5 Ways You May Unintentionally Damage Your Personal Injury Claim
Most people don’t spend their lives preparing for the day when they get into a serious, injury-causing collision or incident. Most of the time, it just happens and we are left to our own judgement about how to handle the situation. Sometimes people make good decisions and sometimes people don’t or either don’t know any better.
Sapien Law LLC seeks to clarify some of the most basic points about common ways you could inadvertently damage or negatively affect your own personal injury claim and seeks to set you on the right track by providing the alternative, better-for-your-case options.
In New Mexico, state law requires that any driver of a motor vehicle carry at least the minimum amount of 25/50 ($25,000 per person per accident/ $50,000.00 per occurrence) in liability insurance. This is insurance that you pay for to protect you in the event you are at fault and thus liable in an auto collision or other incident involving your automobile. However, just because you pay the premiums doesn’t mean that your insurance company will automatically pay for your losses. In fact, they may be looking for you to make these common mistakes in order to limit or outright deny your claim.
#1 Deciding Not to Call the Police
After an accident, it is imperative that you call the police to the scene of the collision or incident involving your auto. It does not matter whether you believe the claim is large or small, on a highway or parking lot, the police should always be contacted. The reason for this is simple: the investigating police department will prepare and file an accident or crash report about the incident. This information is considered highly credible by insurance companies and will provide the initial evidence related to your claim.
Sometimes, when collisions seem to be minor, the parties involved decide not to call the police. This leaves the case wide-open to interpretation later, with a he-said-she-said battle sure to ensue. Not to mention, the witnesses and the parties have limited memories that usually fade over time which makes it more difficult for the insurance company to evaluate your claim.
Right after a collision, people tend to be more regretful and more likely to own up to their part in the incident. If the police are there, they can record this information as well as collect eyewitness accounts. If they are not there, the other driver’s story and “the one they promised they’d own up to” can be changed later once they’ve had time to think about it.
If your own insurance company doesn’t believe your story likely because of conflicting accounts and because the police were left out of it, they could consider that grounds to deny your claim.
The simple solution to all these woes is to just call the police, immediately so that you can have a record of the events and parties involved which will likely be to your benefit as the claim develops.
#2 Not Seeking Medical Treatment
Many people falsely believe that they cannot afford medical treatment, or do not need medical treatment, after an auto collision. This is a major mistake and a great way to mess up your personal injury claim.
Additionally, not seeking medical treatment makes it appear to the insurance company that you’re not really injured. After all, someone who is seriously injured would surely seek medical treatment right away, right? Well actually, many people are involved in collisions and don’t realize they’re injured until later. This is partially because of the adrenaline and commotion and partially because some injuries take time to manifest.
This also applies if you do seek medical treatment right away, but you fail to follow up with the care or the doctor’s orders. This situation will appear to the insurance claim representatives as if your injuries aren’t all that serious.
The short advice here: always seek medical care through a qualified physician and follow through with checkups and treatments. You are the only person responsible for your health and wellbeing.
#3 Exaggerating Your Losses
When it comes to making a personal injury claim you want to be completely honest if you are providing a statement to the investigating police officer or to an insurance company claim representative. Not only is this a great policy in life, but not doing so could seriously harm your personal injury claim and your credibility in front of a jury.
When making a claim, you will have to convey to the insurance company exactly what your harms and losses are and whether they will continue into the future. Some of these may be easy to come up with, like your medical bills, since the dollar amount is clearly presented in black and white. The same goes for lost wages, which can be calculated by multiplying your time off work by your usual pay rate. However, when it comes to additional legal damages, you will want to be careful in the information that you provide to the insurance company. If the insurance company determines that you have exaggerated or embellished your losses, they will likely think you are just after they money and this situation could lead to a severely reduced or completely denied claim.
To prevent this, simply report your claim with complete honesty, no more, no less.
#4 Using Social Media
Almost everyone these days posts at least some part of their lives on social media; some of us post a lot more than others. This is all good and well, except when it comes to a personal injury case. This point has two variations, both of which can be devastating to your personal injury claim.
The first point deals with posting information to social media that specifically pertains to your personal injury claim. This is a bad idea and you don’t want to post something that will negatively affect your claim. It is perfectly natural to want to share an important event from your life with your family and friends. We all do it, all the time. However, when it comes to your injury, you want to leave this off social media; all of it.
Insurance companies can and will search your social media pages to find any information that is available to them. Even if your accounts are private, you should refrain from using social media as it pertains to your personal injury case. In addition, do not bash the insurance company or their claim representatives online. This will be perceived negatively and could reflect poorly on your case and your overall credibility.
The second point about social media pertains to posting stuff that may seemingly have nothing to do with your case. For example, imagine you are injured in an auto collision and file a claim regarding your lower back injury. A few weeks later, you’re invited to your cousin’s wedding and reluctantly attend, swearing to keep your physical activity to a minimum. However, during the event, your cute niece or nephew begs you to slow dance. You do so, despite the pain because it’s so cute. Cute enough for your aunt to snap a picture. This photo gets posted to social media and you’re tagged in it. Now, the insurance company has “proof” that you aren’t really that injured or else you wouldn’t be out dancing at the wedding. They don’t know the circumstances and neither will a jury.
To prevent this, despite how hard it may be, you must stay off of social media while dealing with a personal injury claim. Not everything can or will be used against you later, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Deactivate your accounts and take a break for a few months. You may actually enjoy the time away from social media.
#5 Not Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney
This is one mistake that people make all the time. Plenty of people handle their cases on their own, but whether or not they get the full value of their case is questionable. Insurance companies, even if they’re your insurance company, are trying to pay as little as possible. They are a business, after all, and reducing their financial long-term exposure is their main interest.
Personal injury attorneys know what tactics insurance companies use, how to redirect them, and at what angle to approach a personal injury claim. Whether or not you hire an attorney is a personal choice, but when dealing with a megacorporation who hold your physical and financial health in their hands, it’s always better to have a legal advocate in your corner fighting for on your behalf.
So if you are injured in an auto collision or other auto related incident, you’ll hopefully be more educated and know what not to do and what to do. The information is pretty self-explanatory: call the police, see a doctor, be honest, stay off social media, and seek professional help. If you do these things, your personal injury claim will be off to a good start.
Sapien Law LLC is available to assist you with your auto claim. Call us at (505) 842-5979 to arrange a free consultation.