Common Auto Accident Mistakes
Mistake #1: Thinking You Have to Talk to the Opposing Party’s Insurance Company
You are under absolutely no obligation to speak with the opposing party’s insurance company or any of their agents. Period! It doesn’t matter how many telephone calls they make or how many letters they send you. Without speaking to an attorney or researching how the claims process works, you should never speak with the other party’s insurance company. Insurance adjusters have vastly more experience and knowledge than you in dealing with the claims process and would love nothing better than to speak with you before you have the opportunity to do any research or speak with an attorney. Don’t allow the insurance company to press their advantage against you.
Mistake #2: Not Taking Care of Yourself after an Auto Accident
After an auto accident and any injury you sustained, you want to get your life back on track as quickly as possible. Feeling pressured by work, home, and your family is easy to let happen. Life can quickly become overwhelming. Your own mental and physical needs are often placed on the back burner, your life gets placed on hold while everything else spins out of control. Unfortunately, not only does this do you a disservice by possibly slowing down your recovery time, it may also hurt your claim against the wrongdoer. A favorite argument of the other side is to claim that any failure/delay in obtaining medical treatment shows you weren’t really injured. “The accident isn’t the cause of your pain and you are trying to abuse the system.” This is very wrong as injuries may not become evident for weeks or months after an accident. Still, it’s a good idea to get checked out early after an accident, even if you don’t feel injured, as it shows you are concerned about your accident and the effect it may have had on your body.
Bottom line: Be good to yourself. See an auto accident doctor immediately following your car crash to assess any injuries you may have sustained. Don’t delay, especially if you are in pain or having physical difficulties moving or attending to you work. Carefully follow your doctor’s orders, including your treatment plan and physical therapy schedule. You’ll be glad you did.
In the state of Utah, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is required by law. It guarantees you the ability to get needed medical help without any out-of-pocket expense up to the limit placed on your auto insurance policy. In most cases, it will not even raise your monthly premium. Ask your insurance agent about your Personal Injury Protection benefits.
Mistake #3: Alienating Your Doctors and Healthcare Providers
Your doctors and other healthcare providers play a key role in putting your claim together. The last thing you want is to alienate them. You need them on your side to help make your case credible. They are the ones that assessed your injuries and have to justify your treatment.
When you’re in pain and stressed out it’s easy to take your frustrations out on your healthcare providers. This is a huge mistake. Next to you, your doctors and healthcare providers are your most critical witnesses. The amount of your settlement often depends on (1) how likeable and credible you are and (2) the quality of your supporting medical evidence. Doctors are only human and if you get on their bad side their medical records, reports and deposition testimony may reflect poorly toward you (and your injury). Do yourself a favor: Be nice to the people treating you. Their records, reports and testimony carry a heavy weight in your personal injury case. Be polite, respectful and friendly. Consider sending a thank you note after a particularly helpful visit or after completion of your physical therapy program. And try to pay your bills on time. If that’s not possible, consider working out a modest payment plan or setting up a lien arrangement. The importance of keeping these professionals in your corner cannot be overstated.
Mistake #4: Forgetting to Preserve Evidence
Photos can be incredibly helpful in proving your case. They often show things better than you can describe them, and are difficult to contradict. As soon as you are able to, take pictures of your injuries, vehicle damage, the area involved in the accident, and anything else related to the injury. Take as many pictures as you need to accurately capture the subject matter of your photo (a wound, scar, bruise, swelling, etc.). You may want to take several photos over time as your injuries heal. Throughout your case, you also want to save all medical records, bills and receipts, along with prescription bottles, orthopedic braces/splints/casts, and any other healthcare related items. Make sure to keep track of any lost work time and wages, as well as changes in your job, job duties, or salary. And save all receipts related to your personal injury accident (i.e., transportation, home care, etc.). Along with medical expenses, it’s important to document any money you have to pay out or any wage loss you incur because of your accident.