After a car accident, you may be unable to return to work and facing not only a difficult recovery but mounting bills. This is bad enough, but what happens when the other party’s insurance company blames you for the accident and refuses to pay anything?
Unfortunately, recovering the compensation you deserve after an accident can be difficult. Hiring a personal injury lawyer can be invaluable to help you protect your rights, fight back against claims you caused your accident, and seek fair compensation.
Contributory Negligence Can Bar You from Recovering if You Share Any Fault
Maryland and Washington, D.C. are among just a handful of places in the United States that still use the contributory negligence rule. Under this rule, you are barred from recovering any compensation if you are found at all responsible for your accident or injuries.
If a jury is convinced that you are even 1% at fault for your accident, you cannot recover any compensation. It will not matter that the other party was overwhelmingly to blame.
Most states use comparative negligence instead. This system allows you to still recover compensation when partially to blame for an accident. Instead, your recovery will be reduced based on your share of fault.
You can be sure that the insurance company will use this unfair contributory negligence rule against you. If they are successful in shifting even a small share of blame to you, they can avoid paying anything for the injuries you sustained. This means they will give your actions a great deal of weight and minimize their policyholder’s actions.
The contributory negligence rule can make it very hard to recover compensation. This makes hiring a personal injury lawyer even more critical. An experienced injury lawyer will help you prove the other driver was at fault and defend you against claims that you share liability.
Tactics the Insurance Company Will Use Against You to Shift Blame
The insurance company has many tactics it can employ against you. In addition, they are armed with a team of claims adjusters and attorneys who attempt to minimize payouts and outright deny claims. Thanks to the contributory negligence rule, the insurance company may have an easy job of shifting blame to you. This is easiest if you are not familiar with their tactics and are not represented by an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Because shifting any blame to you absolves the insurance company from paying anything, they might try to convince you that your insurance claim is worthless because you made some mistake. They could attack your credibility, use your statements against you, or even trick you into accepting some blame during a casual recorded conversation.
It isn’t just the accident they may blame you for. The insurance company may try to blame you for contributing to your injuries, in which case they can still avoid liability.
For example, if you were not wearing a seat belt, they can claim your actions contributed to the severity of the injuries you sustained.
Steps Your Lawyer Can Take to Protect You If You’re Being Blamed For a Crash
An experienced personal injury law firm will help you protect yourself against claims that you contributed to the car accident or incident that caused your injuries through every step of your case.
It can be easy to accidentally damage your own claim by making statements to the claims adjuster that are used against you. Your injury lawyer will help you avoid this by handling negotiations and communications with the insurance company on your behalf. This will prevent you from making statements that are on the record or even apologizing which can damage your case.
Your personal injury lawyer will also investigate your accident and gather evidence that strengthens your claim. The more evidence that establishes liability, the harder it becomes for insurance companies to shift blame.
An experienced injury lawyer will leave no stone unturned to assess evidence such as:
- Witness statements
- Police reports and incident reports
- Weather and road conditions
- Placement of the vehicles
- Videos or photos of the scene
- Onboard vehicle data
- Surveillance footage
- Statements made by other parties involved in the accident
Following a collision, an accident reconstruction can be a critical tool to show how the accident happened and make sure the at-fault party is held responsible. Your personal injury lawyer will work with experts to analyze evidence and draw important conclusions about how the accident occurred, which factors contributed, and who is ultimately to blame.
The accident investigator will visit the scene of your accident, gather evidence, review damage to both vehicles and road conditions, and document everything. This data is then used to create many hypotheses about how the accident could have occurred. Each theory is tested using models and special software that demonstrates how likely they are and rules out certain scenarios.
Ultimately, the investigator can present expert testimony that shows who is responsible for the crash.
After valuing the damages you suffered and sending a demand letter, your injury lawyer will negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company. Your lawyer will use the evidence gathered to deflect attempts to blame you and fight for the compensation you deserve from the at-fault party.
While you may be tempted to accept a settlement offer from the insurance company, their initial settlement offer will likely be too low. They may even offer a settlement and claim that you are partially at fault and unlikely to win your case but they are being “kind” and offering you something anyway.
If you accept the offer, you are waiving your right to recover any additional compensation, no matter how high your damages really are. This is a common tactic to limit their liability and how much they need to pay out.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Case Review
After an accident, a personal injury lawyer will work with you to investigate your case, determine the amount of damages you have suffered, and build the strongest claim possible against the responsible party. When the insurance company tries to blame you for the accident, do not simply accept blame. Contact a personal injury law firm to protect your rights and guard against these attempts to avoid liability.
Contact William G. Kolodner, P.A. today for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Baltimore. We have more than 100 years of combined experience representing injury victims against uncaring insurance companies and we will fight for you.