Victims of a car accident can do themselves a disservice by underestimating the connection between personal injury and collision damage. Worse, they undermine their chances of recovery by responding immediately to insurance companies and officially understating the damage that their vehicle and, more importantly, their own body suffered as a result of a crash. Don’t be fooled: minor auto damage does NOT always mean you experienced a minor crash. Minor damage to the exterior of your vehicle is in no way indicative of the severity of the injury to your body.
Experts tell us that the force felt on the body can be 6-10 times greater than the traveling speed of the vehicle at the time of collision. That means that if your vehicle hits a stationary object going just 10 mph, the effect on your body can be the equivalent of moving at speeds somewhere between 60 and 100 mph. The injuries sustained to the body, then, are not just effects of slamming your back into the seat or your face into the steering wheel. Injuries occur from the violent back and forth movements of your organs and bones as your neck and spine move violently.
Insurance companies collect premiums from every lawful driver in North Carolina under the promise to fairly compensate for injuries and damage to automobiles and human bodies. Insurance companies are privy to these laws of physics and to the actual bodily injuries that can occur as a result of car crashes, and they calculate this into the premiums we all pay. Shockingly, this does not elicit the kind of compassion and responsibility that one might expect from an institution that is legally obligated to protect its clients. If you are in a collision that is not your fault, you can expect the responsible party’s insurance company to waste no time in contacting you. One reason for the haste is that it benefits the insurance company to give you as little possible time to understand your rights. Why? Because most doctors and lawyers will tell you that the information you can offer to an insurance agency before having seen a medical professional is unfounded and may in fact give that company ammunition against you when you seek compensation for your legitimate injuries and losses.
One of the worst things you can do, following an accident, is to fail to appreciate the damage to your body based on the apparent damages to the vehicle. Being honest is how we build relationships and survive as a society, and you should always strive for honesty. But, before you over-share information with an insurance company, make sure that the truth—and not an underestimated or overly-generous version of it—is what you are giving to them. Unless you are a doctor or mechanic and can understand the full effects of what happened, seek the advice of an expert before you guess. We all want to quickly and fairly resolve the issues that arise in a car crash, but fairness should be a two-way street. Remember the insurance company adjuster is a trained advocate for his/her employer. An experienced attorney on your side simply evens the odds.
Don’t get trapped into juggling the medical bills for which the insurance company is morally and legally obligated to pay. No one asks to be injured. The last thing you need in the wake of a devastating car crash is to be stuck with someone else’s financial responsibilities simply because you tried to be too fair. At Fisher Stark, we encourage our clients to take care of their bodies and minds, and we fight hard to make sure others do the same. If you have been in a car wreck, suffered a workplace injury, or were injured at the fault of another, please contact the attorneys at Fisher Stark for a consultation to ensure that your rights are protected.
Last updated 7/5/2015