Filing a Personal Injury Claim: 6 Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
If you plan to file a successful claim, it would make sense to familiarize yourself with the best way to do so. Similarly, it’s just as beneficial to understand what not to do when filing a personal injury claim.
Here are the most common case errors to avoid and the most effective steps to take to recover compensation.
1. Not Documenting Evidence
The more information that is provided to prove fault and demonstrate total losses, the greater the success rate of a personal injury claim will be. Therefore, a personal injury case will suffer if evidence is not obtained and the accident scene is not documented.
The accident must be reported, so the responding California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer can create a police report. This accident report summarizes the events that took place according to the parties involved. It also logs crash-related data, such as where the accident occurred (street names, intersections, city, etc.), if the involved parties were under the influence, the speed the vehicles were traveling, and more. In some cases, failing to report the accident is illegal.
Visual evidence is another vital factor. Without images of sustained injuries and vehicle damage, it becomes difficult to visualize the severity of the accident’s aftermath. Additionally, witness testimonies work as non-biased third-party accounts that confirm fault and damages. Failing to photograph the scene and collect witness information will prove to be a detriment in recovering a fair settlement.
2. Discussing the Case with the Other Party’s Car Insurance
A common and understandable misstep made by victims early in the personal injury claims process is speaking to the other party’s insurance company. When filing a personal injury claim, the accident must be reported to the victim’s personal insurance. However, the victim is not legally obligated to provide a statement to the other driver’s insurance company.
Insurance representatives are trained to persuade victims into accepting premature offers, preventing a fair settlement amount from being obtained. In other instances, insurance companies mislead victims into addressing questions that make them appear solely at fault for accidents.
Therefore, do not talk to insurers, and do not sign anything. Legal documents are wordy and complicated. Sometimes, victims mistakenly sign medical releases, surrendering their health records, or they relinquish their rights to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is why it’s best to strictly communicate with a personal injury lawyer, who will handle all case details.
3. Settling Personal Injury Cases Early
It is understandable wanting to settle quickly and resolve the incident as soon as possible. Although it may take time to reach an ideal agreement in the personal injury claim process, it is strongly recommended to avoid settling early.
On average, it will take a personal injury case approximately one year to settle or reach a verdict. Calculating all of the sustained and anticipated damages, such as current medical treatment, future medical costs, lost wages from missing work, permanent disability, and other factors all affect a case’s turnaround time. These are also losses that insurance companies make an effort to exclude from their settlement offers.
When it comes to settlement negotiations, consult with experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyers for an injury-related insurance claim. Their knowledge and expertise will yield the best results and protect the injured party from being taken advantage of by the insurance companies.
4. Missing the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Insurance coverage is available for a limited amount of time. The statute of limitations in California only provides individuals a two-year window to take legal action. Therefore, in order to file a personal injury lawsuit, a victim must do so within two years from the date of the accident.
There are some exceptions. For instance, if injuries are not immediately apparent, the amount of time to file is extended, beginning on the date of discovery. Or, if a government vehicle or employee is involved, the time to file reduces to just six months.
Waiting too long to file a personal injury lawsuit with the insurance company also has other risks. Evidence can be lost over time, and a lack of evidence significantly impacts the odds of winning personal injury lawsuits.
5. Sharing Details About Your Personal Injury Lawsuit Online
Because the personal injury claim process may run for a long period of time, it is not abnormal for injured victims to update their families and friends about their cases through social media. However, in order to recover compensation and not jeopardize a lawsuit, do not discuss case details on any social media platforms.
Engaging with anyone about delicate case details puts a personal injury lawsuit at risk, as anything shared can be used against victims. For example, if a status update is posted following a car accident to reduce worry amongst loved ones and the plaintiff states that he or she “feels fine,” the legal defense from the other party can use that post as evidence, claiming that the plaintiff was not, in fact, seriously injured in the crash.
As previously stated, when it comes to accident details, it is best to only communicate with personal injury lawyers.
6. Not Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
When a victim does file a personal injury claim, the legal process becomes very trying, putting a strain on overall well-being. In many personal injury cases, victims are not just undergoing physical injury, they are also dealing with emotional pain and suffering.
An experienced personal injury attorney removes the burden of investigating the crash, collecting evidence, filing complicated paperwork, and withstanding demanding negotiations. Additionally, a personal injury attorney advocates in clients’ best interest, helping them get the fair compensation they deserve.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim Successfully
Seek Medical Treatment
Anyone involved in an accident must receive medical treatment right away, regardless if they think an injury was or was not sustained. Health and well-being must be a top priority. Additionally, medical records work as vital evidence in a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact an Attorney
It is essential to work with an experienced personal injury attorney in order to navigate the complex personal injury lawsuit process. Also, most personal injury lawsuits result in a higher court award when working with an experienced attorney.
Keep track of all medical bills, doctor’s appointments, and medications related to the injury. Also, take photos of any visible injuries such as bruises, cuts, or scars. Medical documentation demonstrates the severity of sustained injuries.
Notify the At-Fault Party
Notify the other party that a claim seeking damages will be pursued. This can be done in the form of a demand letter. This is part of the insurance claims process and can be followed up with negotiations.
File a Claim with the Insurance Company
File a claim with the liable party’s insurance and provide all relevant documentation. This includes medical records and out-of-pocket expenses, which indicate accumulated losses that must be compensated.
An attorney will help negotiate a maximum settlement to ensure that a client is fairly compensated for both economic damages and non-economic damages. The at-fault party is legally responsible for the full cost of damages. This includes lost wages, personal property damage, current medical bills, and future medical expenses. If a settlement cannot be reached, litigation is recommended in order to receive full and fair compensation.
Angeleno Accident Lawyers: Assistance Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Some common mistakes include waiting too long to file a personal injury claim, failing to document injuries, giving a recorded statement to the insurance company, and not seeking medical treatment right away.
Filing a personal injury claim can be a complex process, but by avoiding these mistakes and working with an experienced attorney, you can improve your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
You are not alone. Angelino Accident Lawyers can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.