Being involved in an automobile accident is a traumatic event, as the experienced personal injury attorneys of Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. are well aware of, from our more than fifteen years representing car accident victims. Over the course of our firm’s long history of representing accident victims, we have learned the following fifteen mistakes that can diminish the value of your auto accident case and personal injury claim.
- Admitting Fault to the Other Party
First, never, ever admit fault to another driver, the police or an eyewitness if you are involved in an accident. Doing so is an absolute cardinal sin and can be used against you in any later court or legal proceedings which result from or concern the accident.
- Failing to Seek Medical Treatment in a Timely Manner
If you are injured in a car accident, you must seek appropriate medical treatment as soon as you can safely do so, after your accident. Waiting weeks or even months to seek medical treatment to see if your injuries will heal over time can weaken your claim substantially because it makes it seem that your injuries are less severe than they actually are.
- Failing to Tell the Doctor About All Your Injuries
It is extremely important that you are completely honest with your doctor or other medical professionals that treat you after an accident about the full extent your injuries. If any of your injuries, limitations, or other medical problems that you have suffered in an accident are not adequately documented in your medical records, then this can make recovering damages for the full extent of your injuries much more difficult later on.
- Agreeing to Handle Things Between the Two Drivers
If another motorist tries to convince you that it is better to just “handle things between the two of you,” this is a huge mistake on your part, particularly if the other driver is at fault. A police report can be extremely important evidence in subsequent legal proceedings involving your accident. If you agree with the other driver not to call the police and have an accident report completed, then your case may suffer without the availability of a key piece of evidence.
- Failing to Preserve Evidence
Make sure to take photographs of your vehicle after an accident as well as of the other cars that were involved in the accident. Also be sure to document all damage and financial losses you suffer as a result of the accident. If you fail to take all reasonable steps that you can to preserve the key evidence in your case, then you may prejudice your ability to prevail in a lawsuit that may be filed to enable you to recover damages suffered in the accident.
- Not Being Honest With Your Attorney
You should always be 100% honest with your attorney. If you had some part in causing the accident like, for example, if you were glancing at your phone when another driver unexpectedly swerved into your lane, do not try to hide this from your attorney. You are only hurting yourself because if you are not 100% honest with your attorney, he or she cannot adequately represent you in connection with your legal claims.
- Assuming The First Settlement Offer Will Be The Final One
A common mistake we see at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. is a practice that many insurers have of telling accident victims that “this is an exploding offer” or “this is the highest offer we can make” in an effort to pressure an accident victim into accepting a low-ball offer. If the insurer of the driver who was at fault truly believes that there is enough merit to your case to make a settlement offer, they are not going to make an offer and then never make another. By making that first offer, they are signaling they are willing to negotiate and they are likely to keep doing so, particularly if you have a good attorney who can present your case effectively.
- Not Hiring An Attorney to Assist You
Insurers like to spread the rumor that you do not need an attorney to represent you in connection with an accident in which you were injured. This is very rarely true because insurers will often take advantage of an unrepresented party’s unfamiliarity with the legal process and the damages available in a personal injury accident to either pay them pennies on the dollar or get them to not even pursue a claim against a driver who was clearly at fault.
- Using Social Media After Your Accident
Do not use social media after you have been involved in an accident. Any pictures that you post to Instagram or status updates that you post on Facebook can be found by the other side if the accident ends up in a lawsuit. Rest assured, if those social media posts paint a different picture of your injuries and functional limitations than you tell your attorney or than your medical records reflect, this will come back to hurt you in any legal proceedings involving the accident.
- Sharing A Conversations You Have With Your Attorney with a Third Party
Any communications between you and your attorney are absolutely privileged from disclosure. However, if you share anything that your lawyer tells you with a third party other than a spouse, this confidentiality is lost. You have no idea who that third person will share the content of your conversation with. Worse yet, they could turn around and tell the other party to your lawsuit that information, which is then no longer protected by the attorney-client privilege. The other side then knows your attorney’s strategy and his or her attorney can adjust his or her own strategy accordingly.
- Giving a Statement to the Other Driver’s Insurer
Often, the other driver’s insurer may contact you and ask for a statement. Do not consent to this because any statement can be used against you and you can rest assured that the other driver’s insurer will be looking for any way that they can to get you to make a statement that exculpates their driver and makes it seem like you did not suffer injuries or that you were actually at fault rather than the other driver.
- Signing a Settlement Agreement or Other Legal Document Without Consulting an Independent Attorney
An insurer may attempt to pressure you into signing a settlement agreement, a release or some other document and tell you that it is just a standard procedure or that you have to sign the legal document for them to even speak with you. However, this is not the case, and you should never sign any legal document that is given to you by an insurer before first speaking with an attorney.
- Taking Your Vehicle to the Body Shop or Repair Facility Recommended by the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Often, the other driver’s insurer will attempt to convince you to take your car to a certain body shop or repair facility. However, understand that the insurer’s priority is to save money, so they may send you to a repair facility that will do a shoddy job or will not actually perform the necessary repairs to your vehicle. You should get several estimates from different repair shops and take your vehicle to a repair facility you feel comfortable with rather than feeling pressured to take your vehicle to a repair facility chosen by the insurer of the party at fault.
- Not Communicating with Your Employer Regarding Any Physical Limitations You May Have
It is extremely important that if your physician gives you restrictions or specific precautionary advice to avoid certain activities as a result of injuries that you suffered in an accident, that you immediately notify your employer of these restrictions. It may be better for you to not go back to work if you have certain restrictions and ignoring these restrictions and just simply going back to work and “gritting it out” can harm your personal injury case because the fact that you went back to work after an accident despite being placed on restrictions by your physician may end up being used against you by the other side to argue you are not as injured as you actually are.
- Misrepresenting Your Activity Level or Limitations to Your Attorney or Doctor
Insurers are permitted to hire private investigators to conduct surveillance of those who claim to have suffered injuries in an accident. They very commonly do so and, if you tell your doctor that you can barely walk, but the private investigator is able to videotape you playing basketball in the driveway with your children, then this will be used against you in any settlement negotiations or a trial which may occur as a result of your accident. Therefore, you should always be honest with both your physicians and your attorney about your activity level and the limitations you truly suffer from as a result of an accident.
Contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. if You Were Injured in a Car Accident in Illinois
If you were involved in a car accident in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, please contact the aggressive and experienced personal injury and attorneys of the Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900. During our more than fifteen years representing victims of auto accidents, we have represented thousands of people and we will fight hard to obtain maximum compensation for you for your injuries suffered in a car accident.