It's overwhelming to suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident and then try to file a claim for compensation. The process can quickly get complicated if your condition is severe and the value of your claim is higher. There might also be pushback from the insurance company for the negligent driver, forcing you to delve into piles of paperwork and evidence to prove what happened while you're trying to recover.
The last thing you want to do, our San Diego pedestrian accident attorney explains, is to make mistakes that weaken your case. Unfortunately, this happens to many people, because if you've never had an accident before, it's difficult to know what not to say or do, all of which puts the success of your claim on the line. So here's what you should know.
Don't Make These 10 Mistakes When Filing a Pedestrian Accident Claim
If you or someone you love is recovering from a pedestrian accident, not only is it necessary to think about aspects of physical and emotional recovery, but also financial stability, as the accident might have made it difficult to work or made your future employment questionable. So avoid these errors to get the compensation you deserve.
1. Not Contacting the Police
Even if the accident appears to be "one of those things", a police report supports your claim. You could later discover that you were more injured than you thought and need to pursue your legal rights. Without details from the officer called to the scene, an insurance adjuster might state you were actually at fault for the incident and deny the claim.
2. Putting Off Medical Care
No matter how minor your injuries seem, symptoms of more severe medical conditions—such as traumatic brain injury, back and spinal injuries, and internal organ damage—can take days or weeks to develop.
If you wait to be examined by a doctor, you jeopardize your health. Further, the insurance company might argue that your injuries were caused by another incident or aren't as serious as you claim. Other medical-related mistakes you want to avoid:
- Not telling the doctor about all of your injuries
- Missing doctor appointments
- Not following your physician’s treatment advice
- Not getting needed diagnostic tests
- Having gaps in your medical care
- Not being treated by specialists when this would be beneficial
3. Not Obtaining Contact Information
If you don't obtain contact information for the driver who struck you and his insurance company, you can't file a claim for compensation. You also lose key corroborating evidence of how the accident occurred if you don't get contact details from eyewitnesses.
4. Forgetting to Take Pictures
You also could lose important evidence that will help your case if you don't take pictures of the collision scene, damage to the vehicle that hit you, your injuries, and anything else that supports your claim.
5. Admitting Guilt
Some pedestrian accident victims say "I'm sorry" to the driver, a police officer, or an adjuster. It's a natural, polite thing to do, especially in the moment. Unfortunately, it can be misinterpreted as an admission that they were partially or completely at fault.
6. Agreeing to Give a Recorded Statement
Recorded statements are question and answer sessions between insurance adjusters and accident victims and later transcribed into written documents used in negotiations and in court. Sometimes, people make statements that inadvertently hurt their cases. It's important to remember that you don't have to agree to give one for insurance to settle your claim.
7. Signing an Insurance Company’s Medical Release
An adjuster may ask you to sign an authorization release of medical records so that the company can get them as part of the claim investigation. If you agree, you could be giving them access to all of your medical records, enabling them to go on a fishing expedition for information they can use to pay you less than you deserve—or deny your claim completely.
8. Accepting a Quick Settlement
When you feel horrible and upset over what just happened, it's easy to consider a quick settlement as an answer to just put everything behind you. However, you might not know the full scope of your injuries yet, or the extended compensation is actually less than you deserve. You shouldn't accept an insurance company’s first offer, and never settle your case without consulting an experienced pedestrian accident attorney.
9. Waiting Too Late to Sue
Under California law, you have a strict deadline, referred to as the statute of limitations, to file your lawsuit against the negligent driver. If you miss this time period, your complaint is dismissed by the judge and you lose the right to pursue your case.
10. Not Retaining an Attorney
Not hiring a skilled lawyer who handles many pedestrian and car injury cases soon after your accident is one of the biggest mistakes people make. He can help you avoid these and other errors, collect the evidence you need to win your case, and fight so you receive the maximum amount in your settlement.