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Top 5 Mistakes That Could Cost You Your Personal Injury Claim
As a personal injury plaintiff, you should be focusing on the best ways to maximize your physical recovery and ensure fair compensation. Unfortunately, it is easy to make certain mistakes that hurt your case without you even knowing it.
If you recently sustained injuries in an auto accident, make sure you read these top five mistakes that could cost you your personal injury claim, and contact a car accident attorney from McMenamin & McMenamin, PS in Port Angeles today.
1) Not carrying adequate uninsured motorist coverage
Despite state laws requiring each driver to carry insurance, a staggering 16 percent of Washington drivers are uninsured, according to the latest statistics from the Insurance Research Council. Washington State has the tenth highest rate of uninsured drivers in the nation.
So, what does this mean for the plaintiff looking for compensation following an auto accident with one of these drivers? Unfortunately, if you sustain injuries in an accident with an uninsured driver, chances are you will be financially responsible for those injuries.
If you do not have additional coverage in place to protect you, your options for compensation may be very limited. Bottom line: Spend a few extra dollars for the uninsured motorist coverage before you need it.
2) Not calling the police
Some accidents may seem far less serious than others, and some people may be wary about notifying the police for a seemingly innocuous fender bender or minor collision. However, there are several reasons why you should involve the police from the get-go, including:
- Securing the scene and keeping victims safe from further harm
- Creating a detailed accident report, which could prove invaluable later
- Allowing police to issue citations against the responsible party
- If alcohol is involved, the police will assess the situation and engage in the proper protocol (e.g., issuing a citation, arresting the driver).
- If you call the police to the scene, medical attention will likely follow.
One of the most important documents following an auto accident case is the detailed accident report that the police will prepare. Moreover, if officers give the at-fault party a citation or charge him with a crime (e.g., DUI), this will help establish liability.
3) Agreeing to a recorded statement
One of the best pieces of advice to keep in mind when dealing with insurance companies is that they are not in business of offering injury victims the maximum possible recovery; in fact, it is quite the opposite. Insurance companies often try to catch victims in inconsistencies by requesting a recorded statement early—when the injury victim is still unsure of the extent of their injuries.
In the early days following an accident, you may receive a call from a claims adjuster asking for a recorded, detailed description of what happened leading up to the crash. The adjuster may make this seem like a normal, run-of-the-mill conversation, but remember that the adjuster can and will use everything you say in the statement against you.
Remember that adjusters may try to convince parties involved in an accident to admit fault; even saying, “I’m sorry,” can be an admission of fault. This is why we always discourage making recorded statements before you speak with an attorney.
Claims adjusters also often seek injury diagnoses from the victim—usually before the victim receives the official diagnosis from the physician. A misstep when speaking with an insurance adjuster (e.g., minimizing your injury, a wrong self-diagnosis, accidentally admitting fault) can severely damage your claim.
Keep in mind, you have the right to refuse a request to make a recorded statement. (Note: Your policy may require you to submit to a recorded statement in the event of an accident, but speak with us first.)
If the other party’s insurer is seeking the statement, politely but firmly refuse the request, and keep in mind the adjuster is looking out for the company’s best interests, not yours. Talk to us before you give them any statement.
4) Delaying or forgoing medical treatment
Not only is this a bad idea in terms of your own health and wellness, but minimizing injuries or refusing medical treatment is a great way to minimize—or eliminate—any possible recovery following your accident. Make sure you go to the doctor. This is because many injuries are not as obvious or overt in the days after the accident.
Secondly, plaintiffs have a duty to mitigate their own injuries by addressing them properly (with medical attention if necessary), and their failure to seek treatment might negatively affect their ability to receive compensation. In other words, if your refusal to seek medical treatment made your initial injury worse, the at-fault party may not have to pay for the injury complications you could have avoided by seeking medical attention earlier.
As an additional point, injury victims must follow the components of their doctor’s care plan; failure to follow up with specialists and therapists could result in a reduction in the insurance company’s evaluation.
5) Delaying legal representation
Insurance companies love an unrepresented claimant as it often allows them to undervalue your claim. If you sustained injuries in an auto accident, one of the first steps you should take is contacting a personal injury attorney in Washington.
By retaining legal counsel as quickly as possible, you can avoid legal pitfalls (see #3 above), preserve your claim, and avoid any statute of limitations issues. Moreover, an injury attorney can help guide you through the complex personal injury process, which may ultimately lead to litigation and a trial.
For help, call McMenamin & McMenamin, PS today.
If you suffered injuries in an auto accident and would like assistance preparing your claim against the responsible party, please do not hesitate to contact the legal professionals of McMenamin & McMenamin, PS in Port Angeles, Washington, today at 360-452-9242.
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Written by: Connie M.
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