For many accident victims, contacting a Greenville car wreck attorney is the last resort. Unfortunately, this happens after some time passed after the accident. During this period, the injured person unwittingly committed a series of mistakes that will affect their car accident claim value. A shrewd insurance adjuster can instantly spot when someone is filing a claim on their own, without legal representation.
And, apart from exploiting the small errors the accident victim has already committed, they push them towards committing even more. In the end, the adjuster will come up with a lowball settlement amount – if they do not deny the claim altogether. It is at this point that the injured person considers hiring a Greenville car wreck attorney.
What Exactly Can an Insurance Adjuster Do to Reduce Your Claim?
First of all, it is worth remembering that South Carolina uses the comparative negligence principle in personal injury cases. This means that you must be less than 50% at fault in order to have the legal right to seek damages. It also means that, if your claim is approved, the amount of money you will collect represents your total damages minus your percentage of fault.
And this is exactly what insurance adjusters try to do to reduce your car accident claim value: increase your percentage of fault as much as possible. Sadly, some actions you took after your accident can give insurers a reason to reduce your claim.
Many Accident Victims Commit These Mistakes
Now, what kind of actions would affect your ability to collect the maximum compensatory amount you deserve? After all, you are the victim in this situation. In reality, any car accident claim starts with a he-said-she-said debate. And the party that wins is the one that can support their claim with evidence and with a demonstration that they were doing whatever they could to mitigate their damages.
In the experience of a Greenville car wreck attorney, these mistakes have the potential to reduce the final settlement amount and make negotiations with the insurer more complex and difficult.
1. You Tried to Settle the Case Directly With the Driver
There are cases when a car crash appears to be minor. A bent spoiler, a few chips in the paint, a stiff neck, and a little headache. Why bother involving the police and insurance companies in this?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a minor accident – legally speaking. In South Carolina, drivers are obliged to report any car accident resulting in at least $1,000 in damages and/or injuries or death. The penalties for not doing so are stiff – from license suspension to being charged with a hit-and-run accident. These are even worse than reducing the car accident claim value and will have a long-lasting negative impact on your life.
2. You Did Not Seek Medical Attention Immediately after the Crash
We know that nobody likes going to the hospital and getting a lot of medical care bills. But there are two very important reasons why you should do so after any car accident. First of all, you may be seriously injured. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, shock and the surge of adrenalin will numb the pain. You may believe you are alright, but you may suffer from internal bleeding, organ damage or even head and brain injuries.
Secondly, your Greenville car wreck attorney will have a hard time proving that you were hurt in the accident. A visit to the doctor or going to the hospital the next day or several days later are no longer relevant, from an insurance adjuster’s point of view. You could have been injured in a separate incident. Thus, they will happily reduce your car accident claim value – or even dismiss it completely.
3. You Did Not Continue the Prescribed Treatment
Everyone is eager to go back to their regular life after an incident threw it off course. But you must not stop your medical appointments or quit refilling your prescriptions until your doctor determines that you reached the point of maximum medical improvement.
For one, incompletely healed injuries can get a lot worse over time. Secondly, there is a legal principle called failure to mitigate damages. This means that you did not do whatever was reasonably possible to reduce the extent and severity of your injuries. This will be used against you, both during settlement negotiations and during a personal injury lawsuit.
4. Failure to Disclose Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
Some people suffer more severe injuries than others because the car crash comes after another significant accident or because they suffer from a specific medical condition. An insurance adjuster will try to use this as an excuse to reduce your car accident claim value.
“So, I won’t say a word about it!” While you do not have to say it to an insurance adjuster, you certainly must disclose a pre-existing medical condition to your Greenville car wreck attorney. Knowing this, the attorney will order specific tests and scans to compare your current condition to the one prior to the accident. Thus, they will be able to prove that you did suffer injuries in the crash – injuries which would not have happened if the other driver had not been negligent.
5. Discussing the Accident on the Social Media
Posting updates, photos, and videos about the accident is one of the biggest mistakes that can reduce your car accident claim value. Insurance adjusters can access these posts and interpret any image and word as it suits them.
Sitting up on the side of the bed and smiling for the camera? That’s not how a severely injured person acts. It does not matter that you made an effort to appear cheerful just to appease your family’s worry. What people see is someone who appears to be Okay.
And this is exactly what insurance adjusters count on – the fact that, once they deny your claim, the jury will see the matter from their perspective. Thus, until your claim is resolved, you should refrain from discussing it on social media. Also, you should ask your family and friends to do the same – even their posts can be tracked and used against you.
Discuss Your Case Only with a Greenville Car Wreck Attorney!
Finally, remember that you must never start negotiations, or even discuss your accident with an insurance adjuster. Anything you say and agree to will hurt your case.
The best solution is to schedule a free case review with an experienced Greenville car wreck attorney. Do not let time pass, call to schedule an initial consultation with us as soon as possible: 864-310-7897!