Six Ways Auto Accident Victims Cost Themselves Money
Virginia auto accident victims can unwittingly make several mistakes early on in their case that cost themselves a lot of money on the back end. This guide is designed to prevent you from making similar mistakes.
Fail to Attend All Medical AppointmentsOne of the first things that the insurance adjuster will do when he evaluates your case for settlement is to look for "gaps in treatment." Insurance adjusters are trained to look for places in the medical care where they can "cut off" the treatment and limit the settlement payment.
"Gaps" in the care can occur early on in the case - for instance if you wait too long to get medical care in the first place - or in the middle of the care if you leave medical care for a period of weeks.
There may be good reasons for your not being able to attend the care: a work conference, a preplanned vacation, or family events. But if you are going to be out of care for any period of time, you need to tell your doctor where you will be so that the note makes it into the medical record.
Fail to Use Insurance BenefitsOne of the easiest way to cost yourself money in your auto accident case is the failure to use your own insurance benefits - either in the form of health insurance or first party auto insurance. In Virginia, health insurance is the primary payor of all medical bills after an auto accident, but many people are hesitant to make a claim "against my own insurance company." Simply put, it is the law that your health carrier has to pay your medical bills for this injury and you are costing yourself money by not processing the claim through the health insurer.
The other question that we routinely get is why the client should have to use their own auto insurance benefits to pay for co-pays. If you have Medical Expense Payments Benefits in Virginia or PIP coverage in DC or Maryland, you should be using those benefits. You have paid an extra premium to have the benefit on your policy and now that you need them, you should use them. The insurance company cannot raise your premiums for making a claim against a policy in a crash that was not your fault.
Embellish the Crash or Embellish your PainIf your auto accident case is one of the rare ones that goes to trial, the verdict will depend largely on how credible the judge or jury believes you are. If they find that - in a minor crash - you were telling doctors early on that you were hit at 40 miles per hour, they are going to be suspicious of everything else you have to say. Not sure what a 40 mph crash looks like? Go watch some youtube videos.
The same is true of rating your pain as a 9/10 when you are still able to do all of your other activities of daily living. 9/10 is incredible pain and should only be reported to doctors in the most extreme of circumstances.
Hire a "Settling" Lawyer to Handle Your CaseInsurance companies know which lawyers settle cases and which lawyers will take them to trial on low-ball offers. The firms who always take the "best offer" from the insurance company get "best offers" that are much smaller than the firms who insurance carriers know will take the case all the way to trial.
Our firm routinely hears from defense lawyers that they have told the adjuster that we will take them to trial if the case doesn't settle. We are not afraid of the courtroom. If your lawyer isn't sure which table he should be sitting at in the courtroom, he's the wrong lawyer for your auto accident case.
Don't be 100% Honest With Your LawyerIf you hire a lawyer, don't hide things from him. The lawyer needs to know about all of your prior auto accident cases where you were injured; he needs to know that you hurt the same part of your body two years prior playing basketball; and he needs to know that you declared bankruptcy shortly after the crash. All of these things are problems that the lawyer can fix if he knows about them. But they are landmines for the claim if he doesn't know where he's stepping.
If you hired a lawyer, trust him.
Hire a General Practice LawyerJust like insurance companies know which lawyers settle cases early on, insurance defense lawyers know which cases known all of the little nuances of trial law and auto accident law. General practice lawyers will sometimes miss these things. You should hire a lawyer who handles injury claims day in and day out.