One mistake many accident victims make is thinking that an insurance company is on their side. Do not believe it. An insurance company is a business, so their first priority is their bottom line.
After an accident, you can count on the insurance adjuster trying to find ways to reduce the amount of compensation you receive. He or she may accuse you of being careless in different ways and say this led to the crash, instead of the other driver’s negligence.
To help protect your interests, it is a good idea to hire a knowledgeable South Bend car accident lawyer. Not only are the attorneys at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak well-versed in Indiana car accident laws, we are also familiar with the methods that an insurance provider may use to try to assign some of the blame for the accident to you.
Criticizing You Personally
In any accident involving two or more vehicles, the insurance company for each motorist will do an investigation. This helps them to determine if one driver was to blame or there was shared liability.
Some of the evidence they look at may include:
- Plaintiff statement given to the adjuster (which is why we recommend you let an attorney handle communication on your behalf)
- Defendant account of the accident
- Photos and/or videos obtained at the scene of the accident
- Police report
- Witness statements
- Weather and road conditions at the time of the collision
- Citations issued
- Placement of vehicles after the crash
If they cannot prove an injured victim shares any liability for the accident, the at-fault party’s insurance carrier may try to attack the victim’s credibility, either by twisting his or her words, or by tricking the injured victim into saying he or she is partially at fault in a recorded statement or casual conversation.
You Were Not Wearing a Seat Belt
Since not wearing a seat belt is a primary offense in Indiana, an insurance adjuster may try to argue that the at-fault party should not have to pay for the resulting injuries of a victim who did not comply with the law.
However, the Indiana Seat Belt Act, section: IC 9-19-10-7 states that non-compliance does not prevent a victim from pursuing the recovery of damages. The fact that a victim was not wearing his or her seat belt at the time of an accident cannot be used to attempt to reduce the value of damages in a civil action.
You Did Not Maintain Your Vehicle Properly
Indiana has a modified comparative fault law. If an insurance carrier can establish that a plaintiff knowingly drove a poorly-maintained vehicle and there was an issue that contributed to an accident, such as failed brakes, the compensation award may be reduced by the victim’s percentage of fault.
Maintenance issues that can potentially cause a crash may include:
- Improperly maintained tires
- Faulty brakes and worn brake pads
- Engine troubles
- Unresolved recall repairs
- Electrical problems
How to Avoid Hurting Your Claim
Often, an insurance carrier may attempt to speak with the injured party. This may happen at the scene of an accident, but more often it happens later, while the accident victim is at home recovering.
It is a good idea to be mentally prepared beforehand so that you do not get caught off-guard. During this phone call, the adjuster will attempt to get certain information from you – such as an admission of guilt.
There are a few things you can do to avoid possibly hurting your claim:
- Do not admit fault or apologize, either at the scene of the accident or later
- Do not provide any statement, recorded or otherwise, before discussing it with a lawyer
- Do not sign a liability release form
- Do not agree to a lowball settlement offer from the insurance provider
Call an Experienced Attorney for a Free Consultation
After an accident happens, we encourage you to contact an experienced South Bend personal injury attorney. If you have a case, the lawyers at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak are ready to thoroughly investigate the collision to determine what the case may be worth.
Contact us today over the phone, through live chat or by completing a case review form. We accept personal injury cases on contingency, so there are no upfront expenses for you. We are not paid unless we are successful in collecting compensation for your injuries.
Call us today at (844) 678-1800.