What should you do if you’ve been injured in a car accident, slip and fall, animal attack, or any other type of injury due to someone else’s negligence? Are there certain mistakes to avoid in a personal injury claim? What do you need to know if you file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent party for an accident in New Jersey?
This article will walk you through the complexities of the personal injury claim process during a difficult time.
Mistakes To Avoid in a Personal Injury Claim
There are several common mistakes many people make during the course of a personal injury claim, including (but not limited to) the following:
Failing To Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Even if you just got a small bump from behind in traffic and feel fine right after the incident, you should always go for a medical exam to get X-rays and MRIs after any potential injury. Your doctor can compare historic scans with new scans to determine if the accident caused a new injury or exacerbated an existing injury.
Failing To Report the Incident
You don’t have to report accidents in which property damage totals less than $500 and no injuries are present. However, for any accident that causes injuries, you must report the accident within ten days. The insurance companies will use the incident report to gather details about the accident for your claim.
Providing Inconsistent Statements
Once you tell your side of the story to the police and your insurance company, any changes could discredit your claim. If your initial statement and the at-fault driver’s initial statement don’t match, the insurance company will perform a deeper investigation. You don’t want your statement to change during the claim process.
Ignoring or Delaying Gathering Evidence
Taking photos of the scene before you leave for medical treatment is essential for your case. For example, in a car accident, you would want photos of any vehicle damage, strewn debris on the road, nearby traffic signals or signs, road conditions, and any visible injuries.
Communicating With the Insurance Adjusters
New Jersey is a no-fault insurance claim state, meaning you must file a claim through your personal injury protection (PIP) policy for a car accident. For other causes of injury, you might need to file with your homeowner’s or health insurance policy.
Accepting a Quick Settlement Offer
Insurance companies often try to deny, devalue, or close claims quickly with a settlement before a victim realizes the full extent of their injuries. If your insurance company sends you a settlement check, see an experienced personal injury attorney before accepting the settlement.
Consequences of Dishonesty in a Personal Injury Claim
You might feel tempted to conceal details or falsify specific information about your accident. This can have serious consequences for your claim, including the following:
The first consequence is that the insurance company will deny your claim if it discovers you intentionally omitted or falsified information.
Insurance fraud is a third-degree felony in New Jersey, and you can also be held in contempt of court if you lie under oath. Lying to the police when filing your report can also have criminal consequences.
Not only will you not receive compensation for your injuries, but you might also have to pay court costs and additional fines for lying in your claim and spend several months in jail.
Damage to Your Reputation
Withholding or misrepresenting the truth can damage your public reputation, especially if you spend time in jail or must pay fines according to a court judgment.
Loss of Credibility
If you get into another accident in the future, insurance companies, police, and courts are less likely to believe your statements about injuries sustained in that accident if you have a record of lying or omitting certain facts in a previous case.
What if You’re Partially at Fault for the Accident?
New Jersey follows a modified comparative fault standard for compensation in injury cases. That means that if you are 50% responsible for the accident or less, you can still collect compensation reduced by your proportion of fault.
This means that if you are 30% at fault for the accident and the original award was $100,000, you would receive $70,000 for your claim. However, if you were 60% at fault for the accident, you could not collect any compensation for your claim.
Can You Still Pursue a Personal Injury Claim?
If you suffer an injury in an accident, you should still file a personal injury claim. One of the key mistakes to avoid in a personal injury claim is believing you shouldn’t file a claim because you might be partially at fault. The court can determine your share of fault in your personal injury lawsuit and decide how to divide any compensatory awards. If you don’t pursue a claim, you’ll have no chance to seek compensation for your injuries.
How Does Immediate Medical Care Help in Documenting Injuries?
Insurance companies often try to claim your injuries came from another incident or existed before the accident. Getting immediate medical care, even for minor injuries, can help your personal injury lawyer build your case to prove negligence. The sooner you have X-rays and other scans after an accident, the more likely those injuries are to tie directly back to the accident.
What Are the Advantages of Consulting With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?
An experienced personal injury lawyer has represented many injured parties against insurance companies and knows what tactics their attorneys might try to use against you in a personal injury lawsuit. Your attorney can help build your case by:
- Gathering additional evidence from local business security cameras
- Compiling expert witness testimony from medical professionals and accident modelers
- Speaking on your behalf with insurance company adjusters
- Filing all appropriate forms and evidence with the court in a timely manner
- Helping you avoid the common mistakes people make without legal representation
What Risks Are Associated With Sharing Personal Injury Information Online?
One of the most common mistakes many people make is discussing their personal injury claim online. While this might help you work through the stress of recovery or vent your anger over what happened, insurance companies can use any information you share against you, even when it isn’t directly related to your claim.
Why Should Caution Be Exercised in Regard to Social Media?
You should always be careful about what information you share on social platforms during a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim. Some cases take months or years to settle, meaning you must keep your social timeline in order until your case is over.
For example, if you broke your leg in a slip-and-fall accident, you might fully heal in a few months. Your case could take much longer. If you post pictures of yourself waterskiing or skateboarding when your leg heals but before your claim settles, the insurance company’s attorneys may call the severity of your injury into question to devalue your claim.
How Long Do You Have To File a Personal Injury Claim?
The statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim in court in New Jersey is two years from the date of the accident. However, it’s wise to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident to help manage the insurance claim and start building a case if you need to file a lawsuit against the person liable for your injuries.
What Are the Consequences of Missing the Statute of Limitations?
Missing the statute of limitations can lead to the court refusing to hear your case. You may be unable to pursue compensation for your injuries if you can’t settle with the insurance company and miss the deadline to file a lawsuit against the person whose negligence led to the accident.
Factors To Consider When Assessing the Value of a Claim
How do you know how much your claim is worth? There are several ways of determining the value of a claim, including the following:
- Comparative negligence
- Future damages
- Jurisdiction and legal precedents
Your attorney must prove the four aspects of negligence by the defendant: that the defendant owed you a duty of care, that they breached that duty, that you suffered injuries and losses, and that the defendant’s actions or inaction led to your losses. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can tie all the elements of negligence together in your case to help you pursue a settlement for the compensation your claim is worth.
Contact an Experienced New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney
These are the mistakes to avoid in a personal injury claim in New Jersey. Even personal injury claims that appear simple can be legally complex. To help navigate the personal injury legal claims process, call us at Sadaka Law. Our experienced injury attorneys strive to provide our clients with timely updates on their claims and cases.