5 Common Mistakes When Filing a Car Accident Claim

When you’re injured in a car accident, you may expect to receive compensation from the other party for your injuries or property damage. But if you’ve never been in a car accident before, you may not know how the process works, who to speak to, and what your rights are. Lawsuits can be a frustrating and lengthy ordeal, which is why it’s easy to make mistakes or forfeit your rights in favor of a quick resolution.

If you’d like professional guidance when filing your New Mexico car accident claim, the Whitener Law Firm can help. Our team of personal injury lawyers can help you recover financial compensation for your losses. Call our Albuquerque, New Mexico, office at (505) 883-7877 to schedule a free consultation  or fill out a contact form online.

Waiting too long to file your claim

A statute of limitations is a time limit on your right to file a claim. In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit—the category a car accident claim falls under— is three years from the date of the accident. Your claim does not have to be resolved within that time, but it must be started within three years from the time off your accident.

If a loved one was killed in a car accident, you have the same time limit of three years if you’re filing a wrongful death claim. However, the “clock” starts at the date of the deceased person’s death, not the accident.

You can still file a claim after the deadline has passed, but the defendant will most likely ask the court to dismiss the case, which they will probably do. Waiting too long to file your claim is a big mistake that can be avoided easily.

Not seeing a doctor right away

Failing to see a doctor after you’ve been in a car accident seems like an odd mistake to make, but it’s possible. You may feel completely fine after a car accident. You might prefer to take care of minor scrapes and bruises yourself at home or save yourself the costs of a doctor’s visit.

However, if you don’t seek medical attention after your accident, you may have to deal with a lot of problems with your lawsuit and your health down the road.

Some injuries aren’t always that obvious. If you sustained a mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, you may only experience a slight headache, fatigue, or dizziness, with no physical signs of injury. But it is still a serious condition that should be examined by a medical professional.

Furthermore, the other party in a lawsuit can weaken your case by pointing out that your injuries must not have been that severe, since you did not visit a doctor. As the one filing the claim, it’s your responsibility to provide evidence of your injuries. A visit to the doctor can provide official documentation and give your case the credibility it needs.

Failing to provide sufficient evidence

Not seeing a doctor after your accident is part of a larger problem: failing to gather adequate evidence for your claim. Hard evidence, such as official medical records, police reports, correspondence, and photos, are the best support you can have for your claim.

Gather as much evidence as you can following the accident. Take photos of your injuries, damage to your vehicle, and damage to public or private property at the scene of the accident. Ask for a copy of the police report made at the accident.

Save all correspondence related to the accident, whether it’s texts, calls, letters, or emails with the other party’s insurance company or your own. Save and make copies of your visits to the emergency room, visits to your primary care physician, discharge papers, surgeries, prescription medications, and so on.

If you’re unsure if something can be used as evidence, save it just in case. You can always discard it later.

Agreeing to an early offer from the insurance company

Following a car accident, you’ll likely be contacted by the other party’s insurance company, who will want to settle as quickly as possible to avoid paying more and moving forward in a lawsuit. If you’re hesitant to file a lawsuit in the first place, you might be tempted to agree to their settlement offer.

However, if you accept an early settlement from the insurance company, you’ll probably be asked to sign a release that will prevent you from filing a lawsuit or seeking any further compensation. You may not be getting the amount of money that you deserve to cover medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses.

Representing yourself 

Sometimes people filing a lawsuit will try to save costs by navigating the claim on their own. That means going up against insurance companies and lawyers who are far more experienced in personal injury and insurance law than the average person. They handle car accident lawsuits on a daily basis, so they know how to resolve them quickly and in their best interest.

You’re not legally required to have a lawyer file a claim on your behalf, but an experienced attorney can help you win your case in many ways. A lawyer will know what kind of evidence will strengthen your claim. They can also handle communication with the other party, ensuring that you don’t slip up and say something that can jeopardize your case. They can also fight for a compensation amount that is fair for you.

Contact Whitener Law Firm in New Mexico

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in New Mexico and would like to file a lawsuit, contact Whitener Law Firm today. Our personal injury lawyers work on a contingent-fee basis: you don’t have to pay us anything unless we win your case. Plus, your initial call is always free.

Call our Albuquerque office at 505-883-7877 or fill out our contact form online. You can also receive news updates and more legal resources by liking and following the Whitener Law Firm Facebook page.