There are many reasons to hire a personal injury lawyer in West Virginia after an accident. However, it is not uncommon for people who have been injured to try to handle the case on their own. Unfortunately, there are a number of mistakes you might make if you don’t speak to an attorney about your personal injury claim.
At Colombo Law, we understand the challenges faced by personal injury victims. We make a No Fee Promise to every client—you pay nothing upfront, and you only owe fees if we are successful. In addition, our lawyers fully discuss your legal options so you know exactly what to expect from us and how you will be involved.
Before you decide to go it alone, call Colombo Law at (304) 599-4229 today. Our attorneys serve clients in Morgantown and all of West Virginia.
Do I Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Hiring an attorney is not mandatory in a personal injury case. You have every right to represent yourself and proceed without counsel. Such a decision, however, needs to be made carefully.
In personal injury matters, there are situations where having an attorney represent you is extremely beneficial (if not crucial for achieving a favorable outcome). These include:
- Your injuries are serious
- Fault and liability are contested
- The insurance company is not treating you fairly
- You have incurred substantial damages as a result of the accident
- Multiple defendants may be at fault
Plaintiffs may be unaware of these complex issues. Even if they are, they likely don’t know how to navigate them and resolve their case successfully.
A personal injury lawyer in West Virginia can help with all aspects of your claim. Your attorney will also provide you with sound legal advice that will enable you to avoid potential mistakes.
10 Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Case
Insurance companies are involved in all personal injury claims. They dedicate significant time, money, and resources to combating fair payouts. Part of this strategy involves capitalizing on the plaintiff’s mistakes to reduce or even deny fair compensation.
Some of the biggest mistakes to avoid include:
1. Admitting Fault
No matter the circumstances of a personal injury, you should never say anything to suggest that you are to blame. Any admission of fault—to a defendant, to the insurance company, to law enforcement, etc.—can undermine your case. It is in your best interest to have a lawyer investigate to determine where fault for the accident lies and what your rights are.
2. Not Seeking Medical Attention
Many individuals are injured at the time of the accident but fail to seek medical treatment. There are a number of reasons people skip this crucial step, from assuming their injuries are not serious to having prior obligations to worrying about the cost. While all of these reasons for delaying or skipping medical care may seem valid, they can all hurt your personal injury case.
Complete medical records are needed to prove the nature and extent of your injuries and to establish your right to compensation. If your injuries aren’t documented or it becomes known that you waited to get treatment, the insurance company may try to argue that your injuries are less serious than you claim, or unrelated to the accident.
3. Failure to Follow Through on Your Medical Treatment Plan
Once you receive medical care, your doctor will develop a plan for your recovery. It is crucial to follow the advice of your doctor and any other medical professionals. This includes keeping appointments, abiding by at-home care instructions, etc.
An accident can complicate your life in many ways. While it may be tempting to call it quits and try to get back to normal, the insurance company will almost certainly point to this as a reason to question the severity of your injuries or the damages you are pursuing.
4. Exaggerating Your Pain
With legal matters, it is never a good idea to lie or embellish. Insurance companies are already suspicious of most injury claims. When plaintiffs exaggerate their injuries or the pain they are feeling, they destroy their credibility and give the insurer ample reason to deny compensation.
5. Waiting to File a Claim
Sometimes a delay on the plaintiff’s part may be inevitable. Your injuries may have been too severe to collect evidence at the scene, or you may need time to recover. However, it is important not to wait any longer than necessary before making a claim.
The insurance company will start investigating the accident immediately and preparing its defense. Furthermore, West Virginia only gives plaintiffs 2 years to make a claim for personal injury. If you wait too long, you will lose the right to pursue damages.
6. Accepting the Initial Settlement Offer
If the insurance adjuster offers to settle your case, it is probably for less than you truly deserve. Before accepting a settlement, it is crucial to consult a personal injury lawyer in West Virginia. Your attorney can review the offer and negotiate for a better settlement.
7. Making a Recorded Statement
One of the sneakiest tactics insurance companies use is asking claimants to provide a statement about the accident and their injuries. This is often presented as a caring gesture, a chance for you to “tell your side of the story.” In reality, however, the insurance adjuster is looking for details that can be used against you.
Generally, it is in your best interest to have an attorney handle all communications with the insurance company. This minimizes the risk of you saying something that could undermine your claim.
8. Agreeing to Release Your Medical Records
Another common insurance company tactic is asking claimants to sign a release that gives the adjuster access to their medical records. You might assume that such a request would enable the insurer to get an accurate sense of your injuries. Unfortunately, the adjuster is actually looking for proof of prior injuries and pre-existing conditions that they can use to deny your claim or reduce the damages.
9. Talking About the Accident Online
Though it may be tempting to share updates and photos on social media after an accident, you should avoid doing so. Insurance companies routinely check plaintiffs’ online profiles for details that contradict their claims.
10. Not Hiring an Attorney
As a rule, it is a mistake to try to handle a personal injury claim on your own. In cases of serious injury, the stakes are too high and the potential for mistakes is too great to move forward without an attorney.
What Will Your Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
Your attorney will take all necessary steps to prepare your case and pursue the compensation you deserve. This includes:
- Investigating the accident
- Collecting evidence
- Determining who is at fault
- Reviewing the evidence with expert witnesses
- Calculating your damages
- Submitting a demand to the insurance company
- Negotiating a settlement
- Helping you determine whether to settle or go to trial
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in West Virginia
For more than 20 years, Colombo Law has been a leading advocate for people who have been injured through no fault of their own. Negligence can result in many different types of accidents, and our attorneys are well-versed in what it takes to hold defendants accountable.
At Colombo Law, we know how insurance companies operate when faced with a personal injury claim. When you hire us, a personal injury lawyer in West Virginia will aggressively advocate for you during settlement negotiations, meticulously prepare your case for trial, and—if necessary—fight for a favorable outcome in court.