Don't Make These Five Common Car Accident Assumptions
After a wreck, it's all too easy to assume that everything is under control and being handled by your insurance company. It's important to understand, however, that your insurance company is not actually on your side, nor is the driver that caused your accident. If you fall victim to the following five assumptions, you could seriously jeopardize your chances of getting fairly compensated. Read on to learn more and to avoid missing out on the money damages that you deserve.
1. The other driver is at fault, so their insurance company will take care of my claim in a fair manner.
Placing your trust in the other driver's insurance company is a mistake. You must understand that all insurance companies, including your own, are for-profit businesses. Their bottom line depends upon paying claimants as little as possible, and their adjusters are skilled at persuading you to accept their first offer.
2. The other driver is a decent, honest person and there seems no harm is discussing the accident with him.
In an effort to be friendly and help assuage the other driver's distress at having caused the accident, it's only human nature to minimize the event and it effects on your life. You should know, however, that everything you say to the other driver, including admissions of partial guilt, can be used against you and reduce your settlement offer. You may well have been partially at fault, but let your personal injury attorney handle the negotiations and keep it to yourself.
3. The accident report has already decided fault.
The responding officer normally prepares a report of the accident, which can be full of valuable information like the names of witnesses and his observances of the scene. Many accident reports also give a preliminary opinion on fault and any charging information (traffic tickets) that can point to who caused the accident. You should know, however, that these are just preliminary findings, and more evidence needs to be gathered to make a full determination of fault. Additionally, accident reports are not admissible in court, so be sure to avoid placing too much reliance on that document.
4. The accident was months ago; it's too late to file a personal injury claim.
Perhaps the full extent of your injuries wasn't known at the time of the wreck, and now you are suffering from injuries that are severe and debilitating. Once you have sought medical care for your injuries, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Most states allow you to file a claim as long as two years after the accident, so you may still have time to be compensated.
5. You should be able to deal with this yourself, you don't really need to involve a lawyer.
If your accident involved anything more than a dent, you should strongly consider the need for someone to represent you with the other driver's insurance company, negotiate the best settlement offer and to stand by you in court, if necessary. You need time to heal from your injuries instead of the stressful chore of dealing with insurance companies and claims. Contact a personal injury attorney to take the burden away, allow you to recover and get you the compensation you deserve.