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Eight Mistakes That Can Ruin a Personal Injury Case

Life is a constant learning process. Whether learning to drive a car, making a first home purchase, or becoming a new parent, doing anything for the first time offers its own set of challenges.

When facing something new and complicated, people sometimes feel confident in educating themselves and tackling the issue alone. However, some things in life require the help of a professional. When your financial and physical well-being are on the line, you want an expert on your side.

Make no mistake – charging blindly forward in a personal injury case without the necessary knowledge, training, or game plan can result in disastrous mistakes. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the pitfalls that you should avoid to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for the harm you’ve suffered.

1. Signing a document or speaking with an insurance adjuster without representation

How you deal with an insurance adjuster after an accident can hugely impact your ultimate recovery.

Insurance companies handle personal injury claims every hour of every day, and their one and only goal is to keep money in their own pocket. They always have well-trained adjusters and attorneys at their disposal who will attempt to use their experience to resolve the claim while paying as little as possible.

And they often act quickly. Insurance adjusters may call shortly after an accident, requesting permission to record an interview. Anything you say in these interviews can later harm your case, both in terms of liability and damages.

Unfortunately, right after an accident, people often make harmful statements that aren’t even accurate. Without some time to properly reflect and assess, it’s easy to underestimate your own injuries or mischaracterize the accident. Moreover, it’s common to misunderstand a question and phrase a response with the wrong words–the exact kind of slip-up the insurance adjuster is hoping you’ll make.

Therefore, it’s best to have a lawyer help you through this process. And definitely don’t sign anything concerning your case until your attorney looks it over. You could literally be signing away your case.

2. Admitting fault to others

Believe it or not, people sometimes believe they caused an accident, even though the evidence proves they didn’t. That’s because a driver sometimes doesn’t see or comprehend everything that happens. For example, one driver may feel they pulled out in front of someone without realizing the other driver had run a red light while speeding.

And the other driver won’t always tell the truth. That’s why careful investigation of an accident is sometimes required to determine what really happened.

Remember: Even saying “I’m sorry” to someone after an accident might be construed as an admission of fault. Be careful what you say before you’ve consulted with an attorney, and never admit liability for an accident until your attorney has time to help you review all the evidence.

3. Failure to seek appropriate medical care

Oregonians are tough and sometimes seek to prove it by downplaying the severity of their injuries. But it’s essential that you get checked out ASAP after an accident to make sure any injuries are identified.

Sometimes, you won’t even know you’re injured until you get checked out. Concussions, internal bleeding, organ damage, and other latent injuries can remain hidden for hours or days unless you’re properly diagnosed.

You only get one shot at recovering for injuries that a negligent person causes, and if you don’t get those injuries documented, you might not be able to recover at all.

It’s also important to follow medical advice and follow up on treatment as instructed. If you ignore medical advice, the insurance defense lawyer can later argue that you weren’t really hurt and, therefore, should have a reduced recovery.

4. Failure to gather evidence

Proper evidence is key to proving your personal injury claim. Photos of vehicle damage and injuries, testimony from witnesses, records about the other driver’s history and vehicle upkeep, medical records, traffic camera footage, and even communications with your employer about your injuries can be crucial in securing you proper compensation.

Unfortunately, the longer you wait to gather evidence, the harder it can become to prove a case. Skid marks fade, witnesses can forget, and cars damaged in accidents can get junked or sold. Bad actors may even start discarding evidence that they know would be harmful to their case. 

Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you gather evidence is a great first step. The sooner you get a lawyer on board, the stronger your case will be.

5. Making legal mistakes

The law has many requirements that you must navigate if you try to represent yourself. Failing to understand or adhere to these rules can be fatal to your case. 

For example, if you let the statute of limitations run (the time limit for filing a claim), the judge may throw out your case. Not understanding procedural rules or rules of evidence can prevent you from introducing important proof in your case. Not understanding how insurance coverage works can limit the amount you recover or even whether you recover any money at all.

These are just a few common legal mistakes you could make by forgoing proper legal counsel.

6. Using social media

With the prevalence of social media in today’s society, it’s no surprise that these posts find their way into the courtroom. Pictures, blogs, and other information you post can be taken out of context and provide opposing parties with ammunition to use against you. A post about your recovery, for example, or showing you playing sports after your accident, might be used to argue that you are not as injured as you claim. 

Even if you set your account to private, you can be sure that a diligent defense lawyer will find posts harmful to your claims and get them introduced as evidence.

It’s wise to limit social media usage when you have a court case, and to avoid discussing your case in general with anyone but your lawyer.

7. Trying to handle the case on your own

The stakes of a personal injury case are immensely high. You may be dealing with mounting medical bills, time away from work, and lifestyle changes, all while trying to recover from your injuries. How much compensation you get from insurance–whether you recover anything at all–depends on building the strongest case and avoiding legal pitfalls. 

Plus, legal cases are complex. You need a trained, educated personal injury team on your side.

An experienced personal injury lawyer understands the law, understands how to investigate a complicated case, and knows how to deal with insurance companies. Your lawyer will make sure you get sound advice and avoid costly mistakes throughout the process to keep your case strong. If your case winds up at trial, your lawyer knows evidence law, court procedure, and how to convince a judge or jury that you’re in the right. 

Moreover, when you hire a lawyer, the insurance company knows you mean business. They know they can’t use cheap tricks to get you to settle for less than you deserve. The insurance companies have lawyers on their side, fighting for their interests; why shouldn’t you?

8. Waiting too long to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer

We’ve talked about many of the mistakes you can make after an accident that can ruin your case. The sooner you get a lawyer on your team, the better. Your lawyer will make sure you avoid costly errors like waiting too long to file your case, saying the wrong thing to insurance or opposing counsel, posting harmful information on social media, failing to gather and preserve evidence, or failing to make sure the other side preserves and produces evidence helpful to your case. 

Having a lawyer also encourages the insurance company to act quickly. If they see that you don’t have anyone representing you, they may try to delay and ignore you until you either accept a reduced settlement just to get cash in hand or drop the case entirely. 

When you have a seasoned personal injury lawyer on your side, insurers know they can’t get away with underhanded tactics. You’ll get the money you deserve, and you’ll get it faster.

Get a proper injury lawyer on your side ASAP to give yourself the best chance of a comprehensive recovery.

Call Nelson MacNeil Rayfield With Any Questions About a Personal Injury Matter

If you’ve suffered personal injury and have questions, we’re here to answer them. The attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield have experience with car accidents, semi-truck accidents, slip and fall cases, medical malpractice, asbestos and mesothelioma litigation, product liability, wrongful death, nursing home negligence, and many other types of personal injury. 

We have long believed that the only way to make everyone safer in Oregon is to hold people accountable for their wrongful behavior. Give us a call today at 1-877-928-9147 for a free consultation, or fill out our contact form.