Avoiding Common Mistakes and Maximizing Your Car Accident Personal Injury Claim
By Aaron M. House, May 24, 2016
It is important to take specific steps following any serious car accident to protect the value of your personal injury claim. Insurance claims adjusters will deny your personal injury claim for compensation unless you preserve evidence of liability and damages.
Statistics show that we will all be involved in a car accident at some point in our lives. The only uncertainty is the severity of the accident we will be involved in. The severity of the accident itself often determines whether a personal injury claim for compensation is justifiable against the negligent driver. Accordingly, preservation of evidence of the severity of the accident is absolutely crucial to maximizing compensation in your personal injury claim.
One common mistake made by car accident victims is trying to negotiate directly with an insurance claims adjuster following a serious car accident. This is exactly what insurance companies want you to do in order to reduce your claim against their insured (the negligent driver), regardless of the severity of the car accident.
If you’ve been in a car accident and don’t know a personal injury attorney who can assist you immediately following the accident, make sure to take the following steps to avoid your claim being reduced or even denied by the other driver’s insurance company.
- Obtain Information from Witnesses and Take Photographs
Obtain contact information of any and all witnesses at the scene of the car accident and keep that information in a safe and secure location. Also, take photographs of property damage and any skid marks or other evidence available at the scene. Do not rely on law enforcement alone to do the investigating for you. If your injuries are too severe to obtain witness documentation and photographs, contact a family member or friend and have them rush to the scene to do it for you.
- Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Seek medical attention immediately, even if you are not severely injured. Seeking medical care is necessary for two reasons: 1. It is for your own good to get medical care and a physician’s opinion of your injuries, and 2. It documents the injury in a record that can be used as evidence in your personal injury claim against the negligent driver’s insurance carrier.
- Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in MO or KS
Contact a reputable personal injury attorney in Missouri or Kansas for advice. Most lawyers (including us) offer a free initial consultation and can provide pointers on how to best handle or further assist you in your accident injury claim. Personal injury lawyers know the tactics used by insurance claims adjusters and can offer advice to maximize compensation for the claim.
- Don’t Sign a Release of Claim for Compensation
Never sign a Release of claim for compensation unless you’re 100% recovered from injuries you sustained in the car accident. In Kansas, you have two (2) years from the date of the accident to file a car accident injury lawsuit. In Missouri, you have five (5) years from the date of the accident to file a car accident injury lawsuit. Don’t allow a claims adjuster to pressure you into thinking that you “must” settle your case and accept a settlement offer that is much less than what your claim is worth.
- Don’t Sign a Medical Record Release (HIPPA) Authorization for the Claims Adjuster
Never sign a medical record release authorization to allow the insurance claims adjuster to obtain all of your medical records. These authorizations can be specific, but they can also be very broad and allow for the adjuster to essentially obtain all of your medical records since birth. Only sign a medical record release authorization at the direction of a personal injury attorney or to obtain medical records yourself.
- Continue with Medical Treatment Until You Have Reached MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) and Request Written Opinion of Doctors
Continue with medical treatment until you have recovered as much as possible from your injuries and request treating doctors to write opinion reports as to your future medical treatment and future medical costs. These reports are beneficial when demonstrating to the insurance claims adjuster the necessity and cost of future medical care.
- In MO & KS, Can Get Compensation for Medical Bills, Lost Wages, Emotional Damages, and Pain and Suffering
Take into consideration that in Missouri and Kansas, a car accident claim for compensation consists of recovery for past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, emotional damages (if they exist), and pain and suffering. Personal injury victims are not merely limited to compensation for medical expenses. Also, even if health insurance covered your medical expenses, you’re still entitled to compensation for them from the negligent driver’s insurance company.
Tackling your own Missouri or Kansas personal injury claim can be complicated and overwhelming, especially when you’re up against a trained insurance claims adjuster. However, if you avoid these common mistakes and consult with an attorney experienced in car accident personal injury claims, like Aaron and Jenny at House Packard LLC, you have a much better chance at receiving fair compensation for your claim.
- Aaron M. House