When you suffer injuries in a car accident – whether due to someone else’s negligence, a vehicle defect, or some other cause beyond your control – you may be able to seek financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other losses. However, collecting the compensation you deserve isn’t easy, and if you make mistakes, you could harm your chances of securing a full financial recovery. This article is the first in a two-part series in which we’ll discuss 10 common mistakes that can wreck your car accident claim. In this Part 1, we will cover:
- Putting off seeking medical care
- Not following your doctor’s advice
- Failing to disclose past claims and injuries
- Failing to collect evidence at the scene of the accident
- Failing to keep notes on how your injuries impact your life
1. Putting Off Seeking Medical Care
For your health and to protect your claim for compensation after an accident, it is critical that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. This rule applies even if you don’t feel injured. Car accident victims often suffer brain, spine and other internal injuries that require immediate attention even though the victims aren’t showing any symptoms of a serious injury. If you don’t seek medical care, your injuries may get worse and the insurance companies may try to argue that your injuries are unrelated to the collision.
2. Not Following Your Doctor’s Advice
Once you see a doctor, you need to follow his or her advice. Too often, accident victims return to work too soon, set their crutches aside and engage in strenuous activities before their bodies are fully recovered. The insurance companies and defense lawyers may have investigators watching you, and if you are being active when you should be resting, this could be used against you in court.
3. Failing to Disclose Past Claims and Injuries
Another common mistake involves failing to disclose past injuries and claims. When you see your doctor or speak with a lawyer about your injuries, it is important to be transparent about your medical and legal history. If the defense lawyers can make it look like you are trying hide a pre-existing condition or a previous personal injury claim, they may be able to use this to call your current claim into question.
4. Failing to Collect Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
As long as you are physically able to do so, you should try to collect as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident. This includes obtaining the other driver’s insurance information, taking down witnesses’ contact information, getting a copy of the police report, and taking lots, lots of photos. You should take photos of all vehicles involved, the road, the surrounding area, your injuries and any damage to your personal property.
While it is possible to pursue a claim without collecting this information (your attorney will likely hire an investigator to collect as much evidence as possible), collecting photos and other evidence at the scene can be extremely helpful for building the strongest possible claim.
5. Failing to Keep Notes on How Your Injuries Impact Your Life
While your medical bills and lost wages will likely make up a large portion of your claim, you may also be entitled to significant compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment and all of the other ways that your injuries impact your daily life. If your case goes to trial, you may have to testify about the effects of your injuries a year or more down the road.
To help refresh your memory when the time comes, get in the habit of keeping a journal or taking notes on a calendar on a daily basis. Specific examples (e.g., “On November 12, I missed my son’s soccer game because my back hurt so much.”) can be far more compelling to a judge or jury than broad statements (e.g., “I just remember being really uncomfortable after the accident.”).
Stay Tuned for Part 2…
Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll cover five additional common mistakes:
- Talking to the insurance companies
- Settling too early
- Discussing your case on social media
- Not protecting yourself financially
- Not hiring an attorney right away
Have You Been Injured in an Accident? Contact Morrow & Sheppard LLP for a Free Consultation
If you have been injured in a car accident, we invite you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with a Houston car accident lawyer about your case, call (800) 489-2216 or contact us online today.