Going through a personal injury lawsuit is never an easy process. The very premise is that you or someone you love has been injured and that the injury has had ripple effects throughout your life. Everything can seem chaotic and in that chaos crucial errors can be made—errors that can cost you your case or reduce the settlement you ultimately get.
There are 3 common personal injury lawsuit mistakes and 1 overarching error that encompasses all of them.
1. Failure to document
In the immediate aftermath of the incident—let’s presume it was a car accident, since those constitute over half of all personal injury claims—it’s imperative that witness testimony be gathered and photos be taken.
Suffice it to say this isn’t easy—after all, you’ve just been in an accident and whatever your condition, you’re glad it wasn’t worse. However, missing this documentation can cost you dearly in settlement negotiations or at trial.
The need for documentation continues after you get home. Document the medications you’re taking, the rehab you’re doing and the time from your job that you’re missing.
Finally, make absolutely certain you avoid signing any paperwork from a hospital or the insurance company without knowing exactly what’s in the fine print. You could end up unwittingly waiving some of your rights. Documentation is hard enough—you don’t need to help the other side with their own paperwork.
2. Failure to file on time
Each state has a statute of limitations on filing a personal claim. The lowest time limit is 1 year and, depending on what state you live in, it can go as high as 6 years.
But when was the last time you thought had a long time to finish a project and then a deadline snuck past you? In the midst of your rehab and restructuring your life post-accident, it can be easy to put off actually filing your lawsuit, thinking you have plenty of time. Until you don’t have any more time.
Don’t delay. File your claim as soon as possible.
3. Failure to keep silent
This refers to conversation with your friends and family, insurance carriers and especially on social media. Some discussion—with insurance adjusters for example and perhaps the opposing party in the lawsuit—may be inevitable, but don’t say anything more than absolutely necessary. Even a casual “I’m feeling fine” can be skewed against you in a court of law.
The same goes for social media. Rushing to Facebook to reassure your friends that you’re fine can work against you. Or let’s say there’s a day when you decided to push yourself a bit and do some recreational activity. You post photos. You aren’t any better and the next morning you’re feeling it. Unfortunately, the photos are gathered by opposing counsel and used as evidence that your injuries aren’t as bad as you claim.
That brings us to the 1 big mistake that covers all other mistakes—a failure to get proper legal representation.
When you have a personal injury lawyer, they’ll make sure your case gets filed in a timely manner. They’ll tell you what documentation that you need. They’ll advise you on any documents that come from medical facilities or insurance carriers. A lawyer will handle your conversations with the opposing party and remind you not to get carried away in talking about your recovery.
Winning a personal injury lawsuit or getting a good settlement is a grind. Having a competent lawyer will prevent you from making these common mistakes.