If you are seeking to recover damages from a personal injury claim, the things you don’t do are just as important as the things you do.
Many people harm their case at the outset by failing to hiring an attorney sooner rather than later. You want to have an attorney representing you not only for their expertise in the courtroom, but also for their advice and guidance along the way. In order to better your chances of winning the compensation you deserve, here are 7 things your attorney will tell you not to do while your personal injury case is pending:
The first thing any personal injury attorney will tell you is to defer any questions about the case to them, especially those coming from an insurance company. Any statements you make to a claims representative or claims adjustor will likely be used to reduce the value your claim, even if it’s something as simple as an optimistic, “Hopefully I’ll be okay.”
Minor discrepancies in small details, such as precisely where and when the accident took place, often resurface during litigation. They don’t always necessarily damage your case directly, but they can certainly damage your credibility and cause further questioning. You should never provide a recorded or written statement about the accident unless expressly advised to do so by your attorney.
You also shouldn’t discuss your case with friends. This is not an issue of trust. From a pure legal standpoint, your statements to friends are not privileged or protected like your statements to your attorney are. Your conversations about your case with friends or family can discovered by a defense attorney in a deposition or at trial
Once you hire an attorney, the insurance company will be notified not to send you any requests for signed documents. Prior to this, you can usually expect to receive a medical authorization form at some point.
Do not sign it. Unrestricted access to your medical history might seem standard and harmless, but it’s unnecessary and an unwarranted intrusion into your private affairs. If you sign a medical authorization form, the insurance company can search for potential ways to discredit you, and not always in ways you expect. For example, consider a situation where the harm you suffered due to the wrongdoing of another includes emotional distress. If the insurance company discovers that you took depression medication eight years ago, they may use that fact to try and minimize your emotional distress claim.
This is one of the most common mistakes people make before they have hired an attorney: thinking a settlement will be easier and “something is better than nothing.” Once you discuss a settlement with an insurance representative, you have created an anchor to all future negotiations. They will likely low-ball you and it will become difficult for your attorney to recover what your claim is really worth.
Communication with your personal injury attorney is imperative throughout your case. Aside from responding to any communication you receive from them in a timely manner, you should also actively update them on any new developments, such as a new witness or change in your health status. Doing so will help to ensure that your attorney is able to represent your case to the best of their abilities.
Medical care is a major component of your claim, for both your physical recovery and evidence of your injuries. If you miss a dose of your medication or skip a therapy session, there is a good chance the defense will bring attention to your oversight and question the severity of your injuries. For this reason, it is also important that you share any and all complaints stemming from your injuries.
Beware of a potential “sub-rosa” investigation. This occurs when the insurance company or a defense attorney hires a private investigator to take photographs or videos of you engaging in activities that someone with your injuries might not be able to participate in. This goes beyond the obvious water-skiing when you say you can’t walk. Something as simple as a practice swing of your 9 iron in the backyard can cause irreparable damage to your case.
Always consider the very real possibility that your movements and actions may be under surveillance, and act accordingly. If you believe that you might be under a sub-rosa investigation, contact your attorney immediately.
We’re not going to tell you that you can’t post on social media at all, but if you’re able to refrain, you will greatly reduce the chances of harming your case. If you do decide to carry on your daily social media activities, do not discuss or provide details of your personal injury claim.
There is a high probability that the defense is checking on your social profiles and waiting for you to make even the slightest blunder, much less post a video of you—with the extreme neck pain and migraines that have caused you to miss work—sharing a pitcher of sangria in the sun or white water rafting on a Saturday afternoon. Understand that privacy settings don’t always protect you either, as social media networks themselves can be subpoenaed.
If you have been injured in an accident and wish to pursue a personal injury claim, Belgum, Fry & Van Allen can provide you with the best representation in Southern California. Get a free personal injury case evaluation from our experienced team today.