You may be tempted to handle your personal injury claim without an attorney in order to save money. READ THIS FIRST! While it can be possible to do successfully, it’s important to be aware of the personal injury negotiation mistakes that can be made when attempting to negotiate a settlement against an insurance company who regularly negotiates these types of claims.
Below are 10 very common mistakes people make when attempting to negotiate a personal injury claim without the assistance of an attorney:
- Failing to properly and thoroughly document. One of the most important things you can do after an accident is to document everything related to the incident. This includes photographs at the scene of the injury, collecting witness statements, obtaining a copy of the police report, gathering all of your medical records and associated bills, etc. Without this documentation, it will be very difficult to prove your injury case.
- Direct communication with an adjuster. While it’s important to be cooperative, it’s also important to remember that they are not interested in you or your well being. As mentioned previously, they are in the business of making and maintaining money. There is no such thing as an innocent conversation with an insurance company. They will always try to solicit information from you that will save them money. Anything you say to an insurance adjuster will be used against you later.
- Accepting the first offer of settlement from an insurance company. Insurance companies are in the business of keeping as much money in their possession as possible. They will almost always make lower settlement offers in the hopes that the injured party will accept it out of desperation, lack of time to pursue the issue, frustration with the process, etc. Insurance companies will also rely on your inexperience and hope you will in turn rely on their first offer being a fair one. However, it’s important to remember that you have the right to demand and negotiate a higher settlement amount.
- Being unaware of the statute of limitations. Each state has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which means there is a deadline by which you must file your claim with a court. Ignoring this deadline, or being unaware of it, can result in you forfeiting your right to pursue compensation for your injuries. It’s important to be aware of this deadline and take action accordingly.
- Underestimating the value of your claim. It can be difficult to determine the true value of a personal injury claim, especially if you’re not familiar with the process and value of each damage or harm inflicted upon you. However, failing to account for all of your losses, including pain, diminution of value to your damaged property, lost wages, etc. can result in a settlement amount that is not fair and does not fully compensate you for the entire scope of the injury and damage.
- Delaying medical treatment. In personal injury cases and claims, you must always prove that the injury was caused by the wrongful or negligent actions of another. Delaying medical treatment makes proving causation much more difficult. Additionally, it may be harder to eventually heal completely from your injuries if treatment is not immediately sought.
- Failing to account for future medical expenses. Even if your injuries are feeling somewhat improved, you may require ongoing or even permanent medical assistance in the future. It’s important to factor expenses into the future and not just what has been paid out to date.
- Failing to consult with an attorney. Even if you don’t ultimately hire an attorney to represent you, it can be helpful to consult with a personal injury attorney early on in the process to assess your rights and obligations.
- Impatience. Delay is a very popular weapon in an insurance company’s arsenal. Delays cause frustration which lead to accepting lower settlement amounts. It can be tempting to settle a personal injury claim quickly in order to move on from the financial burden of the injury. However, settling too quickly will result in unfairness and injustice with regards to the settlement amount.
- Failing to fully comprehend the insurance/legal process. The law is not often straightforward or intuitive, especially with insurance claims. Negotiating a personal injury claim can be complex, especially if you have never been forced to deal with the legal process. It’s important to do your research and fully understand your rights and responsibilities before attempting to negotiate a settlement on your own.
We have experienced personal injury attorneys that can help you avoid costly personal injury negotiation mistakes. If you have been involved in an accident and want to speak with someone about your injuries and legal rights, give us a call. Consultations are completely free of charge.