Interviewer: Are there any specific behaviors at the scene of an accident that people engage in or refrain from that will help or hurt their case?
Nicholas Lowe: Typically, when somebody is angry at the scene and acts out, either becomes aggressive, tries to start a fight or uses foul language; if that makes it into the police report or if there’s witnesses that testify to that, it makes that person look bad. It also shows that they truly believed they weren’t at fault and the other side was but the bad behavior outweighs what you gained with that statement.
Trying to Maneuver Out of the Situation by Falsely Accusing the Other Party or Trying to Influence Witnesses Has an Adverse Impact on the Case
If somebody at the scene tries to do something sneaky, for example if a driver and a passenger are seen switching seats, perhaps the driver is drinking so he hops on the passenger seat and lets the passenger hop behind the driver’s wheel and claim that the sober person was driving. If that conduct is observed, it’s very harmful to that side of the case. If somebody is trying to hide evidence, if somebody tries to influence a witness, for instance, a party says, “Hey, you saw the accident; make sure you tell them I had the green light”. Then it looks like they’re trying to get somebody to say something that may not be true and that can make them look very bad.
Practices That Can Induce a Desirable Outcome in An Ongoing Auto-Accident Case
Interviewer: What are some things people can do to help their ability to have a case vs. hurt it?
Nicholas Lowe: Evidence tends to disappear very quickly. For example, skid marks at a scene, particularly if we have rainy weather, those disappear almost immediately. Taking a picture of evidence at the scene really helps. If somebody pulls out in front of you and you lay down 50 feet of skid marks, it shows that you reacted to that person pulling out; it’ll be good to have a picture of that. Similarly, cars get repaired, they get towed off to tow yards and never seen again yet the amount of property damage is always very important. Getting pictures of the vehicles and the property damage is helpful. The at-rest position of the vehicles, if you’re claiming somebody came into your lane and after the accident; their car is sitting in your lane, that’s a good thing to have a picture of. Those are just some of the things that come to mind.
Common Client Mistakes Detrimental to a Desirable Outcome in an Auto-Accident Claim
Interviewer: Anything you see people do while their case is ongoing that hurts their case, that ruins their ability to get compensation?
Nicholas Lowe: Delay in treatment is very harmful to a case. If a person’s truly injured, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Gaps in medical treatment are hard to explain. If you’re asking an insurance company or a jury for a lot of money but you’re treated 3 times in January and never went back to see another doctor until October, that makes your case very difficult. I would advise people to have regular, consistent, reasonable treatment until they’re better. I would caution them not to over-treat, not to run up bills just to try to make their case look better because that’s rarely accomplished.
It is Imperative to Get Proper Medical Treatment As Soon as Possible
That effort can be seen through very easily by a jury or an insurance company. So, get the treatment as soon as you can and get consistent treatment without any big gaps. I would also warn that everything you say to a doctor may end up in a medical record. If you tell the doctor, “I had three beers and jumped in my car and drove down the road”, he’s going to put in his report that you just had three beers and that may prove harmful to your case. You may be treating with the doctor and you may tell him, “I ran at a marathon last week and my back hurts”. All the jury will hear is you ran at marathon last week and they really don’t care that your back hurts anymore. I’d be honest with the doctor but be very careful what you say because small comments can be taken out of context and doctors do report those in their records.