It happens in the blink of any eye
Every day we rely on motorists to maintain and follow the rules of the road. Even if you have done nothing wrong, you can find yourself involved in a motor vehicle collision, incurring thousands of dollars in property damage, or worse, being injured. No one chooses to be involved in a collision and, unfortunately, decisions and choices by other drivers have consequences that are sometimes fatal.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in one year, 32,999 people were killed on motorways, 3.9 million were injured, 24 million vehicles were damaged in crashes, and the economic impact of these crashes totaled $242 billion. While vehicles are easy to repair or replace, the damages to occupants can be much more serious. Losses in productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency services, insurance, and congestion all add to the cost figure. Statistically, the quality of life and the total value of societal harm have been estimated by the federal government to reach $836 billion.
Helpful Tips if You Are Involved in a Collision
If you are involved in an automobile collision, you should do the following:
- Immediately assess your injuries and your safety.
- Check on the safety and well-being of any occupants.
- Evaluate your surroundings and circumstances so you are not involved in a second collision.
- Identify all parties who have been involved in the collision before they leave the scene.
- Identify any eye witnesses.
- Utilize your mobile phone to take photographs and recordings of important statements made at the scene.
- Notify the authorities so that beneficial investigation can be conducted.
- Be sure that any injured parties obtain the necessary and proper medical care, including ambulance services as necessary.
- Document property damage on each vehicle involved.
- Document skid marks, tire marks, gouge marks and other physical indications of the impact.
- Cooperate fully with law enforcement.
- Exchange information with the other drivers and obtain identifying insurance information.
- Seek medical attention, if appropriate.
- Do not provide a statement to a private investigator/insurance adjustor, until you have a full appreciation of the facts.
- Notify your insurance carrier so that he or she can conduct his or her own investigation.
- Become aware of your legal rights and responsibilities in the circumstance.
Time and time again we have investigated motor vehicle accidents on behalf of our clients to determine responsibility and legal liability. Often our clients are contacted by insurance adjustors working for the other driver and are requested to give a statement. Many of these adjustors use certain techniques in an effort to transfer legal liability from their driver to some other driver or to the victim.
For example, an insurance adjustor once asked a client sitting at a red light what she did to avoid being hit from behind by a front-end loader. This question is ridiculous and indicates a desire to suggest some responsibility upon a driver sitting at a red light. Our clients have been asked to give statements about the harms and losses they have experienced while they are still in the hospital mending from broken bones or surgery, and in some cases while they are still under pain medication. It is impossible to know the extent or level of injuries experienced until they have had an opportunity to recover.
Some injuries are not immediately apparent. One of our clients sustained a neck injury, and she believed it only involved the soft tissue. Unfortunately, her symptoms progressed and worsened over time. Her neurosurgeon recommended an MRI where it was determined she had a herniated disc in her neck. She underwent two significant cervical fusion surgeries and was required to use a medical device to disrupt her chronic pain. These injuries were not immediately apparent at the site of the collision nor in the days immediately following.
We use investigative techniques that help even the playing field. Insurance carriers use a battalion of adjustors, investigators, lawyers and other individuals in an effort to minimize and dilute the legal responsibilities of their insured drivers so the insurance companies pay out less in claims. People who have learned all their lives to live honestly, ethically and with integrity are often confused by the denials, baseless allegations and suggestion that victims of a car accident are “faking,” malingering or exaggerating their injuries.
You should consider retaining legal counsel to advise you of your legal rights, to investigate the circumstances of your accident and advise you in how to move forward. Also, be aware that statements you make can often be taken out of context, misinterpreted and used against you at a later time. You should speak to a qualified attorney who can assist you and represent your interests.
At Stevenson & Murray, we have decades of experience handling significant injuries that arise from motor vehicle collisions. We have the resources and relationships with private investigators, experts, accident reconstructionists, medical treaters and others to facilitate and protect your rights. Many times, we are retained after individuals attempt to negotiate directly with an insurance carrier only to realize their efforts have been severely prejudiced and not likely to end in a favorable or appropriate result. For this reason, you are encouraged to consider retaining counsel for your legal matter.
We have recently noticed a spike in distracted driving. Many things can cause distractions to a driver. Automobiles and trucks are loaded with creature comforts—radios, satellite radios, Bluetooth accessories, mobile phone connections and computer connections—allowing drivers to email, text or engage in other activities besides driving. When driving becomes a secondary issue, the attention parameter of the driver is severely compromised. Studies show distracted driving is every bit as threatening as driving while intoxicated.
There are also other circumstances bearing investigation, including fatigue, intoxication, impairment, mechanical failures, failure of safety equipment, faulty evasive actions, excessive speed, failure to keep a proper lookout, failure to maintain a single lane of traffic, failure to yield right-of-way and failure to follow the rules of the road.
Innocent people can be maimed or killed as a result of drivers who fail to follow the rules of the road. We are happy to consult with you at no cost to determine whether you have a claim. We will advise you as to your legal rights and the best manner to move forward.
We believe people should be treated fairly, especially when they have suffered injury and harm due to the negligence of another.
In our investigation, we often review driving records, driver logs, employment relationships and mobile phone usage to give our clients solid information upon which to rely.
Be careful of the one-way street of providing information to the other party. You will often find there is a tremendous amount of information sought by an investigating adjuster on behalf of the insurance carrier for the offending party. They seek information concerning your private medical records, information about your harms and losses, and your recovery. However, they rarely provide information to you with respect to the party who caused the incident. Insurance companies are reluctant to release information concerning the amount of coverage available or witness statements. These statements are available if you are involved in a lawsuit, and the reality is that you will not be treated fairly and you could severely jeopardize your claim if you fail to become educated about your legal rights.
Contact Stevenson & Murray
Stevenson & Murray has successfully handled numerous cases involving car accidents. To learn more about your rights and legal options, call us at 713.597.3836. You may also contact us by email. We offer free initial consultations.