Being involved in a car accident is a traumatic experience that only becomes increasingly stressful if legal concerns are raised at any time. Whether you decide to file a lawsuit against the other driver or file a countersuit, there’s one undeniable fact—filing a lawsuit is complicated. Sometimes the smallest oversight or mistake can completely ruin a case, and the only way to avoid these mistakes is to be aware of them in the first place.
At Thomas Law Offices we’ve seen our share of mistakes made during personal injury lawsuits of all types, but what about mistakes made specifically during a car accident case?
We decided to come up with a list. Here are the top 10 mistakes made when filing a car accident lawsuit:
1. Not going to the hospital right away
During the chaos of an accident, it’s easy to assume you’re not injured—especially once adrenaline kicks in. It’s never a good idea to wait to seek medical aid after a car accident, however. You never know when an injury is worse than it looks or feels, and some injury symptoms like whiplash take hours or days to fully present themselves.
Furthermore, waiting to seek medical aid can look extremely negative on any insurance claim or legal form. Waiting implies your injuries aren’t very serious. This is the exact opposite impression you want to give if you’re seeking legal or financial compensation.
2. Not raising all the necessary concerns with your doctor
Similarly, if you decide to “tough out” your injuries and fail to tell either your doctor or the emergency room staff about all the symptoms you’re experiencing and the concerns you have, your claim or case could easily be dismissed. Be honest about absolutely everything. When you keep medical information to yourself, it essentially becomes useless in court.
3. Not following doctors’ orders
It’s important to tell your doctor about all the symptoms you’re experiencing, but it’s also vital to follow your doctor’s orders and keep every follow-up or referral appointment. You need to make it look like you’re doing everything you can to recover from your injuries and that they are indeed serious. In the eye of the law, by not following orders and failing to keep appointments, you’re essentially acting as if your injuries aren’t that serious.
4. Failing to request a copy of the police report
When you call 911, request that a police officer arrive on the scene and fill out a traffic collision report. If one is filled out, make sure to get a copy as soon as you’re able to. Doing so makes it easier to establish who’s at fault for the accident and obtain useful information like witness statements and scene evidence.
5. Not seeking legal advice quickly enough
Aside from not seeing a doctor quickly enough, it can also be harmful to not seek legal advice soon enough. The longer you wait, the easier it is to say and do things that may harm your case. It’s best to speak to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can offer sound legal advice on how to best proceed. Most law firms, including our own, also happen to offer free, no-obligation legal consultations to help you determine whether or not a lawsuit is in your best interest.
6. Signing the insurance statement too quickly
Insurance companies will often encourage you to sign a statement or give a recorded statement quickly after the accident. If you’re unsure of what you’re signing or uncomfortable with what the statement says, don’t feel pressured to sign right away. Just because you’re legally required to inform your insurance company about the accident doesn’t mean you need to sign any paperwork right away. Take your time and consider your legal options.
7. Not disclosing enough information to your lawyer
Once you hire a lawyer, it’s important to tell them every single thing about the accident and your injuries. Oftentimes, legal clients assume that their attorney knows everything about the case just from the paperwork in front of them. An attorney only knows as much as their client tells them, however. Disclose everything—including all information pertaining to your recovery, work situation, medical bills, and any insurance claims.
8. Posting public information about your case or injuries
After being in an accident we naturally want to talk about the experience with our family and friends. Sometimes, this includes posting information on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Be careful about what you say publicly on social media regarding the accident as well as any injuries you’ve sustained. Don’t downplay any part of it. When in doubt, it’s best to completely refrain from speaking publicly about the accident on social media. Anything you say can be later used against you.
9. Opting out of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance coverage is available from all auto insurance providers, and in the state of Kentucky you’ll automatically be granted this coverage. One common mistake many drivers make in no-fault states like Kentucky is opting to get rid of UM/UIM coverage then later paying the price after being involved in a major accident with an uninsured driver. The tiny bit of savings simply isn’t worth the risk.
10. Not getting several vehicle repair estimates
Your insurance company will automatically suggest a body shop for you to take your damaged vehicle to. In most cases, the suggested auto shop will be the most inexpensive option and not necessarily the best option. Don’t hesitate to get estimates from several different shops until you find a place you’re comfortable with.
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident and have any questions or would like to speak to someone who can help turn a complicated car accident lawsuit into a successful one, give Thomas Law Offices a call today.