3 Mistakes to avoid before contacting your Personal Injury lawyer
Many people have never participated in a lawsuit of any kind. So, when you or a loved one is injured in an accident or other event caused by the negligence of another party, and need legal representation, you may not be sure about what to do before meeting with your personal injury lawyer. This is understandable, but it is important that you learn your legal options to protect yourself and those close to you.
Contact your personal injury lawyer as soon as possible
You will find that the entity responsible for your injury – individual or company – usually has all the resources of their insurance company, and possibly more, like attorneys and investigators, working on their behalf from the instant an accident occurs. These parties will investigate the circumstances of your injury, and take every necessary measure to limit or prevent you from receiving just compensation that you are entitled to for your injuries. As such, it is critical that you contact your attorney as soon as the accident or incident occurs.
In nearly every case, there are several steps that take place immediately the personal injury occurs. Some of these steps include:
- Gathering and preserving physical evidence
- Interviewing witnesses
- Obtaining photographic and/or videographic evidence
- Contacting insurance companies
- Hiring investigators and experts
It is important that take certain measures to protect your rights before meeting your personal injury attorney.
What not to do when a personal injury occurs
1. Don’t discuss your case with the other party’s insurance company or their investigators
When an auto collision occurs, you will be contacted by a representative from the at-fault party’s insurance company or an investigator. They usually claim that they are just collecting information about the accident, or tell you that it is best to talk to them in order to evaluate the claim.
You should never discuss anything about the incident with these individuals. In fact, you are not required to provide any information or an oral or written statement to an insurance company/investigator representing the responsible party, despite what their claims. If such persons contact you, simply ask them to provide you with their name and contact number so your attorney can contact them directly.
However, most US policies require you to disclose all information and cooperate with your insurance company, which includes providing them with a statement of the incident.
2. Don’t sign any document without consulting your attorney
Insurance companies and other representatives of the at-fault party usually try to take advantage of the injured and confused victims of accidents by getting them to sign waivers or releases without fully explaining the impact of those documents.
To avoid doing anything that may prevent you from receiving the full compensation you are entitled to, you should never sign any document about an accident or incident until your attorney has had the chance to carefully review it and explain the content and implications to you.
3. Don’t try to negotiate with the at-fault party or their insurance company without your lawyer
It is best that you don’t discuss any aspect of the incident with unnecessary people, which is basically everyone except your insurance company and attorney. Whenever a loved one has been seriously injured, it is important that you consult your lawyer before attempting to negotiate with the at-fault party or their representative.
Often times, victims try to negotiate with the insurance company before consulting a lawyer because they believe that retaining an attorney is expensive, and that they can recover more if they follow up on the incident on their own.
This is a dangerous misconception, as in most cases, the insurance company will not be willing to avail the full compensation until a lawyer is involved. Your personal injury lawyer will carefully assess the responsibility of the negligent parties that caused the injury, as well as the extent of your damages – past, present, and future.
Often times, the injured party will incur additional medical expenses in the future owing to that incident, and experts may be needed to assess the costs of this treatment. Additionally, you may have lost some earnings due to the injury, or your ability to return to work affected, in which case, you are entitled to recover for future lost wages you may incur.
Always seek legal counsel
Without the help and advice of a personal injury lawyer, you will be at a disadvantage when dealing with a representative of the at-fault party. The insurance company will try to take advantage of their absence by delaying compensation or giving you significantly less than what you are entitled to.
The best protection you can give yourself or a loved one who has sustained serious injuries from the negligent actions of another is to retain an attorney.