If you've been injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver, you'll need to file a claim with that driver's insurance company. If the insurance company does not cover all of the damages, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to collect the remaining funds from the driver or their insurance company. Unfortunately, this is a very involved and intricate process, and one mistake along the way may lead to you losing your case or receiving less money than you deserve. For best results, avoid these common mistakes while making your claim and awaiting the judge's decision.
Mistake: Exaggerating or lying about the accident or your injuries.
When you're hurt and concerned about how you'll pay for your hospital expenses, it's tempting to exaggerate the truth. You might be tempted to say your back makes it hard to walk when, really, you can walk pain-free and your back only hurts when you bend over. You might be tempted to say the crash jarred your neck when, really, your neck was sore before the crash because you had fallen off your bike the day prior.
Resist this temptation to lie and exaggerate. You can bet that the defendant's insurance company and lawyers are looking for any evidence that the defendant should not have to pay for your injuries. If you lie, there's a good chance they'll find out the truth -- and once your reliability is called into question over a little issue, the judge will be unlikely to believe anything else you have to say about your case. Tell the truth, and trust that if you are indeed deserving of compensation, your lawyer will be able to convince the judge of it.
Mistake: Posting on social media about your case.
No matter how upset you might be about the accident, avoid posting anything specific about your accident or your condition on social media. One post that says something to the effect of "I'm feeling better today" could be taken out of context by the defendant's lawyer and used to make the case that you're healing better than you admit. Keep pictures, comments, and thoughts about the accident to yourself; only share them with close family members, and do so verbally, rather than in the public domain of social media.
Mistake: Going against your doctor's orders.
Did your doctor tell you to stay in bed for a week? Maybe he or she advised you to take pain relievers every six hours. Whatever your doctor's instructions were, you need to adhere to them closely. If you deviate from your doctor's orders and your injury does not heal as expected, the defense could claim that you would be just fine if you'd followed treatment instructions -- you might also not get any compensation for ongoing treatment.
Also make sure that if your doctor tells you to avoid certain activities, you avoid them. If your doctor has told you not to go running, but you are spotted jogging down the sidewalk, this will not only call into question the severity of your injury, but will also suggest to the judge that your ongoing treatment is only necessary because of your refusal to follow doctors' orders.
Mistake: Contacting the defendant directly.
All contact between you and the defendant should be through your lawyers at this point. You might mean well by calling the defendant and trying to negotiate or apologize for taking them to court, but you never know what you might say that could call the legitimacy of your claim into question. Similarly, if the defendant contacts you during the investigation and claim process, do not speak to them. Advise them to have their lawyer contact your lawyer, and hang up the phone. (In the case of email or text messages, stop replying and show the messages to your lawyer).
Negotiating a personal injury claim following a car accident can be difficult, but with a knowledgeable car crash attorney on your side, you should be able to collect the compensation you deserve.