Tens of millions of people are involved in car accidents every year, which means there are tens of millions of opinions out there about how car accident claims work. After you’ve been in an accident, you may feel like you are hearing every one of them. Many “facts” about car accidents come from people who have had only limited experience dealing with a claim, so don’t believe everything you hear. Below are some common misconceptions about car accident cases, followed by explanations from experienced car accident and personal injury attorneys.
If the insurance company is offering to settle, you don’t need a lawyer.
Some people think they only need a lawyer if the insurance company denies their claim or is being difficult, but that is far from the truth. Insurance companies are eager to offer you a settlement soon after the crash. They know you are concerned about how your bills will get paid, and their adjusters are trained experts in valuing your claim as low as possible and convincing you to accept their offer. An experienced personal injury lawyer, on the other hand, knows how much your claim is worth and won’t fall for insurance company tricks. Studies have shown that people with a lawyer get as much as seven times more than those who don’t, and one national insurance company’s own manual told its adjusters that claims with unrepresented persons settle for about three times less. You owe it to yourself to talk to an attorney before you accept any settlement and lose any rights to further compensation.
If you walked away from a minor crash, you don’t need to see a doctor.
Being able to walk away from a crash seemingly unhurt is certainly something to be grateful for, but it might not be the whole story. Cars these days are built to sustain as little damage as possible in a wreck, but a lot of the shock that the car doesn’t absorb gets passed to the people inside. Some symptoms of serious injury are not always apparent right away, or you may be experiencing minor pain that you think will go away, but it only gets worse. The longer you wait to see a doctor, the more likely you are to allow a serious condition to develop. Also, if you wait several weeks to see a doctor, the insurance company may claim that you must not have been seriously injured in the crash, and some other event occurred in the meantime that caused your symptoms. Call your doctor as soon as possible after you have been in an accident; chances are they will want to see you right away and check you over.
You know someone who was in a similar accident, and you expect a similar financial recovery.
Even though some car accidents may look alike and involve similar circumstances, there are many factors that make each accident unique and determine what an eventual recovery will be. It’s not only the type of crash that is important, but also the availability of witnesses and other evidence, statements made by the parties involved, and quite frankly the quality of the attorney hired to represent the accident victim. Your recovery may be more or less than someone you know who was in a similar situation; get a free consultation from an experienced personal injury attorney who can let you know the likely value of your claim.
You don’t need to do anything if the accident wasn’t your fault.
You may think that the at-fault driver is the one who is responsible to report the accident to the police and the insurance company, but this simply isn’t true. All persons involved in a crash are obligated to notify the police in any injury crash, and if you count on the other driver to notify the insurance company, you may be waiting in vain. Make sure to exchange information with the other driver at the scene of the accident, take pictures and get information from witnesses. Contact the police, contact your insurance company, and talk to an attorney to make sure you take all the right, appropriate steps. The things you do and say, or don’t do or say, after an accident can have a big impact on your eventual recovery.
If you have been involved in a serious car accident in Pensacola, Mobile or surrounding areas, contact Whibbs Stone Barnett for a free consultation at 1-888-219-4561. For your convenience, we maintain offices in Pensacola, Ft. Walton Beach and Fairhope.