When filing your personal injury claim, avoid these common mistakes.
Filing a personal injury claim can be a complicated process. Between navigating the legal system, negotiating with insurance companies, and dealing with medical expenses, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. If this is your first time filing a personal injury claim here are 8 common mistakes you will want to avoid.
1. Exaggerating or lying about any aspect of the accident
The old proverb, “honesty is the best policy” rings true in life and especially in our legal system. Whether you are speaking to the insurance companies, your medical providers, giving a deposition, or speaking before a jury, you must always present the truth. Good attorneys can take bad facts and present them in a light most favorable to their client’s case, but it’s impossible to overcome a client that has been deceitful. Mom was right. Always tell the truth.
2. Declining Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Insurance
Uninsured or underinsured motorist (“UM”) insurance pays for any accidental bodily injury, sickness, or disease, including death when such an injury is the result of an automobile accident and the at-fault party does not have Bodily Injury (BI) Coverage or has liability limits lower than what is needed. This coverage is optional, but it really is one you shouldn’t decline if you can afford it. If you do not have this coverage, you will most likely be limited to the at-fault party’s BI coverage if they have BI. In Florida, because so many people drive without BI liability insurance, UM allows you to make a financial recovery if you are injured, even from someone with no insurance. It’s not necessarily fair that you have to use your own insurance to recovery from someone else’s negligence, but that’s the reality in Florida for as long as our laws don’t require mandatory BI coverage (Florida is one of only two states that doesn’t require BI liability coverage).
You can also check out 👉 What to Do After an Accident
3. Saying too much at the scene of the accident
It is best not to discuss the event or disclose too much information to the other driver, particularly about who is at fault for the accident. You do not want to accidentally accept blame for the event. Once you’ve notified your insurance company, it will be the responsibility of the adjuster reviewing your claim to determine who’s at fault based on a full investigation.
The insurance adjuster will base his or her decision on an inspection of the vehicles’ property damage, the crash report (if there is one), and the information provided by you and the other parties involved in the accident. You are not required to speak with the other person’s insurance company or to give them a statement – this point is important to remember. You are required to speak with your own insurance company, but it is always best to consult with an attorney before providing a statement, especially if there is a disagreement about who was at fault.
4. Not gathering information
Drivers involved should exchange information including:
- Full name and contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Type, color and model of vehicle
- Location of accident
- Take pictures of the vehicles and accident scene, if possible
- Getting names of bystanders or other witnesses at the scene
5. Not reporting your accident
Though the police may not be required at the scene of your accident, under Florida Statute 316.066, you are still legally obligated to inform the police of any accident and you have ten days to do so. You can report the incident simply by contacting your local police department or on the website of the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV).
Insurance companies will usually state in their policy the time you have to open a claim as a result of an accident. The times may vary between insurance companies, so we recommend that you don’t wait too long.
If you are not quite ready to speak to someone about a claim, we advise you to take note of everything that happened as soon as possible and to record all medical bills, property damage, and any other bills relating to a change in your quality of life as a result of the accident.
6. Not seeking medical attention
You may be hesitant to seek medical attention after your accident but don’t wait – your health is important and important to your case for a few reasons. First, by seeking the help of a medical expert you can determine the extent of your injuries and receive the necessary treatment. It’s also important to note that not all injuries are immediately apparent. It is possible to sustain a serious medical issue without even realizing it. In Florida, in order for your PIP insurance to cover your medical bills, you must be seen by a medical provider within fourteen (14) days of the accident date.
Second, the immediacy in which you seek a medical evaluation plays a significant role in how your injury compensation claim is evaluated by the at-fault party’s insurance company or your insurance company if you have UM coverage. If you have not received medical attention, or if you waited a significant amount of time before doing so, an insurance adjuster may use this as leverage to reduce or deny your claim. Most adjusters have a formulaic process, and if you’ve not received medical attention within a certain amount of time, it will likely result in a reduction of their offer by a specific value or percentage.
