Mistake #1: Agreeing to give the insurance company a "recorded statement." This is always a bad idea, especially if you have not consulted with a lawyer. Insurance representatives are highly skilled in manipulating you into stating things in ways that hurt your case. And you do not even know that your own words are killing your case. The insurance companies do this every day, and they are very good at it. Odds are, you have never been through this process. The insurance people know this and they take advantage of this unequal playing field in every possible way. How to avoid this mistake: Do not agree to give any recorded statement until you have consulted with an attorney. A qualified attorney will know whether or not you need to give a recorded statement (most of the time you do not need to do it), and if you do end up giving such a statement, an attorney will be with you and make sure the insurance company does not unfairly manipulate your statement.
Mistake #2: Delaying medical treatment because the insurance company has promised to "take care of you." You (and many, many others before you) think this means they will help you with your medical treatment. Nonsense. No insurance company has ever helped an injured person get medical treatment. The insurance company is hoping to string you along for as long as they can, hoping you delay your medical treatment. They do this because they know that if you ultimately hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit, this "treatment gap" will severely hurt your case. Their lawyers will point to this and say, "look, if Joe was really hurt, wouldn't he have not waited 2 weeks before seeing a doctor?" The insurance companies and their lawyers know these treatment gaps will hurt, and maybe kill, your case, so they try to manufacture these gaps themselves up front. How to avoid this mistake: Get the medical treatment you need as soon as you can. Do not wait for the insurance company to help you with anything, because they won't.
Mistake #3: Agreeing to see only "company doctors." Many times, insurance companies involved in your case will imply that you can only see the doctors they select. This is never true. You can ALWAYS see your own doctors. The insurance companies hope you do not realize this, and they hope you are seen only by their doctors. This will definitely hurt your case. They screen the doctors who they want you to see, and they pay them, and the doctors know who is paying them. Company doctors are paid to say you are not injured, it's as simple as that. How to avoid this mistake: See doctors of your own choosing, who you trust. Do not rely only on insurance-paid company doctors.
Mistake #4: Not being truthful. During your case, there are many people with whom you could be less than truthful. No matter who it is, it ALWAYS a bad idea to do anything but tell the complete truth - even if you think it will hurt your case. Even the slightest shading of the truth could easily wreck your entire case, because your case is highly dependent on your credibility. How to avoid this mistake: Be truthful to your lawyer, to the insurance company, to the insurance lawyer, to the jury - to everyone.
Mistake #5: Deciding whether to settle your case without consulting a lawyer. The insurance companies hope you never consult with a lawyer. They know that a lawyer will know far more about your rights than you do. So they strike fast - usually within days of your accident. They act like they are on your side, and that they want to help you. But nothing could be further from the truth. They care about nothing other than paying you as little as they can, and hopefully nothing at all. They will try to entice you by offering you an amount of money up front that may seem like a good deal to you, but they know you are entitled to much, much more. But you don't know that, because you have not had the benefit of talking to a lawyer. You better believe the insurance companies consult with their armies of lawyers all the time. How to avoid this mistake: Very easy - consult with a lawyer before you decide to settle your case. You don't even have to hire the lawyer. At least by talking to a lawyer you will be better informed than if you don't.