Biggest Mistakes Made By Auto Accident Victims
As an Orlando auto accident lawyer, I wish I could speak to every auto accident victim immediately after their accident. Or, after they receive obviously more important emergency medical treatment. In this article, I’m going to share what I believe are the top 10 mistakes auto accident victims make.
If you don’t have time to read, you can just call us for your free & personalized consultation. We answer calls 24/7/365. Experienced lawyers only either respond to calls immediately, or return calls quickly, whenever we might be able to accept the case. (407) 803-2139. Call or text.
But here are the top ten mistakes auto accident victims make:
Calling a High Volume Personal Injury Law Firm
First and foremost, most people have no idea how to hire the top Florida personal injury lawyer, or what their real credentials might be. I started my practice in law firms in which, for sure, 99% of Orlando injury lawyers could never have even landed an interview, much less been hired. The reason is that only the top law students receive jobs from the most elite firms, like the biggest defense law firms in the country. I was one of those lawyers, because I graduated second in my law school class, back in 1997. Then I worked to defend countless multi-million dollar cases, before I realized that my humble background really left me better suited to represent accident victims, rather than huge corporations or insurance companies. Still, when I see billboards of lawyers who could never, in their wildest fantasies, could have worked in those same law firms, I realize how well flashy marketing works in this world.
The reality is that high volume and practicing law simply don’t mix well. No client can achieve the best results with a high volume practice, unless they are easily going to obtain policy limits on an insurance claim, and any experienced injury lawyer could achieve that result. Otherwise, filing lawsuits on cases, and proceeding toward trial, takes a lot of time and skill.
We have exactly three highly experienced lawyers working on our team — Carrie, Jimmy, and Tina (me). Each brings a unique skill to the table, and all work together on every case. So you really are getting more than one lawyer when you call us. More importantly, we are dedicated to a low volume practice mindset. That means we have to decline less serious cases. But we work very hard on each and every case we are able to accept.
We invite you to review our industry awards, before deciding who is the best Orlando auto accident lawyer.
Believing They Should Call The Law Firm With The Most Reviews
The reality is that many law firms are posting their own reviews, often in the hundreds or thousands of supposedly happy former clients. You might reasonably suspect fake reviews by various telltale signs, such as each lawyer in the firm mentioned HIS or HER name — because if you call that firm, and ask for them, they get paid on a percentage from your recovery. How nice. You can also tell by the words used, and reading other reviews from the same reviewer (Do the reviewers other reviews sound similar? Just as long? etc.). This is a known problem in the legal community — word of mouth among prior lawyers at some of these firms has been spreading, and you can read articles on the internet about the problem, on a nationwide basis.
On a related note, about a year ago, for unknown reasons (we suspect competitor false flags), Google deleted about 50 of our hard-earned 5 star reviews. We have no idea why. But we will be posting those on our own website soon — and would be glad to share them if requested by anyone in a serious accident. In the meantime, please understand that many reviews you read online are FAKE, and many lawyers are posting them, to the tune of tens or hundreds each month.
I absolutely cringe to think about handling hundreds of cases at once, which would be needed to obtain that volume of reviews.
Deciding Not To Call A Law Firm, Before First Speaking To The Insurance Adjuster
This is a GIGANTIC mistake! Insurance companies, including your own, want to make the most money possible. They only make money when they cause you to lose money. So they have many tricks up their sleeves to try to GREATLY reduce your case value. Those include asking you innocent sounding questions, which give them information they need to reduce your case value. For example, if they ask you what you did this weekend, and you say that you went camping, you just gave them evidence they need to suggest that you really aren’t that injured. They have countless questions and techniques for accomplishing this goal. So you should never speak to an insurance adjuster if you were involved in a serious accident with injuries. This definitely includes your own insurance company, if you have have something called “uninsured motorist” coverage. That’s a type of insurance coverage, on your own policy, which would cover some or all of your damages, if the at-fault driver either had no coverage, or they didn’t have a high enough policy.
Not Getting Medical Treatment ASAP
You absolutely must get medical treatment, as soon as possible after any accident (preferably the same day, or within a few days at most), to recover the most amount of money on your case. I cannot emphasize this enough. The amount of your claim is not set in stone after your accident. Your treatment has a LOT to do with your case value.
Going To The Wrong Doctor
Ideally, whether or not you received care in the emergency room, you need to visit a doctor who has experience in the litigation process, including maintaining records in a way most likely to increase your case value, doing all appropriate testing needed to prove your case, and testifying during depositions and at trial, if needed. Also, these same doctors often treat on a type of credit, if you don’t have health insurance. This credit is necessary, again if you don’t have health insurance, because we can’t recover money until AFTER you’ve received treatment. Yet, in a catch-22, you need treatment to recover anywhere near the most money.
The wrong doctor can absolutely tank an otherwise outstanding case.
Your doctor is always YOUR choice. But, in our constant goal to help you get the most money possible, we will recommend the best doctors for your particular claim.
Posting About Their Accident & Injuries On Social Media
Many people post pictures of their damaged or destroyed vehicle on Facebook, or pictures of themselves in the hospital. This is a big mistake, because they often also say things like “thank God I wasn’t more injured.”
Insurance companies ALWAYS check your social media accounts and, through litigation, can even obtain your private messages. This applies to many online accounts, like forums, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
Then we have the not fun job of convincing a jury that you really were injured, even though your Facebook posts immediately after the accident suggest otherwise. I still remember what became a momentarily famous YouTube video about a guy out in Utah who was seen rolling a boulder off a perch — a video which tanked his then pending injury case.
