Personal Injury Articles for the Injured of NJ

"10 Tips to Maximize Your Recovery"

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Mon, Nov 30, 2015

By Francis M. Smith

Most people have no experience with the personal injury claim process until they are hurt in an accident. When that happens, you have a short time to learn how to handle the medical and legal issues to give yourself the best chance for recovery. Keep these ten simple but crucial tips in mind to help you avoid common pitfalls that can prevent you from getting fair compensation for your injuries.

  1. 10-tips-to-maximize-your-recoverySeek immediate medical treatment and follow medical advice. Get medical care for your injuries as soon as possible when you are injured – both for your health and for the integrity of any future personal injury claim. Some injuries need immediate treatment to prevent further damage, and other injuries may not fully reveal themselves through symptoms until several days after your accident. The sooner you are diagnosed and treated, the sooner your recovery can begin.

Getting prompt medical care will also help your legal case. Being treated right away shows that your injuries were serious, and that you have taken them seriously. The insurance company will look for any evidence that your injuries aren't severe or that you're exaggerating your pain, and getting immediate medical care and following doctors' orders helps guard against those accusations. In addition, any damage award you receive for pain and suffering will be determined by considering, in part, your medical bills and diagnoses. As such, you should not put off or avoid getting necessary care.

Be sure that you also follow through completely on your doctor's orders. If you are recommended a specialist, go. If you are prescribed physical therapy, complete it – even if you start to feel better. Not only is it important to complete treatment for the sake of your recovery, but it will also help protect your claim: stopping and re-starting treatment because your injuries worsened looks suspicious, and the insurance company will be sure to capitalize on it.

  1. Don't jump to accept a settlement too soon. Before you complete your medical treatment, you have no way of knowing how expensive the treatment for your injuries will be. The insurance company will try to take advantage of that, offering you a check within days or weeks of your accident. A few thousand dollars and a quick resolution may seem tempting, but remember that you cannot seek additional compensation if your medical bills end up being higher than the sum of your settlement.

If you're worried about having the money to pay your medical bills and are tempted to accept a low-value settlement, talk with your accident lawyer instead. He can help you arrange an agreement with your doctors to pay them out of your eventual injury settlement or damage award, paying up front. After receiving a “letter of protection” from your attorney, many times your care providers will continue to give you the treatment you need to recover from your injuries.

  1. Watch out for the insurance adjuster. The insurance adjuster assigned to your claim is a professional who handles cases like yours every day. He is paid to settle claims as cheaply as possible. He may seem friendly or act concerned for your well-being, but he is not on your side. He will look for any weak point or inconsistency in your case and use it to undermine your credibility. Don't try to go up against a professional without experienced help of your own.

  2. Don't offer the adjuster any statements. The insurance adjuster will contact you shortly after your accident and ask you about your injuries. He's almost certainly taking notes on what you say, and will probably be recording the call. The solution? Don't talk to him. He may push, but you don't have to respond. You probably don't know the full extent of your injuries yet, and insurance adjusters are experts at twisting even innocent-seeming comments (like an automatic response to, “How are you today?”) into something that can hurt your case. Your best bet is to have your accident lawyer handle any correspondence with the insurance adjuster.

  3. Don't sign anything that isn't from your lawyer. The insurance company will try to get you to sign medical authorization forms that give them access to your entire medical history. They will comb through your records, looking for any past or present conditions that they can argue are the “real” cause of your injuries. This is an unnecessary invasion of your privacy that can only hurt your claim. The only medical authorizations you should sign are those your accident lawyer provides, that are limited to just the care you received for your accident injuries.

  4. Document and retain all records. Start a file for all the paperwork related to your accident and injuries, and keep a copy of every document you receive – police reports, medical bills, legal papers, etc. Keep your medical bills even if you have health insurance, because you may need to repay your provider if you win a settlement. You'll need proof of every bill you want paid. You'll also need documentation of any lost wages resulting from your injuries: get a copy of the doctor's note describing how long you couldn't work, and obtain documentation from your employer about your rate of pay and the total wages you missed.

  5. Stick to the truth. The quickest way to torpedo your injury claim is through dishonesty of any kind. If you lie to the insurance company, they will find out and use it to destroy your credibility if and when your case goes before a jury. If you lie to your accident lawyer, he cannot represent you effectively – and may drop your case if he discovers you have been dishonest with him. If you lie to your doctors, they can't give you the treatment you need.

  6. Be open and forthcoming with your accident lawyer. There may be details of your case that you find embarrassing, or that you worry might harm your claim. Don't hide them from your lawyer. It's better that your accident lawyer know about all the messy, potentially-damaging details ahead of time than have them sprung on him by surprise in the middle of a trial. Assume that the insurance company will find any damaging information there is to find. You need to let your attorney prepare to handle that information to minimize the damage to your claim.NJ Car insurance Buyers Guide

  7. Don't embellish your injuries. The insurance company would love to catch you in a lie. They will comb your social media pages, and may even hire a private investigator to follow you. If they produce a photo or video showing you doing an activity you previously said your injuries prevented you from doing, your case will self-destruct. Be honest about the pain and limitations you have, but don't exaggerate.

  8. Retain an experienced accident lawyer. The insurance company has a team of professionals looking out for its interests; you need – and deserve – no less. Even after attorney's fees are accounted for, you are much more likely to walk away with a larger settlement or damage award with a good lawyer than you would alone. Your best bet is to hire an accident lawyer who knows all the insurance company's tricks, so you can focus on what's most important: healing.

    If you or a loved one have been injured in a serious accident, please contact me or call me at 908-233-5800 for a free consultation. 

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Topics: Injuries"Injuries", injury compensation"injury compensation", injury case"injury case"

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