As a lawyer that specializes in personal injury cases, I’ve helped a lot of people get the financial support to get the care they need. But unfortunately, I’ve also seen a lot of people who deserve to be compensated for medical bills and missed work, lose out because they made a few mistakes – mistakes that really anyone could make.
While not doing these four things doesn’t completely ensure that you will receive compensation for your injury, doing them is a sure way to miss out.
1. Failure to call the police to the scene of the accident.
No matter how minor or major, you are going to need a police report in order to verify your injury claims and establish who is responsible for the injury. If you or the victim is in immediate danger, your first step is to remove yourself and/or the victim and then call the police. If you are not in immediate danger, stay at the scene of the injury. The police will come to the scene and fill out the necessary paperwork. Without a police report, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to create a successful lawsuit.
2. Failure to take pictures of injuries and/or damage to property.
Whether your bumper got dinged or a dog bit your leg, get photo proof as soon as possible. This is made considerably easier these days because almost everyone has a phone capable of taking pictures. If you are physically able to, take pictures not only of the injury or damage, but, if pertinent, the area where the injury or damage happened. An unfenced yard where the dog was left unchained, the intersection where the accident happened, or the proof of injuries to nursing home patients are all keep evidence that will support your claims.
3. Not getting the necessary medical care needed in a timely manner.
Getting immediate medical attention after an accident or injury is important for two reasons. First of all, even if you don’t think you are seriously hurt, you may have injuries that aren’t immediately apparent. Getting fully checked out by a medical professional is the best way to ensure whether or not there is something more seriously wrong than what is obvious to you at the time. Secondly, a doctor will take a full account of your health and any injuries that may have results from the accident. These medical documents can provide legal proof of the extent of your injuries, as well as medical recommendations about the time you will need off from work and any other treatment you may need. If you wait a week or two to see a doctor, the doctor cannot provide a retroactive analysis of your health – they can only assess your injury as it currently stands. Therefore, the injury may seem to be less serious and, in the worst case, the doctor may not be able to clearly attribute your injury to the accident.
4. Injured party giving a recorded statement to insurance company without an attorney present.
This is important: many people think that after their property has been damaged, they should call the insurance company immediately. But remember that insurance companies want to pay out as little as possible. I strongly advise you to not speak to any insurance company representatives or to sign any documents relating to insurance and your claims before meeting with an attorney. Insurance documents can be long and confused and can hide clauses that will take away your right to compensation or limit it unnecessarily. Similarly, any conversation you have on the phone with an insurance company rep may be recorded and used to determine the amount you are compensated. Once an insurance company can make the legal claim that you have agreed to accept what they are offering, they rarely back down.
4a. Not getting statements from witnesses to the accident.
In some cases, there may not be witnesses other than the people directly involved in the accident. But if other people saw what happened, it’s important to get their contact information, if they are willing to give it. A police officer called to the scene should be able to record witnesses’ statements about what happened, but if you are physically able to stay at the scene and take witnesses’ information yourself, this will make contacting witnesses all the easier in the long run. One good witness – let alone three or four – can make the difference between a winning and losing injury case.
Whether it’s a dog bite, a car accident, a work-related injury, or any other type of personal injury, you have rights as a victim.
Do your best to protect those rights when you can and call my offices as soon as possible.
I will work to get you the best compensation for your medical bills and time off work and any other costs related to your injury. Contact me today if you have been in an accident or have personal injury of any kind.