If you have suffered a severe injury in a car accident or another accident that was someone else’s fault, or if you have been injured by a defective product, you deserve compensation for your losses. Virginia law allows you to collect payment for such losses through a personal injury lawsuit.
In many cases, you can recover compensation through a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If your case goes to court, it will be decided by a judge or jury.
Presenting evidence of your injury and losses can lead to a verdict in your favor. On the other hand, you can harm your case with certain actions or failures to act.
Here are several mistakes that can hurt your chances to obtain the compensation you deserve in a personal injury case:
Accepting a quick insurance payment.
The compensation you receive in a personal injury case typically will be paid by the defendant’s insurance company.Knowing this, insurance companies will act fast to offer a settlement in cases that look bad – or expensive – for them. A quick offer is likely to be substantially less than you deserve.
Once you accept a settlement offer and sign a release, your case is over. So, do not accept anything offered by an insurance company or sign any statement unless an experienced personal injury lawyer has reviewed it first and suggests you do so.
Foregoing medical care.
If you have been injured in an accident, see a doctor as soon as you can and follow your doctor’s orders.If you are hurt, you need to have your injuries treated without delay. Medical care also documents your injuries, which will be necessary for a legal claim.
Following doctors’ orders for treatment, medication and therapy will indicate that your injuries were real and that you truly required medical care to recover from them.
Failing to contact your insurance company.
You will need to contact your insurance company after an accident to file a claim. This provides further documentation of the accident and the fact that you suffered a loss. Answer questions honestly and follow instructions.However, you should decline to record a statement. Also, be careful to avoid making “off the cuff” remarks that downplay your injuries, admit fault or accept blame for the accident. These are matters that require a thorough investigation.
Not documenting your accident and injuries.
If you contact police, obtain medical care or file an insurance claim after an accident, you will create a paper trail of evidence that substantiates your personal injury claim. However, there is other evidence you may be able to gather or save.For instance, you should get photos of the accident scene if you or a passenger can take them. Save all receipts from expenses related to your accident. Get a copy of the police report if there is one. Also, obtain records of absences from work or school caused by your injury.
You can also collect notes, photos, videos or other documents that depict your injury and recovery, including progress, setbacks and things you missed in your life because of your injury.
Publicizing your case.
Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit is serious business. Don’t make a show of it. You could unwittingly hurt your case even by talking about it. Don’t say bad things about the defendant or brag to friends about getting revenge or a “big payoff.”Additionally, do not post comments or photos on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere online that might be used against you later.
Failing to contact a lawyer.
If you have been seriously hurt in an accident that was not your fault, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as you can.A lawyer can provide a free initial consultation that will outline steps to protect your rights and can advise you about your options for pursuing a claim.Once you retain legal help, your attorney can take care of a lot of the details of pursuing a proper insurance settlement. As we stated above, many cases can be settled without the need to go to court.
Our Best Advice? Contact Us Today
Geoff McDonald & Associates has the experience, knowledge and resources to represent your best interests in a personal injury lawsuit. We have helped accident victims just like you in Richmond and from across Virginia for more than 20 years. Contact us today to set up a free, no obligation legal consultation.