When mistakes occur during the execution of your personal injury claim, it can cause a significant delay in the process, and it may even result in having your claim dismissed entirely. By working with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Arizona or New Mexico, you can avoid many of the pitfalls associated with filing a claim, and you'll have a better chance of recovering a fair and appropriate settlement amount or of winning your case, should it actually go to trial. Here are some of the most common mistakes that can occur, so take note of these and don't allow them to creep into your own situation.
Thinking That You Can't Afford a Lawyer
Many kinds of lawyers charge upfront fees, but personal injury lawyers are a little different because they tend to charge a contingency fee. That means they may take your case with no upfront payment, and they will only be reimbursed for their efforts if they achieve a settlement. That means you literally have nothing to lose by hiring a lawyer because they will only be reimbursed if they are successful. Typically the amount an injury lawyer can secure for you will be a lot higher than what any insurance company will offer had you filed on your own. At Impact Legal, you won't pay anything unless we win a settlement or jury verdict. In fact, you can schedule an entirely free consultation right now by texting us at 602-345-1818.
Not Filing Before the Deadline
Every state has its own limitations regarding how long you have to file a personal injury claim, whether that be within one year, two, or some other time frame. Note that in Arizona, you have two years to file a personal injury suit, and in New Mexico, you have three years to file. When you're trying to recover from serious injuries, you will likely be spending at least some of that time in a hospital and going through rehabilitation. That means you won't necessarily be paying attention to the paperwork which would initiate your personal injury claim. Make sure you don't miss any important deadlines, by retaining the services of a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible, so the claim can be started within the specified time period.
Believing Your Case Will Go to Court
The truth is that most personal injury claims are settled out of court after your lawyer has had a chance to review a settlement offer and then negotiate fair compensation. Most lawyers do everything possible to avoid having the case go to court because that always consumes significant time and resources. However, no good lawyer will avoid a trial if they realize that's the only way you will be fairly compensated for your injuries.
Read about the typical personal injury claim timeline here.
Accepting Everything Your Lawyer Tells You
The best way for you to stay informed and involved in your personal injury case is to ask a lot of questions about how the claim is going. Remember that it was you who hired the lawyer to help with your settlement, so you have every right to ask questions and stay updated concerning your claim. You even retain the right to discharge your legal counsel and find a new lawyer, if you feel that your chosen lawyer is not properly handling your claim.
Overlooking Possible Damages
You must consider the short-term and long-term effects of your injuries and all medical costs. You should also consider whether you'll be able to continue working and what your state of mental health might be. As time goes by, you may realize that you need further compensation after you've already agreed to ask for no further damages. This is why it's so important to have a lawyer review your claim, and analyze your current and future damages before you even consider any kind of settlement offer.
Here are the most important things to ask for in a car accident settlement.
Not Filing a Claim Because You Were Partially to Blame
Some states have fault-based policies and comparative negligence laws meaning that even if you're at fault, you may be entitled to a percentage of the damages. Both Arizona and New Mexico adhere to comparative negligence. If you held a level of liability in the accident, you may still be entitled to some compensation. It's important to speak with a lawyer in these cases.
Thinking You Waited Too Long to File
The deadlines for filing a personal injury claim may move along quickly, but you should never abandon them because you think you've waited too long. At Impact Legal, our car accident lawyers will review your case free of charge, and we will be able to tell you for sure whether or not you have missed the deadline and lost your filing opportunity. In some cases, some types of injuries might not actually be discovered for years following the actual incident, so the statute of limitations would be operating differently in these cases – this is called the Rule of Discovery. A knowledgeable injury lawyer will know if any exceptions like this apply to your case. To find out exactly what type of deadline pertains to your circumstances, have your case reviewed by a skilled personal injury lawyer.
Expecting More Compensation for Injuries in the Future
Once you've signed a settlement agreement, that will normally close off any ability you might have to file further claims or lawsuits. That means when you accept a settlement, whatever the amount involved is must cover your current damages plus any future damages, lost wages, and continuing medical treatments. This is why you should carefully consider your settlement offer before you accept it. Your lawyer will help you calculate future expenses like potential lost wages, future medical expenses, and other costs that you could likely incur in the long run. This will help ensure that you are taken care of before you agree on a settlement that is too low.
Failure to Investigate All Contributing Factors of the Accident
There are plenty of reasons to file an injury claim, but 'the other driver hit me' is not one of them. Before you can actually file a claim for damages, you must have solid evidence showing factors that contributed to the accident, as well as the actual cause of the collision. For instance, there may have been weather conditions that contributed to the accident, or the other driver may have been involved with texting or participating in a phone call.
Maybe your brakes were not functioning properly, or maybe there was a slick spot in the road at the site of the accident. Your car accident lawyer will help you gather all possible evidence related to the crash and any resulting injuries. To get the process started, call or text us at 602-345-1818. Alternatively, you can fill out our convenient online form, and we will reach back out to you. We're looking forward to helping you get your life back on track.