6 of the Most Common Mistakes That Damage a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia
Many people who suffer incapacitating injuries or lose a loved one, such as to a drunk driver, foreseeable and preventable act of violence or an exhausted big-rig driver, do not receive the recovery they should because they make mistakes that damage their personal injury or wrongful death claim. While it may seem reasonable to see how the other party's insurance company will proceed in handling your claim, insurance companies are not in the business of expediting the full value of an insurance claim to injury victims. Further, most insurance companies are staffed with a knowledgeable and experienced team of attorneys, experts, adjusters and others with the objective of reducing the amount paid to injury victims.
Even the most savvy injury victim will generally be at a distinct disadvantage when faced with the resources, experience and knowledge of a negligent party's insurance defense team. The most effective approach to safeguarding an injury claim is to seek immediate legal advice. The actions and inactions taken by a personal injury victim in the aftermath of a collision can significantly impact the outlook of a serious injury claim. Critical mistakes can lead to a diminished recovery or no recovery at all when a party has compelling evidence on the issues of fault, causation and damages. We have provided an overview of some of these mistakes that can be avoided by seeking prompt legal advice and representation from a dedicated Atlanta personal injury attorney.
- Failure to Gather or Preserve Proof: Even when the other party is at fault, it is important to keep in mind that recovery hinges on your ability to prove through admissible evidence the fault of the other party. When accident victims postpone obtaining legal representation, vital evidence may disappear or be damaged. Our Fulton County personal injury law firm often works with investigators and experts to gather evidence and build an effective position for settlement talks and trial when necessary.
- Comparative Negligence and Assumption of the Risk: Plaintiffs in personal injury cases have a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care for their own safety to avoid foreseeable injury. When an injury victim fails to act reasonably for his or her own safety, the result can be a substantial reduction in the damages received or no recovery at all if the plaintiff is fifty percent or more at-fault. There also are certain types of extremely and obviously dangerous activities for which recovery is not allowed when a person engages in such activities despite knowledge of the risk. These are common defenses asserted by insurance companies in personal injury and wrongful death cases, but an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer will have the experience and knowledge to anticipate such defenses.
- Failure to Secure Experts: While experts are not necessarily involved in every personal injury claim, there are multiple issues where experts can make a significant difference in the outcome of a personal injury case. There are many different types of experts that may be used to address specific issues. Common examples include the following:
- Medical experts on the nature and extent of the plaintiff's injuries
- Accident reconstruction experts to explain how an accident occurred
- Industry experts to explain established industry norms, customs and practices
- Vocational counselors to evaluate the debilitating long-term impact of an individual's injuries
- Economic experts to calculate the value of damages
- Admission of Damaging Facts: When speaking with insurance adjusters and other representatives of the insurance company, many personal injury victims make statements that may seem benign but provide powerful evidence for the defense. When accident victims attempt to speak directly with representatives of the defendant's insurance company, every conversation or other form of communication provides an opportunity for the insurance company to obtain potentially damaging statements. When an accident victim retains an attorney promptly after suffering an injury, the attorney will conduct these discussions which reduces the risk of volunteering an ill-advised and compromising disclosure to an insurance company representative.
- Underestimating Injuries: Many victims of Fulton County car accidents and other types of incidents leading to injury presume that their injuries are not significant. This false sense of security can result in the decision not to obtain a thorough evaluation by a medical expert. Unfortunately, the shock of an accident and lapse in time between an accident and the onset of significant symptoms can result in an injury victim underestimating his or her severity of injury. Delays in seeking medical treatment may not only undermine an injured person's prognosis and treatment, but it also may be used as evidence by the insurance company that only modest injuries were suffered by the plaintiff.
- Impaired Credibility: While plaintiffs should avoid volunteering damaging evidence, injury victims also need to be aware of the impact of being caught in a lie. If an accident victim misrepresents the nature of his or her injuries or symptoms to a doctor, fails to provide accurate answers to questions from one's own attorney or misrepresents that facts to the insurance company, this information may have a devastating impact on a personal injury claim. The insurance company may be hesitant to offer a reasonable settlement because it believes that the dishonesty can be used to question the credibility of an accident victim if the case goes to trial.
Contact the experienced Atlanta Personal Injury Attorneys at Montlick and Associates to Learn More!
If you are injured by the negligent, reckless or intentional misconduct of another individual, government entity or business, our Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.