Suffering a serious accident is not only a painful and traumatic experience but also an expensive one, as victims often incur tens of thousands of dollars in debt from property damage, medical bills, and lost wages, explains a California personal injury lawyer. Such a situation can feel unfair if another party caused the accident, especially if that party’s insurance company refuses to provide the compensation to which the victim is entitled. Without a thorough understanding of the law and experience negotiating with insurers, successfully recovering physically and financially from an injury accident can be extremely challenging.
Much of the challenge stems from the insurance company’s persistent efforts to avoid compensating the victim: denying that its insured was liable for the accident; minimizing the extent of the property damage or injuries; and attributing the property damage or injuries to past accidents or conditions. In many cases, knowing the mistakes to avoid while pursuing a personal injury claim is key to achieving a successful outcome.
Three Common Mistakes Claimants Make:
1. Failing to Document Property Damage
Receiving compensation for property damage is dependent on evidence of it. Take photographs of any damage to the vehicle, including from underneath it. During the repair, ask to view the car once it has been stripped down to check for and photograph any underlying damage. Certain types of damage reflect a greater impact and will serve as evidence of injuries, so record damage to small parts, such as the bumper shock absorbers, as well as to the interior of the vehicle. Lastly, request a copy of the estimate.
2. Neglecting to Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Insurance companies usually only accept claims for injuries that have been recorded within two weeks of the accident, and such claims must be supported with medical records. Moreover, delaying medical attention could compromise the accident victim’s physical recovery, as scar tissue may form, resulting in prolonged pain and loss of mobility. Visit a doctor immediately after the accident, be honest about the extent of the pain, and document the treatment process.
3. Giving a Recorded Statement
Never give a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company. One of the first calls an accident victim will receive will be from the insurer requesting a recorded statement. However, accident victims are not obligated to consent to a recorded statement in order to file an injury claim or to settle their case. Oftentimes, insurers call before the victim has had a chance to document property damage, see a doctor, or consult with an attorney; consequently, the victim may provide answers to the insurer that could jeopardize his or her case—especially in a courtroom, where a recording is considered admissible evidence. Never consent to a recorded statement.
After any injury accident, it is always advisable to discuss one’s rights and options with an attorney before speaking with the insurance company. Whether planning on hiring one or just seeking advice, consulting with an attorney will improve one’s settlement posture.
Additional information, such as articles and books on the injury claims process, is available to the public free of charge. To request one of these free resources, or to speak with a California personal injury lawyer, feel free to call 866-981-5596.