If you're hurt in a motor vehicle accident and your injuries aren't very serious, you might be tempted to ignore your legal right to recover damages? You may have valid reasons why you feel this way. Perhaps your injury is minor, and it doesn't feel worthy of making a fuss. Maybe your own insurance company paid your bills and your employer paid your lost wages. When you have no out of pocket costs, it can be easy to ignore your legal rights, but should you?
The process of filing an injury claim can seem like a lot of trouble, especially if you feel there's little to be gained. Dealing with someone else's insurance company can also be a pain. You might have plenty of reasons why you shouldn't make an injury claim, but there are just as many reasons why you should. Here are a few.
- Your injuries could be more serious than you think
Whether your auto accident-related injuries are soft tissue or they involve broken bones, they won't necessarily clear up the way doctors predict they will. You may terminate your treatment but have problems down the road. Months may pass before you realize your injuries were worse than you thought. If the statute of limitations has passed, it might be too late to do anything about it.
Of course, even if you wait until months after your accident, you might still have the right to pursue a settlement and receive compensation for your injuries. It's just best to get a legal representative involved early in the life of the claim. Early involvement will allow him to conduct an investigation, clear up any liability issues, and develop information about your injuries.
- You'll have to deal with insurance companies anyway
If you choose not to file an injury claim because you'd prefer not to give statements, medical bills, and other documentation to the other guy's insurance company, things might not go the way you want them to go. If the other guy's insurance adjuster realizes that you were injured, he is bound to come knocking on your door anyway.
The other liability carrier has a duty to protect their insured from potential future law suits. To do that they must contact you, get your version of the accident, find out if you're injured, and figure out what they owe you, if anything. They will ultimately try to get you to sign a release.
If your insurance company paid your medical bills, they'll want to subrogate--file a claim against the other guy to get the money back. Under the terms of your policy, you have a duty to cooperate and help them protect their rights of recovery. They may insist on recording your statement and whatever else they need to present a claim to the other guy's insurance company. You can't avoid the insurance companies no matter what you choose to do.
- If you're hurt you're entitled to a settlement
State statutes give you the right to recover damages from a driver who causes your injuries in an auto accident. The claims you are entitled to pursue go beyond medical bills, lost wages, medications, and other out of pocket expenses.
You may be entitled to recover money for pain, suffering, replacement services, disabilities, scarring, and other damages. Even a small settlement could come in handy in the future. You could set it aside as an emergency fund for unexpected living expenses, a college fund for your children, or a retirement nest egg that will grow if you stash it away. It's money you deserve.
Before you decide
If you're hurt in a motor vehicle accident, and you choose not to file an injury claim, that's up to you. But before you walk away, you should consult with a personal injury attorney. He can work with you, investigate your accident, give you a legal opinion on your options, and that will allow you make an informed decision.