A lot is going on at once when you’re in an accident. It can be challenging to deal with all the moving parts in the situation, such as insurance, legal reports, and any injuries you or your loved ones have sustained.
Image by Canva.com
Unfortunately, managing these necessary actions and dealing with the legal ramifications can result in less-than-ideal outcomes. As personal injury lawyers, we often see common mistakes that result in a losing case, or otherwise keep people from receiving the full amount they’re owed when injured in an accident.
1. Preparing Your Case Begins the Second Your Accident Ends
One of the biggest impacts on the outcome of auto injury cases is the quality of the evidence collected at the scene. The better the evidence, the easier it is to secure a favorable settlement or win a case in the rare event it advances to a trial.
Of course, collecting this evidence should never come before your health. If you or a loved one are injured, ensure that you receive treatment before worrying about the information collected at the scene. However, if you find that you’re leaving the accident for a medical emergency, see if you can call a friend or relative to help ensure that all necessary evidence is collected.
Image by Canva.com
That said, a good injury case requires more than just accident information. If you’re injured, the work is just beginning. Collecting everything you would need for a case, including evidence of your injuries, can be a lengthy process. That process often starts with your emergency room intake paperwork or, if you have less serious injuries, your initial doctor’s evaluation. You’ll also need to collect documentation detailing your costs, including bills from your doctors and information about the prescriptions and treatment received as a direct result of your injury.
Finally, if you’re out of work or have other financial losses due to your injuries, you’ll need to produce documentation of those as well. That can include pay stubs and a note from your office detailing how long you’ve been out and what compensation you’ve missed due to the accident.
While this may sound like a lot of work to do, especially if you’re freshly injured, it’s critical that it gets done for your case to run as smoothly as possible. Failing to take these steps can seriously affect your ability to create a settlement that appropriately reflects your injuries or win a case.
2. Accepting an Early Settlement Can Be a Huge Mistake
Given the amount of work that goes into creating a winnable case, it’s understandable that some accident victims take an early settlement. After all, getting that money right away can feel like a win when faced with automobile repair or replacement costs, medical bills, and time out of work. However, in most cases, an early settlement isn’t the win that it first appears. If you’re in a truck or automobile accident, someone may visit your hospital room with a large settlement check for you—if you’ll only sign on the dotted line.
Agreeing to a settlement at this stage is often a huge mistake, even if the offer would be life-changing. Insurance companies and trucking lines will try to settle early because it saves them money in the long run, both in litigation but also because the full extent of injury they may be liable for isn’t yet known. Consequently, they can get away with an offer that’s lower than what they’d ultimately owe. In most cases, the proper settlement can’t be calculated immediately, especially if serious medical treatment is necessary.
Early settlements can also miss out on factors due to discovery that could significantly increase the size of your settlement. Was there drug use by the party at fault? Did the company hire a trucker they knew had a history of dangerous driving and thus acted negligently? If you settle too early, it’s unlikely that these facts will come to light, and as a result, you’ll receive significantly less than you’re owed. On the other hand, working with an attorney experienced in such cases can help unearth this information and eventually lead to a larger settlement.
3. Settlements Often Take Longer Than You Think
If you’re injured in an accident, you may need to be patient to receive the settlement you’re owed. First, before you accept a settlement, you need to be treated to the point where further medical intervention is unlikely to improve your quality of life. This ensures that your medical bills will be captured in full so that restitution can be made.
However, the medical bills alone don’t always capture the costs of an injury. In some situations, you may fully recover…but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, you may be able to work, but only at reduced hours because of the pain. Or, maybe you can’t work the same job after the accident and have no income. In the latter cases, you’d be owed much more, but there’s no way of knowing that while you’re still being treated.
Image by Canva.com
Other times, the insurance or trucking company at fault drags their feet. Instead of offering a settlement once all evidence has been collected and submitted, they instead do nothing. They might even act as though they’re willing to take a case to trial, hoping you won’t be so willing. But, with a good attorney, you can call their bluff: The threat of a trial looming in a month, or even a week, is often enough to convince them to finalize a settlement to avoid an expensive trial loss. These factors are a significant reason that the average settlement is only signed about 18 months after an accident.
When You Should Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one is injured in an accident, there are often many uncertainties ahead. And that’s without even factoring in the legal side of the equation. One of the best reasons to contact a personal injury lawyer is that they’ve helped people like you before and can help you set expectations for the days ahead.
And if you are a resident of New Mexico, that personal injury lawyer should be the Law Office of Samuel I. Kane. We will carefully assess the degree of damage suffered and help you get the maximum compensation you deserve. All you have to do is reach out.
Please note that this article was created for advertisement purposes, and it does not constitute any contractual legal relationship, nor imply one.