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8 Mistakes That May Ruin Your Hawaii Accident Injury Case
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The following is a list of eight mistakes that people make which may end up ruining, or causing serious problems, for their Hawaii auto accident case.
Mistake 1: Don't call the police when you're in an accident. Many people are wise and call the police; however, there are still too many people who don't call the police when they've been in an accident. The most common reason why people don't call the police is that the other driver pleads with them not to call. They insist that they will take care of all of the damage without getting the police or the insurance companies involved. Don't fall for this. You will need a police report as evidence to prove that the accident happened. You should call the police no matter how minor you think the car accident may be.
Mistake 2: Don't get immediate medical treatment. If you feel that you may be injured, you should call the ambulance. You should then take the ambulance to the hospital for treatment. Not only is it important to get immediate medical attention when you are injured, it is also important for your injury claim so that there is proof of your injuries. If you didn't call an ambulance or go to the emergency room, you should still seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Go to the ER even if it is already the day after the accident. As long as you had valid car insurance, then you don't need to worry about your medical bills (up to $10,000) because all car insurance policies in Hawaii are required to provide medical coverage known as "No-Fault Insurance" or "Personal Injury Protection".
Mistake 3: Don't call a lawyer. Yes, you could have probably guessed that we would say this, but it's true! Even if you don't call us, please call a lawyer to begin getting legal advice regarding your car accident as soon as possible. The insurance companies will start calling you with many questions and will even want to take a recorded statement. You should not deal with the insurance companies until you have a lawyer on your side to protect your rights; this includes both the other driver's company and your own Hawaii auto insurance company. It's always sad when we have to turn away clients because they waited too long to call us and they made some critical mistakes which ruined their case.
Let's put it this way, if something goes wrong with the transmission in my car, I'm going to take it to a mechanic immediately. I'm not going to try to fix it on my own. If I do try to fix it on my own, I may end up causing much more damage and the mechanic will have a much harder time fixing the problem.
Mistake 4: Don't get consistent medical treatment. In an injury case, the evidence is the medical records. If you're injured, then you need to have medical records to back up those injuries. Basically, from a Hawaii insurance adjustor's point of view, you're not injured unless there are medical records that prove you're injured. You must not only get treatment after the Honolulu car accident, but you must continue to get consistent medical treatment until you're completely healed from the injuries you sustained in the Hawaii auto collision. It's even better if you get your treatment from Hawaii medical providers who specialize in car accident injuries. These providers do a good job of billing the No-Fault Insurance and they will also do a good job of documenting your injuries and treatment, which is critical to getting a good settlement for your accident injuries. Feel free to call us and we can refer you to some excellent doctors and therapists who specialize in car accident injuries and also accept Hawaii No-Fault Insurance.
Mistake 5: Don't listen to your lawyer.
After all, you're paying your lawyer for his advice, so you may as well get as much advice as you can from him/her and do your best to follow their advice. A good personal injury lawyer will have many years of experience with many cases. He can use the experience that he has obtained to get you a great settlement for your injuries. With the internet so readily accessible, it's temping to just search online for answers to your questions instead of asking your lawyer. The mistake with searching online for answers to your questions is that there is no guarantee that the source that you're reading is reliable. Also, auto accident laws vary from state to state. There's no sense in getting advice online from someone, even if that someone is a lawyer, who is not a Hawaii licensed attorney.
Mistake 6: Settle your case before you've completed your treatment.
In general, it's best to wait and settle your case after you've completed all of your treatment. The reason for this is because you want the settlement to take into account all of the treatment that you've received. If you settle your injury case prematurely, than your future medical treatment will not be included in the insurance adjustor's settlement valuation. The exception to this advice is when there is no end to treatment in sight. Some people need treatment for years and maybe even the rest of their life. Of course, you don't want to wait for years to settle your case and get the compensation you deserve. In these cases, it's best to ask your medical provider to indicate in his/her medical records that you will need treatment for years in the future. Although adjustors don't usually give full value to such an opinion, they may take that into account when making their settlement valuation.
Mistake 7: Have unreasonable settlement expectations.
One of the most common ways to ruin your injury claim is to have unreasonable settlement expectations. Although there is not a perfect way to calculate what someone's pain and suffering is worth, you should still try to consider what a reasonable amount is for your injuries. Insurance companies has access data for millions of insurance settlements, arbitration awards, and jury awards. They use all of this information to come up with what they consider to be a reasonable settlement amount. In general, they make reasonable settlement offers. Of course, there are also many times when they are unreasonable. So what exactly is a reasonable amount? One could argue that what a jury of 12 random people decide should be considered reasonable. The dilemma is that you don't want to pursue your case all the way to a jury trial just to find out what a reasonable amount is. It can take years to pursue a case to a jury verdict. It can also be very stressful, expensive, and time consuming. The key is to get a reasonable settlement without taking your case all the way. It's a good idea to ask your lawyer if the settlement offer is reasonable. It can also be helpful to try to put yourself in the shoes of a jury members. Of course, you should keep in mind that most jury members have not been injured in an accident, most people don't like lawsuits and injury lawyers, and most people think that they pay high insurance premiums because of all the lawsuits. In other words, if you have a minor car accident with minor injuries, than it probably won't go too well for you if you take your case to a jury. On the other hand, if you have a major car accident and major injuries, such as fractured bones and/or surgery, then it's more likely that a jury will feel bad for you and award a fair amount.
Mistake 8: Go to court when you should have settled.
This can be one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to car accident cases. Your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance adjustor to get them up to their "final offer". Once they make their final offer, the ball is then in your court to decide whether to accept the offer or take them to court. The general rule is that if their offer is somewhat reasonable, than you should take it. Don't be stubborn and hold out for every dollar you think you deserve. If their offer is within a few thousand of what you feel is reasonable, than you might as well take it. The ramifications for taking a case to court can be serious, so there is no sense in taking the chance in court if their offer is close to an acceptable amount. If you do decide to file a complaint in court, then there may not be any turning around. Once you file the complaint, than the insurance company hires a lawyer to defend the complaint. Those defense attorneys are not usually interested in settling the case. They're usually only interested in getting the case ready for trial. They will be sending you interrogatories to complete and they will want to take your deposition. The case will first go to arbitration and the arbitrator will decide the amount you deserve. If you decide not to accept the amount he decides, than you can appeal the case to a Hawaii jury trial. The jury must award you one third more than the arbitrator or you may have to pay the defense attorneys fees and costs. The same goes at trial. If the trial does not go in your favor, than you will have to pay their attorney's fees and costs.