That being said, if you’ve already posted something on Facebook (or anywhere else), please do not delete. That will make the situation worse because they can prove that you deleted items, then use that to make you look worse. They may not take that step (of checking behind the scenes on Facebook or other social media). But, in serious injury or death cases, they most likely will. The best approach if you’ve already posted is to leave the post alone, and call us to help with damage control.
Failing To Take Any Or Enough Photos
Pictures tell stories to juries. If at all possible, we need good pictures of all damage to any vehicles involved. We can also use pictures of you receiving treatment, or any medical devices you used during treatment. In certain cases, having pictures of the accident scene can be very helpful, to prove or explain how the accident happened, and why you weren’t at fault.
Failing To Follow Their Doctor’s Recommendations
Once you start treatment, to get the most money at the end of your case, you need to follow your doctor’s recommendations, for a few different reasons.
First, if you don’t, you just gave the insurance company a very good argument to make in front of the jury. Namely, they WILL argue that you wouldn’t be hurting so much, if you would have followed the doctor’s advice. That’s an almost impossible argument to overcome. Granted, we can say that you didn’t believe in the treatment, but that’s usually not as effective as following the doctor’s advice. If you really don’t agree with the doctor, then getting a second opinion is the better option.
Second, auto accident case values generally relate to the cost of medical treatment. In other words, all other things being equal, you are likely to get some multiplier of your medical treatment costs, as your recovery amount. So car accident lawyers ALWAYS want to know your medical bill amounts. Higher medical bills often mean more money in your pocket at the end of the case. And this amount is a major focus of most mediations, and jury trials. If you don’t receive treatment, you lower that number. (Note: there are some exceptions, such as when the treatment is very expensive, and the policy amounts are low, but we guide our clients toward the best legal outcome in those cases, as the information becomes available to us.)
Third, we generally associate more pain and suffering with more treatment. So someone who received major surgery generally suffers more than someone who needed minor surgery, and they suffered more than someone who need injections, and they suffered more than someone who only went through physical therapy. Since pain and suffering is a paid amount of damages, those who endured more significant treatment generally obtain more for pain and suffering (again, subject to available insurance policy amounts).
Being Dishonest During Their Deposition
If we have to file a lawsuit in your case (which we often recommend in serious injury cases, unless we can settle for the policy limits without filing a lawsuit, or there is a problem in the case), you will have to attend something called a deposition. That’s when the lawyers gather with a court reporter, to ask you questions. Your answers are transcribed and can be used against you during any trial. For this reason, we prepare our clients very carefully for their depositions. We hear the same questions, over and over again, during injury cases. So we know what the defense lawyers are likely to ask you.
The most important piece of advice that we give during deposition prep sessions is to be honest, without volunteering information unnecessarily. The reason is that, in bigger cases (which are most cases that get into litigation), insurance companies and corporate defendants definitely might have had investigators visiting your home or business (or elsewhere), to take photos or videos without your knowledge. If you aren’t honest about your capabilities, then they might produce a video to prove that you weren’t. That could seriously harm or destroy your case value — because the defense attorney will tell the jury that they can’t believe any of your testimony, since they have proven you lied about one or more important facts.
Your deposition shouldn’t scare you. As long as you are honest, we can handle the rest. And we prepare you with the types of answers you might give, so that you have even less to fear.
Believing The Billboards
I haven’t actually had any clients talk to me about the many billboards around town advertising recoveries in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. But I imagine they must wonder about them.
Thankfully most our clients seem to understand the value that a low volume practice brings to their case. But I still sometimes wonder what they think of those billboards around town.
The fact is that some law firms have hundreds of lawyers, including many junior level lawyers, and they have many thousands of clients. Again, high volume and the law really do not mix well. Learning a client’s story, and telling it effectively, takes a LOT of time. There’s no way around that fact. So those billboard numbers represent an extremely low percentage of the total cases — and there is absolutely no way to know whether that particular client could have obtained more with a different lawyer.
Just this week, we resolved one case for $500,000, but others were only $20,000, $50,000, or $100,000 (often the insurance policy limits are the cap). Earlier this year, we finally finished a medical malpractice wrongful death case, which resolved for 3.5 million. Recently, we resolved a semi-truck accident death case for 2 million. And we settled another auto accident case recently for 1 million. We have settled many in between all of those numbers. I really don’t know the average, but the highest amounts are reserved for the most catastrophic injury and death cases.
If the injuries are serious enough, or a death was involved, we will make sure you get the most money possible. We regularly perform research on other settlement and jury verdicts around the state, so we know exactly what these cases are worth, and we never short change our clients.
You should be aware that law firms seeking higher profit margins have an incentive to spend less time on each case. That’s just not who we are. If someone has serious injuries, or lost a loved one, we WILL spend whatever time is needed to get them the best possible outcome. For less serious injury cases, we still explain to all of our clients what they can do to recover the most money possible. (We do have a threshold for seriousness of accidents & injuries, since we spend so much time on each of our cases. Unfortunately, with only three lawyers, we cannot accept every case.)
Additionally, the billboard amounts are total recovery amounts, not the net to the client. From that total recovery, all injury & accident lawyers deduct their own fee, and must pay back medical providers and health insurance companies, before paying their clients. Since medical bills can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, billboard amounts can often be misleading.
Finally, billboard amounts include costs for future medical care. Future medical is optional (meaning you don’t have to pay for it, after you get your money). But many of the most seriously injured people need medical care into the future, so really need the money for that purpose.
If you would like to have a low volume personal injury firm, where the lawyers are ALL highly experienced, with many years in the industry, please give us a call today for your free consultation. In serious injury cases, we will spend whatever time you need to get ALL of your questions answered. We can also come to you, if you are unable to travel, and want to meet in person. Or we can meet quickly by phone, and sign all documents electronically. Call or Text 24/7/365 (407) 803-2139.