We’ve all seen the barrage of adverts on TV; sharp suited silver foxes asking us if we’ve had an accident on the road or at work that wasn’t our fault, second rate actors nursing imagined sprains while animated text zooms around behind them. The tropes of personal injury claims commercials are easy to recognise and pretty comical… Until it happens to you!
Whatever your situation, a personal injury can be incredibly damaging, not just to your body but to your psychology, your finances and your family life. It can cause you to take financially damaging time off work, thereby compromising your financial security. Time away from work can leave you feeling frustrated, angry and guilty, especially if your employer is unable to pay you for time taken off while you recover. The resultant financial difficulty can put pressure on your relationship with your partner and your family.
There’s no denying that the effects of personal injury are damaging and far-reaching and when faced with them it’s all-too easy to act in anger, frustration or bloody mindedness.
While it’s absolutely right that you should pursue a personal injury claim in the pursuit of justice and the hope of mitigating the financial damage caused by your injury, there are certain mistakes that are commonly made by claimants.
Here are 5 common examples of mistakes made by claimants, and how to avoid them.
Leaving it too long
Once again, we advise against acting in anger or panic but it’s also important not to delay your claim for too long. As time goes by, evidence becomes lost or harder to collect and injuries heal. Your ability to build a strong case will be determined by the quality of the evidence that you can amass. Even if it takes time for you to feel you can start legal proceedings you should begin collecting witness testimonies and consulting medical professionals as soon as you are able.
Thinking you should do it on your own
While you absolutely can submit a personal injury claim on your own, it’s not advisable. Not only are you likely not in the best position to form a strong claim on your own due to your injury and vulnerable position, you would likely have to bear all of the upfront costs yourself. Personal Injury Law is a big business and the proliferate competition has led to some very favourable conditions for clients. For example, almost all PI lawyers charge on a no-win-no-fee basis and can guide you through every step of the claim ensuring that you don’t cause any inadvertent damage to your claim (more on that later). While we recommend you check out Quittance, feel free to shop around to find a practice that you feel suits your needs.
Mishandling of the incident scene
While your claim may not start until later, your behaviour at the scene of the incident may prove instrumental in your claim. If, for example, you were involved in a vehicle collision it is important not to be apologetic or make an admission of responsibility as this may seriously harm your claim. Likewise sharing conditions of the collision, especially if you were using your phone (which we hope you weren’t) should be avoided at all costs.
Whatever the incident and wherever the scene, you should get as many witnesses as possible to agree to corroborate your lack of culpability for your injury.
Being dishonest with your legal counsel
We all act irrationally when nervous or scared, but if you trust your PI lawyer you must be open and honest with them at all times, however much you feel the truth may harm your claim.
Lawyers can only present the best case when in full possession of the facts, so failing to omit any details of previous injuries or (for example) and previous driving misdemeanours can seriously damage their ability to act in your best interests.
Deliberately delaying the healing process
While you should document and photograph injuries sustained at the point of injury, you aid nobody by not taking good care of yourself. Nobody expects you to remain injured throughout the length of the claim and you owe it to yourself to help the healing process in any way you can.
At the very least you should be eating the right foods, taking all prescribed medications and attending every doctor’s appointment, treatment session, check-up or test without fail.
The last thing you want is for any symptom of your injury to be attributed to personal negligence, rather than your injury by the opposing counsel or a claims adjuster.