In a perfect world, car insurance companies would act straightforward when dealing with a victim of personal injury. Moreover, everyone would understand exactly how car insurance works. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect. Automobile insurance is convoluted and the consumers are left with a flood of misinformation drowning out the facts and forcing parties to an accident to figure out what is fact and what is fiction. The Denver personal injury lawyers at Bowman & Chamberlain, LLC, offer the 12 most common legal myths and misconceptions related to automobile accidents.
If you’re hurt in an auto accident, but think the injury is minor, you shouldn’t tell the investigating police officer about your injury.
Fact: Regardless of the type of accident, the one common denominator is that the police are almost always called, either by someone involved in the collision or by a witness. When police arrive on scene, they typically conduct an investigation immediately. Upon completion of the ensuing investigation, the police officer will usually issue a traffic citation to the at-fault driver. If you tell the police you are uninjured, that information is going to be put in the police report. Unfortunately, many injuries do not surface for days, if not weeks, after an impact. It is better to tell the officer you are unsure and wait to see how your symptoms play out.
Even if you are injured in an accident, you should not go because it is too expensive.
Fact: In reality, the opposite is true. It would cost you more money in terms of the value of your settlement if you do not present to the emergency room when it is necessary to do so. Otherwise stated, if you believe you are injured, get in the ambulance and go to the hospital. It is necessary for your health and well-being. Further, insurance companies argue that if a person is hurt in an accident, they go to the hospital. If not, they do not go.
If you are injured in a collision by a driver who has no insurance, you can never make a claim.
Fact: Personal injury victims may tap into their uninsured motorist coverage if they are hit by a negligent driver who did not have insurance. Drivers who do not have car insurance generally do not have money or assets either. Importantly, if you have reason to believe the at-fault driver was uninsured, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible, letting them know you intend to file an uninsured claim. Some car insurance policies place strict deadlines on their insureds when it comes to notification of potential uninsured claims.
After an accident, when the insurance company asks for recorded statement,” you should freely give a statement over the telephone.
Fact: To borrow a line from old criminal shows, everything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law. The bottom line is that whatever you say to the insurance company, regardless of how formal or informal the assertions were, will be used against you in your personal injury case. There is no law that requires you to give a recorded statement to the insurance company of the at-fault driver. You generally do have a duty, however, to cooperate with your own insurance company. A recorded statement will never help your case.
When the insurance company sends you authorization to release your medical records, you should sign it.
Fact: Never sign your rights away. Never sign an agreement authorizing an insurance company to directly obtain your medical records. Always obtain the records for yourself so you can review them to ensure they pertain only to your claim and do not unnecessarily reveal the rest of your private medical history. Your medical records many not be clear how much of your injury is the result of the subject accident and how much is the effect of a pre-existing injury.
You have to get your car repaired wherever it is towed after the accident.
Fact: The law in the State of Colorado is that you have the right to have your car repaired wherever you want. Thus, you are not required to have the work performed at the place where your vehicle is towed or where an insurance company tells you to get it fixed. If you feel more comfortable taking your damaged vehicle to another shop, you should do so.
Your car insurance company will raise your premiums or drop you if you make a claim.
Fact: Whether your car insurance rates go up after an accident and by how much depends on your car insurance company, the circumstances of the accident, and whether you have accident forgiveness on your policy. In many cases, your car insurance rates will increase if the accident is your fault but stay the same if the other driver was at fault. That being said, insurance companies will evaluate whether you are statistically more likely to get into another accident and what your value is to the insurance company.
I think I have full coverage on my car insurance.
Fact: A vast majority of the population believe they have full coverage. Unfortunately, when they get into an accident, they discover they only have liability coverage. Having collision and comprehensive coverage along with uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage is full coverage. Rental coverage, towing, roadside assistance, and medical payments coverage are additional optional coverage but not considered in the full coverage arena.
If your medical insurance pays for your accident-related medical bills you must pay the insurance company back.
Fact: Your health insurance will cover medical expenses related to a car accident. If the accident was caused by another party, however, you would be entitled to have your medical expenses covered, in most cases, through the at-fault driver’s auto coverage. If the charges were paid by your health insurance, your health insurance company will sometimes want to be reimbursed some of the settlement proceeds from your recovery. This is called subrogation.
The best way to find a good injury lawyer is to call one who advertises on television.
Fact: Generally speaking, television and radio advertisements are a bad way to find an attorney. When it comes to hiring a personal injury lawyer, many of the most qualified attorneys do little or no advertising at all. They get their cases through referrals from previous clients because of positive results. You cannot trust lawyers who have TV ads because they are just forms of advertisement.
When insurance offers to settle before you’ve talked to a lawyer, it’s trying to save you attorney’s fee because it has your best interests at heart.
Fact: The insurance adjuster works for the insurance company. As they do not represent you, these adjuster will try to settle claims as quickly and inexpensively as possible, before an ailing neck turns out to be disabling whiplash or you decide to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. An injury attorney will know how to increase the value of your claim.
If you don’t tell your lawyer about previous accidents or injuries no one will ever find out about them.
Fact: Pre-existing conditions may affect your claim and the insurance company will use your prior medical conditions against you. Experienced personal injury lawyers will help you manage any pre-existing conditions. You should share with your lawyer everything that you can remember about any prior injuries. This information is vital for your attorney to assess and quantify how much the accident aggravated any prior injuries.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.
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