Accidents and injuries can happen to anyone, regardless of how cautious they are. Unfortunately, we are forced to depend on others for our own safety far more than most people even realize. The motorists with which you share the road, your employer and coworkers, the owner of the store where you shop for your groceries, and even the manufacturers of the products you buy and use all hold your life, health, and well-being in their hands to a certain extent.
When those around us behave negligently, accidents, injuries and even death can be the result. Whether a person was injured in a car accident, truck accident, slip-and-fall accident, in the workplace, or by a dangerous or defective product—they should not have to cover the cost of medical bills, property damages, and other losses if someone else was at fault.
Delaware law gives those injured in negligence-related accidents the ability to file a civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation from the individuals or organizations responsible for their injuries and other losses. However, the legal system is complex and can be confusing for those who have no previous experience with it. As a result, it is far too easy for accident victims to make mistakes that can weaken their case and damage their chances of receiving a financial award.
If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit after being injured in an accident caused by another person's negligence, here's what you need to know.
Common Personal Injury Case Mistakes
Even a strong case can sustain serious damage if the plaintiff does the wrong thing before filing the lawsuit or during the litigation process. Don't let these common personal injury case mistakes cost you the compensation you need and deserve. Common mistakes include:
- Waiting too long to file the lawsuit. How long you have to file a lawsuit is governed by statute of limitation laws. In Delaware, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years, meaning that potential plaintiffs must file their lawsuit within two years of the date that the accident or injury occurred. Cases filed after the statute of limitations has expired are almost always thrown out.
- Delaying medical treatment after an accident. It is important to seek medical care as soon as possible after an accident, even if you do not think you are seriously injured. Not all accident-related injuries are immediately apparent. If you develop symptoms later on but haven't seen a doctor, the defense may try to claim that your injuries are unrelated to the accident or incident in question.
- Giving a written or recorded statement to the insurance companies. Immediately following an accident, insurance companies may ask you to provide them with a written or recorded statement—don't. What you say in these statements can be used to damage your future claim or case.
- Representing yourself. Some accident victims think they can save money by representing themselves and, in some ways, they are right. Insurance companies and defendants save big money on settlements when plaintiffs choose to go it alone. Studies have consistently shown that plaintiffs who have legal representation receive larger settlements than those who do not.
- Accepting a settlement offer without consulting an attorney. Your attorney has your best interests in mind, while insurance companies have their eye on the bottom line.
- Failing to preserve evidence. The more evidence you can gather in the wake of an accident, the better chances you have of being able to prove your case.
- Discussing the case with someone other than your attorney. The old adage, “Loose lips sink ships,” applies. Restrict your discussion of the case to your attorney and, whatever you do, don't post about it on social media.
- Lying or failing to disclose important details. It all tends to come out during the litigation process, regardless of what “it” is. Being honest and upfront helps your attorney help you.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, don't let a simple mistake compromise your case. The knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you through each and every step of the personal injury process. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a no-cost, no-obligation analysis of your case.