Home > Blog

4 Common Mistakes to Avoid in a Personal Injury Case

Personal injury cases can be complex and emotionally draining, often compounded by the physical and financial stress of recovery. While seeking justice and compensation is the right of every injured party, there are common missteps that can significantly weaken a case or reduce the potential settlement. Identifying and avoiding these mistakes is critically important.

The Big Mistakes You Can’t Make

Mistakes can happen on a spectrum. Some mistakes are minor and, therefore, rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Other mistakes are rather serious and, as a result, can compromise the integrity of your case. 

Here are five mistakes that land on the more serious end of that spectrum:

  • Not Getting Medical Help Right Away

If you're hurt, see a doctor. It sounds simple, right? But sometimes, people wait too long to get medical attention. They might think their injuries aren't that serious, or they hope the pain will go away on its own. 

Here's the deal: Waiting can not only hurt your health but also weaken your case. If you don't get checked out immediately, the other side might argue that your injuries aren't related to the incident or aren't as bad as you say. So, make that doctor's appointment and follow their advice to the letter.

It’s important to see a doctor even if you don’t think you’re seriously hurt. Sometimes, the adrenaline from the accident can mask the pain or prevent you from realizing the severity of an injury. It’s best to play things safe and get checked out. 

  • Not Hiring a Lawyer

There’s no rule that says you have to hire an attorney, but pretty much everyone agrees that you probably should.

“Every person who experiences a personal injury should be aware that insurance companies will use a host of tactics to reduce the payment or dismiss the claim,” attorney John Price mentions. “Plaintiffs without representation are also susceptible to being misled by insurance companies who are looking for a quick and easy settlement.”

It’s a good idea to hire a lawyer as soon after an injury as possible. They’ll coach and guide you on what to do each step of the way.

  • Skipping the Documentation

Think of your case like a puzzle. Each piece of evidence is a puzzle piece that helps create a clear picture of what happened. If you miss documenting anything — like your injuries, the accident scene, or anything else related to your case — it's like missing pieces of that puzzle. Without enough pieces, it's hard to see the whole picture. 

The best thing you can do is take photos, get copies of medical records, and jot down everything you remember about the incident. The more you document, the clearer the picture becomes. This can only help you as you build your case and try to gain leverage in negotiations with insurance companies and other responsible parties. 

  • Ignoring Pre-existing Conditions

Now, let's talk about your medical history. Maybe you've had back problems before, or maybe an old knee injury from your high school sports days. You might think it's best to keep that quiet, but here's the thing: honesty is your best policy. If you hide or downplay past injuries, and they come to light later, it can really hurt your credibility and, in turn, your case. 

Be upfront about your medical history. A good attorney can handle the truth and work with it. What they can't work with are surprises that come up later. Your lawyer only knows what they know. Make sure you’re feeding them detailed information so they can figure out the best angle to approach the case from. 

  • Jumping at the First Settlement Offer

It's tempting to want to wrap up your case quickly, especially if you're facing medical bills and other expenses. But accepting the first settlement offer without getting legal advice is like agreeing to the first trade offer in a game without considering all your options. That first offer is often much lower than what you might actually need or deserve. 

Depending on the factors of your case, it’s possible that the insurance company’s initial offer is just 25 to 50 percent of the amount they’re actually willing to offer. You won’t know that if you blindly accept the first offer. 

Before you make any decisions, talk to an attorney who can give you a realistic picture of what your case is worth and whether that offer is fair. At the very least, turning down the first offer gives you a chance to see if they come back with another figure. In most cases, it’ll be worth thousands of dollars.

Adding it All Up

Personal injury cases can be complicated, with lots of twists and turns. The best thing you can do is hire a good personal injury lawyer and then follow their advice. Typically, that means sitting back, being quiet, and letting them handle the details of the case. Otherwise, you risk making some of the mistakes discussed above, which could compromise the integrity of your case from the start. Good luck!

More to Read: