Archive for February, 2013

Injured in a Missouri Motor Vehicle Accident: What Not To Do!

Friday, February 15th, 2013

A fair number of websites exist that provide guidelines about what to do in the wake of a serious motor vehicle collision, such as a trucking accident, motorcycle collision, SUV rollover or other type of crash that causes serious injury or wrongful death.  Common suggestions include seeking medical treatment, gathering evidence and seeking legal advice.  What is not often discussed are actions that you should avoid in the wake of motor vehicle accidents to avoid damaging a potential personal injury claim.  Because our Missouri personal injury attorneys at the Hubbard and Kurtz, LLP handle many personal injury claims arising out of motor vehicle accidents, we have provided suggestions about common mistakes to avoid:

Do Not Postpone Medical Treatment

While the advice to obtain medical treatment may be standard, the timeliness of seeking medical attention can be equally important both from a clinical and legal perspective.  There are certain types of injuries that may become more serious if medical diagnosis and treatment is not prompt.  Many head injuries involve internal bleeding of the braining or bleeding into the space between the skull cavity and the brain.  The pressure created by this internal bleeding can cause permanent loss of cognitive function and even death if the pressure is not relieved rapidly.  Sometime head injury victims are completely unaware that they are seriously injured, and they are relatively unfazed until the pressure on the brain reaches a certain threshold.

From a litigation perspective, insurance companies view delays in medical treatment as an opportunity to challenge the cause and severity of a motor vehicle crash victim’s injuries. Insurance defense lawyers routinely use the discovery process to acquire information about prior accidents and injuries.  These records often will be carefully evaluated by a medical expert to look for alternative explanations for your injuries and to dispute the severity of your physical or mental incapacity.  Insurance companies have been known to claim that accidents both prior to and after the collision at issue in a lawsuit were the cause of a victim’s injuries.

Do Not Post Information on Facebook and Other Social Media Sites

A growing number of lawsuits brought by plaintiff with serious injuries are being compromised by posts on social media sites.  The best practice is not to post information or pictures while your personal injury lawsuit is pending.  Many judges will order a plaintiff in a motor vehicle accident lawsuit to provide login information even for the personal areas of the injury victim’s social media webpages.  It can be very embarrassing and damaging if you post pictures of playing tennis when you are having a good day, which the insurance company uses to claim that you are being dishonest about a debilitating back injury.

Do Not Speak to the Other Driver’s Insurance Representative

When insurance companies know you do not have legal representation, they view this as an opportunity.  The insurance company adjuster may indicate that they are trying to settle your case and ask you to sign an authorization for medical or employment records or to make a recorded statement.  While these requests are relevant to settling your case, they are usually intended to discover evidence to deny your claim or offer a token settlement.  There is no requirement you provide a statement (recorded or otherwise) to the other driver’s insurance company so you should not do so.  There is also no reason to permit release of your medical or employment records before consulting with an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney.

Do Not Cash a Settlement Check or Sign Documents Provided by the Other Driver’s Insurance

Insurance companies recognize that motor vehicle accident victims face financial hardships so they may try to issue you a check or ask you to sign settlement documents.  This is a bad idea unless a personal injury attorney has reviewed the case and documents.  Insurance companies are notorious for offering far less than the value of a claim to unrepresented parties because they know that a lack of knowledge about the value of a claim and the financial pressure may result in a quick low-ball settlement being accepted.  Once a general release is executed, it may result in a waiver of ALL claims even those for injuries that are not immediately apparent.

If you or someone you love is injured or a family member dies in a Missouri motor vehicle accident, we urge you to avoid these mistakes and contact us if you have questions.  Our experienced Missouri motor vehicle collision attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP work diligently to obtain financial compensation for our clients’ injuries so contact us toll free at (877) 535-1163 to see how we can help!

The Law Enforcement Accident Report Found Me At-Fault: Am I Out of Luck?

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

When you are involved in a serious collision, it can mean bad news, worse news and worst news.  The bad news is that you were involved in a car accident and suffered damage to your motor vehicle that will require dealing with insurance company hassles.  While fighting with an insurance company to get your vehicle repaired is a hassle, it is much worse news to learn you have suffered serious injuries that may result in intense pain, physical and mental disabilities, extensive medical bills and other physical, emotional and fiscal hardships.  However, the worst news is finding out that you may not be able to recover compensation for you injuries because the law enforcement accident report indicates that you are at-fault in causing the collision.

While many car accident victims become discouraged and decline to explore whether they have a right to financial compensation in this situation, this is a mistake to be avoided.  Although law enforcement officers that analyze accident scenes are competent and good at what they do, they are not infallible.

Our experienced Missouri car accident attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz examine the evidence, which may include law enforcement reports, vehicle damage, witness statements and more to arrive at an independent determination regarding issues like liability and causation.  Our attorneys may also use accident reconstruction experts to build a compelling case that may conflict with the preliminary determination by law enforcement.  We also scrutinize the accident report for errors or inaccuracies that may impact its conclusion on the issue of fault.

Even if the police report is correct in determining that a car accident victim’s own negligence contributed to his or her own injuries, this is not the end of the analysis.  Sometimes the other driver also may have engaged in conduct that contributed to the accident.  In Missouri, an injury victim whose own negligent conduct contributed to a collision may still recover for damages, but the financial award will be reduced based on the percentage of fault assigned to the injury victim.

This legal principle, which is referred to as “pure comparative negligence,” can be crucially important if you suffer serious debilitating injuries like paralysis from a spinal cord injury or impaired cognitive functioning resulting from a traumatic brain injury.  If the jury determined your damages to be one million dollars in this situation, you would still be entitled to receive $250,000 even if the judge or jury determined you to be 75 percent responsible for your own injuries.

If you or someone you love is injured or a family member dies in a Missouri auto accident, we urge you to contact us even if you believe you may have been at-fault for causing the accident.  Our experienced Missouri auto collision attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP may be able to identify a factual or legal basis for you to obtain financial compensation for your injuries so contact us toll free at (877) 535-1163 to see how we can help!