Each week I receive dozens of calls from people who have been hurt in car wrecks who ask me the same question. And every time I speak with them, they have waited a certain period of time before calling me, and they have made the same mistakes over and over again. Let me share with you the top 3 mistakes people make trying to handle their personal injury case themselves.
Top 3 Mistakes People Make Handling Their Car Accident Case
1. They allow the adjuster too much access to their case. This includes allowing the liability adjuster access to all of your prior medical bills and giving them a recorded statement. You are required to give a recorded statement to your own insurance company, but not the insurance company insuring the car that hit you. These same people trust that the claims adjuster is going to help them document all of the harms and losses the injured person has sustained. This is a mistake.
2. Failure to document injuries. People fail to document their harms, including bruising, cases, scars, incisions, lacerations, attempts at trying to walk again after being disabled from an injury, attempts and struggles during rehabilitation and physical therapy, etc. Six months from now you may forget how painful and how difficult it was trying to get back into your normal activities of daily living. Pictures and video document these situations and give force to your struggles and pain. This documentation will help the insurance company see that you are an individual person and not just another claim number to have to deal with. You are unique and special, and so should their evaluation of your case. More importantly, if you are hurting, you must go to the doctor to document your injuries. The sooner you go, the better. Gaps in treatment hurt your case. An insurance adjuster and their attorney will infer that “if it is not in a doctor’s note, then it did not happen.” Document, document, document! A lot of people will try and “tough it out” and just take over the counter medication to deal with the pain and hopefully will not have to go to the doctor. Then, after agonizing for weeks, or months, they go to the doctor for the first time after a long gap in time. The insurance adjuster will try and infer that you are 1- Making up the claim just to get money after having time to sit around and think about it after watching personal injury commercials on TV, and 2- you must have been involved in another wreck or were injured again somehow in a way that is totally related to the wreck you were involved in with their insured. Waiting is a big mistake!
When you do go to your doctor, make sure that you document each injury you sustained in your incident, starting at your head and going down to your toes. Even if the pain is not excruciating, document it by telling the doctor of each injury you have sustained.3. They fail to document the property damage caused in your wreck. Many times people will only have pictures of their car, but not pictures of the car that hit them. This is another big mistake. Why? If you are rear-ended by another car, for example, and the car that hit you pushed you forward 15 feet and sustained a lot of front end damages, the insurance adjuster will likely only take pictures of the rear of your car which may not show a lot of damage, and not take (or not provide, or conveniently lose) pictures of the defendant’s car. This is for the sole purpose of trying to create an image that your impact was very minor, and there is no credible way you could have been seriously hurt. In the meantime, they will not provide pictures of their insured’s car which shows a smashed grille, a leaking radiator, crushed hood, front fender damage, airbag deployment, etc. This is an attempt to deceive you and the jury. Show your own story. Take control and take pictures of the other cars in their resting position at the scene of the wreck if you are able. If not, try to get loved ones or the police to take photographs if you think of it. Obviously, take care of yourself and your family first!
Make sure to show the resting positions of the cars. Many times in a wreck your car will be propelled forward for a great distance. While the impact to your car may be relatively minor, the impact to your body in that situation will be hopefully realized when you can show how large the force was that hit you, and how far that you were propelled. If airbags deploy in your car, take pictures. If there are gashes in the roadway, take pictures. Whenever you take pictures of the vehicles, take both wide angle pictures, as well as close ups of the damages. If your radio fell out, take pictures. Document, document, document! There is no such thing as taking too many pictures or too much video.
Remember, YOU are unique. Don’t let the adjuster try to minimize your case by hiding or destroying evidence. Help yourself by being prepared and be ready to SHOW your own story.
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