In this series, we discuss topics that frequently come up after someone has been in an accident. While this applies to injuries of all kinds, when you are in an automobile collision it is always a traumatic event. Coordinating with several insurance companies requires your time while you recover from the pain and get back to normal, which can take a toll on family life. Time off from work is often required and you’ll pay out-of-pocket for medical treatment. This can be frustrating when the reason you are seeing a doctor is through no fault of your own. A car accident also means you have to manage another project that involves your health and finances which can cause stress. You are already busy enough. It’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer to find out about the process. There are many things an experienced trial lawyer can add to your case. Armed with information, you can decide whether you should hire someone to help or handle the case yourself. A good lawyer will tell you whether you need them or not. These are a few things to keep in mind.
Don’t: Give a Recorded Statement to the Other Side
You can talk to your own insurance company, but you shouldn’t talk to the other side. An insured (you) usually has an obligation to talk to their own insurance carrier, like your Personal Injury Protection coverage (PIP) but not anyone else. There are times that giving client statements to the other side settles the case. And, there are times we would never agree to provide one. I would leave this decision up to an experienced litigator who knows how to make this important decision. Err on the side of caution and do not give a statement unless advised by your lawyer to do so.
Don’t: Sign a Medical Release
You don’t have to sign a release to allow the other driver’s insurance company to collect your medical records. They will be looking for problems, like prior injuries, which may be blamed instead. We want to avoid this kind of “fishing expedition” to move the case toward resolution. This is really about the other driver accepting responsibility, not about blaming the victim. Before you sign, consult with a lawyer.
Don’t: Keep a Journal
Almost nothing good comes of “pain journals”. It only helps the defense and allows them to pick apart your statements or portray you as an opportunist, as too whiny or too focused on your injury where nothing could be further from the truth.
Don’t: Post about it online
Digital “discovery” is a way to find vast amounts of information about people we’ve never met. There are good things, and bad things, that insurance companies can find after a car accident occurs. Cases can be won and lost with online posts of the plaintiff, or the defendant. If you do have social media accounts, make sure you control who sees them, and only authorized users can view your posts.