If you got hurt in a car accident in California, you might make the mistake of trying to resolve your injury claim without a personal injury lawyer on your side. You might think that you cannot afford to hire an attorney to handle your case.
Personal injury lawyers generally handle car accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that they get paid at the end of the case, out of the settlement proceeds or award. You should not have any upfront expenses for litigation costs or attorney fees. A California car accident attorney can explain how contingent fees work.
If you do not work with a lawyer, you will have to deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company by yourself, including the claims adjuster, investigators, and defense attorneys. Here are 4 common mistakes people make after a car accident when they do not work with a lawyer:
They Do Not Get Immediate Medical Attention
You should always get medical attention right away when you get hurt in a car accident. If you do not do so, you might have hidden injuries, like a brain bleed, that do not display symptoms until you are in a medical crisis. Injuries heal better with prompt medical treatment.
Your medical records are strong evidence of the extent and severity of your injuries. Your doctor or hospital file will also link the injuries to the accident that caused them. If you wait a few days to go to the emergency room, the defendant could argue that you got hurt from something other than the car accident.
They Agree to Give a Recorded Statement
The claims adjuster will likely contact you shortly after the accident and ask if you will provide a recorded statement. He might say that the recorded statement is your opportunity to tell your side of the story, but these statements only help the insurer, not you.
The insurance company will get a transcript of the questions the adjuster asked you and your responses. The adjuster can then “cherry-pick” the transcript and take your words out of context, twisting them into something you did not intend. The insurer uses this tactic to try to pay you less money than you deserve.
They Accept a Low-Ball Offer
Unless you work in the legal or liability insurance field, you are unlikely to know how much money you should get from the at-fault driver’s insurer for your injury claim. Claims adjusters count on this and throw out a low-ball offer early in the case, hoping that the injured person will accept the offer. People often find out later that they should have received much more money, but then it is too late.
They Settle Their Case Before Completing Their Medical Treatment
You might be near the end of the physical therapy regimen your doctor prescribed. Claims adjusters often make a settlement offer at this point, knowing that people are tired of the inconvenience and eager to put the accident behind them.
You should never settle your injury claim until you complete all of your medical treatment and get released by your doctor. Let’s say that you accept a settlement offer while still in physical therapy, and your doctor later says that you need surgery to restore full range of motion.
The insurer will not pay for that surgery, and your health insurance might not, either, since health insurance often excludes motor vehicle accident injuries. You will have to pay for the surgery out of your own pocket. Also, your settlement should have been higher because of the higher medical bills.
These are but a few examples of the many pitfalls that can cause you to receive less money than you deserve. A California car accident attorney can protect your rights and advocate for you so that you can focus on getting better. Contact us today.