You’ve been in an accident. You’re injured. The steps you take next (or don’t take!) will have a significant impact on the outcome of your personal injury claim.
It could mean the difference between getting the money you need to fully recover and being forced to empty your bank accounts to pay for someone else’s mistake.
Here are 5 errors you should avoid to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.
- Not calling the police. Were you injured by another person? Did you have to seek immediate medical attention in the form of EMT, police, or fire services? Did you file a police report to create a clear, detailed record of what happened? Do you have official paperwork and evidence to prove that the event actually occurred?It’s hard to remember in the heat of the moment that you need documentation proving that something the accident happened and getting the details in writing, but it’s necessary.
- Waiting to see a doctor. Did you know that, in Florida, you have to seek medical attention within two weeks of getting injured in an accident? Make sure to schedule a doctor’s visit within this timeframe or you will lose your right to file a personal injury claim and receive compensation.
- Waiting to file your claim. In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is four years – three years if it’s against a city or state government. That may seem like a lot of time, but with doctor’s visits, recovery, and an attempt to get your life back on track, time can pass quickly.If it has been over four years, your claim will most likely be dismissed immediately, so keep that in mind. Don’t wait!
- Assuming the other party is at completely at-fault. You can bet that the lawyers for the other party will do everything possible to highlight your actions and hold you at least partially responsible. This matters even outside of car accidents. The insurance adjuster or jury will take into account how much you were at fault in the situation (such as running on wet concrete by a pool in a slip and fall) and deduct your percentage of fault from your total compensation. You and your lawyer have to work hard both to show the other party’s responsibility and why your own actions contributed minimally (or not at all) to the accident that caused your injury.
- You don’t hire an attorney. While a personal injury claim may seem fairly clear cut, without proper representation you’re essentially denying yourself the best tool in your arsenal. An attorney will be able to verify that the criteria for a personal injury claim are met, and that you actually have a case. You will have an expert on your side who will help you gather the evidence you need, deal with legal processes and the insurance company, and generally alleviate the stress of a court proceeding.Without an attorney, it all falls on you – on top of being injured and/or unable to work.