Myths & Misconceptions About Personal Injury Cases

Myths & Misconceptions About Personal Injury Cases
ATTORNEY ROBERT EDENS DISPELS PERSONAL INJURY MYTHS

Naturally, the first people you will discuss your personal injury case with are those that are closest to you; family, friends and co-workers. It is not uncommon that each person you talk to will have comments, suggestions and stories about their own experiences. Much like the childhood game of telephone, what originally started out as good information, with the best of intentions, can get distorted and become incorrect the more it is passed along from one person to another. Therefore, it is important to know the actual facts regarding personal injury law in the state of Illinois.

Myth 1: You cannot recover for your injuries because you were partially at fault.

Truth: While an accident involves two or more people, not all parties have the same percentage of blame. In some cases, a claimant is not responsible, whatsoever. While in other instances, they do bear some responsibility.  Therefore, Illinois law uses the doctrine of comparative responsibility in which a percentage of the blame may be attributed to each party involved in the accident.  So long as the jury or judge decides that you were fifty percent or less at fault, you can still recover damages for your injuries.  Under this doctrine, your total damages are deduced by your percentage of fault.

Myth 2: You can’t recover because there are no witnesses to the accident.

Truth:  Often adjusters will assert this very argument, even though their insured has admitted fault to them.  They are under no obligation to and will not tell you, what their insured told them.  As an experienced personal injury attorney I have encountered this exact situation numerous times.  This is why I employ a staff, including a team of experts, who will interview witnesses, including the other driver.  If necessary, they can reconstruct how an accident occurred.  This can be used to prove fault, even without the testimony of witnesses to the accident.  In addition, there are several things that can be done to establish fault. Therefore, it is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately if fault is an issue.

Myth 3: You can’t recover because the other driver didn’t have insurance or left the scene of the accident.

Truth: This is a myth that your own insurance company would like you to believe. The fact is, your own insurance policy has a coverage clause for uninsured motorist and underinsured motorists.  In addition, if you had full coverage, your insurance company will repair your vehicle, less your deductible.  Therefore, if the other driver has substandard coverage, or leaves the scene of an accident, you may be able to recover damages from your own insurance carrier. It is important in these situations to obtain a copy of your insurance policy and follow all the terms and conditions relating to underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. It is a good idea to bring a copy of your insurance policy to an attorney if this situation applies to you.

Myth 4: You cannot recover because you did not go to the hospital or doctor right away.

Truth: Injuries are not always immediately evident. An accident victim may feel fine immediately after the incident but a serious injury may develop later. While it is advised you seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident, it does not automatically prevent you from bringing a personal injury claim for injuries caused by the accident.

Myth 5: You can’t recover because your injuries relate to a “pre-existing” condition.

Truth: An accident can often further injuries in an area that is already weakened by a prior condition.  This is most common in back, shoulder, and knee injuries.  An insurance company will try to use the fact that you received treatment to the same area to their advantage. For example: A person might have a previous back injury, but as a result of this accident, they may now have a herniated disc and require surgery. An experienced attorney will have encountered this issue on many prior occasions and can aggressively challenge the insurance company’s allegations.  Therefore, it is important to tell your physician, as well as your attorney, about any prior injuries as the insurance adjuster will eagerly argue that you were intentionally being deceptive to collect money for a pre-existing injury when, in fact, you had no such intention.

If you have been told one or more of these myths, especially by an insurance company, you can easily find out the truth by consulting an experienced attorney who handles personal injury cases and will evaluate the unique circumstances of your individual accident.