If you have been injured in a car crash there are 5 mistakes that can cause you to lose any hope of a settlement or a jury verdict in your favor. I have this discussion with all of my clients.
- Hiding Past Accidents From Your Lawyer
Once you begin a case the other side will be interested in knowing how many past accidents you have been in. The reality is that they probably already know the answer or have easy access to that information. All insurance companies subscribe to insurance databases and often the only reason they ask you this question is to find out if you are an honest person. If you do not tell your lawyer and you misrepresent your accident history to the insurance company it is almost guaranteed that you will lose your case. Your attorney will be able to deal effectively with any past accidents.
- Posting on Social Media
Posting anything about your case or crash on social media sites such as Facebook is a bad idea. This includes discussing activities and posting pictures of yourself at functions including family outings. The insurance company will use these comments and pictures to claim your injury is not as bad as you claim. Even innocent pictures can be turned against you.
Insurance companies routinely hire private investigators to conduct videotape surveillance. Now they also troll YouTube and other social networking sites or they will “Google” you. If you claim that you cannot run, climb, or stoop and you get caught on videotape or brag about break dancing on the Internet, you can forget about your claim. There is no explanation (other than “you got my brother, not me”) that can overcome the eye of the camera.
- Hiding Other Injuries
It goes without saying that you should be upfront and honest with your attorney about any injuries that occurred before or after this accident. Again, if you saw a doctor or other healthcare provider, then there is a record in existence that the insurance company will find. Your lawyer can deal with this if he knows about it. If you lie about it and the insurance company finds out, then your case is over. Remember, there is no privacy in America today. When you make an insurance claim your life becomes an open book.
- Large Gaps in Treatment/Missed Medical Appointments
There are two types of gaps in treatment; one is the gap between when you got in the accident and when you first start treating injuries from that accident. For example, you were in a car accident but you did not seek medical help until six months later. The other type of gap is when you did see a doctor for your injuries and then let several months go by before you saw them again. Keep in mind the insurance adjuster will be looking for ways to devalue your claim. If they see that there is a gap in your medical treatment they will try to use this as evidence that your injuries are not as severe as you are claiming.
- Not Having Accurate Tax Returns
In almost every case a claimant will have lost income because of the accident. You will only be able to claim that lost income if your past tax returns are pristine. You don’t want to risk going to jail by claiming a loss of income, only to have your past tax returns not back up your claim. Again, being honest with your attorney is the only way to be because he or she can deal with the problem if they know about it.
Be aware that you will most certainly be required to produce your tax returns if you file a lawsuit and claim lost wages. If you have not filed your income taxes this will come back to haunt you in your injury case.