If you have been injured in South Carolina through the negligence of another party, then you likely have a valid personal injury claim. However, this does not mean that the process is going to be easy or straightforward or that you won’t harm your claim by making mistakes. Whether you’re looking at a premises liability claim, a product liability claim, a dog bite claim, or auto accident claim, there are certain things that you need to remember and keep in mind if you are going to successfully recover compensation for your damages.
Don’t Make the Mistake of Trusting the Insurance Company
One of the most common mistakes that people make in South Carolina personal injury claims is to trust the insurance company. This is completely understandable, because you will often get a phone call from a polite, courteous, and empathetic insurance claims adjuster before you even have a chance to file your claim. This is because the liable party in your case has probably already contacted their insurance company (as they should) to notify them of the accident. Once they have done so, the insurance company is going to want to get in touch with you to reach a settlement as soon as they can. They want you to settle your case for the lowest amount they can get you to agree to, and they want you to do it before you have a chance to add up your expenses and consider whether or not their offer is really fair.
It is at this time that you have to remember that it is the job of the insurance claims adjuster to make you think that they care and that they have your best interests at heart. It is not their job to offer the maximum amount of available compensation for your injuries, but to minimize the expense of the insurance company that they work for. They want to be successful at their jobs, just like anyone else, so it’s not that they have ill intentions; they are simply trying to achieve the goals of their company and their personal goals to advance in that company.
Keeping in mind that the insurance claims adjuster really is just doing their job, there is no need to be rude or disrespectful to the person who makes the settlement offer. Rather, you should be aware of their motivations and avoid agreeing to a settlement or even discussing the case with the insurance company without first talking to an attorney.
Don’t Make Social Media Mistakes
Far too many people damage their own personal injury claims by using their social media accounts while their case has not yet been resolved. Even seemingly harmless posts can be construed as an indication that you are not truly injured, that you are not suffering, or that you were at fault for your own injuries. It might not even be your post that does it. Maybe someone tagged you in a photo or event at a bonfire, at the beach, at birthday party.
Maybe you weren’t really engaging in the activities that your injuries prevented you from participating in, but you were there; and it could certainly be misconstrued as participation in activities you claim to be unable to do. You might have been at the bonfire for no more than a few minutes before returning home to rest and relieve the strain on your injured back (for example). You might not have been swimming at the beach. You might have left the birthday party early because you couldn’t participate in any of the activities.
Yet, all the photos and tags reveal is that you were there, you were smiling, you were having a good time; and your injuries didn’t stop you from this, so why should they stop you from working and living your life to the fullest? It’s all in how the posts, photos, and tags can be interpreted; and this can certainly impact the validity and value of your claim.
The best thing to do is to stop using social media altogether for the duration of your case. This can include deactivating accounts (which can typically be restored, later), or it might include simply asking people not to tag you or mention you in posts and resisting the temptation to create any posts of your own. While this is especially true concerning anything to do with the case, it is really wise to avoid posting at all and staying out of your friend’s events and pictures.
Don’t Make the Mistake of Failing to Research Attorneys and Seek Free Consultations
You will want to at least consult with one personal injury attorney when you have a personal injury claim in South Carolina, though you would be wise to research attorneys, beforehand, and seek multiple consultations if the first does not inspire confidence. An attorney will almost always tell you if you don’t have a valid claim. This is because personal injury lawyers usually work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they only get paid if you recover compensation. Thus, there is no benefit to the lawyer to take your case if they don’t think you can win or if they think that the settlement will not be large enough to warrant the effort.
Seek free consultations in person, so that you can get a feel for how you’re going to interact with the attorney, how they feel about your case, and what the value of your claim may be. You should never sign a contract with an attorney you haven’t met in person. Even though the attorney may offer an initial consultation on the phone, you’ll want to meet him or her before signing anything or making any official agreements to work together.
The skilled South Carolina personal injury attorneys at the Michael Jeffcoat Firm are happy to meet with you and discuss the details of your case. We’ll help you to evaluate the potential value of your claim and get started on the right foot in pursuing that compensation.