Thankfully, the average person isn’t involved in a car accident very frequently. But because it’s not a familiar situation, there are some pretty glaring misconceptions surrounding the topic. And should you eventually find yourself in a wreck – whether a minor fender bender or a serious collision – you’ll be tempted to fall for something other than the truth.
Get Clear on These 5 Misconceptions
The internet gives anyone and everyone a voice. In one sense, this is good. But in another sense, it allows for the proliferation of false information. Some of this misinformation is innocently propagated, while others actually start myths on purpose. The why isn’t that significant. What matters most is that you don’t fall for these misconceptions.
Without further ado, let’s set the record straight on some of the most pervasive car accident myths:
- Insurance Companies Have Your Best Interests in Mind
Most people operate under the assumption that insurance companies have their best interests in mind, but this is rarely – if ever – the case.
Insurance companies are in the business of making money. The money they pay out directly impacts their profitability. A large claim or settlement can be costly. The claims adjustors that work for them are given a figure that’s considered cost-effective for the company. They then try to come in underneath this number and reduce the payout.
Keep this in the back of your mind as you negotiate with insurance companies. Remember that the first number they bring to you is typically well below what they’re willing or able to pay out.
- Fault is All or Nothing
One of the trickiest parts about a car accident is that laws differ from state to state. Sometimes the variances between laws are quite significant. For example, some states allow you to bring a case against another driver, even if you were partially to blame.
“In Texas, we adhere to modified comparative negligence laws that will allow you to still pursue your claim even if you are partly responsible for the cause of your accident,” Crain Lewis Brogdon, LLP. explains. “However, the threshold is 51 percent. This means that if you are found 51 percent or more liable for the cause of the accident, then you will not be able to seek any compensation for your damages.”
You have to know the laws in your state in order to fully understand your options and know how to proceed.
- A Police Report is All You Need
If you’re the victim in a car accident, it’s important that you call law enforcement to the scene and have a police report filed. However, don’t assume that a police report is all you need for a successful outcome.
A police report simply sums up the W’s of an accident (who-what-when-where). Some include an opinion by the officer on who was at fault, while others are pretty indistinct. Some reports are missing key details, while others may actually contain errors. Thus, it’s not a good idea to put all of your faith in a police report. You’ll need to document key information, remember details, and be prepared to make your case.
- You Don’t Need a Lawyer
Most drivers refuse to believe they need a lawyer. The idea of hiring an attorney is something that scares them, and they’d prefer to keep it “low-key.” While you have every right to represent yourself, be wary of trying to handle everything on your own – particularly in a complicated case where fault isn’t clear-cut.
Remember: Insurance companies aren’t on your side. And if the other driver hires an attorney, you’ll be at an immediate disadvantage. Hiring an attorney is one of the smartest choices you can make.
- All Lawyers are the Same
Finally, don’t fall for the misconception that all lawyers are the same. Car accident attorneys are a dime a dozen and you can easily end up hiring the wrong one.
There are plenty of commercials and bus stop billboards that promise aggressive representation and guarantee quick cash, but be sure to do your homework. Look for someone with experience, poise, and transparency. That’s what you need.
Don’t Believe Everything You Read
Be careful not to believe everything you see online. For one reason or another, people frequently spread false information. If you aren’t careful about where you get your information, you could easily find yourself in a compromising situation. Uncover the truth, speak with experts, and make smart, objective choices.