7 Huge Pitfalls That Will Hurt Your Case in Court
Most injury cases are settled without going to court. Still, you and your lawyer must be prepared to go to court in case the insurance company does not offer full and fair compensation for your injuries. So here are pitfalls that will harm your case if it is necessary to take your case to trial. Pitfall #1: Waiting too long before getting medical treatment. Accident victims who don’t have symptoms immediately after the accident often decide they don’t need to go to the doctor. Then, after a few weeks or months, when symptoms or other problems arise, they go to the doctor and discover that their problems are related to their accident. So even if you don’t think you are injured, make sure you go to the doctor for a complete evaluation. Then, if your case goes to trial, the jury will see that you went for medical attention right away. But if you wait for a long period of time, the jury usually won’t think you have serious injuries if you waited weeks or months to go to the doctor. Pitfall #2: Going to the wrong type of doctor. Make sure you first go to a medical doctor (MD) or an osteopath (DO) for treatment that is knowledgeable in treating the kind of injuries you have sustained. So start with an evaluation by an MD or DO. Later they may refer you to a Chiropractor, a physical therapist, or a specialist. Pitfall #3: Stopping your medical treatment before your doctor officially releases you. When their pain goes away, many accident victims are well and no longer need a doctor’s care. But this is a big problem because, often, the first improvement you are likely to see is that you have no more pain. This does not mean that your injury has healed. Nor does it mean that it won’t return. So, make sure you keep all of your doctor appointments – and follow your doctor’s advice – until he or she tells you that you do not need further treatment. Then if your case goes to trial, the jury will know that you properly followed your doctor’s instructions. Pitfall #4: Failing to report your accident to the police. One sure way to make your injuries look minor is to not call the police when you have an accident. It’s hard to persuade a jury that you deserve a sizable amount of money if you don’t think your injuries are bad enough to notify law enforcement. Calling the police usually works in your favor because it documents how the accident happened and your lawyer can call the officer as a witness at your trial. Pitfall #5: Failing to tell your lawyer about prior accidents and injuries. Accident victims often think that their lawyers are not interested in their previous accidents. But this isn’t true. If you were injured in a prior accident, the insurance company will argue that your injuries were caused by your previous accident, not your most recent mishap. In addition, your recent accident might have made a previous injury much worse. In either case, your lawyer needs to have this information, so he can explain to the jury how your most recent accident affected you in light of any previous injuries. Pitfall #6: Exaggerating your injuries. You cannot fool an insurance company or the jury. If you overstate your injuries – or even shade the truth just a little – the insurance company’s investigators will find out. Then their lawyers will make sure that the jury knows that you can’t be trusted, to tell the truth. This will affect your overall credibility and the jury will punish you for your dishonesty by deciding in the insurance company’s favor – or by awarding you only a small fraction of the money you deserve. Pitfall #7: Failing to be courteous to everyone involved. As the old saying goes, you can disagree without being disagreeable. Juries respond positively to accident victims who are honestly suing for full and fair compensation for an injury caused by a corporation or injury who violates safety rules.