Personal injuries happen daily in Houston, TX, as people suffer from falls, motor vehicle accidents, and even random events. As a car accident attorney can explain, these injuries become legal matters if someone else can be held liable for your injuries. We recommend you not rush the process in exchange for possible financial remuneration. Instead, you should speak to and follow an attorney’s advice as your personal injury lawsuit follows the path to justice.
Ask a Car Accident Attorney in Houston, TX: What Should You Not Do During a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Lie to Your Lawyer
One of the first mistakes people make is lying to their attorneys. They omit details and hide facts to protect themselves from potentially negative consequences, but lying can have the greatest consequence of all. It can jeopardize the outcome of your lawsuit and even block you from winning a settlement to which you may otherwise be entitled. Even worse, lying can land you in trouble with the judicial system.
While some clients feel compelled to lie about their accidents, others exaggerate their stories hoping to bolster their claims. However, just as lying can be detrimental to your case, embellishing the facts can have the same effect. Your lawyer needs straightforward, honest answers so they can help resolve your case as quickly as possible. Remember your attorney is on your side; they’ll work tirelessly on your behalf if you provide the facts they need.
Fail to Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Personal injury victims commonly fail to see a doctor immediately after their accidents. Like many, you may think you’re not hurt because you feel no pain or your pain was delayed. Or, you may have experienced a shock response in which high adrenaline levels kept you moving after the incident. This type of bodily response is common, but you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Delaying the proper medical attention can increase your chances of more severe consequences. The validity of your claim may likewise be called into question. The opposing party’s insurance provider may argue that, on the premise of delayed medical treatment, you were not seriously hurt at all. A doctor can attest to your injuries, address your future need for treatment, and quickly tend to your current health needs.
Neglect to Obtain Crucial Evidence
Your health must be a top priority at all times, especially after a personal injury. But if you’re able to do so, we recommend you collect as much evidence from the scene as possible. Photos can be highly valuable, and your phone will work fine for taking pictures of your surroundings. If you were in a vehicle accident, snap photos from a variety of angles to obtain visual evidence of:
- Your car’s damage
- License plate numbers of all involved drivers
- The street, including skid marks, uneven pavement, potholes, and road signs
- Surrounding vegetation, ditches, and trees
- Any obstructions of road signs
Your car accident attorney will also need contact information for the at-fault driver. These details will be provided in the police report if law enforcement officers are called to the scene. Finally, ask for the names, phone numbers, and addresses of witnesses who saw the accident.
Forget to Obtain Crucial Details
If you sustained injuries after slipping and falling on another person’s property, you should make an effort to identify the property owner. Again, snap pictures of the spot where you were hurt and obtain the contact information of all witnesses who saw you fall.
The same is true if you were hurt by a defective product. It’s crucial you take photos of the product and identify the manufacturer. If your injuries were tended to by a doctor, as they should have been, you will need to note the doctor’s name, phone number, and address. Also, record the date and time of your injury.
Recklessly Speak to Others
Once you’ve spoken to law enforcement officers and, if vehicles were involved in the accident, exchanged information with the other driver, you should resist speaking to anyone else about your Houston, TX, accident: anyone else, that is, except your attorney. This is true regardless of who you believe caused the accident; do not discuss any degree of fault with your friends, family members, or those who witnessed the accident.
Your lawyer will sort through the evidence and identify the at-fault party. Until then, speaking about the accident to anyone else is ill-advised. You should not even agree or disagree with the other driver that nothing could have been done to avoid the accident. Likewise, do not admit if you were on your phone, eating, or otherwise distracted while driving. Simply exchange information politely and then seek medical attention.
This Advice Extends to Other Accident Scenarios
Likewise, if your injuries resulted from a malfunctioning or defective product, we recommend you say nothing until you’ve first spoken to your attorney. Don’t admit if you failed to use the product exactly as the manual indicated or if you weren’t paying proper attention to your actions. Similarly, don’t tell anyone but your lawyer if you tripped while looking at the sky.
If the other party’s insurance provider contacts you, refuse to give an official statement. In fact, it’s best to decline to speak to them; you can simply advise them to direct questions to your attorney. If you’re offered a settlement of any kind, consult with an attorney before accepting it (more on this in a moment). You should also refuse to sign a medical records release form until an attorney advises you to do so.
Discuss the Case on Social Media
When something dramatic happens, many people instantly discuss it on social media. However, during a personal injury lawsuit, it’s essential you avoid social media until your case is decided. Innocent photos of you at a birthday party, sitting outside, or even laughing with friends can be turned against you. An insurance adjuster might use the photos as evidence that you’re not as seriously injured as you claimed.
Accept the First Settlement Offer
Earlier, we mentioned you shouldn’t accept a settlement offer until you speak to an attorney. This point is worth repeating because it’s important. If you have a solid case, you may receive an early offer from the other party’s attorney or insurance provider. If the person whose neglectful behavior caused your accident does not have insurance, your own insurance company may provide you with a settlement offer.
It may be tempting to “get things over with” and accept the first sum of money offered to you. However, an insurance company has one goal: to pay you as little as possible, not to fairly compensate you for your injury, pain, and financial losses.
Try to Negotiate Alone
An attorney will calculate what you’ve lost to date and factor in the potential lifetime costs of your injuries. That sum will likely be much greater than an initial offer from the insurance company, meaning it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney before settling your case. This advice could net you far more money than speaking to the insurance company on your own.
If your good health was compromised by a personal injury, you may feel your life has been upended. It is for this reason that you must contact a full-service law firm as soon as possible and, after, follow your attorney’s guidance to the letter. Collect all relevant evidence, stay away from social media, and speak only to those people recommended by your lawyer. Schedule your free consultation today by contacting Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner.