When you get injured in a car accident, making smart decisions is critical for protecting your legal rights. This means that you need to rely on accurate information—not myths that will lead you astray.
There are a lot of myths out there about car accidents and insurance claims. While some of these myths have a hint of truth, many of them are simply misguided. The following examples take a deeper look at what is false versus what is legally factual.
Myth #1: Your Insurance Rates Will Automatically Go Up if You Report Your Accident
Truth: Many states have laws that prevent insurance companies from raising drivers’ rates when they aren’t at fault.
While your insurance rates might go up if you were at fault in your accident, they should not increase if someone else was to blame. In many states, such as Georgia, the law prohibits insurance companies from raising drivers’ rates when they report accidents that weren’t their fault. On the other hand, you are most likely required to report all accidents under the terms of your policy, and failing to report an accident could potentially lead to a denial of coverage.
Myth #2: You Can’t Recover Compensation if You Were at Fault in the Accident
Truth: You can file a “no-fault” claim even if you were solely at fault, and you can recover partial compensation if you were partially at fault in many cases.
If you have “no-fault” insurance, such as personal injury protection (PIP), you can file a claim regardless of who is responsible for your collision. Additionally, if you were partially at fault, you could still have a claim for partial fault-based compensation under the other driver’s liability policy. Under Georgia law, for example, you can recover partial compensation as long as you are not more than 50 percent at fault in an accident.
Myth #3: If the Police Report Doesn’t Say the Other Driver was At Fault, You Don’t Have a Claim
Truth: The other driver’s traffic case and your civil case have very little to do with one another.
While the police report can provide useful information in some cases, its role in your claim for compensation is ultimately relatively minor. It doesn’t matter if the other driver got a ticket; and, if the other driver did get a ticket, it doesn’t matter if they get convicted in court. The legal standards for criminal culpability and civil liability are different, and many different types of evidence can be used to prove a claim for damages.
Myth #4: You Have to Give a Recorded Statement to Your Insurance Company
Truth: You do not have to give a recorded statement when you file an insurance claim, and you should not do so.
While your insurance adjuster will ask you to provide a recorded statement when you report your accident, you are not required to do so. Additionally, it is strongly in your best interests not to give a recorded statement at this time. Anything you say will only be used against you.
Myth #5: You Have to Give Your Insurance Company a Medical Release
Truth: Signing a medical release isn’t required, and it could make it much more difficult to secure coverage for your car accident.
Similarly, while your adjuster may ask you for a medical release, this is a request you should refuse as well. Medical release forms often give the insurance companies access to far more records than they need, and this gives them additional opportunities to try to deny your claim.
Myth #6: The Insurance Companies Will Pay What They Owe
Truth: Despite what they say, the insurance companies are not on your side.
To recover just compensation after a car accident, you need to stand up for your legal rights. The insurance companies have their best interests in mind. If you don’t present evidence and argue effectively for just compensation, they are going to pay you as little as possible.
Myth #7: You Will Need to Go to Court to Collect the Full Compensation You Deserve
Truth: The vast majority of successful car accident claims settle long before going to court.
But, while dealing with insurance companies can be challenging, most successful claims still settle out of court. The caveat here is that you need to make sure you are settling for the full amount you deserve. While it might be nice to resolve your claim quickly, you will kick yourself down the line if you accept less than you are rightfully owed.
Myth #8: Hiring a Lawyer is Expensive
Truth: With contingency fee representation, it costs nothing out-of-pocket to hire a lawyer for your car accident.
Hiring a lawyer for a car accident is not expensive. In fact, it costs nothing out of pocket. This is because personal injury lawyers handle car accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless you win.
Myth #9: You Will Take Home Less if You Hire a Lawyer
Truth: Even taking your lawyer’s contingency fees into account, you can still collect more (and perhaps significantly more) with a lawyer on your side.
One of the most common myths about hiring a lawyer is that your legal fees will end up leaving you with less than you could have collected on your own. While your legal fees will be deducted from your award, an experienced lawyer won’t take your case unless the lawyer believes they can help increase your take-home recovery.
Myth #10: You Have Plenty of Time to File a Claim
Truth: While the statute of limitations for car accident claims is two or three years in most states, you should get started on your claim right away.
In most states, the statute of limitations for filing a claim after a car accident is two or three years (in Georgia, it is two years). However, if you have a claim, it is extremely important that you get started as soon as possible. You need to collect evidence before it disappears, and you need to avoid delays (and other mistakes) that could leave you without the compensation you deserve.