Being involved in an auto accident is a traumatic experience. The physical and economic consequences can be overwhelming. There is a lot to deal with without having to worry about how to pursue your car accident claim to recover money to pay medical bills, repair property damage and make up for lost wages. And the insurance company is always going to try to minimize your claim. To this aim they have grown more difficult to deal with than ever. Here are a few crucial mistakes you can make after your accident and a few ways Insurance tries to destroy your personal injury claim. 

1. Waiting too long to seek medical treatment or not mentioning your injuries to the first responders:

When you have an accident, you’re probably not thinking about calling a lawyer or starting a case. You’re thinking about yourself of course! But here’s the thing, ambulance attendants are really good at putting down just one complaint. It’s not fair to you, because you’ve just had an accident and are probably too shocked and anxious to answer their questions thoroughly.

Yet, if you they ask you if your back hurts, for example, and you say ‘no’, then they will mark off that it’s not a problem. The ER physician will do the same. When your back is in agony the next day, your insurance company will look first to those initial reports and jump on the fact that you didn’t report it at the scene so it couldn’t have been THAT denying the fair compensation.

You can’t control what they’re going to write, but the more you share the better. I tell my clients to not only report everything to their doctor, but to ask their doctor to write it down. When you are in the midst of a case, you must let your doctor know the importance of writing down every little complaint. In this scenario – too much information is better than too little.

If you didn’t go to the hospital right after your accident, make sure you see your family doctor soon afterwards. The information provided in your medical records will ultimately make or break your case so see your doctor and tell them everything no matter how insignificant at the time it may seem.

2. Saying the Wrong Thing to the Wrong Person:

Soon after the accident, especially where the other driver is at fault, you can and probably will receive a call from an insurance adjuster, asking to give a recorded statement or offer to file a report online about how the crash happened.

It’s important to remember, that you have the right to decline, you don’t want to inadvertently say or write anything that could put your claim at risk. You can be assured – the other driver’s insurance is not looking out for your interests; their goal is to settle your claim as quickly as possible for as little as possible. Insurance adjusters are trained to get the answers they want out of accident victims, and they will plainly cross reference everything you say against future reports and your doctor’s medical notes in an effort to find any inconsistencies. We strongly recommend that you direct them to your lawyer before saying anything about the accident.

3. Using Surveillance against You:

This is a big one that really freaks out my clients, but I always give the same advice: As long as you’re telling the truth, let them use surveillance; you have nothing to hide.

You have to be smart when you’re in the midst of a case.

For example, when you say you can’t do your job, but post public pictures of yourself on social media dancing at your brother’s wedding. Well, perhaps the injury that precludes you from working has nothing to do with your ability to dance, but the insurance company will present it very differently.

4. Damned if you do or don’t (over-treating and/or gaps in treatment).

This one, in my experience, is used more than any other, because it can be applied in virtually every case. The adjuster looks through your records and we hear, “Hey, your client didn’t go to the doctor until one week after the accident” or “Wow your client went to the doctor 5 days in a row in the first week following the accident”.

You see where this example is going. In the first case, you certainly cannot be hurt, because you took so long to seek medical care. This is “the gap in treatment” argument. In the second example you are an “over-treater”, a person whose medical care exceeds what their injury severity warranted.

It is subjective, has no bearing on the true fact of whether you have sustained an injury and worse even reasonable explanations are received with doubt. It may be that you made an appointment but couldn’t get to the doctor for a week, or that the doctor told you to return for immediate follow up care.

My advice here is two-fold: do what a reasonable person would do, who has just sustained such injury and follow whatever advice the DOCTOR gave you. Certainly, it is bad if the doctor says you need a medical test for example such as an MRI and you don’t get it done or fail to make appointments. It’s equally bad to see a chiropractor or doctor just because you have a lawsuit. Your legal case follows your medical case, I say, and not the other way around.

5. Your Pre-Accident Medical History

This can be touchy. I tell my clients to pretend that the insurance company already has the answers to everything that’s happened to you available to them (and for the most part, they do.)

They will go back around 3-5 years before your accident and take a close look at both your physical and psychiatric history. Is there anything there that could decrease the amount of earning potential you would have had before the accident?

This is tough because often clients will forget about things that happened to them. Again, it’s not a matter of lying, but sometimes we simply do not wish to rehash painful issues. For example, if a client suffered from depression due to a divorce, or perhaps drank a lot of alcohol in school, the insurance company will bring these issues up. The same for physical injuries caused by another source. If you hurt your back in 2009, I want to hear it from you so we can get ahead of it. Otherwise the insurance company who will say, “Well you didn’t tell us you had back pain before, so you could be lying now…”

6. Not contacting an attorney as soon as possible:

Here is the thing, the insurance company doesn’t want you to hire a lawyer, and this is why they may be quick to offer you a settlement. However, you may be entitled to more, so you should not hesitate to explore your options with an attorney. Trying to deal with insurance companies while recovering from injuries can be more than just irritating, it can be disappointing.

But, if you work with a reputable personal injury lawyer can guide you through the entire process, handle all communication with the insurance company, gather evidence, help you line up proper medical care and help you build and prove a case so you can recover maximum comp