Interviewer: What are some of the common mistakes that people make upon getting injured?
Robert Cummings: I think there’s a few that come to mind. One is, again, not contacting an attorney soon enough, and not contacting your insurance. There’s an insurance protection that your insurance has, called personal injury protection. That kicks in if you’ve been personally injured by somebody else’s conduct. I think the minimum amount in Utah is $3,000. That can kick in immediately to cover for lost wages early on, as well as any expenses. Again, the $3,000 can go pretty quickly. Because of that, you’ll want to engage an attorney sooner rather than later to begin working with the other insurance company, as well as your insurance company, to try to get you the compensation you need.
It is Crucial to Take Pictures of the Accident or the Car as Evidence when Filing a Personal Injury Claim
The second thing is, and this goes back to the pictures of the accident. If you wait 2 months to call an attorney and say, “I got in an accident 2 months ago, and I was injured, and now my back really is hurting me; what should I do?” You’ve lost crucial, crucial evidence; pictures of the accident, picture of the car. If you’ve already negotiated with the insurance company regarding the car, You might not have access to the car to take picture of what the impact was. As I said, skid marks, or on a premises liability case, if you slipped and fell on a puddle, pictures of the puddle. You might be able to go after the company and get the surveillance video, showing the puddle, but defendants will generally try to fight that. They might not give you the whole video. They might record over it every 72 hours. I think a big mistake is not getting that evidence secured early on.
It is Necessary to Preserve Evidence and Be Wary of Social Media When Contemplating Filing a Personal Injury Claim
It can be tough for people, because they just got in an accident, they’re injured. Most people are good people, and they don’t immediately think about, “I need to sue”. They also need to be compensated for the injury based upon the negligence of another party. I think early on, that getting that evidence and maintaining that evidence is crucial. The other aspect is, after you’ve engaged an attorney, you kind of have to think about what is out there. In the day and age of social media, your Facebook is accessible, your Twitter is, your Flickr is, even your dating Web sites, your Tinder, your eHarmony, your Match, if you have a live journal, all that kind of stuff is available. Defense attorneys are very adept at tracking it down. I used to work for a defense firm, and a lot of my job was, when we needed to talk to plaintiffs or witnesses, the first thing I would do is go to their LinkedIn page, I’d go to their Facebook page, Google their name, and try to find out as much information as I can about them. You’d be surprised what you can find on the Internet. I think people aren’t necessarily cognizant of what is out there on the Internet about them, especially after they’ve been injured.
It is Best to Let the Attorney Know Beforehand If there is a Pre Existing Injury Involved
If they claim they have a back injury, and there’s pictures of them jumping on a trampoline 2 weeks later, that can be problematic. Your attorney shouldn’t tell you to lie or fake your injury or overstate your injury, but at the same time, if you’re telling your attorney that your back is injured, and then defense counsel has this picture of you at your deposition, a year into the case or 6 months into the case, after the attorney’s already spent a lot of money, the attorney’s going to look at you and say, “What happened there? Why didn’t you tell me about this?” I think that’s related to the last point, is being honest with your attorney. If there are bad facts, a good attorney can work with bad facts. Even the best attorneys in the world can’t work with stuff that you don’t tell them. If you have a pre-existing injury, let your attorney know that. It might mean that you don’t have a case, or it might mean that you still have a case, but the attorney needs to know that so they can take the necessary steps and precautions to handle it.