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. Most people want to know how much their injury or case is worth, but very few stop to consider how they may be wrecking their chance of substantial recovery. Even people with the strongest cases for high settlements or awards often wreck their cases by making common mistakes that insurance companies take full advantage of to limit or eliminate their claims.
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 to make yourself look better. 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, they may try to exploit it. If they catch you outright lying, they may likely deny your case altogether or use it against you in settlement negotiations. In order to win at trial, or to maximize settlement, you have to be believable. When in doubt, it is better to stop the interview than state something that is untrue. Better yet, consult an experienced attorney before making statements at all.
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? Every time 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. Regardless of your intent, those social media posts will be twisted and spun to be used against you. These other people may be called as a witness in an effort to portray your testimony as unreliable.
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. It can be aggravating and interrupt your normal schedule. But every medical note, every prescription, every detail of the treatment plan must be followed to the letter and retained in your records. If you miss treatment or stop treatment too soon, even though you are still enduring the pain, the insurance company will argue it as proof you are better or have no injury.
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
These are just a few of the common mistakes people often make, which get twisted and used by the insurance company to wreck your case. 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.