After suffering an injury in a car accident in Florida, most people know that they can file a claim for their injuries; either against their own insurance policy, the negligent party, or both. What most people don't know, however, is how much their injury (or wrongful death) settlement is worth.
Even people with the strongest cases for high settlements often wreck their chances by making common mistakes that insurance companies take full advantage of.
Most common mistakes
Making stuff up: In times of stress, it is difficult to recall exactly what happened in the split second of a car accident. The most natural thing is to immediately worry that you may have been at fault somehow. When this happens, the worst thing you can do is to start making stuff up. Insurance companies have trained and experienced accident investigators on their side. In many cases, they know what happened at the scene of an accident before they interview their first witness. If they catch you confused about the facts - or outright lying - they will use it against you in settlement negotiations.
Telling the world about your case: It is understandable that a car accident is likely to be one of the biggest thing that has ever happened in your life. But telling the world about the accident is one of the worst things you can do. Of course you will talk it about with your spouse or family; but don't discuss it at the office or put it out there on your social media pages.
Why? Everytime you re-tell the story, you may inadvertently change something about the circumstances. Studies show that people can actually create a false memory by retelling a story over and over again, even if the details aren't exactly correct. People will naturally ask different questions and you may explain things a little differently each time. If those same people are called for a sworn deposition or as a witness in a trial, there may be several slight differences in their perspectives...raising reasonable doubt.
Mistakes involving medical evidence
Failing to follow doctor's orders: People often go a year or more between doctor visits for a routine check up or a medical problem. Car accident injuries are different. The treatment for a serious injury is typically far more extensive and may require numerous visits to the doctor or physical therapist. Every medical note, every prescription, every detail of the treatment plan must be followed to the letter and retained in your records.
Insurance companies know that most people who turn down an initial settlement will run out of money and patience while their case is in negotiations or heading to trial. They will use it against you if they discover that you quit your physical therapy sessions, missed follow up medical appointments, engaged in further injurious activities or stopped taking medication. Even if you have a solid case for a life-long catastrophic injury, stopping medical treatment or failing to retain important records can greatly reduce the amount of compensation you would have been entitled to.
Your best option to protect your rights
There are several more mistakes people often make, which we will discuss in future blog posts. After a motor vehicle accident, you probably will not know exactly what to do next. That is why hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is your best option for knowing your rights and avoiding mistakes.
In Florida, turn to Smith, Feddeler & Smith, with several office locations throughout the state.