A Car Accident Lawyer Debunks 5 Common Myths About Car Accidents
The odds of having a car accident in your lifetime are surprisingly high. According to one study, 77% of drivers have been in at least one car accident in their lives, and it’s estimated that, on average, a person is in a car accident once every 18 years.
Because the overwhelming majority of people have experienced a motor vehicle accident, there are a lot of opinions about car accidents that have reached mythical proportions. This article will debunk the five most common myths about car accidents.
Myth 1: The other driver’s insurance company will automatically pay for my injuries and property damage.
If the auto accident was the result of the negligent or reckless behavior of the other driver, it’s natural to assume that their insurance company will pay your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and bodily injury damages.
When it comes to recovering money from the other driver’s insurance, nothing is “automatic”. It is true that if the other driver was the cause of the accident, you can expect to eventually make a financial recovery for some or all of the above items of damages.
However, for some parts of your claim, your own insurance company will be responsible.
For starters, in Pennsylvania, your medical bills are paid on a no-fault basis. Usually going to be paid by your own automobile insurance company. If you do not own a car, then your medical bills will be paid by a certain order set forth in the law. The wrongdoer’s insurance will usually not be responsible for paying medical expenses unless you exhaust your own medical benefits and/or have recoverable out of pocket expenses or liens.
If you have purchased optional lost wage coverage through your own insurer, then your own insurer will pay your lost wages if you can’t work as a result of the accident. While the wrongdoer may be responsible for additional losses you suffer, they rarely “automatically” make such payments. Oftentimes we need to.
At least some part of your lost wages will be paid by your own insurance company if you have purchased lost wage coverage.
The reality is that Pennsylvania operates a little bit differently than many other states in the U.S. Pennsylvania is one of the 12 states that, for some parts of your claim, is a no-fault state for car insurance.
Myth 2: I cannot recover any money if I am partially to blame for the accident.
Remember that even though Pennsylvania technically follows a no-fault system for car insurance, drivers can opt out by purchasing the full tort option for coverage. Though the policy is slightly more expensive, it offers drivers a lot more flexibility when receiving money damages. Instead of seeking compensation from their own insurance company, they can now attempt to recover from the other party’s policy.
This is true even if you are partially to blame for the accident. Under a comparative fault system, a driver can recover damages as long as they are less than 51% responsible for the accident. For example, if you sustained injuries that cost $100,000 and were deemed to be 30% at fault for the incident, you could foreseeably recover $70,000. This figure reflects your actual damages less than your percentage of fault.
Keep in mind that this information only applies if you purchased full tort coverage for your auto insurance policy.
Myth 3: I don’t need a car accident lawyer.
If anything, the complications surrounding the previous two myths should alert you that we are dealing with a system that can make things difficult for drivers. When you’re recovering from an accident involving motor vehicles, the last thing you should have to worry about is making ends meet and getting your medical bills paid.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the type of coverage you have, there are a lot of possible outcomes you could face. You may receive a settlement offer right away, or the insurance company could deny your claim.
Regardless of the circumstances, there is one constant when it comes to insurance companies. Their goal is to maximize profits, not provide generous settlement offers. By working with a car accident lawyer in Pittsburgh or another city in Pennsylvania, you’ll have a clearer understanding of how much your case is worth and how to proceed.
Myth 4: I don’t need to see a doctor because my injuries weren’t serious.
It’s completely natural to want life to return to “normal” after an accident. You might think a minor bruise is no big deal, or a little stiffness will resolve itself in time.
The problem with this approach is that you might have sustained a severe injury and not realized it yet. There’s even the possibility that the effects of an injury might not manifest themselves for several weeks.
By consulting with a doctor immediately after the incident, you can be thoroughly examined to find out if the “bump on your head” is a concussion or the soreness in your neck is actually whiplash. If you fail to see a doctor and later experience symptoms from the accident, the insurance adjuster is likely to question why you elected not to see a doctor immediately. This situation can adversely affect your settlement offer.
Myth 5: I can file a lawsuit any time after the accident.
Each state has a statute of limitations that specifies a deadline for when you can file a lawsuit after most car accidents. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is two years, and the clock starts ticking the day of the accident. This means that even if you don’t file a lawsuit within that time frame, you permanently lose the ability to recover financial compensation.
There are some exceptions to this rule, but in general, this statute of limitations will apply.
Contact Hal Waldman and Associates about Your Car Accident
The days and weeks following an accident are a critical time. If you or a loved one has been injured due to another driver’s actions, we encourage you to seek help from a personal injury attorney with experience in car accident cases.
At Hal Waldman and Associates, we represent accident victims with strength and compassion. Contact us today at 412-850-3172 for a free consultation.