Good people do not think “Sue!” as their first thought when they are injured by the negligence of another. In fact, the whole process of bringing a claim for damages is unseemly for some. Embarrassingly bad TV commercials are brought to mind. After all, are we not too litigious as a society? This changes when unpaid medical expenses (even deductable and co-pays) start adding up.
Then, when additional time is missed from work, even more is threatened. People speak with the insurance company themselves and soon realize “These people are not on my side!” Then the light goes on. Isn’t this what insurance coverage is for?
Here are three things to consider, right after you are hurt, about hiring a lawyer to represent you. They are counter intuitive for many and different from the way most of us conduct our affairs, but failure to do these things can significantly damage your injury claim.
- Report your injuries to a medical doctor without delay. While normally we wait to see if the pain goes away on its own, even a two week gap will be used by the insurance company to argue that your injuries were not caused the automobile accident. They will assume that if you did not seek treatment immediately, then there probably was no pain or injury. Objective evidence—x-rays, MRI’s, physical examination by professionals will document your complaints and injuries as close to the incident as possible and therefore strengthen your claim about your symptoms being injury related.
- Preserving importance evidence before it is lost, forgotten or destroyed. The impulse to “wait and see” as an approach to a personal injury claim also may result in the loss of evidence necessary to prove your claim. Most people find it unfair, but the reality is that if your are injured by another, you need to prove liability and all aspects of your damages. The statement of an eye witness, photographs of the property damage and scene may mean the difference between a good recovery and a great recovery.
- Avoid thinking the insurance company is on your side. Sometimes, even before you know if you will be making a claim, an adjuster may call you (or even visit your house!) and obtain harmful admissions that even contradict the facts. For example, if you broke your leg and were immobile, you might be tempted to forget about and not mention lesser complaints which later turn out to be the most serious. While it seems reasonable to give statements to insurance adjusters (after all, you are only telling the truth and have nothing to hide). You will soon find out that the true intent of the early statement is not to find the truth but rather to obtain admissions, concessions and other prejudicial information before you even have the chance to recover from the shock of it all and that will be used at a later date to minimize your case. Examples of this might surround legal theories of which you are unaware.
It is best to postpone these conversations until you determine whether or not you will need to make a claim and after that, only with the advice of, and consultation with, your attorney.