10 Potholes that can Wreck YOUR Auto Injury Claim

A man and a woman, looking at the damage to a car, after an accident.The following is a list of mistakes that an auto accident victim can make to sabotage their own auto injury claim.

The list is summarized from the book written by Fort Walton Beach, Florida attorney and former Florida Highway Patrolman Coy H. Browning.  You can obtain the entire book by e-mailing his office at CarAccidentBook@BrowningLawFirm.com or call his office at 850-864-4384.

Failure to document everything that happened after the accident – You need to document everything you can including photographs of damage and physical injuries

Missing the statute of limitations (4 years for an auto accident in Florida ) – Once you have been injured in an auto accident in Florida, the law gives you  four years to either commence a lawsuit or settle your claim with the insurance company.

Not seeking medical treatment or having gaps in treatment – There is nothing an insurance company loves more than a claimant who either failed to seek medical treatment at all, or did so half-heartedly.  In addition, some symptoms may appears weeks or months after an auto accident.

Giving too much information to the other party’s insurance company – After your auto accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will almost certainly try to contact you.  Their goal is to poke holes in your case and minimize your claim

Failing to consult a lawyer – Studies have shown that insurance claimants who hire attorneys recover more on their claims than those who go without legal representation.

Not hiring the right lawyer – Just because you consult a lawyer does not mean that you have to hire that particular lawyer.  Choosing a lawyer is a major life decision, and you want to make sure you choose wisely

Exaggerating your injuries – The best way to preserve your credibility is to be honest with everyone about everything.  If you exaggerate the extent of your injuries to the professionals helping you, then they cannot help you.

Not being truthful about past injuries or accidents – Past relevant information may include any past accidents, preexisting health conditions, a criminal record, and any drug or alcohol problems in your past.  Your lawyer needs to know about these things so he can prepare the best strategy for your case.

Not being aware of lien holders prior to settlement – Providers of medical services are entitled to recover their expenses from the settlement amount.  You need to account for them when determining what amount you are willing to settle for.

Not having uninsured/underinsured insurance on your policy – If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, you may be held responsible for a majority of expenses incurred.

It has been my experience that if a person injured in an auto accident seeks treatment for their injuries quickly, their recovery can be much quicker and with greater results.

Originally published February 16, 2010,  by Dr. Ken Whidden, a former U.S. Navy pilot-turned-chiropractor, on Emerald Coast Chiropractic.