After you have suffered injuries in a car accident, you have the legal right to seek compensation for damages related to your injuries if another party caused the accident. Whether you receive compensation and the amount you could receive depends on several factors, some of which you have no control. However, accident victims can take several steps that strengthen their injury claim and increase the chances they receive the maximum compensation commensurate with their injuries.
Some actions can adversely impact your claim and prevent you from recovering damages or recovering the full amount you deserve. Here are five common mistakes people make after a car accident:
1. Failing to Seek Medical Treatment
Even after the most serious car accidents, some people are fortunate to remain conscious and walk away from the accident. They might feel sore, or they might not feel any pain at all. Lack of pain does not automatically mean someone did not suffer injuries. The trauma of a car accident often releases adrenaline throughout the body, which masks the feeling of pain in some. Additionally, some injuries do not immediately show symptoms; it can take hours or days before someone notices symptoms.
For example, someone who sustained a couple of broken ribs in a car accident might feel slightly sore in the torso. Without treatment, more pain will come later and the person risks causing more internal damage. Head traumas also sometimes have delayed symptoms. A minor headache after bumping your head during a car accident can indicate a serious traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Medical documentation of accident injuries is crucial to prevailing in an injury claim. They prove that you’ve experienced harm and that the harm resulted from the accident, making it difficult for the insurance company or a legal defense team to argue otherwise.
2. Giving a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company
If another driver caused the car accident that led to your injuries, it’s likely your first steps will include filing a claim under the driver’s bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance coverage. Insurance companies do not automatically pay out a claim against one of their policyholders. They take time to investigate the accident and injuries. Adjusters and other insurance representatives will go the extra mile to find a reason to deny your claim or pay out a lesser amount. As part of the investigation, insurance adjusters interview the claimant to get their statement about how the accident happened, their injuries, and other relevant information. Most adjusters ask to record the statement.
Tragically, many claimants agree to be recorded, so they can tell their side of the story after an accident. Yet, the insurance company now has the claimant on record, and they pick and choose which parts of the interview to use and twist words to use them against the claimant. A recorded statement often gives insurance companies what they need to deny or devalue a car accident injury claim.
3. Accepting the First Settlement Offer
Making an early settlement offer is another tactic that insurance companies use to avoid paying out a large claim to a car accident victim. After investigating, insurance carriers have a good idea of whether their policyholder caused an accident. They know if they drag the claim out too long or go to trial that it’s likely they will have to pay a large amount of damages to a claimant. In these cases, it’s likely the insurance company will make an early settlement offer. The first settlement offers, especially when they come soon after an accident, intend to entice accident victims to accept the settlement, but they do not fully compensate accident victims for their injuries.
These early, predatory settlement offers create problems for accident victims in two ways. First, knowing the true value of your claim requires a clear understanding of the extent of injuries and a patient’s long-term prognosis. It’s unlikely a claimant knows the complete amount of damages when the first settlement offer comes in. Second, and related, accepting a settlement offer means signing an agreement that prevents a claimant from making future claims or bringing a lawsuit for damages in the future. If an accident victim accepts an offer and later finds out they need another surgery, more treatment, or should receive compensation for a permanent injury, they have given up their right to seek additional compensation for damages.
4. Posting on Social Media
Creating social media posts is another common mistake people make after a car accident. Insurance carriers dig into every aspect of a person’s life when they investigate a claim. This includes attempting to gain access to social media accounts. The carrier will use posts and photos to downplay a claimant’s injuries or twist the information in any way that justifies devaluing or denying a claim. For example, if you post pictures of you attending a family function, such as a wedding, or going on a family vacation, the carrier might try to argue that your accident injuries are not as bad as you claim if you can travel. It’s best for accident victims to avoid making any posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. until they have resolved their accident injury claim with the insurance company.
5. Not Hiring an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
Some car accident victims go it alone with insurance companies because they think they cannot afford a lawyer, or they do not understand how a personal injury lawyer can help. Lawyers are trained negotiators who are used to dealing with questionable tactics sometimes employed by insurance companies. Hiring a lawyer often ensures that insurance companies play fair. In most cases, an experienced car accident attorney can secure a higher settlement for a claimant than he or she could secure without a lawyer. Additionally, accident attorneys take cases on a contingent fee basis, so clients do not need to pay attorney fees upfront or out-of-pocket.
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident in New Orleans or the surrounding area, contact the skilled legal team at Alvendia, Kelly & Demarest online or at 504-200-0000 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident and injuries.