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Mistakes to Avoid that can ruin your Personal Injury Case

June 2, 2012

If you or a loved one are involved in an accident that has led to personal injuries or even death, whether from an automobile accident, trucking accident, boating accident, or some other type of accident, it is important that you avoid the common mistakes made by people that can be devastating to their claim for damages.  Unfortunately, for many people these mistakes occur before they have consulted an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury law firm, which can signficantly reduce the value of (or entirely eliminate) their claim.  Below is a list of some of these common mistakes:

  1. Obtain proper insurance coverages for you and your family.  Often times, victims of an accident learn how valuable certain types of auto insurance could be, such as underinsured/uninsured motorist (“UM”) insurance, when they realize they did not have it when they were involved in a serious accident.  For example, UM insurance applies when the other drive who is at-fault does not carry suffiicent insurance or has no insurance to cover your injury claim.  Since it is optional, you must select it and pay an additional premium, however, it can be the most important insurance one can carry since there are so many drivers out there that do not carry any bodily injury (BI) insurance or insufficient amounts.  Under Florida’s laws, the minimum coverage required is $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL) as long as you have a valid Florida license plate. The more UM coverage you can afford, that is “Stacked,” the better, because, if you are in accident and the other driver does not have insurance, your own UM policy will compensate you for your injury claim.   That way, if you are in accident and the other driver does not carry suffiicent insurance coverage for your injury claim, you are not without a way of recovering money for your injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc.  Be certain to speak to an insurance agent or your insurer, to explore the different types of insurances you can obtain to protect you and your family.  It may not be as expensive as you think.
  2. Immediately seek appropriate medical care and treatment.  Do not wait to seek medical care if you are injured.  Victims will regularly avoid the ER or the hospital because they believe it is an inconvenience or because they want avoid the expense.  However, if you wait to seek treatment or miss any doctor’s appointments, you could signficantly impact the value of your case.  You should imediately seek treatment, whether it is by consenting to be taken by ambulance or visiting the ER, because your failure to seek immediate treatment may not only be detrimental to your health or wellbeing, your injuries may not be considered serious or significant.   Keep in mind, if you have an insurance policy with personal injury protection benefits (PIP), your medical expenses are usually covered (depending on certain circumstances) up to $10,000.00 regardless of who’s at fault for the accident.  Without proper and complete medical care, you will have trouble proving that you were injured from the accident.
  3. Be cautious of insurance adjusters. Insurance adjusters can take advantage of you if you are not careful after an accident.  They are speficically trained to obtain certain information from you to decrease the value and/or eliminate your claim, for the benefit of the insurance companies.   It is best that if the other driver’s insurance adjuster wants to obtain a statement from you regarding the accident, it is best you seek immediate legal advice to ensure your rights are protected.  The statements taken from you by an insurance agent can be used against you in your case.
  4. Preserve the evidence.  After an accident, it is crucial that you do not forget to preserve the evidence surrounding the accident.  A victim is required to prove that the other party was at fault for the accident and that the accident caused their injury.  Therefore, in a motor vehicle accident, you will also want to ensure that a police report is written up, so make sure that law enforcement is called to the scene.  It is also critical that you or anyone with you, obtains the names and contact information of any witnesses.  Do thebest you can to obtain photographs of the scene of the accident, the vehicles involved, the damage caused, and any other contributing factors. Without the appropriate police report, witness contact information, and photographs, you may not be able to effectively recreate the accident scene.  It is useful to carry a pen, notepad, and disposable camera, in your vehicle in case you need it.
  5. Be honest and do not withhold information.  Your doctors and lawyer should be made aware of all circumstances surrounding the accident and your injuries.  You should be honest and avoid withholding any information that you believe might be detrimental to your case, such as a prior injury or accident. In the event it is discovered by the opposing party or insurance company, it can be devastating to your case and credibility.  It is important that all of the information is revealed to your doctors and lawyer from the inception of your treatment and case.
  6. Select an experienced attorney.  Florida personal injury lawis complex and requires particular knowledge of the laws, insurance, litigation, and satisfaction of liens, such as those from health insurance or Medicare/Medicaid, where applicable.  Immediately after being involved in an accident, it is best that you seek appropriate legal representation to ensure that you are properly guided through the claims process and maximize the value of your case.  Do not rely solely on advertisements or TV commercials.  You should do your research and be certain that the attorney you chose concentrates his/her practice in personal injury, and the appropriate level of experience to handle your case.  Be cautious of referrals from chiropractors, towing companies, or certain types of personal injury/accident referral services, as they may not be looking out for your best interests (rather just their pockets).  It is also necessary to be wary of any lawyers that attempt to solicit you after an accident (in writing or in person), as this is not permitted under Florida law.

Ruben E. Socarras, Esq., is a Martindale “AV” rated personal injury lawyer is a founder and managing partner of Law Office of Ruben E. Socarras, P.A., located in Boca Raton, Florida.  Mr. Socarras previously worked in the area of insurance defense law giving him a unique vantage point in prosecuting and litigating personal injury cases.  He has extensive experience handling a wide variety of personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida.  Contact us at 561.361.1000 or visit www.socarraslaw.com for a free evaluation of your case.

This article is not intended to provide legal advice for any particilar or individual case. The information in this article site was developed by Law Office of Ruben E. Socarras, P.A. for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.  Furthermore, this information on this web site is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between you and any of the attorneys at the Law Office of Ruben E. Socarras, P.A.  You must first retain the law firm, and we must acknowledge that you hired the firm, before the attorney-client relationship is created.  Persons receiving the information from this article should not act upon the information provided without seeking profession legal advice for your particular situation.