If you were injured in a car accident, there are certain elements you must be able to prove in order to recover compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. Even if you’re certain that someone else was responsible for the crash, there may still be weaknesses in your case that can be exploited by the insurance company to undervalue your claim or deny it outright.
The easiest way to find out if your case has merit is to speak with a car accident lawyer. An attorney can review the available evidence and ask questions to determine if you have grounds for a claim, the kinds of disputes that are most likely to arise, and how to approach the proceedings.
Below we’ve listed some general indicators that you have a strong car accident claim:
1. Your Own Negligence Did Not Contribute to the Accident
If you were breaking a traffic law when the crash occurred, there’s a chance the opposing party will argue that you were partially or entirely liable. When it is determined that a plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to the collision, a percentage of fault is assigned to the plaintiff, and their financial recovery is reduced by that percentage.
For example, let’s assume another driver failed to yield the right of way to you at an intersection and collided with your vehicle; however, surveillance footage indicates that you were speeding. In this scenario, it may be determined that the crash would not have happened or would have been less severe had you been following the speed limit. You are found to be 25 percent liable for the wreck. If your damages totaled $100,000, you would be able to recover up to $75,000.
As you can see, even if you were partially liable for the wreck, you may still be entitled to damages. But of course, the fact that you shared fault could complicate the proceedings, and a dispute might arise over how fault is apportioned. Your car accident attorney can try to avoid or counter the comparative negligence defense by compiling all available evidence of liability.
2. You Contacted the Police After the Crash
If police attended the scene, the at-fault driver may be less likely to change their story or lie about what happened. There would also be an accident report, the content of which might corroborate your version of events and serve as valuable evidence to strengthen your case. Often the defendant will tell the police officer one version and then change his story later during litigation. If the police officer documented his statement in the police report at the time of the accident that can be used to impeach the defendant at Trial.
3. You Documented the Accident Scene
Photos of the accident scene and statements from eyewitnesses may help your lawyer prove liability. If you were unable to document the scene—for instance, if you required emergency medical care—your attorney can perform an investigation and try to identify eyewitnesses and obtain surveillance and dashcam footage.
4. There Were Eyewitnesses
Bystanders, shopkeepers, or other drivers may have seen what happened. Your lawyer can interview eyewitnesses to find out what they saw and determine if their deposition would strengthen your case. If you recorded the contact details of eyewitnesses, bring that information with you to the free initial consultation.
5. You Visited a Doctor Right Away
There are steps you must take after a collision to reduce the likelihood of facing a dispute. One such step is to seek medical care immediately. This could prevent the opposing party from asserting that your injuries were caused by something else, they’re not as serious as you are claiming, or you have failed to mitigate the damages.
6. You Have Not Provided a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company
Your very own correspondence with the insurer may be used as evidence to challenge your claim. Many accident victims choose to take on the insurance company without a lawyer only to find out later that their statements are being used to dispute liability, causation, or damages. It’s best to play it safe and let your attorney handle this correspondence from day one.
7. You Have Not Posted Sensitive Content on Social Media
Another common mistake made by personal injury victims is discussing their accident, injuries, or case online. You might think a post about what happened would only improve your chances of winning a settlement, but you never know how your online content might be misinterpreted or misrepresented by the claims adjuster.
If you describe what you were doing before the crash, for example, the insurer might assert that your own negligence was a contributing factor. If you post photos of your injuries or a description of your diagnosis, you may face a dispute over the severity of your injuries and the value of your claim.
It has become common practice for insurance adjusters to surveille the social media accounts of claimants. In fact, it’s not unheard of for the profiles of close friends and family to be monitored as well. To protect your claim, you should limit your use of social media while your case is pending or, preferably, disable your accounts temporarily. You should also request that friends and family not tag you in any posts or publish photos of you until the conclusion of the proceedings.
8. You Have Followed Your Doctor’s Orders
One of the many reasons why a car accident claim might be disputed is if the claimant has failed to mitigate their damages—i.e. failed to take reasonable steps to minimize their medical expenses and other losses. If you’ve ignored the orders of your physician, you might face such a dispute.
Speak with a Long Beach Car Accident Attorney Today
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you need help filing a car accident claim, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks. We will review your case for free, help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your claim, and fight aggressively for the compensation you deserve. Call (562) 206-1939 or send us an email to set up a consultation.
Download & Print Our Car Accident Response .PDF
Our Car Accident Response .PDF can serve as your handy guide for documenting the scene. Print it HERE and be sure to keep a copy in your glovebox.
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