After being the victim in an accident, you will begin to uncover the complexity behind the insurance claims process. In many cases, accident victims make mistakes in their case before consulting with an attorney. Once these mistakes have been made, there is oftentimes no way to recover. We encourage all accident victims to learn about the claims process before making any major decisions that can potentially harm their outcome. The attorneys at Davis Law Group created the personal injury “Don’t Do List” as a guideline for accident victims, in hopes that they will not make the same mistakes that others have already made.
Don’t self evaluate
You are paying for medical care and for professional medical evaluations. If you do not believe you are getting better, you should ask your medical providers for a list of available options, including other treatment options. Do not just hope for the best. If you think you need to see a specialist, talk to your medical doctor about it. Any recommendation or suggestion from your medical doctor is more likely to be respected by jurors.
Don’t deny Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
People oftentimes reject Personal Injury Protection (PIP) on their insurance contract. But what people do not understand is that PIP is basically the cheapest medical insurance you can find. It is no-fault insurance. It provides coverage for medical bills, wage loss and essential services* benefits. PIP medical coverage will pay for everything from the ambulance ride, to emergency room care to primary care physician treatment to acupuncture and much more. For example, a 6 month PIP premium may only be $200 (or $33.33 per month) but many people do not add that option to save money. But essentially, that is health insurance – where can you find health insurance that cheap? There is no network provider, meaning you can also receive medical care anywhere. Another thing to keep in mind – if you have $35,000 in PIP, you have $35,000 toward medical bills and $35,000 toward wage loss. Keep in mind there are weekly limits
*Essential services: if you are unable to clean your home, you can hire a housecleaner and your PIP will cover this expense. If you drive your children to school every day and are the primary caregiver, you can be eligible for child care through PIP.
Don’t quit treatment until you are completely recovered
Insurance companies pay attention to when you are receiving treatment. If they see that you have a three month gap of medical treatment in your recovery, adjustors will see that as “you are healed” when really you may not be. Even if you feel somewhat better, do not quit your treatment until you are 100%. Adjusters will argue that you quit your treatment months ago, so who is to say that another activity didn’t cause your injuries? You must not be that injured if you quit treatment for such a long period of time. Unfortunately, many personal injury victims do this. They are sick of going to the doctor, they want to be done with the treatment, and they believe they can heal on their own. Gaps in treatment can severely hurt your case if you still want to be compensated for medical treatment. Gaps in treatment can also lead to the discontinuation of medical payments under your PIP insurance. If you are prescribed a course of treatment, you need to fulfill it.
Don’t give a recorded statement
Only give your own insurance company a recorded statement if asked to do so. Under your insurance contract, you are required to cooperate with your insurance company’s investigation. You are not obligated to give the other driver’s insurance company a recorded statement. You have to cooperate with your insurance company because your policy includes a ‘cooperative clause’, which requires that you cooperate with the investigation. Do not give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company. The other driver’s insurance company will contact you immediately. You can tell them straight up “I will not give you a recorded statement.” Many victims want to believe that the insurance company is going to help them. For example, the car accident happens at 8 a.m. The other driver’s insurance adjustor calls at 4 p.m. and the victim says, “I am feeling okay.” Many people believe that by talking to the adjustor it will make the claim go faster in order to receive the payment for property damage. The adjustor is trained to ask loaded questions, which insinuate that you are not injured. But, oftentimes victims do not experience the full magnitude of their injuries until a day or two after the incident. The most pressing thing for people is to get their car fixed so people want to ‘rush the process’. You can tell the insurance company that you’re not going to give a recorded statement and that you are only going to talk about the property damage.
Don’t sign anything from the other insurance company
Do not be surprised if an adjustor is at the tow yard waiting for you with a check and release. Do not sign it! They know that your injuries have not fully set in yet, so of course they want you to sign the paperwork immediately to close the claim. Do not let dollar signs interfere with your judgment.
Don’t say “My lawyer told me…” to your doctor
Our client still isn’t feeling better. He comes to us and says, “I need to try something new.” We suggest talking to their medical doctor about another medical treatment. Our client goes to his doctor and instead of saying, “I’m still not feeling better, I should try something different,” he says, “My attorney says I should see a specialist because…” Do not do this. The doctor does not need to know there is an attorney involved at all.
If you exaggerate your injuries or any aspect of your case, doing so creates the appearance that you are exaggerating for selfish reasons, like money. If you complain a lot and your medical records just do not add up, the records may be used to undermine your credibility. In fact, there is a test that doctors utilize to determine if you are exaggerating your pain. They will put their hand very gently on the top of the patient’s head, barely touching at all. Even if you have major spinal cord or neck injuries, this is unlikely to cause pain. If you flinch or act like it hurts, the doctor will know you are exaggerating and that will be recorded in your medical notes.