Never under any circumstance should you give a statement or talk to the other side’s insurance company, and frankly, probably not even your own, unless and until you hire an attorney. The insurance companies will typically contact the victims of an accident almost immediately wanting to get a statement from them. They do it in a very innocuous and innocent type of way to make the person think, “Oh, they’re just gathering information.” But what they are really gathering are facts to help minimize or even defeat your claim. They are also trying to get some idea of the scope and extent of your injury. The problem is that you may not even be aware of the exact extent or nature of your injury and therefore, they may commit you to a description of an injury that is not accurate.
Again, they are trying to minimize or undermine your claim. You will ultimately have to give a statement if the case goes to litigation, because they will probably want to take your deposition. Even in the cases that do not go to litigation, we often times will work with the insurance companies to provide our client’s statement in an effort to cooperate and move the case forward, but only after we have full understanding of the extent of the injuries, the duration of the same, the extent of treatment necessary as well as exactly what happened on the day of the accident. Failure to have a full understanding can lead to significant issues later down the line.
The Factors That Constitute A Viable Personal Injury Claim
There are at least three different things that factor into a viable personal injury claim. The first and foremost factor is how significant are the injuries. A minor injury of course is not going to make for a very good claim. The more significant the injury the more significant the claim. That is not to say that a minor injury is cannot support a viable claim. It only means that the more significant the injury the more significant the claim.
The next factor is liability. Who is responsible for causing the event? Was it solely the fault of the other party or do both parties share blame? Where there other factors that were responsible, at least in part, for causing the event? How culpable are each of the parties and what were the underlying motivating factors? These are but a few of the questions surrounding the liability issue and the answer to these questions will play a vital role in the value of the claim.
The last factor is probably the most misunderstood – causation. Did the event cause the injury? This may seem simple but it is anything but simple. Imagine a car crash in which your back suffers multiple herniated discs. But what if you back had been operated on before. Or that while you had not had an actual surgery you had been seeing a chiropractor or orthopedic surgeon for months due to pain. The question will arise as to whether your back was injured as a result of the crash or due to a pre-existing injury. You can certainly guess what the insurance company is going to say.
The short of it all is that all of these factors must be present in order to have a viable claim. Notwithstanding the presence of each of the three factors, the insurance company will attack each factor in an effort to minimize or even eliminate the claim.
Even if you were hit by drunken driver of an eighteen wheeler truck and your car is completely totaled, if you walk away with nothing but a scratch, then that is not a significant claim from the standpoint of the value of that claim. Whereas, if you were hit by a nun returning from church resulting in a small dent to the back of your car, but it knocks your head into the car pillar in such a way that results in a brain injury — that makes for a very different type of claim. The bottom line is that you cannot always factor in what you think is obvious — the drunken eighteen wheeler trucker versus the nun. All three factors have to be fully evaluated in determining the viability of a claim.
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