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Pitfalls in Personal Injury Claims

Thursday, April 28, 2016

There are a number of pitfalls to avoid in personal injury claims. Personal injury claims are very complicated and there are a number of things you need to know and to watch out for.

Statutory Limitation

Statutory limitations are time frames within which a claim must be commenced. There are a many different time frames for different types of injuries. For example, for workplace injuries and motor vehicle accidents an injured person must notify the insurer of the injury within 6 months of the date of injury. If they fail to do this they may not be able to make a claim.

Most people believe they have a few years to make a claim so they wait until they are ready to progress with a claim. This is not the case, there are many different time limits in which to commence a claim, in fact there are too many to comment on, they range from 6 months to 12 years!

If you are not sure what time limitation applies to your claim you should contact an accredited specialist in personal injury law.

Insurer Investigations

The Insurer will appoint an investigator to speak to you and any other witnesses about your claim. The investigator is not on your side and is not impartial. They are selected and paid for by the insurer. The investigator will often only ask questions that benefit the insurance company, or they will structure your answer so it benefits the insurer and not your claim. In short, the investigators job is to “investigate” you to obtain as much dirt on you as possible.

You should never provide a signed statement to an investigator without having an experienced personal injury lawyer review the statement and approve it before it is sent to the insurer.

Treatment Providers

The insurance company will obtain a copy of your medical records. If your doctor has failed to record all details in relation to your injury, including the type of injury and its symptoms the insurance company may use this lack of information against you.

It is important to check that your doctor has thoroughly recorded details of:

- How the accident occurred

- The injuries and symptoms you have experienced

- As well as the symptoms you are currently experiencing

If your symptoms and injuries change during the life of your claim you must discuss the changes with your doctor. It is important that any changes are recorded by your doctor as the medical notes will act as evidence to support your claim.

You need to make sure your doctor understands from the beginning that the insurer will review their notes and that they should be detailed. A failure to record an injury or a gap in the notes can often prove fatal to a personal injury claim.

Beware of Social Media

Insurance companies keep tabs on your social media activity. You may inadvertently post pictures and make comments which the insurance may use against you. Posts on your social media can have a negative impact on your case. In order to be safe rather than sorry you should avoid social media during the life of your claim.

Legal Costs

It is important for you to fully understand the amount of legal costs you will be charged before you sign a cost agreement with a lawyer.

All experienced personal injury lawyers will agree to act on a “no win – no fee” conditional costs agreement basis. This means that you do not pay any legal costs until the conclusion of your claim. Under a “no win-no fee” agreement if your claim is unsuccessful you will not need to pay legal costs.

A “no win – no fee” costs agreement allows all Australian’s access to justice. “No win – no fee” legal service allows an injured person access to the justice that they rightly deserve. If your lawyer does not offer “no win – no fee” you should consider whether you should continue with them.

GARLING AND CO 2016

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