Most of the potential clients who contact our law office have never been involved in an injury accident. Many have never hired an attorney. Pursuing damages for a personal injury can be intimidating, which is why we always encourage potential clients to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation where they can get their questions answered by a professional attorney.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, a slip-and-fall accident, or some other type of personal injury accident in Broward County, FL, contact Long, Jeans & Wechsler, P.A. and speak with one of our attorneys. In the meantime, you’ll want to avoid the following 10 common mistakes that accident victims make.
1. Failing to Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Your health is of primary concern. Do not delay seeking medical attention. Many people are under the incorrect impression that they should wait until they speak to an insurance adjuster or an attorney before they go to the doctor to protect their claim. Seeking medical attention for your injuries will not hurt your case. In fact, going to the emergency room or to your doctor will help to establish a baseline for your injuries.
2. Providing Incomplete or Inaccurate Information
Some clients are concerned that the disclosure of a pre-existing condition may diminish the value of their case. Generally, with all other factors being equal, an accident case where a pre-existing injury contributed to your current condition may not warrant as much compensation as one where all of your physical damage is new. Many factors affect the outcome and settlement amount of your case, however, and not disclosing information or providing inaccurate information can ruin your credibility.
3. Delaying Filing Your Claim
The statute of limitations for most personal injury cases in Florida is four years from the date of injury. While this may seem like a long time, there are other considerations that make it unwise to delay filing. For instance, the accident scene will begin changing almost immediately. That means that essential physical evidence can be lost. The memories of witnesses begin to fade over time and they change locations and contact information. The longer you wait to file your claim, the less time your attorney has to work. Seek medical attention immediately, but then contact an attorney at Long, Jeans & Wechsler as soon as possible.
4. Making a Claim Before Talking to an Attorney
If you’ve already made a claim with the insurance company, don’t panic. You will still be able to recover damages as long as you haven’t signed a waiver. However, it’s always preferable to speak to a personal injury lawyer before talking to the insurance company. It’s not unusual for an insurance company to offer accident victims an immediate settlement following an accident. Insurance representatives will often try to convince claimants that the offer is fair and comprehensive. However, more often than not, the settlement offer falls short of a full and fair recovery — particularly with more serious accidents. Before you file your claim, call LJW Legal for a free consultation. If you have a viable personal injury settlement case, we can offer you immediate representation.
5. Talking to the Insurance Adjuster or Making a Recorded Statement
If you’ve filed a claim with your insurance company or the defendant’s insurer, you will hear from an adjuster in a relatively short amount of time. The adjuster will offer to write you a check for your medical expenses, lost wages, and a bit more for your inconvenience. When your medical bills are starting to mount, this money can be extremely tempting.
It’s important to recognize the reason for this urgency on the part of the adjuster. The adjuster’s ultimate responsibility is to reduce settlement amounts for their employer. It’s widely known that injury victims who hire personal injury lawyers typically receive greater settlement amounts. In other words, they want to get you to settle before you can speak to a lawyer, which will cost them more money.
The second goal of the adjuster is to get you to make statements that are counter to your interest. They may ask you how you’re feeling to elicit a response like, “Not so bad.” The insurance company can use this innocent reply to try to reduce the amount of your claim. If you are approached by an insurer, tell them you are seeking counsel and avoid any other conversation. Under no circumstances should you give a recorded statement without first speaking to an attorney.
6. Not Hiring an Attorney
Personal injury law firms will represent you on a contingency basis, but they do collect fees at the end of the case. Unfortunately, some accident victims believe that they will do better negotiating with the insurance company on their own without representation from a reputable personal injury law firm. By doing this, they avoid paying contingency fees. However, the settlement they receive is usually much smaller than if they had used a personal injury lawyer.
For example, a plaintiff is involved in a car accident and receives a $40,000 settlement offer from the insurance company. If they accept the settlement, they will receive the $40,000 minus anything that is paid directly for medical services and to the lienholder. After speaking to an attorney, they discover that the initial settlement offer is inadequate. The attorney negotiated with the insurer, and they settled for $100,000. Under the Florida Bar’s guidelines, the attorney would collect ⅓ as a contingency fee, which leaves the plaintiff $67,667 before expenses are deducted. While these numbers are hypothetical, this scenario occurs all of the time.
At LJW, all initial consultations are free, and you aren’t under any obligation to retain our services. Call today to discuss your insurance company’s settlement offer.
7. Accepting the Insurance Company Offer (Signing the Waiver)
As was previously mentioned, insurance adjusters would generally prefer to settle your case quickly. They will often offer to cut a check for you on the spot. As a condition of accepting this money, they will require you to sign a waiver of liability, which will prevent you from seeking further damages. The problem with accepting a settlement is that you may not really know what the long-term effects of your accident are. If they turn out to be worse than you first thought, you will not be able to pursue additional damages.
8. Not Reporting the Accident in a Timely Manner
Under Florida law, drivers are required to contact the police regarding any accident with injuries. The police must then complete a crash report. However, the laws governing other types of accidents are not as rigorous. For example, many slip-and-fall accident victims fail to notify the management of the incident. This means that they may be unaware that an accident occurred until weeks or months after. In that time, valuable evidence may be lost. Make certain that the at-fault party is aware of the accident.
9. Inadequate Documentation
Many accident victims who are not represented by personal injury lawyers are not aware of the importance of documentation. This not only means keeping copies of medical records and receipts but also making notes about pain levels, taking photos of the various stages of visible physical injuries, etc. The better the documentation, the more evidence that a personal injury attorney has to present to the insurance company or defense lawyers.
10. Making Social Media Posts About The Case
We live in a time where most people like to share significant events in their lives, and few things are as significant as an accident with injuries. However, these posts and comments can later be used by a defense attorney to diminish your claim. Posting photos of activities after your claim may also cast doubt about the severity of your injuries. Something as innocent as standing by a swimming pool or participating in a group photo on a fishing boat can adversely affect your claim. Use social media with caution.
What You Should Do After an Accident
Here are a few tips that can help you with your physical and financial recovery:
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Report the accident to the responsible party if they are unaware.
- Contact the police about motor vehicle accidents.
- Take photos or videos of the scene if you are able.
- Ask for witness contact information.
- Don’t make any statements to an insurance adjuster without an attorney.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer at your earliest opportunity.
Personal Injury Lawyers in Pompano Beach, FL
The personal injury lawyers at Long, Jean & Wechsler, P.A. have successfully represented hundreds of accident injury victims throughout South Florida. If you’ve been injured in an accident in Pompano Beach or anywhere in Broward County, call us for a free consultation.