FOUR MYTHS ABOUT AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS
Statistics show that it is more likely than not that during the course of your life as an adult you will be involved in at least one automobile accident. Being involved in an accident can not only be a highly frustrating experience with the way insurance companies are dealing these days, but also a very painful one for those involved in even minor accidents.
There area number of myths about automobile accidents that have been perpetuated over the years. Let's debunk a few of them:
Fraud is rampant in automobile accident cases - All too often we hear about the person who "fakes" an injury in order to get a settlement from an insurance company or a verdict in a personal injury case. What we don't hear about is the thousands and thousands of other cases where people were involved in accidents and were proven to be injured as a direct result of even a minor accident. These few "fraud" cases have literally poisoned the well to the point where juries think that if someone is involved in a minor car accident and they have whiplash they must be faking it. In fact, the opposite is true and the cases where people are faking injuries are the very, very narrow exception rather than the rule.
Jury verdicts in automobile accident cases are out of control - Here in Maine the jury awards are very rarely large and are more often incredibly small. Maine has some of the lowest average of jury awards in the whole United States. Many consider this to be because Mainers are strong willed and believe that people should not get "something for nothing". What most people don't realize is that the "something" that a person involved in a car accident gets in a monetary award was not for "nothing" at all. Think about how much you would pay to avoid being in constant pain for a year, not being able to pick up your small child, not being able to play sports and missing days and often weeks from work. Those $50,000 and $100,000 figures don't seem quite that high when you take a look at what is being given up.
Insurance company premiums are going up because of so many questionable claims - This is arguably the most misconstrued fact out there. Studies upon studies have shown that jury verdicts have only a very negligible effect on insurance company premiums. What the insurance companies have done is convince people that this is the cause so that they can raise their premiums and blame it on something other than corporate profits. When you look at insurance company balance sheets at the end of the year you realize that these companies are making literally billions of dollars in profits from excessively high premiums, justified by "runaway juries". Not only do we not have "runaway juries" in Maine, but we also do not have sizeable verdicts in the first place.
If there is no damage to the car, no one could have been injured - I have seen countless cases where there has only been minimal damage to the car and yet because of the way the person was sitting or just because of the way the person's neck and back are aligned, there is a very serious injury. It does not take much to snap the neck back and forth enough to cause serious, long-term injury. A few years ago there was a campaign to get people to use seat belts. They came around to schools with a machine that simulated a 5 and 10 mile per hour impact. If you got into the machine and felt the impact, you realized that there was a tremendous amount of force involved. Needless to say, that program was stopped rather quickly, but it illustrated to us all how severe even a small speed impact was.
Automobile accident cases, like all accident cases, can be serious. It behooves you to contact your lawyer early on in the process to give you good legal advice about how to handle your case.