8 Ways You Could Harm Your Personal Injury Case by Not Hiring an Attorney
May 4, 2016 in Personal Injury Claim
If you were involved in an accident and are pursuing a personal injury claim, you might be tempted to try to handle the case yourself. After all, your case is as clear as day, right? Why should you reduce your compensation with an attorney’s fee?
Unfortunately, a couple of late-night Google searches aren’t enough to truly understand how a personal injury claim works. The truth is that very few people are capable of evaluating, managing, filing, and litigating their own case. There are pitfalls and roadblocks throughout the process, many of which are surprisingly easy to stumble over. Here are 8 ways you could sabotage yourself without an attorney overseeing your claim:
When you hire an attorney, the first thing they will tell you is that you should not discuss your case with anyone other than them or your doctor. Understand that an insurance company or defense attorney is compiling a case against you. Giving what you would consider a harmless statement to your insurance company or any other third party could potentially damage your case down the road.
Obtaining evidence early is absolutely crucial. After you’ve been in an accident, you will want to gather as much evidence as possible: surveillance footage, photos, witness statements, etc. Without an attorney to provide the diligence and thoroughness needed, you might miss a key piece to your case.
Not Following Doctor’s Orders
Medical care is a major component of a personal injury claim, not just for your physical recovery, but also as evidence of your injuries. If you’ve ever been on medication or in therapy, you know how easy it can be to miss a dose or skip a session. If these kinds of mistakes happen during a personal injury claim, you can bet that the defense will bring attention to your oversight and question the severity of your injuries.
Statute of Limitations
Most personal injury cases have a two-year statute of limitations, meaning you have two years to file a lawsuit or resolve your claim. But, there are numerous exceptions. A personal injury claim filed against a government entity (such as the state or city), for example, has a 6-month claim period. Meanwhile, a medical malpractice suit has a one-year statute of limitations. If you unknowingly let your statute of limitations expire, your claim is no longer valid in court no matter how meritorious your claim may be otherwise.
Making the common mistake of indicating a figure that you would be willing to settle for is essentially entering a bidding war against yourself. Let’s say you have a claim worth $15k. You figure something is better than nothing, so you mention to the defense that you would sign a release for $10k. Aside from the fact that you will probably get a low-ball offer below $10k, you are diminishing the value of your claim even if you hire an attorney after the fact.
Overestimating or Underestimating
It’s difficult to get a feel for exactly what your case is worth if you don’t have an attorney who can walk you through the steps to determine that number. Surprisingly, many people actually underestimate the value of their claim—all the more reason to hire an attorney sooner than later and ensure that you pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Posting on Social Media
In an age that revolves around sharing photos of everything from your breakfast to your pet, social media is an ever-increasing challenge to personal injury claims. When you have been injured, you will be tempted to post pictures and tell the story online for your friends and family to see. An attorney will remind you that the defense is checking on your social profiles and waiting for you to make even the slightest blunder.
Not Being Taken Seriously
Without having an attorney by your side, you will have a hard time sending the message that you can and will pursue your claim as far as it needs to go. The insurance company will expect you to eventually lose interest, accept an unfavorable settlement offer, or hurt your case with any of the mistakes we’ve discussed.
Are you seeking to file suit for a recent accident? Belgum, Fry & Van Allen specialize in personal injury claims ranging from car and motorcycle accidents to dog bites, slips, and falls. Click here to learn more about our team.