Top 5 Pitfalls To Avoid When Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Accidents are inevitable. Unfortunately, one small accident can have a significant impact on your life. Accidents can result in severe injuries or even, in the worst case, death. When there is another party that is alleged to be responsible for causing the accident, the injured person has the right to file a personal injury claim to get compensation for their suffered damages. These cases can become complicated, and for someone who has never been involved in litigation before, it can be understandably intimidating. If the process is not accurately followed, it can completely jeopardize your case. Here are the most common mistakes to avoid.

1. Waiting too Long to File

There are plenty of reasons why people may wait a long time to file a claim. Whether that is fear of insurance rates increasing, lack of understanding of your legal rights, fear of ruining someone else’s life, or believing that your case is not worth anything, time is of the essence. That is why it is extremely important to understand the statute of limitations in your state of your accident.

What is the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim in NJ?

In New Jersey, the statute of limitations to file a claim is two years from the date of the accident. If your accident caused severe injuries, you may be unfortunately spending much of that time in the hospital or rehab. In this case, filing the claim is not the first thing on your mind. A personal injury attorney can help get the ball rolling on starting a claim during your recovery journey. 

2. Thinking You Can’t Afford an Attorney

While most other types of lawyers demand a fee up-front, personal injury lawyers work under what’s called a contingency fee. This means that they will take your case without any up-front charge in turn for a cut cut of the end settlement. In other words, they only get paid if they obtain a settlement in your case and no money comes directly out of your pocket for retaining legal services. Your settlement will likely be significantly larger with the help of an attorney opposed to what the insurance company would offer you independently, so the attorney’s settlement payout proves its worth.

What is the contingency fee for personal injury in NJ?

The contingency fee method is an arrangement in which the attorney’s fee is dependent on the outcome of the case. In New Jersey, the fee charged by personal injury attorneys is relatively standard throughout the state. Statutory law requires that a lawyer cannot charge any more that ⅓ or 33.33% of the net result in a personal injury case for the first $500,000 of recovery.

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3. Lying to Your Attorney

Your lawyer is hired to defend you, not judge you. No matter what you’ve done, it is likely that your lawyer has seen and heard much worse. Always be honest with your lawyer regarding the details of the details outlining your event because this directly reduces your potential to succeed. Not only can this compromise your lawsuit in its entirety, but it can also cost you a settlement. Lying to your lawyer will make your case significantly more difficult to win and put them at a disadvantage.

4. Delaying Medical Treatment

Many people think that they don’t need to seek medical attention unless there are apparent injuries. It is strongly encouraged that you seek immediate medical attention after your accident, regardless if you feel pain in that moment. This will prevent loss of credibility in the case that further medical treatment is needed. Medical treatment is the most important factor considered by insurance companies when paying out car accident claims, and substantial delays in treatment give insurance companies the opportunity to argue that there is something else to blame for causing the injury.  

5. Failing to Document Evidence

The primary responsibility for collecting evidence falls on nobody but yourself, and the more evidence you can document, the better. Some of the most important pieces of evidence include witness statements and photos and videos of the scene. These pieces of evidence help establish the concrete facts of the case, identify which driver is at fault, and prove the extent of the damages suffered by the victim. These are vital to strengthening your case. In fact, the legal proceedings will be significantly slower without them.

What is spoliation of evidence in NJ?

Spoliation of evidence refers to the destruction or concealment of evidence by an adverse party to impede the ability of another party to litigate a case. (Rosenblit v. Zimmerman, 166 N.J. 391, 400-01, 766 A). There are 5 instances in the state of New Jersey in which there is a duty to preserve evidence, and that is when litigation is pending, knowledge of the likelihood of litigation, foreseeability of harm if evidence is discarded and evidence relevant to litigation (Hirsch v. General Motors Corp., 628 A.2d 1108, 1131 (Law. Div. 1993)). Essentially, all parties are obligated to preserve any material evidence if litigation a foreseeable.

Avoiding these pitfalls is crucial for a successful personal injury claim. For expert guidance tailored to your situation, contact the Harrell Law Firm. Our experienced team is dedicated to ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

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Leigh A. Raffauf

Partner, Harrell Injury Law

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