How Insurance companies adjust your claims 👉 Understanding Insurance Adjustments
Finally, it can be difficult to establish causation if you’ve waited too long for your injuries to be medically diagnosed after your accident. “Causation” is a legal term that simply means you have to prove that the accident caused your injuries. Without a diagnosis that your injury was caused by your accident, it may be difficult to prove causation. Also, as mentioned above, according to Florida Statute § 627.736, you only have 14 days to see a doctor after your accident. Again, failure to seek medical treatment for your auto accident injuries can result in the insurance company denying, or at least reducing, the value of your claim.
7. Not retaining the services of an experienced Florida attorney
Retaining a Florida auto accident attorney can put you in the best position to receive the most for your case. At big law firms (you know, those firms you see advertising everywhere), you probably aren’t getting the attorney in the commercials. In many large firms, the owner is running the business of the firm and doesn’t actually go to court or work on their client’s cases. In those situations, the client will be randomly assigned an attorney. That attorney could have 25 years experience, or they could have 2 years experience (or less). Make sure you know the background and experience of the attorney who will be handling your case. And make sure you know what their policy is about returning your phone calls and emails is. Do you ever get to speak with an attorney or are you always going to be transferred to the non-attorney case manager. Also find out if the attorney negotiates your claim, or do they delegate negotiations to non-attorney staff members.
At C. Todd Smith Law, your case will be reviewed and managed personally by C. Todd Smith. With over 27 years of experience, the Orlando law firm of C. Todd Smith Law is dedicated to helping individuals and families get back on track after an accident. We fight to assert your value and obtain justice to ensure your recovery, restore your health, and give you a brighter future.
Rest assured, we provide attentive, compassionate, and personalized legal assistance, combined with dedicated and trustworthy representation to bring you peace of mind.
Our firm has established a culture of helping clients that begins with the person who answers your phone call or email and continues with the attorney that will handle the details of your case from start to finish. You don’t have to take on the insurance company by yourself.
8. Trusting the Insurance Company
With the volume of claims an insurance company receives (one adjuster or customer service representative may be assigned hundreds of claims), it’s almost impossible to imagine an insurance adjuster reading through every single medical record. Not to mention, analyzing every claim from scratch. To assist their employees, many insurance companies use software to help evaluate claims.
The way some companies use the software actually limits or reduces the value of claims. And it’s worth noting that it is hard to put a value on pain and suffering damages – there’s no calculator for human suffering.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to organize the settlement demand in a way that will lend itself to triggering the best response from the software. [One of the reasons we list all ICD codes in our demand letters. These identify medical diagnoses and help insurance companies understand why the care you received was necessary]. The language the physician uses is also very important. The records need to be specific and clearly indicate what conditions or diseases have been diagnosed. And, most importantly, that the injuries you suffered were caused by the accident.
Once the adjuster concludes their review (with or without the assistance of a computer program), they will make an offer on the case. This is where having a strong negotiator for your attorney comes into play. It’s not unusual for us to see cases where the final amount we recover for our client is 5 – 10 times higher than the initial offer. So be careful if an adjuster tells you that you’ll make more on your claim if you don’t hire an attorney. Remember, insurance adjusters usually want to resolve your case for as little money as possible.
After the demand is received is when many cases are settled. To get the full amount of the damages to which you are entitled, It often becomes necessary to file a lawsuit. However, we understand most clients want to resolve their cases as soon as possible, and we are always measuring how long it takes to resolve our cases so we can resolve them more efficiently for maximum value. At C. Todd Smith Law, it is our practice to always have the attorney negotiate the claim in order to obtain the highest result possible. If you are deciding between different law firms to handle your personal injury claim, ask who will be negotiating the claim on your behalf. Will it be a lawyer or a non-lawyer?
Settlement demand? Settlement brochure? Or Demand package? 👉 Understanding Settlement Demand and More
An accident may be the last thing you expected. Let C. Todd Smith Law help you find peace of mind after your injury.
We take on the insurance companies, so you don’t have to.
With over 27 years of experience, we fight for the fair result you deserve. You pay no costs or fees unless we win and the consultation is FREE.