If you have been injured, you may have grounds to bring a personal injury action against those you believe may be responsible. And while you may have grounds to bring action, there are a number of things you can do that will sabotage your chances of winning your personal injury claim.
From contributing to the accident itself, to ignoring your obligation to take vital legal steps – there are steps you must take in order to preserve the integrity of your case.
Here are five important things you need to make sure you DO NOT do that could put your case at risk from the start.
1. Not hiring a personal injury lawyer. While it may not be required by law to be represented by an attorney when you file your personal injury claim with the courts, trying to go it alone, without consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney, will most likely reduce your chances of receiving a favorable result. A lawyer can help you organize your information and present your case in the most effective manner possible. In addition, attorneys can provide useful guidance in the analysis and direction of your case.
2. Assumption of risk/contributory negligence. If you played a part in the accident which caused your injuries or placed yourself in an unnecessarily risky position that resulted in your injuries, odds are that you will not recover 100% of your damages. Many defendants utilize this defense when faced with a personal injury lawsuit, and if there is proof that possible fault exists on your end, your case will be more difficult to win.
3. Not having solid proof. Personal injury lawsuits are rarely settled in favor of the plaintiff without proof of fault by the defendant. During and after the accident, it is vital to your case for you to gather evidence that supports your position and your case. Take pictures of the scene and your injuries. Write down descriptions of the events that led up to the accident while they are still fresh in your mind. File a police report as soon as possible. Seek immediate medical attention and ensure that you get the names, phone numbers and addresses of potential witnesses.
4. Lacking credibility. Your character will be an important element to your case. Any information you provide to police, insurance companies, medical personnel, attorneys and the court should be honest and accurate. One of the easiest ways to destroy your credibility in your case is to attempt to inflate the seriousness of your injuries. Any discrepancies will be noted between the police report and your medical charts, and these discrepancies will destroy a personal injury claim. Do not speak to the defendant’s insurance company; your attorney should handle those conversations to ensure the information imparted is accurate and non-damaging to you in any way.
5. Not having expert witnesses. Expert witness testimony is vital to any personal injury case. Courts place a lot of emphasis and importance on the testimony of expert witnesses. It is because these witnesses can provide specifics that add color to the case. For instance, expert witnesses can explain the exact cause of the accident, as well as provide expert testimony regarding the part each participant played in the accident. Additionally, expert witness testimony assumes an unbiased opinion about the events surrounding the accident. Having someone that does not have a vested interest in the outcome of the case is invaluable. By having an expert witness representing your interests, the deck is stacked on your side. Typically, your attorney will be in the best position to help your case through the use of expert witness testimony.
Each personal injury case is different and will require a unique perspective in order to be successful. By hiring an experienced personal injury attorney, you will ensure that your case will receive its day in court and will have the best chances of success.