living you need to obtain while the case proceeds. On the contrary, standard costs for housing, groceries, and other essentials tend to pile up on top of the medical expenses you incur.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep afloat amidst this financial sea. Legal funding allows you to exchange a portion of your settlement for advance funds that can be used to pay for your essential costs like rent while you wait for your claim to resolve.
In legal funding states, the best part is that you are only expected to pay the lawsuit funding company back if you recover money on your case and are at no risk should you lose.
We also have a helpful FAQ available for pre-settlement lawsuit funding. Express Legal Funding specializes in legal funding, so contact us for a free consultation if you need funding to keep going prior to your settlement.
About the Author
Aaron R. Winston is the Strategy Director of Express Legal Funding. As "The Legal Funding Expert," Aaron has more than ten years of experience in the consumer finance industry. Most of which was as a consultant to a top financial advisory firm, managing 400+ million USD in client wealth.
As Strategy Director of Express Legal Funding, he has devoted thousands of hours to advocating for the consumer. Aaron's "it factor" is that he is a tireless and inventive thought leader who has made great strides by conveying his legal knowledge and diverse expertise to the public. More clients and lawyers understand the facts about pre-settlement funding because of Aaron's legal and financial service SEO mastery.
Aaron has a scholarly approach to business. In early 2022, Aaron Winston gained the Search Engine Optimization and the Google Ads LinkedIn skills assessment badges. He placed in the top 5% of those who took the SEO skills test assessment.
Aaron's work has been granted copyright protection by the United States Copyright Office. He has gained positive notoriety via interviews and case studies, which are a byproduct of his successes. Aaron R. Winston was featured in a smith.ai interview (2021) and company growth case study (2022).