People’s lives are disrupted, and they are often vulnerable after they suffer a serious injury due to another person’s fault. The facts of the case may be on their side and everyone seems sympathetic. However, if you suffer a personal injury due to the fault of someone else, the person who hurt you and the insurance companies will look out for their self-interest. Moreover, well-intentioned people can hurt your case.
After your injury, a multitude of people will contact you. Insurance adjusters, opposing attorneys, family and friends, and in some instances, the police will want to talk with you about the accident that caused your injuries. The person who caused your injuries may make statements admitting his or her fault. Strangely, this can hurt you. A basic understanding of self-interest (or follow the money), the rules of evidence, and human nature are what help an injured party to determine who can be trusted.
The Other Party Won’t Help You
Although it seems obvious, do not trust the person who caused your injury. Often people who caused someone to be injured are good people, but were negligent. Statements you make to them can come back to hurt your case. For example, assume you slip and fall at the local grocery store. You fell because a loose floor tile was partially raised, thus causing you to trip. The store owner helps you to your feet and asks if you are okay. Since the owner is nice, you respond similarly and say, “It’s no big deal. I am not hurt, and I should have been paying more attention to what I was doing.” What seemed like a minor fall develops into a serious back injury that gets worse with time. The store owner tells his insurance company about your comments. The statement made out of an effort to be pleasant, can be used against you. Do not make any comments after an accident concerning fault or the extent of your injury.
The Insurance Company Won’t Help You
An insurance adjuster will probably contact you after the accident. The adjuster is not your friend. The insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, and the adjuster’s job is to settle the case for as little money as possible. Unfortunately, an injured person may be in a financial bind, and the insurance adjuster knows the injured party needs money. However, if the injured person takes the quick cash, it can be to their long-term detriment. An attorney can help a person to determine the value of their case. Current medical expenses, future medical expenses, loss of income are just a few of the factors that need to be considered. Once a release is signed, the case is over. If you discover additional damages later, you cannot reopen the case.
Well Intentioned People Can Cause You Harm
Do not trust legal advice from family and friends. Their intentions may be good, but unless they are attorneys, their advice can create problems for you. They may also repeat things that do not need to be repeated. As previously mentioned, statements made by an injured party can be used against them. The insurance company may assign a private investigator to your case. Statements you make to a friend can be repeated to other people until the private investigator hears the gossip. The investigator can track the comment to your friend. Pursuant to the Illinois Rules of Evidence 801(2), your friend can then be subpoenaed to testify against you. Statements can be taken out of context and cost you money.
Additionally, they may make comments on your social media accounts regarding your accident or injury, to which you may reply. They may also post photographs of you performing activities that may contradict just how injured you are. For example, if you are claiming back injuries but your friend posts pictures of you skiing, then this suggests that you are not as injured, if at all, as you claim to be. The insurance company or opposing party may gain access to this information and use it against you.
Consequently, do not discuss your case with anyone, but your attorney. Request that your friends and family refrain from posting anything on any social media account about you until you have reached a resolution.
Be wary of inclinations to settle the case yourself. If the case is small, you may be able to handle it yourself. However, consult an attorney before that decision is made. If you suffered serious injuries, it is important to consult and retain an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you.
Keep your objective in mind. Many people confuse winning a lawsuit with collecting the money they are due. It is not the same thing. Typically, the money comes from an insurance company. If the person who injured you engaged in behavior that was intentional or extremely outrageous, the insurance companies may not be liable to pay for the damages you suffered. The bad guy may have also admitted he intentionally committed the bad act. For example, if an individual has a few drinks and due to road rage or a prior grudge, he intentionally hits you with a car, that constitutes criminal behavior. He can face criminal charges, and you can win a civil lawsuit against him. However, if you press the criminal portion of the case, his insurance company will claim they do not cover intentional acts. This means you can win a civil judgment that is worthless because the person who injured you has no assets.
Therefore, do not trust that because you are an innocent victim, it will be easy to collect the money you need and deserve. Do not lie if you are involved is such a situation. However, be smart. Consult an attorney as soon as possible. If the case is undeniably criminal, you may not have a choice. However, if it falls in the gray area, do not make accusations out of anger.
Many people can cause you problems. Insurance representatives and the person who injured you will pursue their own self-interest. Family and friends can give bad advice. An attorney retained by you is bound by the law and professional standards to pursue your best interest. If you suffer an injury due to the behavior of another person, consult an experienced personal injury attorney with McCarthy, Rowden & Baker. Your attorney is on your side.