A Dozen Ways to Sabotage Your Motorcycle Accident Case
By Chuck Koro, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
The team at Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys has litigated thousands of cases in our time, and we can identify with confidence a dozen ways to sabotage your motorcycle accident case. At the risk of stating the obvious, the events of an accident and the resulting injuries cannot be reversed. Our civil justice system can only provide an injured party with monetary compensation. The goal is to maximize the compensation by properly prosecuting the case. But the converse is equally important. Doing everything right in moving your case forward is not enough. You have to avoid doing the wrong things as well. We have compiled a list of ways in which accident victims can trip up their own claims.
What Are Some Things You Should Never Do at the Scene of an Accident?
Sabotaging your case can occur before you even call a motorcycle accident attorney. These are two things that can occur at the scene of an accident or before that may jeopardize your case.
Have A Few Beers Before You Go For A Ride
Irrespective of how little you may think a beer or two affects your driving ability and irrespective of whether you are legally under the influence, if an officer detects alcohol on your breath at the scene of the accident, you’ve already got one strike against you. It is common knowledge that alcohol affects judgment. In some instances, even a very small amount of alcohol can affect one’s ability to react quickly to a dangerous situation. In any case, if the police report indicates that the odor of alcohol was detected, you have an additional hurdle to overcome even if it may not have had anything to do with how the accident occurred.
Argue With The Police
Most police officers will do their best to generate an objective report based upon the statements of the parties and witnesses and the physical evidence. If the officer says something at the scene that you don’t like or you think is wrong, you can try to correct the situation, but don’t argue. As difficult as it may be, try to state your version rationally and calmly. If you believe that the law enforcement officer was given incorrect information or the police report itself is incorrect, you can ask to supplement the report with your version correcting the perceived errors.
Sabotaging Your Personal Injury Claim via Healthcare
Delay Medical Treatment
Unless you are 100 percent certain that you are not injured, you should seek medical attention within the first 24 hours. At the scene of the accident your adrenaline is pumping and you may not realize the true nature of your injuries. If nothing else, it is important to seek medical advice in the wake of an accident in case of a need for medical care related to complications that make themselves known later. For example, iIn one case, the motorcyclist thought he had only sustained minor bruises and cuts. The next day he collapsed and ultimately learned that he had a lacerated spleen, which required emergency surgery. Aside from the fact that it may be detrimental to your health to delay treatment, putting off treatment may hurt your case. If you don’t seek medical attention for two to three weeks or a month after the accident, the offending driver’s insurance company is going to question your motives for seeking medical care at such a late date. With evidence that you were concerned about accident injuries in your medical records, this obstacle can be sidestepped.
Go To The Wrong Doctor
Doctors specialize in various fields of medicine. After you are involved in an accident, Mmake sure your injuries are evaluated by a doctor who practices in the proper field, be it an orthopedist, a neurologist, a urologist, a spinal specialist, etc., so that all your injuries are properly documented. If you don’t go to the right doctor, you may never get an accurate diagnosis or proper treatment which, in addition to being detrimental to your health, will create problems in properly evaluating your case.
Conceal Prior Similar Injuries
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, your medical history, to a certain extent, becomes an open book. If you try to conceal a prior similar injury and the opposing lawyer eventually finds out, your credibility will be drastically affected. Let your lawyer know about any pre-existing injuries and he or she will determine how to deal with them. Generally, an exacerbation of a pre-existing injury is compensable.
Make sure you discuss a realistic treatment plan with your doctor. Sometimes the injured party will be directed to physical therapy and the physical therapist will lose track of the prescription and continue treating the person long after it makes sense to do so. This can lead to the implication that the injured person is receiving additional treatment to try to build the value of his case.
Be Dishonest About Your Activity Restrictions
Letting the other side know the true effects of an accident on your life is one thing. Being less than truthful about it is another. It’s not uncommon for insurance companies and risk managers to secretly videotape claimants who they believe are exaggerating their symptoms and activity restrictions. On more than one occasion, a claimant has been captured on tape performing the exact activities they claimed were impossible for them to do. Insurance adjusters will take advantage of these inconsistencies to hammer your claim.
Once you leave the scene of the accident, events are set in motion, whether you are quick to initiate your case or not. It’s of vital importance to your case that you don’t make a misstep at this stage, and that requires sticking to the well-worn path as much as possible. Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys has won thousands of cases for clients that have followed our legal advice and avoided these common pitfalls.
Retain The Wrong Lawyer
If you are unfortunate enough to sustain injuries and you decide to retain a lawyer, choose one who specializes in the personal injury field and knows the dynamics of motorcycle accidents. Don’t go to your cousin who is a probate lawyer and dabbles in personal injury or to your neighbor who specializes in family law. The anatomy of a personal injury case claim has many facets that require the skill and experience of a lawyer who practices in that field. In particular, a personal injury attorney with knowledge of the dynamics of motorcycle accidents will have the best chance of winning your case. While car accident attorneys share some common ground, there are intricacies and complications to motorcycle accidents that mean more specialized expertise is required.
Don’t Respond To Litigation Deadlines
After a lawsuit is filed, the discovery process begins. This entails each side propounding numerous questions to each other which have to be answered in a timely fashion. While each side often grants extensions in responding to these discovery devices, continued delay may send a message to the other side that you are either not cooperating or are losing interest in your case. Ultimately, if you don’t respond, the opposing lawyer can ask the court for monetary sanctions against you personally.
Lose Contact With Your Lawyer
If you move or change your telephone number or plan on being out of town for an extended period, tell your lawyer far in advance. Litigation is often a juggling act and certain issues that require the client’s participation sometimes have to be dealt with on the spur of the moment. It is always advisable to give your lawyer an emergency contact from the outset just in case.
Have An Attitude
It is often said that many cases are won or lost on how the jury perceives the plaintiff. The overall impression you create begins at your deposition. This is a proceeding where you are questioned under oath by the opposing lawyer about the facts of the accident and your damages. In addition to reporting the substantive portions of your testimony to the insurance company, the opposing lawyer will be evaluating and reporting on your general demeanor and jury appeal. Don’t party the night before your deposition; get a good night’s sleep; and get there on time, dressed appropriately. Above all, don’t argue with the opposing lawyer. If you feel the urge, take a break. Also, do not treat your case as a personal vendetta against the offending driver. In almost every case the offending driver made a mistake, and had no intention of injuring you. It is also important to be aware of your demeanor at trial. The jury is constantly looking at the parties as they sit at the counsel table, and the majority of them are unlikely to have ever used a motorcycle. Grimaces, sarcastic grins and displays of attitude will not endear you to the jury.
Have Unrealistic Expectations
Discuss the strong and weak points of your case with your lawyer. After the liability issue has been investigated, your medical condition is stable, and your overall economic damages are calculated, discuss the value range of your case with your lawyer. If you’re unrealistic about what you expect to recover, your case will never receive a settlement offer you will be satisfied with.
If you are concerned about making the right choices for your motorcycle accident claim, you can get a free consultation with no obligation from Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys — russbrown.com; 1-800-4-BIKERS