9 Factors That Can Reduce the Value of a Personal Injury Claim
March 16, 2015
If you suffer serious harm due to another individual’s or organization’s negligence, it’s natural that you should expect to be fairly compensated for your losses. Unfortunately, obtaining just compensation isn’t always that simple. Insurance companies and claims adjusters will pursue every avenue to try to reduce or deny your claim entirely in their attempts to secure maximum profits for their company.
That’s why it’s so important to tread carefully during personal injury cases, with the knowledge that you may be under close scrutiny. Below, we’ve listed nine factors that could reduce the value of your claim, or completely destroy your chances of receiving any compensation whatsoever.
Whether someone called the police. If an employee, bystander, or other witness doesn’t call the police, it’s essential that you do so yourself. A copy of the 911 audio transcript may help support your case, and demonstrate to the judge or jury the severity of the accident. In addition, if a police accident report is filed, this document may be very useful in demonstrating fault.
Photographs of the incident. Photos that show damaged vehicles, the presence of paramedics or police on the scene, dangerous conditions, or bruises, cuts, or other wounds can go a long way towards strengthening your case. On the other hand, photos that show minor vehicle damage or evidence that disproves the existence of dangerous conditions could end up weakening your case.
Delayed medical treatment. If you wait to seek medical treatment, a claims adjuster might argue that your injury couldn’t have been very serious. That’s why it’s so important to seek medical treatment immediately, even if you feel your injuries are minor. Certain injuries tend to become aggravated over time, while others take days or even weeks to materialize at all.
Whether you followed medical advice. Similarly, if you ignore your doctor’s orders, neglect to take prescribed medications, or end treatment prematurely, claims adjusters may argue that your injuries couldn’t have been that serious.
The reliability of your doctor. Your doctor will play a major role in your personal injury case. If they claim your injury was pre-existing or unrelated to your accident, it is unlikely you will be able to recover any compensation at all. That’s why it’s critical to visit a quality doctor you know you can trust, and not one hired by the insurance company to protect their interests by undermining your claim.
Accuracy of medical records. You may be experiencing difficulty performing routine tasks such as walking, driving, or showering, but your medical records will not show this unless you inform your doctor. That’s why it’s important to discuss all your symptoms openly and honestly with your doctor, and review your medical record for any errors or omissions.
Evidence of preexisting injuries. If claims adjusters can prove that your injury existed before the accident, this could severely limit the value of your claim. Oftentimes, claims adjusters will scrutinize your daily activities, social media accounts, and personal records to try and find evidence that your injury preexisted the accident—particularly if it’s a back or neck injury, herniated disk, bulging disk, or torn shoulder. It’s very important to avoid doing or saying anything that would hint that your injury started before your accident, and to remove any social media posts that could be manipulated to invalidate your claim.
The influence of alcohol or drugs. If you were drinking or under the influence of certain medications right before or during your accident, claims adjusters may point to this to try and weaken your claim. By hiring a lawyer to defend you against such allegations, you may be able to keep them from harming your case.
Social media posts. You can be sure that the claims adjuster will Google you, and scour your Facebook and other social media pages for evidence that could be used against you. Even a comment about a sore back posted on your Facebook three years ago could be used against you to prove a preexisting injury.. Similarly, posts, comments, or photos that demonstrate you are not actually injured or have made a complete recovery may hurt your case. This could be a comment about going bowling, or even just posting a picture of you having a good time after work. Take a look at the picture below. Does this girl look injured to you?
It’s critical to remove any incriminating photographs, comments, or posts from your social media pages and blogs. And don’t assume your privacy settings will protect you, since attorneys, adjustors, and authorities may seek alternative means that allow them to access your account.
These are only a handful of the many factors that could harm your personal injury case, severely limiting your ability to secure fair compensation. That’s why it’s essential to hire an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer, who can counsel you through the process and defend you from bullying insurance companies and claims adjusters.
About the Author:
John K. Lawlor, a South Florida personal injury attorney who focuses his practice on complex personal injury, wrongful death, and professional malpractice, founded the law firm of Lawlor, White & Murphey in 1998. Since 1995, Mr. Lawlor’s trial advocacy and litigation skills, as well as his wide-ranging legal expertise, have provided plaintiffs and their families with a distinct advantage when seeking financial compensation and justice for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Lawlor is an EAGLE member of the Florida Bar Association and an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Broward County Justice Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several professional associations.