I’m a personal injury lawyer and I love what I do: helping individuals and families get the results on their claims that they deserve.
But I can’t do the job alone. It’s a team effort, not just on the part of myself and my staff. A positive outcome is only possible with your help and cooperation.
The ways a case can go sideways might seem obvious to you as you read this, but the number of times I have to sit down and have a conversation with a client who doesn’t get that they are sabotaging their own case is startling.
Let’s review the things you should NOT do:
You Should NOT Avoid Medical Treatment After An Accident
You’ve probably watched a scene like this in a movie: a person gets hurt, their limbs are literally hanging by a thread, but they limp along saying: “It’s okay! I’m fine! Nothing to see here…”
Don’t be that person.
It’s not heroic forgo medical treatment after an accident and could damage a future claim or case. The essentials for a solid case are documentation, and that includes medical documentation from immediately after the accident and on an ongoing basis, which leads me to my next point.
You Should NOT Skip Out On Prescribed Treatments
You might be feeling better days or weeks after your injury, but if your doctor has prescribed treatments, there is a reason for them.
Skipping out on treatments because you’ve Dr. Google’d your issues and decided that you don’t need them is a fast track to your claim going sideways.
I’ve worked defense for the insurance companies, and one of the clearest measures for them to decide on your injury claim is what you are doing—or not doing—to mitigate the effects of the injury on your claim. In their logic, if you aren’t going to your prescribed treatment sessions, then you aren’t injured enough to warrant a claim settlement.
Like your mother probably said before me: follow the doctor’s orders!
You Should NOT Lie About Your Current Condition
If you’re following your treatment plan provided by your primary care doctor diligently, you might be starting to feel better. Feeling a little better once in a while or on certain days and being able to return to work full time are miles apart, but some clients are afraid to admit they are feeling better at any level in case they weaken their potential settlement.
But lying to your doctor, your treatment specialist or your lawyer about how you’re feeling is often where the real damage to your case occurs.
Honesty is the best policy in life, but never more so than in the middle of a personal injury case. I can’t help you if you aren’t straight with me. All changes in your health status, good or bad, need to be shared with both your doctor and with your lawyer. It’s essential to be able to maintain the quality of your case.
Why? Let’s imagine, for example, you felt a bit better and made the effort to attend your sister’s wedding a few months after your accident. That evening could be the precise moment that the insurance company has surveillance on you and captures video and stills of you dancing with your partner, under the stars. Without context, that snapshot looks damning, but if I know about your planned attendance at the wedding and I also know that you spent the days following that night in bed because you overdid things, I can manage this issue when it comes up. Because it WILL come up.
If you aren’t 100% honest with your lawyer, we can’t defend you to the best of our abilities. Now, talking about honesty…
You Should NOT Divulge Personal Information On Social Media
Social media platforms have become the new surveillance and insurance companies are using them to see if there is a pattern of behaviour that is contrary to what would be expected, given the stated gravity of your injuries.
In other words: pictures of you whooping it up at your sister’s wedding, posted publically to Facebook and Instagram are fair game, from the insurance company’s point of view. And like in the previous example, the context of your pain the next day isn’t included. The worst part? You’re handing them that information for free with as little effort as a few clicks. They didn’t even have to hire a private investigator.
Bottom line? Do your lawyer and your case a favour and stay off social media.
You Should NOT Delay In Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer
Meeting with and potentially hiring a personal injury lawyer early on after your accident is essential to the eventual success of a case. With early access to the information, a lawyer can decide whether you have a case and can begin to pull together all the documentation and information, to ensure that nothing is overlooked.
Injuries change over time. Seemingly serious injuries can improve quickly whereas slight injuries may prove to be much worse after a month or two. It’s not uncommon for me to shadow someone’s situation for a few months to see how it develops, and most lawyers I know will also help an individual (even if they are not yet a client) in this way.
Also, if you decide months later that you should hire a lawyer from scratch, much of that critical information might not be available anymore, and it will be too late to get in the essential early visits to medical practitioners that form the basis of much of the documentation in these cases.
Remember, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis and a good lawyer will always offer free consultations, so it can’t hurt to make this your next priority after seeing your doctor. It could hurt a lot more down the road, if you don’t.