If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident or other personal injury case, you probably have a lot on your plate. Dealing with doctor's appointments, healing from injuries, and trying to return to your normal life often take precedence over trying to navigate a personal injury lawsuit. However, it's important to avoid certain errors so you don't hurt your chances of getting the money you may be owed.
Here are four common errors to avoid in your personal injury case to ensure you maximize the chances of recovery.
1. Waiting to Get Medical Treatment
If you've been injured, you should seek medical care. This is important to your mental and physical healing after being hurt, and it is also important to a potential personal injury case.
By seeking treatment close to the time of the accident, you will create a medical record of your injury and overall health that is accurate at that point in time.
If you wait several days or a week, the other side may try to argue that they didn't cause your injury, someone else did. They might also argue that your injuries aren't as series as you claim. Both arguments could potentially decrease the amount of money you receive as compensation for the injury and doctor's bills.
2. Not Filing Your Case Within the Statute of Limitations
Another major trap that you might fall into is thinking you have all the time in the world to pursue your personal injury claim. However, all cases have a statute of limitations they must be filed within. If you wait too long to file your case, the judge can throw it out and you'll get nothing.
In California, there are three relevant limits you should be aware of for your personal injury case. If you were aware of the injury right away, you must file your case within two years. Car crashes, slip and fall, or other accidents generally fall into this category.
If your injury was not immediately discovered, you must file your case within one year of the day you discovered the injury. This might happen if a doctor makes a mistake during surgery that wasn't apparent for some time.
Finally, if you want to file a claim against a government agency, you may only have six months to file your claim with that agency. Because of this short turn around time, you must be prepared to act quickly so that you can preserve your rights under the law.
These timeframes represent the deadline – don't risk your case by waiting too long to get started on it.
3. Accepting the First Settlement Offer that Comes Your Way
You should also be aware that insurance companies have several tricks up their sleeves to cut their costs and minimize the amount they have to pay out. One particularly devious action is offering lowball settlement offers immediately after an injury or accident, even before you know the final medical costs!
Even though it may feel like bills are piling up, especially if you can't work while you're recovering from an injury, it's important to play the long game. Negotiations may involve several go-arounds before both sides are even in the same ballpark. Don't be afraid to push for the compensation that you deserve.
4. Not Working with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
After you've been injured, your primary goal should be getting your life on track. This includes recovering your physical and mental health after a traumatic injury, but you should not ignore your financial recovery if the injury was not your fault. After all, you shouldn't have to pay for a new car out of your own pocket if you did nothing wrong.
At stressful times, it makes sense to outsource work when you can, including in your personal injury case. Attorneys keep track of deadlines and communicate with the court and the other side. Importantly, they also know what common errors in personal injury cases could potentially sink your case and keep you from recovering what you are owed.
Contact an Attorney Today
An experienced personal injury attorney is an extremely important key to a successful lawsuit. In fact, only about 3% of litigants in this type of case go it alone – a full 97% of plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury tort cases are represented by experienced counsel.
At the Law Offices of Freeman & Freeman, we are proud to continue serving our clients so they can rest easy knowing they are in good hands. To learn about your options in a personal injury case, please contact us by calling (707) 575-7141 today