By Arnold Hernandez
These are six mistakes commonly made by car accident victims:
Mistake 1. After an accident most people call the local police or highway patrol. Invariably you will be asked if you are injured. If it is not a severe injury you will likely say that you are not injured. If you say you are not injured, then there is a good chance no one will come to the accident scene.
When the highway patrol or police officer does come to the accident scene they will ask if you are injured. Once again if it is not a severe injury and the law enforcement officer gets to the accident scene quickly, you will more likely than not say no. The reason is that most car accident injuries are whiplash injuries, or soft tissue injuries which generally do not appear until sever hours after the fact.
The problem with this type of response is that you don’t know. The best approach is to say that you do not know, but that you will go see your doctor. If you say no, the law enforcement officer will record your answer and insurance adjusters will use this against you, and if the case goes to trial the insurance company’s attorney will use it against you as well.
The fact is that you don’t know, because no medical professional has examined you and in the vast majority of soft tissue injury cases you will not know if you are injured until several hours later after the fact. Once you go home and relax you will start feeling pain and tightening of your neck and the following day you may extreme difficulty getting up because of the soreness and pain throughout your body. So, if you are involved in an accident and you are asked if you are injured the answer is you don’t know, but you will go see a doctor to get checked out. Give yourself at least 24 hours to find out.
Mistake No. 2. Failure to mitigate your damages. What this means is that if you suffer an accident, you are not suppose to wait around and do nothing. If you suffer an accident and know you are injured or have reason to believe you are injured, go see a medical doctor right away. If you like chiropractors better than medical doctors, go see the medical doctor first, then see a chiropractor. The reason is that insurance companies use computer software to evaluate claims and failure to act on your injury and take precautions to minimize your pain will reduce the value of the case according to the computer software.
Another problem with failure to act quickly is that if you take too long and the case goes to trial, a jury may believe the injuries were caused by something else. If you take three months to undergo medical treatment, who is to know what caused the injuries you complained off. If you take three days to seek medical treatment, it is more likely than not reasonable. The same software also allocates great value if you first see a medical doctor instead of a chiropractor.
Failure to mitigate damages pertains to all your damages, which also includes damage to your property, and lost earnings. If your car is damaged and inoperable you need to move to a safe location, you cannot leave it abandoned where it may be towed and impounded. If you cannot return to your full duties at work or on a full time basis, you must look to returning as soon as possible or on a limited basis. You must also have a doctor’s order stating you need to refrain from your work activities, and your doctor must specify the number of days you are required to take off.
Mistake No. 3. Trusting the insurance adjuster. Many insurance adjusters mislead accident victims into believing they are going to help. I have had clients come to me three months after the fact, stating they were waiting for the insurance company of the tortfeasor to send them to a doctor. It is not going to happen. Insurance adjusters have a job, their job is to fulfill their duties according the terms of on the insurance policy at absolute minimum cost. Insurance companies are in the business of making money. They are not charities, or good guys, or neighbors helping neighbors, they are concerned with one thing and one thing only -profits. If you suffered an injury call an attorney right away. Not every case merits representation, but speaking with an attorney is often the best thing you can do to help yourself.
Mistake No. 4. Not following your attorney’s advise or your doctor’s advise. Your attorney and your doctor have an interest in protecting you, that is their job. Remember, you pay them for their expertise, not every case is a million dollar case and not every ailment is related to the accident and not every ailment requires extensive treatment.
Mistake No. 5. Lying. Sometimes personal injury claimants think they can obtain a better result by lying. They exaggerate their injuries and their symptoms. What they donnot know is that personal injury attorneys and medical doctors know when the claimant is lying. Often an MRI is done to see if the alleged severe low back injury is real. The MRI is very expensive, but accurate which often results in a loss for the claimant, because the procedure was not necessary. Sometimes claimants claimed preexisting medical problems on the accident, but an examination of the medical history shows there is no new injury. More often than not lying backfires and it is discovered, which results in complete loss of credibility for the claimant.
Mistake No. 6. Permitting an insurance adjuster to take your declaration and record it. If an insurance adjuster calls you and asks to take your declaration, it is for the purpose of denying your claim. It is not for the purpose of helping you. They are hoping you make an error, sometimes they will call you within hours after the accident, because in a soft tissue injury they know you will not be hurting for several hours.
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