Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic, life-altering experience. If you were injured and want to pursue compensation, filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver is often the next step. However, winning a car accident lawsuit requires strategic preparation and avoiding common errors. Any missteps can sabotage your chances of a favorable outcome. Use the following guidance to give yourself the best opportunity to emerge victorious if you need to go to court over a car crash.
Not Calling Police To The Scene
In the chaos following an accident, forgetting to call the police is an easy mistake. But having an official accident report prepared by officers who surveyed the scene firsthand is crucial evidence. Police documents often carry significant weight with insurance companies and in court. The report can corroborate your version of how the crash happened, establish important details like weather conditions, and attribute fault to the other driver. Always insist officers come to document the scene, no matter how minor an accident may seem at the time. Police reports thoroughly documenting the incident will bolster any future injury claim.
Failing To Collect Witness Information
Along with police reports, independent eyewitness accounts are pivotal for substantiating your case. If any bystanders saw the accident occur, get their contact information on the spot. Witness recollections become less reliable over time. Have witnesses write down license plate numbers and their observations of how the crash happened. Get permission to follow up if you end up filing a claim or lawsuit. Eyewitness testimonies corroborating your version of the accident are invaluable. Make collecting witness contact info a priority.
Neglecting To Document Your Injuries
Many car accident injuries like whiplash, spinal damage or concussions have delayed onset symptoms that may take days or weeks to fully surface. So, while you may feel only minimal pain immediately after a crash, serious problems can manifest later. Make sure to get thoroughly examined and document all physical issues you experience post-accident, even if subtle. Keep a pain journal tracking symptoms day by day. Follow up regularly with your doctor and get referrals to specialists if issues persist. Meticulously documenting how the accident caused lasting impacts on your health will serve your case down the road.
Declining Medical Treatment
Some people decline ambulance transport or visit an ER after a crash to avoid costs. But refusing medical care can be perceived as evidence your injuries were minor. Always get examined by a doctor immediately post-accident to have your condition assessed and create a record of seeking treatment. Even small cuts should receive professional care to prevent infection. You can deal with billing matters later. Right after an accident is not the time to downplay your health issues, no matter how invincible you may feel due to adrenaline. Getting promptly checked out and following doctors’ orders is vital.
Not Following Up With Doctors
In the excitement of emerging from an accident relatively unharmed, you may be tempted to skip follow-up appointments. But interrupting recommended treatment plans can negatively impact your recovery, allowing issues to linger or worsen. Sticking to your doctor’s prescribed treatment regimen shows a diligent effort to heal. Keep all records and paperwork from medical visits and physical therapy sessions. Follow-up care also creates a continuing record of how the accident impaired your health, which your car accident attorneys can use as evidence. Don’t give the defense any opening to claim you failed to mitigate damages.
Settling With The Insurance Company Prematurely
After an accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may offer a quick settlement to close the matter. But accepting an initial offer is often unwise, as the extent of damages or lost income is not yet clear. Settlements preclude you from pursuing further compensation should unforeseen issues like surgery costs arise later. Wait until your legal and medical team advises any offer is adequate rather than jumping at the first check dangled your way. Patience here can pay major dividends.
Being Uncooperative With Your Attorney
Retaining experienced accident attorneys is wise, but failing to cooperate with them can torpedo your case. Answer your lawyer’s inquiries promptly, provide relevant documents when requested, and follow their advice diligently. If you drag your feet responding, it hampers your legal team’s ability to build the strongest case possible. Being combative or dismissive of your attorney’s suggestions also undermines your position. You hired an expert for their legal skills, so trust in their guidance. Full cooperation is essential for effective representation.
Unable To Explain Your Claimed Damages
Jurors decide cases based on damages – namely, the real losses you suffered due to the accident. Things like medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain/suffering compensation. Yet vague, speculative, or disorganized damage claims make jurors skeptical. Work closely with your legal team to organize billing statements, income docs, repair estimates, etc. to substantiate each damage category. Practice explaining how the accident directly caused each loss to persuasively convey damages when testifying. With well-documented figures and concise explanations, you convince jurors your claimed losses are legitimate.
Losing Your Cool On The Stand
Staying calm and collected while testifying is easier said than done. Opposing counsel may try to fluster you, hoping to diminish your credibility. Let your attorney object to any out-of-bounds questions. Respond politely and stick to the facts you recall. Getting argumentative, evasive, or overly emotional on the stand risks leaving jurors with doubts. Jurors also dislike feeling manipulated. Answer questions directly and avoid exaggerated gestures or tone. Your testimony provides a human perspective jurors remember, so keep composure.
Being Overconfident In Victory
No case is guaranteed, so avoid overconfidence heading into a trial. Even extremely strong claims still fail in court sometimes. Expect your evidence and testimony to face tough scrutiny from defense lawyers seeking holes to exploit. Uphold your end-of-trial preparations and listen closely to your legal team’s advice. Maintain realistic expectations, knowing even perfectly valid cases can reach an unfavorable verdict based on the jury’s composition. Hope for the best but brace for any outcome. Overconfidence causes disappointment if things go sideways.