Mistakes happen, but when they happen with your personal injury claim, they can delay or even end the settlement process. When you hire a personal injury lawyer from the start of your claim, you can avoid many of the following common personal injury claim mistakes.
Ten Mistakes Often Made During the Personal Injury Claims Process
1. Thinking you cannot afford a lawyer.
Unlike most types of lawyers whose fees are up-front, personal injury lawyers charge a contingency fee, which means they take your case with no payment upfront and only collect a fee if they obtain a settlement in your case. Therefore, you have nothing to lose by hiring a lawyer, as they will only take a small percentage of your overall settlement, which is typically much higher than what the insurance company will offer.
2. Accepting everything your lawyer tells you without question.
Asking questions about your claim is the best way to stay both informed and involved in the settlement process. Remember that you chose your lawyer and hired him to help with your claim settlement. You have the right to question anything they do regarding your claim or seek a new lawyer if you feel your current one is not handling your claim properly.
3. Believing you will have to go to court.
Most personal injury claims are able to settle out of court once your lawyer reviews the initial settlement offer and negotiates for fair compensation. Your lawyer will do everything in his power to avoid court, as it will take up valuable time and resources, but a good lawyer will not avoid a trial when they know it will get you the compensation to which you are entitled.
4. Not filing within the required time frame.
Georgia's statute of limitations only allows for two years from the date of the injury or death for a claim to be filed. When you or your loved one are recovering from catastrophic injuries, many of those months are spent in hospitals and rehab, and not taking care of the necessary paperwork to start your injury claim.
To avoid missing your window to file, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible so they can get your claim started before it is too late.
5. Believing you waited too long.
The two year timeframe to file may seem to move quickly, but you should never give up because you think you waited too long to file.
Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations to review your case, and they can tell you for certain whether or not you waited too long. Some types of injuries, like surgical errors, may not be discovered for years after the actual surgery, so the statute of limitations will work differently for that type of claim.
6. Expecting to get additional compensation for your injuries in the future.
Once you sign a settlement agreement, it usually terminates your ability to file any further claims or lawsuits regarding that accident. This means that when you accept a settlement, the amount needs to cover your current damages, plus account for any future damages such as more medical treatments or lost wages.
A lawyer can help you estimate future expenses by reviewing your medical records, calculating future lost wages, and adding in compensation for pain and suffering.
7. Not trying to file a claim because you were partially to blame.
Georgia is a fault-based state with comparative negligence laws at the 50 percent bar rule. What this means is that both parties in an accident can be found partially at fault, but if either party is found to be 50 percent or more at fault, he cannot recover damages. If you are found partially at fault for an accident, you can still recover part of a settlement, as long as that fault does not go over 49 percent.
8. Not accounting for all of your damages.
This goes hand-in-hand with expecting to get additional compensation in the future. If you do not consider both the short- and long-term effects of your injuries on your medical costs, ability to continue working, and mental health, you may find yourself needing further compensation after you have already signed an agreement saying you will not seek further damages. Make sure a lawyer reviews your claim and performs an analysis of your current and future expected damages before you even review a settlement offer.
9. Failing to investigate the cause/contributing factors of the accident.
"The other driver hit me" is not a valid cause of an accident and reason to file an injury claim. In order to file a claim for damages, you need to have evidence that shows the factors that contributed to the accident and the actual cause of the crash. Was the other driver texting? How were the weather conditions? Did your car have properly maintained brakes?
Make sure you have gathered all of the evidence possible relating to your crash and injuries and let a lawyer review it for a full investigation of your situation.
10. Not considering there could be liable parties aside from the other driver.
You may think it is obvious that another driver rear-ended you when you were stopped at a red light, and it is not uncommon to believe the reason he or she hit you was due to a distraction like texting. But there can always be more to the story, and it could mean a larger potential settlement. If the car that hit you had defective brakes or a defective accelerator, the car manufacturer may be the real liable party.
In some cases, there are multiple parties to be held liable, and a personal injury attorney is best suited for determining who is at fault in multi-party claims.
Let David Brauns Help You Avoid These Mistakes in Your Injury Claim
The sooner you have a lawyer on your side, the lower your chances are of falling victim to these common injury claim mistakes. Remember that at Brauns Law, we offer free consultations so you can see if our law firm is the right fit for your claim. Contact us at 404-418-8244 or fill out our online consultation form to schedule a free meeting to discuss your case.