Car Accidents: 9 Common Myths
It is a given that car accidents are exceptionally dangerous accidents and that car accident claims tend to be very complicated. This we do know. There are, however, plenty of myths out there related to car accident claims, and dispelling the nine most common myths can help you better address your own car accident concerns – and can help you make the right decisions for you.
One: You Cannot Afford an Attorney
Many accident victims believe that hiring an experienced car accident attorney is simply too expensive, and instead, they leave their claims to chance – hoping the insurance company will compensate them fairly. The truth is that the insurance company is motivated by profits and will be happy to take advantage of the fact that you do not have professional legal counsel on your side. Additionally, it is important to note that you can afford to hire a dedicated car accident attorney. Most such attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means that their pay is contingent upon their clients’ cases either settling out of court or receiving court awards and when this happens, the car accident attorneys are paid a prearranged percentage of their clients’ compensation. In other words, there is no financial risk to you, and you do not need to worry about paying your car accident attorney until your claim has been finalized.
RELATED READINGS: Injured by Another Driver’s Negligence? You Can Afford an Attorney
Two: You Were Not Seriously Hurt, So You Do Not Need a Doctor
If you were in a car accident of any magnitude, there was an impact of some kind, and you may have been hurt (even if you do not recognize this fact). The truth is that the adrenaline coursing through your system and the shock of being in a frightening car accident can mask the pain and symptoms of a serious injury. Because achieving a complete recovery after suffering an injury in a car accident is so closely associated with early medical intervention, it is always in your best interest to seek medical care after a car accident. Additionally, seeking immediate medical attention signals to the insurance company that you take your health and recovery seriously and that you expect them to do the same.
Three: The Police Report Will Help You Prove Fault
After a serious car accident, the first step you should take (after pulling out of harm’s way if possible) is calling 911, and this call will ensure that the police show up at the scene. One of the officers on the scene will write a police report based on the information he or she gleaned at the scene, and while this police report can be useful, there is no guarantee it will be accurate in relation to who is at fault. The officer will be attending to many tasks, and there will probably not be time for significant investigative work. As such, the report should simply stick to the facts on the ground, but officers sometimes veer dangerously close to speculation. And if this speculation is not accurate, it can actually work against your claim.
Ultimately, fault in the matter will be determined by a combination of the following (as applicable):
Evidence gathered at the scene (the police report is one piece of this evidence)
The police report generated by the car accident that leaves you injured will definitely come to light in your claim, but it will not necessarily help you prove fault in the matter – and you may be stuck disproving the officer’s analysis of the situation. This is a matter that is best left in the capable hands of your dedicated car accident attorney.
Four: The Damage Was Not Serious, so Leaving the Scene Is Fine
Even if the car accident in question causes only minimal property damage, the best policy is not to leave the scene of the accident until the emergency personnel or the attending officer have at least arrived. The fact is that the minimum amount of damage required before it becomes illegal to leave the scene of a car accident is so minimal that most minor accidents qualify, and leaving the scene when it is illegal to do so could lead to a misdemeanor charge. If you have been involved in a car accident, the first steps that you should take (in support of your health and safety, of the other driver’s health and safety, and of your car accident claim’s strength) include (as applicable):
Pull as far out of the way of oncoming traffic as you can
Call 911 (or the police if the damage is quite minimal)
Render aid if anyone at the scene needs it
Snap pictures and take videos of all relevant evidence
Record eyewitness statements and include contact information
Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver
Do not talk about the accident (including refraining from apologizing) unless you are questioned directly by the police, and if this is the case, you should respond to him or her as truthfully and as succinctly as you can
It is in the best interest of both parties involved not to leave the scene of a car accident.
Five: If You Share Fault for the Car Accident, You Are out of Luck
Many accident victims believe that if they share some of the fault for the car accident, they are out of luck when it comes to obtaining compensation, but this is not how it works in the State of Texas. First of all, however, it is important to note that, even if the insurance company says you are at fault (or that you share fault) or you feel bad about the accident in general, it does not necessarily mean that you share fault in the eyes of the law. This is a matter to discuss with your car accident attorney. But even if you do (share a percentage of fault in the accident that leaves you injured), this should not stop you from seeking compensation for the percentage of fault the other driver is responsible for (as long as you are not more than 50 percent responsible). For example, if you were speeding somewhat at the time of the accident and are deemed 10 percent responsible as a result, the amount you either settle for or are awarded by the court will be reduced by that 10 percent.
