Have you been injured in a house fire? If so, you may be entitled to compensation depending on the cause and circumstances of the fire. If you think you have a claim, there are several common mistakes you should avoid. Not making these mistakes increases your chances of being justly compensated for your injuries.
Here are the top five mistakes made by someone injured in a house fire:
Mistake #1: Not doing the right things when seeking
If you are injured in a house fire, it is imperative that you seek medical attention. Failure to seek treatment could allow the insurance company to argue that you were not really injured in the house fire. Often times, insurance companies will argue that since you did not take an ambulance to the hospital to receive treatment, you were not injured.
They may even say that you only sought treatment days later on the advice of your attorney. Waiting days to seek treatment could also allow the insurance company to argue that you were injured in another way and not in the fire itself.
All of these are reasons why you should seek medical treatment immediately after a house fire.
What to do when seeking medical treatment
Describe your injuries in detail to the doctor so that they are documented in the medical records. Insurance companies rely on these records when evaluating claims later on. If you end up claiming an injury that is not listed in your medical records, they may argue that it is not related to the accident. This could lead to the insurance company denying your claim.
This means you should mention any and all pain and soreness that you feel – no matter how minor they may seem. Remember, injuries can get worse over time. It is better to be thorough than to regret leaving something out later on.
As part of your medical treatment, you should also be sure to undergo any diagnostic tests and physical examinations recommended by the doctor. These types of procedures can provide vital evidence of your injuries. You may even want to advocate for the tests yourself even if the doctor is not sure you need them. X-rays, MRIs and other scans and tests can be valuable proof of injuries. You do not want to allow for any uncertainty that the insurance company can take advantage of.
Mistake #2: Giving a statement to an insurance company – even your own
One thing you definitely do NOT want to do is to give a statement to any insurance company immediately following a house fire. Give yourself time to calm down and think things through first. Keep in mind – your insurance company is a business out for itself; it is not looking out for your best interest.
The truth is insurance companies often try to get a statement from a house fire victim as soon as possible after the event. They try to do this quickly before you have had time to talk to a lawyer. If you give a statement and say the wrong thing, they can then use this against you later to limit your settlement amount.
Do not make this common mistake. You should contact your insurance company and let them know that a house fire has occurred, but you should also state that you do not want to give any statement until you have talked to a lawyer.
Mistake #3: Not keeping good records
With any legal matter, especially with a house fire, you should keep detailed records of everything. Records should include when and why the fire occurred, dealing with the house fire aftermath, dealing with the fire department and police, dealing with the insurance company, and everything else.
One way to do this is to start a diary where you record daily everything that has happened related to the fire. You should write down things like your memory of what happened, any pain or other medical symptoms that you experience, medical treatments that you undergo, any time you miss work, and any accident-related expenses that you incur.
Note: when writing about the fire, be as detailed as you can possibly be. That means write down what time the fire occurred, where you were, what happened during the house fire, what happened immediately after the house fire, and so on.
Having a detailed diary will allow you to go back and refresh your memory on everything that occurred whenever you need to.
Mistake #4: Not following through with all medical treatments and therapy appointments
It is vitally important to follow through with all prescribed medical treatments and therapy appointments. Any failure to do so allows the insurance company to claim that you were not injured as severely as you claim. Often, insurance companies also like to argue that your failure to not receive the recommended treatment caused your injury to become worse and thus they are not responsible for the full cost of your care.
Following the treatment plan created for you by your doctor is essential for your long-term physical health as well as your financial health. Not seeking prescribed treatment is one of the worst things you can do – your health could get worse and you will be providing the insurance company with a highly effective way to attack your claim.
Mistake #5: Not getting an experienced attorney
This is the biggest mistake house fire victims often make. Having the right personal injury attorney on your side is important. It can help ensure you get all the compensation you are entitled to. You need an attorney that has extensive experience handling house fire and house fire injury claims.
Search for an attorney who will:
- Fight on your behalf so that you can focus on recovery
- Ensure you are treated with respect and understanding
- Work hard to see your needs met and your case swiftly resolved
A house fire can be dramatically life altering. Aside from pain and suffering, there are often massive medical expenses. You may also experience loss of employment and loss of relationships.
That’s why if you have suffered injuries as the result of a house fire, it is critical that you get high quality legal representation.
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