Avoid Damaging Your Personal Injury Case Part 3
In part two we discussed the importance of not having gaps in your medical treatment to avoid damaging your personal injury case. Insurance adjusters use a gap in your medical care to suggest that your injuries were not serious or that you may have sustained a subsequent injury unrelated to the accident at issue. Complying with your doctor’s treatment plan and making scheduled appointments is critical to your recovery and greatly impacts the value of your case.
Insist on an Investigation & Gather Evidence at the Accident Scene
Failing to gather evidence at the scene of a car wreck or other type of accident is another way you can seriously damage your case. Let’s say you are in stop-and-go traffic on the Dallas North Tollway during your morning commute. You’re minding your own business when an inattentive driver – furiously texting away – doesn’t realize traffic is (yet again) coming to a stop and rear-ends you. You both pull over and get out to inspect the damage. Your bumper is significantly damaged but the vehicle remains driveable. You suggest calling the cops to have a report made but the at-fault motorist says they have an important meeting and can’t wait. They sincerely apologize for causing the auto accident and offer to exchange insurance information. You agree to do so and let them get on their way so they can make their business meeting on time. When you get to your office you call the at-fault driver’s insurance company to file a claim. You are shocked – days later – when you receive a denial letter in the mail.
So here’s some straight talk: It’s an unfortunate reality that some people are just not honest. They sometimes say one thing at the scene of the accident and then later conveniently change their story when they talk to their insurance company.
Hint: Protect yourself! Always insist on a police investigation and gather evidence at the scene, especially if law enforcement is unavailable.
Call the Cops / Insist on a Police Report
Even in rear-end collisions insurance carriers can (and do) deny liability. Often times the at-fault motorist will claim you switched lanes in front of them and that’s why the collision occurred. Or they might try and suggest that you were at fault because you suddenly stopped unexpectedly in front of them. The bottom line is that some people will say whatever they need to say to pass the buck and not have to take responsibility for their actions.
What to Do? The above scenarios illustrate why it is so important that you make every effort to have a police officer come to the scene of the accident and complete a Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report. People are less likely to mislead a police officer and jurors generally give weight to the findings of officers since they are trained in accident investigation. You may be asked if you were injured in the wreck. If you are experiencing any pain whatsoever you should answer in the affirmative as that will make it more likely that an officer will be sent to investigate the collision.
Remember: Cities often have different preferences and/or standards on whether an officer will be sent to investigate a motor vehicle collision. It is more likely an officer will be sent if the accident involves major property damage or if injuries are reported.
Obtain Evidence at the Scene
What happens if an officer is unavailable or the police department refuses to send someone to investigate the car accident? All hope is not lost. You can still take steps to protect yourself by obtaining evidence at the scene.
What Sort of Evidence Are You Trying to Obtain? For starters, make sure you take photographs of the damage to all vehicles involved in the collision. You should also obtain a photograph of the driver’s license, insurance card, and license plate of any other drivers involved. If the at-fault driver admits liability ask him or her to do so in a video or audio recording. If they refuse ask if they will sign a written statement acknowledging responsibility for the loss. You should also immediately try and identify any witnesses to the wreck. You will want to get video statements, audio statements, or written statements from them as well. Make sure to ask witnesses to provide basic contact information so they can be located in the future should the need arise.
Remember: Most people that acknowledge fault do not later change their story but some, unfortunately, do. You should take reasonable steps to make sure you are protected in the event someone later tries to shift blame for the loss.