Six: The Insurance Company Will Do Its Job and Compensate You Fairly
Yes, it is the insurance company’s job to cover the damages you have suffered as a result of their policyholder’s negligence, but this does not mean it is going to jump in its efforts to compensate you as quickly and fairly as possible. In fact, some of the most common techniques employed by insurance companies (in their efforts to keep settlements low) include:
Denying claims from the beginning (in the hope that claimants will simply go away)
Offering lowball early settlement offers that do not begin to cover claimants’ losses but that claimants may be too desperate to refuse
Prolonging or complicating the claims process to the point that claimants quit trying
Calling the severity of claimants’ damages into doubt
Attempting to shift fault away from their policyholders and toward claimants
Your practiced car accident attorney will help you understand the strengths and challenges of your claims and will guide you accordingly. This means that you can turn a blind eye to the insurance company’s antics and can simply follow your attorney’s lead.
RELATED READINGS: Car Accidents: Beware of the Insurance Company’s Tactics
Seven: In a Rear-End Accident, the Rear Car Is Always at Fault
Rear-end accidents are the most common kind of car accident, and they are exceptionally dangerous. There is a common misconception out there that when rear-end accidents happen, they are always the rear driver’s fault. While this is often true, it is not always the case. When you get behind the wheel, you accept the responsibility of driving safely regardless of what is happening on the road. This includes being prepared to slow down or stop if traffic patterns change, there is an accident ahead, an animal is on the road, debris on the road stops the flow of traffic, or anything else happens that requires you to slow down. While rear-end accidents often happen when the rear driver is traveling too fast and/or is too distracted to slow down or to stop in reaction to what a forward vehicle is doing, they are sometimes caused by a forward driver who engages in any of the following dangerous practices:
Slowing down or stopping erratically
Cutting off a rear driver
If a motorist cuts in front of you with little room to spare and then has to quickly slow down or stop, you may not even see the forward driver’s brake lights before you rear-end his or her vehicle. If this happens, the forward driver may be entirely at fault or may bear a considerable percentage of fault in the matter.
Eight: You Are Required to Provide the Insurance Company with a Statement
If you have been injured by another driver’s negligence, you’re going to hear from the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. While the insurance representative will ask you for a formal statement, it’s important to know that you are actually not required to provide him or her with your take on the matter, and if you do provide a statement, you can count on the insurance company turning your words against you. The insurance company rep is skilled at eliciting comments from claimants that go on to damage their claims, which makes cutting your losses – and allowing your car accident attorney to field the insurance company’s questions and to speak on your behalf – a better option.
Nine: There Is Nothing You Can Do to Help Your Claim
Many people think that once they have a car accident attorney on board, their work is done, but the truth is that your actions after the fact can help or harm your claim, and understanding how this works can help you make better choices as your claim progresses.
Jot Down Your Recollections
It is an excellent idea to jot down everything you can remember about the accident as soon after it happens as possible. You would probably be surprised by how quickly your memories can fade, and the upset of being involved in a violent car accident can exacerbate the problem. By writing down the events involved in chronological order, you preserve valuable information that can prove very important to your car accident claim.
Carefully Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
You have been injured by another driver’s negligence, and one of the most important things you can do to help ensure your most complete recovery is following your medical team’s instructions and advice very carefully – your health depends upon it. It is also important to note, however, that following your doctor’s orders helps to highlight the fact that your injuries are as serious as you say they are and that the insurance company should pay attention.
Hang Back on Social Media
Social media provides you with the opportunity to share your thoughts, express yourself, and let off a bit of steam, but after a car accident is not a great time. The insurance company handling your case is on the hunt for a post, picture, or comment that undercuts your claim (or that it can twist to this purpose), and the less raw material you provide them with, the less they’ll have to work with.
Listen to Your Car Accident Attorney’s Advice
You have a dedicated car accident attorney on your side for a reason, and you are well-advised to listen to his or her advice carefully. While the decisions to be made are yours, it is almost certainly in your best interest to follow your car accident attorney’s lead.
An Experienced Killeen Divorce Attorney Can Help
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, takes great pride in his impressive track record of helping clients like you obtain favorable resolutions to their claims – along with just compensation that covers their full range of damages. We are also here to help you, so please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.