Personal injury cases are usually David-and-Goliath stories. They’re about average people hurt by the careless or deliberate negligence of a large corporation, or dismissed by a faceless insurance adjuster. So hiring a personal injury lawyer to defend you is already one huge step that you can take to massively improve your chances of fighting back successfully and getting the compensation you rightfully deserve.
That said, it helps to consider the relationship between you and your lawyer as a partnership. We’ll work hard to gather evidence, build a case, and make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed so your case can’t be easily ignored or denied. But your own actions following an accident can also impact whether you win your claim and how much compensation you get.
Your lawyer will be able to advise you on what to do if you are unsure, but there are five major steps every injury victim should take. We address each below.
1. Act Fast
Every state has a “statute of limitations” on personal injury claims, which is a time limit on how long you have to file a lawsuit after an injury that wasn’t your fault. In South Carolina, this period is usually three years, starting from the day of the injury.
That may sound like a long time, but it can pass much quicker than you think. Maybe you were in a car accident but hoped your injury would recover on its own. When it didn’t and you discovered you’ll need surgery that you can’t afford without compensation, it may have already been weeks or even months since the crash. And you could lose even more time attempting to negotiate with the insurance company for the amount you actually need before finally determining that you’ll need to file a lawsuit.
In addition to that, evidence is cleaned up or lost, witnesses move away or can’t be found again, and memories naturally fade over time. It’s much easier for your attorney to put together a bullet-proof case proving someone else caused your injuries when the accident is still fresh than when it occurred a year or more earlier.
2. Document Everything
Everything related to your accident can be important in proving your case, including:
- The police report
- Photos of the damage to your vehicle, the scene of the crash, and of your injuries
- Contact information and statements from witnesses
- Receipts for medical treatment and vehicle repair
- Notes on when you received treatment and what was discussed in each doctor’s appointment
You may also consider starting a personal injury journal or diary documenting your levels of pain each day and the ways your accident has affected your emotional health and daily life.
3. Don’t Make Guesses or Accusations
When you are asked about how the accident occurred, you should never admit fault, but you should also always be truthful. This means sticking only to the facts and never offering opinions or guesses.
For example, if you aren’t sure what time the crash happened or how fast the other person was driving, simply say “I don’t know.” If you say what time you thought it happened or how fast you thought they were driving, but later evidence proves you wrong, it can cast doubt on your entire story even though it was an innocent mistake.
4. Do Everything Your Doctor Says
Sometimes people don’t attend follow-up appointments with their doctor, never schedule physical therapy when it’s recommended by their doctor, or don’t finish taking their prescribed medications. There are many reasons this could be true, such as concern about the cost. However, when you are seen “avoiding” treatment, the insurance company will take this as proof that you don’t actually need the treatment and aren’t as injured as you say, and will use it as an excuse to deny you compensation or reduce the amount they give you.
5. Take a Break from Social Media
It’s natural to want to update friends and family on social sites like Facebook and Twitter after a major, potentially life-changing injury, but any type of social post could be damaging to your claim. And not just posts about your accident, either.
You will be under close scrutiny from the insurance company, who will be looking for reasons to deny your claim, and they are not above digging through your social profiles and those of people close to you. They may attempt to twist what they see as evidence that you are exaggerating your injuries. Even a photo where you look happy could be offered as evidence you are not experiencing pain or distress from your injury.
Let Joye Law Firm Get to Work for You
While all these actions can make a serious difference in your case’s chances of success for the better, they are primarily intended to give your lawyer a leg up. This is so that you can relax and focus on getting better after an accident, and leave all the frustrating work and communication with the insurance company to your lawyer, who is happy to fight for you.
After an injury, stand up for yourself by hiring an experienced South Carolina injury lawyer, and call Joye Law Firm today.