Navigating a Westchester County personal injury claim can be complex, and there are many possible mistakes that can wind up delaying or costing you your claim altogether. Some of the most common include the following.
Failing to Seek Medical Treatment
Seeing a doctor as soon as possible following a personal injury accident is critical to recovering compensation. Even if you think your injuries are minor, there must be medical records linking your injuries and potential injuries to the incident. Some severe injuries can have delayed symptoms, and if there is no record of immediate treatment, the insurance company can argue that they were not a result of the accident.
Even if you believe that you contributed to your injury accident, refrain from admitting fault. What you believe occurred may not be the whole story, and if you admit to causing the accident, it can be used against you to significantly limit your compensation.
Failing to Collect Evidence
Staying at the scene of the accident and collecting evidence is critical to the success of a personal injury claim. You will have the burden of proving the at-fault party’s negligence, which means you need proof that they were responsible. If you are immediately transported to the hospital, ask a friend or family member to collect evidence for you. If not, stay at the scene and take photos and video of the area, ask for contact information for all parties involved and any witnesses, keep a detailed journal of the event, your injuries, and daily symptoms, and keep track of accident-related expenses.
Talking to the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company
The at-fault party’s insurance company may try to pressure you into making a recorded statement if you speak to them without an attorney. Insurance adjusters are notorious for asking questions in a way that your answers can hurt your claim or will try to trip you up in your story. If you accidentally admit fault or say information that can be used against you, the insurer may devalue your claim or deny it altogether.
Accepting the Initial Settlement Offer
The at-fault party’s insurer may quickly offer you a settlement to try to resolve your claim as soon as possible. The letter will contain instructions to sign and return it in order for them to send you a check. The quick cash may be tempting but wait to sign until you consult an attorney. The initial settlement offer will typically be much lower than your claim’s actual value. If you sign the form, also known as a release of liability, you give up your right to sue the at-fault party and pursue any further compensation. If you settle too soon, before you understand the full extent of your damages, you could end up with muss less than you need to recover.
Not Hiring an Attorney
Insurance companies can be very challenging to work with, and studies show that those represented by a lawyer end up with three and a half times more in compensation. If you handle your case alone, the insurance adjuster will know you do not intend to go to trial and may not take your claim seriously. An experienced personal injury lawyer will not allow an insurer to take advantage of you. They will advocate for you and negotiate a fair settlement offer on your behalf.