5 common myths to be aware of when filing your car accident claim
If you were involved in a crash, you may not be fully aware of your legal rights or how to file a car accident claim. There are some myths surrounding car accident claims that can damage your ability to get full compensation for the damages accrued. It's important that you be aware of these myths and know what course of action to take. Our attorneys discuss these myths and how you can avoid falling for them.
1. You can't pursue financial damages if you don't feel injured at the crash scene
You don't have to be seriously injured or disabled at the scene of a crash to pursue legal damages. Many injuries only produce minor symptoms at the scene of the crash. Some don't produce symptoms for several hours or days.
There are many cases when the driver who is hit is able to carry on with his or her day. That doesn't mean that the injuries sustained shouldn't be treated, nor does it mean that medical expenses and lost wages can't be reimbursed.
We see this a lot with people who sustain:
- Whiplash: An injury to the soft tissue in the neck caused by a sharp forward and backward whip-like motion of the head. This usually happens in rear-end collisions.
- Mild traumatic brain injuries: Mild head injuries (including some concussions) can result in dizziness, confusion, irritability, disrupted sleep, fatigue, and memory loss.
- Hairline fractures: These are small cracks in the bone tissue, which can be difficult to detect through x-rays. Symptoms may include bruising, pain, inflammation and swelling at the site of the injury.
- Soft tissue injuries: This usually includes injuries to the muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments. Bruising, pain, inflammation, swelling, and loss of mobility may occur.
2. You must speak to the other driver's insurance company
Under no circumstance do you have to speak to the other driver's insurance company. The only insurance company you must report your crash to is your own. Even then, it's important that you only stick to the basic facts.
Speaking to insurance companies can hurt your ability to pursue damages. That's because insurance companies will use your word against you. They will try to contact you and act like they're on your side. Your phone call will also be recorded. Anything you tell them can be construed as admittance of fault, even if you're not aware of it.
3. Illinois is a no-fault state for car accident claims
While many states have a no-fault rule for car accident claims, Illinois is not one of them. First, all drivers in Illinois must purchase insurance policies that include:
- $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury and death for one person
- $50,000 total coverage for bodily injury and death of more than one person
- $20,000 coverage for property damage
Second, you can't just file a claim and expect to be compensated. You actually have to prove that the other driver who hit you was at fault. Your crash will need to be investigated by an experienced attorney. Evidence may be gathered by:
- Examining the police report
- Examining the crash scene
- Speaking to witnesses
- Obtaining video surveillance footage, if any cameras were present
- Getting a subpoena for cellphone records, if distracted driving was the cause
4. You can only be reimbursed for financial losses caused by your crash
An attorney can help you get reimbursed for current and future medical costs, as well as lost wages. Not all damages accrued from a crash are financial. If you suffered ongoing physical pain, anguish, trauma, and loss of life enjoyment, then your attorney can advocate for compensation for non-economic damages.
In addition, if your crash was caused by gross negligence or reckless behavior, your attorney may be able to advocate for punitive damages. Punitive damages are not intended to reimburse you, but rather to punish the driver who caused your crash and send a clear message to other drivers that recklessness won't be tolerated.
5. The other driver's insurance company will pay for all of your damages
If the other driver's insurance company can't argue that you were at fault, they may attempt to offer you a small settlement to make your claim disappear. If you accept a settlement without first consulting with an attorney, you may end up paying for most of your crash-related expenses out-of-pocket.
Be aware that insurance companies are willing to lose a little bit of money in order to save more in the long-run. Always speak to an experienced car accident attorney first.
Your attorney can place an accurate value on your claim and fight to get you compensated for every penny. To find out how, contact the Chicago attorneys at Coplan + Crane or call us at 800-394-6002 and schedule your free legal consultation.