If you have never been involved in a serious car crash or other accident before, then you may have no idea of what you should do next. As a result, you can easily make mistakes. Some of those mistakes may be minor ones that have no effect on an insurance claim and/or lawsuit that you file later on. However, other mistakes could have a major impact on your ability to collect full and fair compensation.
Here are five common mistakes that we have seen through the years at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. We hope that you avoid these mistakes and, above all, seek help from an experienced attorney who will fight hard for you and pursue all compensation that you are due.
1. Failing to call the police.
After you get into a car accident, the other driver may try to convince you that “we don’t need to get the police involved.” The opposite is true. You should actually call the police as soon as possible. An officer can arrive and secure the scene, check for injuries, call for emergency medical help (if necessary) and, ultimately, investigate what happened and put it into a crash report. As part of that investigation, the officer will get information from all involved parties, including their names, license numbers, phone numbers and insurance information. The officer also will make a preliminary determination of fault. The officer’s crash report can play an important role in your case as you move forward.
2. Giving a recorded statement to the insurance company right after the accident.
Insurance adjusters often contact victims in the immediate aftermath of a crash. They are trained to act kind and friendly – and to ask questions that elicit the kind of answers which hurt victims’ claims for damages. For instance, an adjuster may call on the day of the crash and ask, “Were you injured?” At the time, you may answer, “no.” However, a few hours or days later, you may notice symptoms of a serious back, neck, brain or other injury. Even though you have suffered serious harm, you can expect that the insurer will try to use your initial answer against you. For this reason, you should never give a recorded statement to an insurance company until you talk with a personal injury lawyer first.
3. Failing to immediately get medical attention.
People often wait to see a doctor after they have been involved in an accident. They may think that their pain is not so bad yet, or they may believe it will go away soon. Some people lack health insurance. So, they are concerned about costs. Whatever the reason may be, failing to get immediate medical attention is a mistake. You can put your health at risk. You can also hurt your potential claim. If you wait too long to see a doctor, an insurance company will likely use your delay to argue that your injuries did not result from the crash, or that they are not as severe as you claim. If you are injured in any type of accident, seek medical help right away.
4. Ending your medical treatment prematurely.
The road to recovery can be a slow one. If some people don’t see results fast enough from their therapy or other treatment, they end up quitting their treatment plan or go only intermittently – even if they are still in pain. Insurance companies call this a “gap” in treatment. They will try to use it against you and either deny your claim or make a low settlement offer. Don’t let this happen. Make sure to follow your doctor’s orders and stick with your treatment plan until you reach maximum recovery.
5. Hiring a lawyer after an unsolicited contact.
If someone you don’t know calls or visits you to discuss your case on behalf of a law firm or “clinic” which you have never contacted for help, then you have every reason to be suspicious. Texas law prohibits this practice. If you work with a law firm that does this, an insurance company probably won’t take your case seriously and offer you the amount which you deserve in a settlement. Instead, you should do your research and work with an experienced, ethical attorney whom you can trust to handle your case with compassion and professionalism.
About Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C.
The highly skilled and dedicated attorneys of Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., represent clients in Houston and throughout Texas in many different types of personal injury and wrongful death cases, including those which involve motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, dog bites, defective products, workplace accidents and offshore injuries. The firm also serves clients in business, probate, real estate and other civil litigation matters. The firm’s founding attorney, Michael P. Fleming, is the former elected County Attorney for Harris County who is Board-Certified as a specialist in Personal Injury Trial Law and Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To learn more, call or reach the firm online.