Accidents can be traumatic; they are able to change your life in serious ways. But even with competent legal counsel in your corner, it is entirely possible to destroy your chances at receiving fair compensation. Here are some common mistakes.
- Talking Too Much: Social media teaches people hard lessons every day. The last thing you want to do if you are involved in legal action is to discuss the details of the case. Yes, it can be tempting to share what you are going through. But you will survive without getting some of that attention. Lawsuits are serious and complicated, the last thing you want to do is provide the other party information that damages your position.
- Being the Tough Guy: ‘I’m fine, I can go to work today’. That might be how you feel, but if you are in the middle of a claim and part of your case includes prescribed bed rest from your doctor. Then going about your daily business could be providing the argument that you are not actually injured, and your claim might be seriously reduced. If you think you have a legitimate claim for personal injury compensation, you need to find legal representation.
- Taking Responsibility: It might be a little bit your fault, or maybe a lot your fault. But it isn’t up to you to decide. There might be a lot of other factors to consider. If you aren’t an expert in the law, it is not your place to be deciding guilt. A confession of guilt on your behalf, even if it were meant as a civil gesture, could mean the end of your claim. You are innocent until proven guilty and the presumption of innocence is valuable. So be careful what you say.
- No Proof: Everyone has a smart phone, if you are able, after an accident, take pictures of everything related to the incident. People, damage, street signs, vehicle identification. And while you are at it, record the names of witnesses and the information of the offending party, if possible. Later, it could be only your word against theirs if you don’t have any evidence. One picture could mean the whole settlement.
- Signing Things: This should go without saying, but you really need to have legal counsel before you start signing documents. It is a common tactic to get people to sign something incriminating, or to sign away their right to compensation. If someone asks you to sign something at the scene, or without your lawyer present. Just say no.
A lawyer can only do so much to get you the justice you deserve. You need to leave the business of the settlement in their hands. Once you have representation you should resist the urge to talk about the specifics with anyone. Insurance companies have specialists whose job is to protect their company from paying settlements to fraudulent and ineligible claims. They would love your help in doing their job for them. But if you are wise, you will stay out of it until your council says otherwise.