Mistake #2: Lie or Malinger

doctor and patientLying or exaggerating is always wrong, and it is always a mistake, but in the context of a personal injury claim, it can be absolutely devastating.  Lying can kill your case before it even gets started. In the end, injury claims always hinge on credibility—always! The reason is simple.  Your doctor and the insurance adjuster have to take you at your word when you say that you are in pain.  Some people can have a bulging disc and still function relatively well while others with the same injury can barely walk.   Some people can have their car totaled and be OK; others who had relatively minor damage to their vehicles have major injuries to their bodies.  I have seen cases where one person in the car dies and another person in the same vehicle walks away without any injuries.

Quantifying Pain and Suffering

So how do you know who is in pain and who is not?  You ask the patient.  Of course, you can prove some injuries with objective medical tests.  You can see a broken bone on an x-ray.  You can see a herniated disc on an MRI, and you can measure nerve damage with an EMG, but none of these diagnostic tools can measure your pain.  Even when pain is real, disabling and life-changing, it cannot easily be objectively measured by a medical test.  Thus, if a doctor wants to know how badly you are hurting, he asks you to rate your pain from 1 – 10 because, unfortunately, this is the best that science can do to quantify pain.  So what will the insurance adjuster do if he finds out that you are willing to lie to help your case?  He will not only discount your pain and suffering damages, but he will also discount your other medical treatment.  If the cause of the accident is in dispute, he will also discount your version of the facts.

Be Truthful On Your Insurance Application

Lying hurts your case in other ways as well.  If you lie on your insurance application, you may end up voiding your coverage. If you lie or exaggerate to your doctor, you usually end up losing his or her trust and their help. If you lie to your lawyer, then he cannot protect you. If the other side (the other insurance adjuster or lawyer) catches you in a lie, he already knows you won’t win your case and will reduce the settlement offer accordingly. If you have a valid claim, you won’t need to lie or exaggerate. If you feel that you need to stretch the truth, you probably should not be filing a claim in the first place.

Be Clear About Your Injuries. Don't Exaggerate.

It is also a mistake to malinger or drag out your treatment unnecessarily.  It is critically important to go to the doctor and fully explain your pain and symptoms, but this does not mean you should exaggerate your injuries or artificially inflate your medical bills.  Doing so makes you look like one of those people who want something for nothing. The truth is, very few people fake their injuries.  It does happen, but not nearly as often as the insurance company would have you think.  In our experience, by far, there are more deserving people who take an unfairly small settlement than there are people who beat the system and receive an unfairly large settlement. Still, insurance adjusters (and juries) have their antennas up for this and are vigilant to make sure that undeserving claimants do not get paid. If you exaggerate your injuries, it will call into question your legitimate medical treatment and compromise the whole case. So, tell the doctor when you are feeling better, and move on with your life. It is the right thing to do, and it will help your case.