7 Things That Can Sabotage Your Personal Injury Case
Have you filed a personal injury case?
It might be time to take a break from social media. This may be easier said than done if you frequently read Facebook, actively Tweet or Instagram your latest selfies daily. Any activity in these areas that could be related to your case will be scrutinized by your opponents. They will use this information against you poke holes in your case. Good investigators regularly scan online profiles to look for comments or pictures that could discredit someone’s claims of injury or disability. Even though your profile settings may be set to “Private,” people can still try to find your activity – perhaps by accessing your friend’s pages. Don’t believe us? Let’s look at race car driver Bill McMillen, Sr. In 2010, he sued the Hummingbird Speedway in Pennsylvania, claiming they caused an accident that severely injured him. Though the actual collision resulted from McMillen rear-ending another racer during a cool-down lap, he contended that the racetrack shared some liability. Unfortunately, his Facebook page showed him fishing, walking around, and even racing! This evidence proved contrary to his claim of excessive pain and suffering. Mr. McMillen even went so far as to post comments on Facebook about his fine physical health. He claimed his own case didn’t have a lot of merit publicly! He thought they remained in a private area of his page, but the defendants persuaded a judge to require McMillen to provide access, saying that Facebook privacy is not guaranteed. Eventually, the judge threw out McMillen’s case against the racetrack. It serves now as a cautionary tale for people involved in legal proceedings to use extreme prudence in their social media activity. Better yet, don’t use it at all. And that’s not the only piece of advice that can help or hinder your personal injury case. Besides refraining from telling the details of your case to your various circles of online friends, you should also cease from discussing your matter with anyone besides your attorney. Even the most well-meaning victim of a car accident, or any other type of personal injury case, may not always know what to do – and what not to do – when it comes to protecting your case. An innocent mistake could seriously compromise your personal injury claim, causing you to lose tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. A more serious transgression can actually expose you to criminal charges. Here are 7 things to keep in mind to avoid sabotaging your personal injury case:
1. Failing to Tell the Truth Lying to the insurer can void your personal injury claim, or even result in criminal charges for insurance fraud. You always want to be careful what you say to an insurance company, but you should never, under any circumstances, lie to them.
2. Not Keeping Your Case Confidential Don’t talk about your case – with anyone. If an insurance adjustor, a lawyer for the other party, or even a juror should attempt to contact you, refer all questions about your case to your attorney. Talking about your case could give away important details, ruin your legal strategy, or cause you to face criminal charges if your interaction falls under “interfering with a juror.” You shouldn’t even talk about your case with friends and family. A well-meaning loved one could let an important detail slip at the wrong moment – which could have serious consequences.
3. Staying Active on Social Media Be careful on social media accounts! Insurers can use pictures and status updates posted to Facebook and Twitter to try to show that your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim. Be very careful about any posting to social media accounts, and avoid posting photos or details about your activities. Set your social media accounts to “private” for the duration of your case, and ask your friends and family not to mention you on their social media accounts, either.
4. Failing to Consult With Your Attorney Before Signing Never sign something without checking with your attorney! Small print on anything you sign could result in surrendering your right to pursue legal action against the other party. Even something as innocuous as signing a check that’s intended to reimburse you for a rental car could mean you’re giving up your legal rights, so always check with your attorney before you sign anything.
5. Failing to Timely Filing Your Lawsuit Each state has its own statute of limitations on how long you can wait after an accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. Sometimes, the insurer will attempt to stall you by talking about settlement or dragging out your case until after the statute of limitations has expired. Check with a good personal injury attorney to make sure you understand how long you have to file a lawsuit, and don’t let that critical date pass you by!
6. Failing to Follow Medical Advice It’s important for your case that you go to the doctor – and follow the doctor’s advice. If the doctor tells you not to lift a carton of milk, don’t go grabbing one at the grocery store. If a doctor tells you to complete a certain amount of physical therapy every day, do it. If you fail to follow the doctor’s advice, or if you miss appointments, the insurer can use your failure to follow medical advice as evidence that you’re not as injured as you claim. Be at all medical appointments on time, and follow the doctor’s advice to the letter.
7. Hiding Prior Accidents or Injuries Don’t hide prior accidents or injuries when you file a personal injury claim. If you try to hide prior injuries, and the insurer finds out about it, this could come back to hurt your case. Credibility is key when it comes to pursuing a personal injury claim. If you’ve got a prior injury but an accident has exacerbated the injury, or has caused a healed injury to become re-injured, it’s important to be clear about this during the case. Let your attorney present this information to the insurer, though, because a good personal injury attorney will know how to position this in a manner that won’t hurt your claim. Ultimately, insurance companies are experts in digging up things you’d rather hide and trying to find ways to avoid paying a personal injury claim. It’s absolutely essential to work with a good personal injury attorney who can advise you of what to do – and what not to do – to help secure the settlement you deserve.