If you have been injured in a car accident and are suing either the other driver or their insurance company for injury-related expenses, you have to be very careful of your actions between the time you're in the accident and the time a verdict is reached. Many people make mistakes that end up costing them their case. Here's a look at those common mistakes, along with some examples for added clarity:
Mistake #1: Not following through on doctors' recommended treatments.
If you do not follow doctors' orders as far as treatments go, one of two things may happen. First, the defendant's lawyer may argue that since you did not take advantage of treatment, the injury could not have been as bad as you're claiming. Second, they could argue that the only reason you're still suffering from the injury is because you did not properly follow treatment protocols -- this could result in you losing your claim for money spent later on in the treatment, or it could even cause you to lose the case entirely because it makes you appear unreliable.
An example: Say, for instance, your doctor prescribes you an anti-inflammatory drug and tells you to visit a chiropractor after you suffer a back injury in a car accident. If you do not pick up the prescription or make the chiropractor appointment, the defense may claim that your injury was not serious because you did not feel the need to treat it. If you're still hurting three weeks later and are claiming lost wages, they may argue that if you would have taken the treatment, you'd be better by now, and thus they are not obligated to pay for those lost wages.
Mistake #2: Failing to bring up a previous injury or pre-existing condition.
It is unfortunately not uncommon for people to be suffering from an injury or ailment, get into a car accident, and then claim that the accident caused their injury in an attempt to get their treatment paid for. Thus, if you do not disclose that you have a previous injury, and the defendant finds out, it may look like you're trying to hide this fact. Thus, it is better to tell your lawyer up front if you had any sort of injury before the accident. This way, it will be more clear that you're being honest and you won't be suspected of trying to scam the defendant.
An example: Say, for instance, you suffer from mild knee pain and have received several steroid injections for it. You get in a car accident and your knee is badly injured. If you do not tell your lawyer that you had a previous knee injury, and the defendant's lawyer looks into records and finds out you were previously being treated for knee problems, he or she may try to claim that your current knee problems were not caused by the accident. On the other hand, disclosing your previous knee issues to your lawyer will ensure he or she is prepared with a proper defense if the defendant's lawyer tries to make this claim.
Mistake #3: Participating in activities that your doctor has recommended against.
If you are seen in public doing something that is really not advised for someone with the injury you have sustained, then this might cast some doubt as to the severity of your injury and may result in your claim being denied. Thus, it's important to adhere to your doctor's orders in terms of taking time off from physical activities. Better yet, err on the side of extreme caution, and don't engage in any physical activity in public until your case has been closed.
An example: Say, for instance, you hurt your back in an accident. Most days, you're in a bit of pain and prefer to stay inside on the couch. However, one day you feel okay and decide to push it a bit by going out and playing some light tennis with your friends, even though the doctor said not to do so. The defendant happens to see you and tells his or her lawyer, and suddenly they are claiming you must be faking your back injury because you're able to play tennis. It can be hard to argue your way out of this one -- it's best to just obey your doctor's orders when it comes to engaging in activity.
The process of filing a personal injury case after a car accident can be long and challenging. However, if you avoid the mistakes above, you have a better chance of winning your case, which will make the challenge worthwhile. For more information, work with an experienced auto accident attorney.