If you're involved in a personal injury case with an at-fault driver, there are some important safeguards you can take to support compensation for your claims. Many people have had distorted or misleading evidence used against them in court and it all could be avoided by keeping these seven common mistakes in mind.
1. Forgetting that you are under investigation
If you're involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you should expect that the insurance companies involved (including your own as well as the company behind the at-fault driver) will be investigating you at some point during your case. This may involve photos and videos of you out in public. If you've engaged in an activity that may have pushed the limits of your injury, it is best to be honest and forthcoming with that information. While a juror may understand that you had some necessary task and felt up to the effort on a given day, he or she will not be very forgiving if you deny physical activity that's been caught on camera.
2. Talking about your case
There is no circumstance under which you should talk about your case with anyone hired by the at-fault driver or insurance company. No good can come from it. If an adjuster, defense lawyer, or even a juror tries to contact you, have them call your lawyer.
3. Divulging details on social media
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media are essentially public-facing websites—prime material for investigation by insurance adjusters and defense attorneys. Even if your accounts are set as private, they may be able to find pictures, text, or other material that can help their client avoid full responsibility. For example, pictures of your recent activity can be referenced to show that you are not as injured as you claim—even if it's a still shot of you standing up with a smile on your face.
4. Signing away your rights
There is no need to sign ANYTHING regarding your case without consulting with your lawyer first. Simple releases can contain fine print that waives future claims or allows the at-fault insurance company to access your medical records. Always check with your lawyer first.
5. Ignoring your doctor's advice
While involved in a personal injury case, always follow the advice of your doctors. This includes a commitment to appointments and a subscription to any therapy regime. It is important to show that you are working hard to get better. To this end, you should save all pill bottles, prescriptions, casts, braces and any other items from your doctor as preserved evidence of your personal injuries. This is evidence of your personal injuries, and it must be preserved.
6. Renewing your license
If you have serious injuries that prevent you from driving a commercial vehicle and/or participating in outdoor activities that require licensure (for instance, hunting and fishing licenses), you should speak to your lawyer before renewing those licenses. Information at the Secretary of State and state Department of Natural Resources are public information available to anyone who might be investigating you.
7. Failing to document your injuries
Always take pictures to document your injury and subsequent surgeries. Your car accident lawyer can assign you a photographer to insure that you're conducting proper documentation for the benefit of your case. Videos also work, and beyond the visual of the injury, can be used to demonstrate the physical challenges presented by your personal injury. You will also want to document damage to your vehicle as appropriate.
Keep these tips in mind should you find yourself the victim of a car accident. Even if all of these precautions prove to be unecessary, it is far better to be safe than sorry.