No matter which side of the table you are on in a personal injury case, you can easily make some mistakes that make your case a whole lot harder to win, as a personal injury lawyer can attest. You don’t necessarily need to think like a lawyer, but you do need to have some common sense and exercise some caution. Here are some typical mistakes.
1) Admit any amount of fault. You would think this would only apply to someone who is being sued after an accident rather than the victim, but comparative fault is a two-way street and a victim can tank their own claim quite easily. The best way to do this is to admit any amount of fault, especially to the other driver, the police, or your insurance company. None of these parties have any duty to protect what you have told them and they are free to use it to their advantage.
2) Use just about any social media. This seems like a broad stroke that covers most social media posting, but the thing is, you never know what is going to be used or advantageous to the other side. For example, that selfie you took while driving just before the accident should not then be posted to Instagram or Facebook because insurance companies and defense attorneys will be able to figure out exactly where and when that incriminating photo was taken.
3) Talking about the accident with friends or online. It’s natural to want to discuss a car accident with your friends, or better yet, post a huge description about it on Facebook or your blog. You should fight this urge like you fought not to eat vegetables when you were a kid. Any differences between the manifesto you posted on your blog and your testimony in a deposition will give the other side’s attorney ample opening to discredit you and your version of the accident. Also, your friends can be subpoenaed and deposed by either party – they have no choice in the matter – so if you spun a great tale to them at the BBQ and it is nothing near what happened, be prepared for fireworks.
4) Destroy evidence. Having second thoughts about that blog post now, you are probably tempted to kill it. This is problematic for multiple reasons, including that a copy has already probably been made by the defense who will then be even more curious as to why it disappeared, and your purpose in taking it down will likely be to prevent it from reaching the defense. The same rule applies if you have a dashcam or even a monitoring device from your insurance company. Both are fair game for the other side to seek and if you destroy them, the court will be very, very unhappy with you.
5) Flaunt your abilities while claiming you are injured. This seems obvious, but it is one of the more fertile grounds for defense attorneys to get a claim either completely dismissed or so eviscerated, there is no point in continuing. This includes, for example, posting pictures of you participating in the office limbo contest days after you claim severe neck injuries and whiplash. In addition to being fodder for the other side, these incriminating photos can land you in hot water with your insurance company who may cry fraud.