Filing a personal injury claim can be far more complicated than most realize, and there will be adversity along the way. When dealing with insurance claims adjusters and opposing counsel, there are multiple ways to get taken advantage of or misled into making the wrong decision. Following are six important tips for protecting yourself while pursuing a personal injury claim.
1) Maintain Adequate Records
Evidence is going to be an essential part of proving your personal injury claim, so it is important to maintain adequate records. This includes gathering the contact information of those involved in the incident, of witnesses, and of medical providers. You should also take photos, where possible, and hold onto them in a safe place. Obtain as much information as you can about the incident and those involved, and keep that information in a safe place along with your medical records and any bills or receipts related to your expenses.
2) Beware of Insurance Claims Adjusters
Remember that anything you say to an insurance claims adjuster could be misinterpreted or misconstrued as evidence against your claim. It is important to be wary when communicating with insurance companies, no matter how nice or concerned they may seem. Know that their goal is and always will be to minimize their own expenses, meaning that they want you settle for less than your claim is worth or to prove that you don’t have a claim at all. The best thing that you can do is to speak with a personal injury attorney before speaking to an insurance company.
3) Seek Independent Estimates of Your Damages
In any personal injury claim, an insurance company will be taking on the task of estimating your damages. Of course, as mentioned above, their goal is to minimize their own expenses. For this reason, you should not simply accept their estimate at face value. Rather, you should seek independent estimates of your damages. This is much simpler to accomplish with the assistance and resources of an experience personal injury attorney.
4) Don’t Accept a Settlement or Sign a Release
You should never accept the first settlement offer or sign any releases from an insurance company without first consulting with personal injury attorney with the experience and expertise to ensure that you are not being taken advantage of. Once you sign a release or accept a settlement, there is no going back when you realize that your claim was worth much more.
5) Seek Medical Treatment as Soon as Possible after an Injury
This is an extremely important part of any successful personal injury claim, so we’re going to elaborate on why this is such a common mistake and how it can harm your case.
Any time someone is involved in an accident that results in an injury – be that an auto accident, a slip and fall accident, a work related accident, or any other type of accident – it is far too common for the injured person to quickly take stock of their bodily injuries and assume that they are alright when there is not a significant amount of blood or painfully broken bones. Your own body can mislead you as it may not even register some injuries through the adrenaline and endorphin rush that comes with frightening accidents and serious injuries.
You might not be in any pain, or your pain might be mild, so that you think you got away from the incident, lucky to be unharmed. In some cases, you might notice a bit of bruising or a few scrapes that don’t seem serious, so you think you don’t need to seek treatment. All too often, people will avoid seeking medical treatment because they are concerned about the bill.
The error in this reasoning is often realized some time later, often after several days or weeks, when you start to realize that your symptoms are growing more severe or are not going away as you’d hoped. Still, you may continue to think that your symptoms will ease with time. You might wait weeks before you finally realize that it is necessary to seek treatment for your injuries. Once you do, it is not uncommon to realize that your injuries are quite serious and will be expensive to treat. You may even end up having to take time off of work to recover.
This is when most people decide that it might be wise to pursue a personal injury claim. Yet, by this time, your case may have already been complicated and harmed by the all too common mistake of waiting to seek medical treatment for an injury.
The fact is that you can significantly minimize the amount of compensation you will be awarded by waiting any longer than three days to seek medical treatment for your injuries. This is in part because insurance companies calculate the value of your claim with software programs that take into account the amount of time between the injury and the date of seeking treatment. These programs make the assumption that you are not seriously injured if you wait more than three days to seek medical treatment. Further, you are legally responsible for mitigating the damages by seeking treatment to prevent medical problems from growing worse.
6) Work With an Experienced and Skilled Attorney
While the process of filing a personal injury claim be stressful and complicated, you don’t have to go through it alone. In fact, you will be in a much better position if you don’t try to handle it all by yourself. The experience and expertise of a personal injury attorney is extremely valuable to anyone who has sustained injuries from any sort of accident. With all of the possible and common mistakes that one can make, having an attorney on your side from the very beginning is going to be the smartest move. However, the guidance of a skilled Georgia personal injury lawyer is also essential in cases where you have already made mistakes and need professional help to overcome the obstacles that have already been created. Learn more about how an attorney can make all the difference in your personal injury claim by contacting The Law Office of John B Jackson for a free consultation, today.