Posted on: 21 January 2019Share
If you have been injured due to someone else's negligence, you may be attempting to collect money from the responsible party in a personal injury lawsuit. You should be able to sue for the entirety of your lost wages and medical bills, perhaps along with some additional funds to cover pain and suffering. But the process the judge uses to determine whether your case is really worth what you are asking for can get a bit complex. There are a few mistakes you can make while pursuing your case that may sadly reduce the amount you can connect. Here are four of them.
1. Not seeking medical attention ASAP.
Regardless of how you were injured, you should visit the doctor as soon as possible. If you wait to seek treatment, the defendant could argue that your treatment costs would have been lower had you sought care earlier on. For instance, if you waited a day to seek treatment after breaking your leg and thus needed a specialist to set the leg, the defendant could argue that they don't need to compensate you for the cost of seeing the specialist since your general practitioner could have set the leg had you visited them sooner. The judge may agree and reduce the money you're awarded based on your failure to seek prompt treatment. By seeking treatment promptly, you make it impossible for the defense to make this argument.
2. Giving medical authorization to the other party's insurer.
This issue comes up a lot in car accident cases. After you file a claim with your insurance company and your insurance company speaks with the other driver's insurer, you may get a call from the other driver's insurance company. They may try, at this point, to access your medical records. They may claim that this is so that they can calculate and cover your costs -- but, really, it is so that they can analyze the treatments and start pointing fingers at ones they don't agree with or think are necessary. You don't want to give them the time to formulate these arguments before your court date, so don't allow them access to your records! In fact, you should never supply them with any information, whatsoever. Refer them to your personal injury attorney, and let your attorney handle it.
3. Participating in activities your doctor has advised against.
After you receive your initial treatment, your doctor will probably advise you as to activities you should avoid in the coming months and weeks. Adhere to these guidelines -- even if you start feeling better. If the doctor tells you to stay out of the gym for a month, but someone on the other side of the case sees you there after three weeks, they can argue that they don't owe you as much compensation as you're claiming. The crux of their argument will be that your early recovery is a sign that your injury is not as bad as you are claiming it is.
4. Failing to disclose previous injuries to your lawyer.
Having suffered a previous injury does not preclude you from filing a personal injury claim. However, if you don't tell your lawyer about a previous injury and the defendant's attorney finds out about it, they might try to reduce your claim based on the idea that most of your problems were caused by your previous injury. If you tell your lawyer about your previous injury ahead of time, on the other hand, they will have a chance to collect evidence to defend against this claim and ensure you get the amount of money you truly are due.
It is your lawyer's job to make sure you collect full compensation in your personal injury case. But you should also do your part by avoiding the mistakes above.