Personal injury law can be very complicated. After you are injured at the fault of someone else, or some other party, it is important that you make the right decisions when signing paperwork to make sure you don’t hurt your case in trial.
Specifically, make sure you don’t make these eight mistakes, as they can be hard to undo later:
Mistake #1: Giving written or recorded statements to insurance adjusters
As we’ve said before, insurance adjusters are not your friends. In fact, their only goal is to find out information that could hurt your case, and thus save insurance companies more money. Without even knowing it, what you say could negatively affect the outcome of your case. It is important, therefore, that you refrain from giving insurance adjusters written or recorded statements—as many times, they can and will use it against you.
Mistake #2: Signing medical releases
When you are contacted by an insurance adjuster, whatever you do, do NOT sign a medical release. Though they may tell you that they will only use it to obtain your medical records pertaining to the case, they will actually gain access to your entire medical file. By giving them access to this information, they may find issues that could be used against you in court. That said, never sign a medical release—even if it’s one from your own insurer.
Mistake #3: Signing a release to obtain employment records
Like medical records, insurance adjusters should also be denied access to your employment records. Though they may tell you they just want to see the amount of time you had to take off as a result of your injury, they will also be looking for ways to paint you as an irresponsible person—inspecting your performance reviews, adverse employment action, attendance at work, health questionnaires, workers compensations claims, pension information and other confidential documents which have nothing to do with your claim.
Mistake #4: Failure to take into account Liens
Many times, your case will involve liens that you might not know about that will need to be paid. Hire an attorney to make sure these are covered in your claim.
Mistake #5: Relinquishing medical reimbursement
Many times, insurance adjusters will try to tell you that you are not entitled to reimbursement of your medical bills if they were covered by your private insurance. This is a lie. To make sure you don’t lose thousands of dollars in settlement money, do not relinquish your right to medical reimbursement—you do have a right to it.
Mistake #6: Relinquishing sick pay or disability benefits
When you cannot go to work due to your accident injury, you have a right to receive reimbursement for the time you missed, as well as any fringe benefits. Adjusters will try to avoid giving you this reimbursement. Don’t believe them.
Mistake #7: Waiting until the last minute to resolve your claim
All claims have time limits, called “statutes of limitation,” that limit the amount of time you have to sue for damages. Don’t wait until it’s too late to file your claim.
Mistake #8: Letting the insurance adjuster make the initial offer
After carefully analyzing your case, and talking it over with your lawyer, draft an initial demand that covers all of your damages and allows room for negotiation. Adjusters are rewarded based upon how low they can settle the claims they handle, and as such, will propose very low offers. Never rely on an insurance adjuster’s evaluation of your injury, and make sure you and your attorney determine your own value of your claim.