I recently took on a good client’s personal injury claim.  The more I learned, the less I wanted to know.  The client, through a series of poor decisions, had literally killed (or at least seriously injured) his potential $100,000.00+ claim.  Now he had more like a $5,000.00 (maybe) claim.  Don’t meet the same fate, avoid the:

Refuse treatment at the scene of the accident.

The police officer will note “Non-injury accident” in the accident report.  The insurance company will use this against you.

Don’t speak to the police officer at the scene.

You must tell the police your side of the story, or you may be found “at fault” for the accident (even though you weren’t).  Other drivers may conspire and lie to avoid liability.  They may even have friends act as fake, “call in” witnesses, after the fact.  You must firmly and clearly tell the police the facts.

Fail to obtain contact information for witnesses.

Police officers, even if they speak to a witness, often fail to list the witness’ contact information.  Sometimes they do not speak to all the witnesses.  You must document the name and telephone number of each witness.  Otherwise, you will likely lose vital evidence forever.

Don’t go to the hospital.

Back to my client. He was in a terrible crash and had severe pain in his neck, back, chest, and head.  It was a dangerous health situation.  He needed tests and treatment at a hospital. He didn’t go.  He suffered for days and feared he would drop dead.  His health insurance would have paid the (admittedly high) bill.  This mistake cost him a lot of pain, mental anguish, and up to $50,000.00 in value added to his claim.

Cancel a lot of medical appointments.

My client was scheduled for physical therapy, to take place over the course of two or three months.  He decided to cancel half of his appointments and go on vacation in the middle of treatment.  As a result, he didn’t get better, the gaps in treatment hurt his claim, and his legitimate medical bills, the basis for much of his claim’s value, were reduced. He cost himself another $10,000.00+ here, at least.

Give a recorded statement, or two.

He gave the insurance company a recorded statement.  Still treating for his injuries, which had improved, he said “I’m better”.  The adjuster noted that his injuries had completely resolved.  Don’t ever give a recorded statement before you talk to your lawyer.  Your statement may destroy your claim.  Multiple statements will by nature conflict, and you will lose credibility, damaging your claim.

Don’t call your lawyer until several months after the accident.

By avoiding this mistake, my client could have avoided the previous 6 mistakes.  Instead, he waited 8 months to call me.  He didn’t call until the adjuster used the previous 6 mistakes to seriously lowball him.  Work with your lawyer to build a solid, healthy claim from the beginning.   Don’t wait to call until the damage is done.

Before you make one or more of these mistakes, pick up the phone and call: Me, Mike Samuels at SAMUELS LAW GROUP PLC AT 480-565-2000