Mistake #6 Believing that You Have No Claim
One of the worst mistakes you can make after an accident is believing that you have no legal claim to compensation. Whether you think this because you have a pre-existing condition (causing you to withhold information as discussed in the previous chapter) or you think that the facts are stacked against you, don’t you believe it!
The worst thing you can do is give up before you contact an attorney. Many personal injury lawyers operate under a fee structure that says the lawyer will not get paid for their services or counsel unless they recover money for you.
That means it’s always worth contacting a lawyer to find out whether you have a claim or another path toward getting compensation for your injuries. It costs you nothing, and you could potentially gain compensation. Make the phone call.
The insurance company is happy when you throw in the towel based on a belief that you have no claim. That works to their advantage, and in fact, they may be the one trying to sell you on that idea.
Don’t let them do it; call a lawyer.
When the Insurance Company Denies a Claim
If there are no witnesses at the scene of your accident, don’t be surprised if the insurance company uses the lack of witnesses as a reason for denying liability based on the statement of the other party.
If you get into an accident with another driver and there are no witnesses, the other driver may say that they were not at fault. If the driver makes a signed statement to that effect, then the insurance company may deny liability for your injuries.
If you think that the other driver and the insurance company are not liable, they may convince you to simply give up and walk away. If an accident victim gives up on a claim, the insurance company may save up to thousands of dollars in payouts. Don’t let that be you!
Another common reason that accident victims give up on a claim is when both drivers were at fault in some way. Legally, this is known as joint tortfeasors, meaning both parties are at least partially responsible for the accident. If you give up on your claim because you were partly to blame, you may be needlessly throwing away the possibility of receiving compensation.
Rhode Island law gives you the potential to recover compensation in an auto or motorcycle accident, even if you are partly at fault.
Rhode Island uses a pure joint liability standard known as the pure comparative fault rule. This rule simply means that your fault will be used to reduce the amount of compensation you receive, based on the percentage of your fault. If the other driver was far more at fault than you (say, 75 percent responsible to your 25 percent), you could still be entitled to a substantial amount of compensation. Again, call a Rhode Island accident lawyer and talk about your case before giving up. You have nothing to lose.
Denying Claims Based on Lack of Coverage
Another typical claim denial that can lead an accident victim to give up occurs when the insurance company denies the claim based on a lack of insurance coverage. Even if the at-fault party does not have insurance, you may still be able to collect under your own insurance policy if you have uninsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage is defined as coverage that protects the policyholder in the event that the other driver is legally responsible for the accident but is not insured. Rhode Island auto insurance companies are legally required to offer uninsured motorist coverage, but you can decline it if you wish. It can be very beneficial to have this coverage, however, based on the number of uninsured drivers in Rhode Island.
According to recent data from the Insurance Research Council, 17 percent of Rhode Island drivers are uninsured, which is the eighthhighest percentage in the country. For this reason, I always advise friends, family and clients alike to get uninsured motorist coverage. Even though Rhode Island law requires motorists to have liability insurance coverage, too many drivers are ignoring the law.
But even if another driver doesn’t have liability insurance and you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, the other driver may still have enough assets to satisfy an award to cover your injuries.
The fact that an insurance company denies liability or coverage does not mean that you have no legal claim or an alternative path to recovering the compensation you deserve.
As you can see, it is important to call a lawyer as soon as possible. Waiting to hire an attorney is another common mistake that can wreck your case because you are essentially flying blind without the sound legal advice of a personal injury lawyer.
Finding the Best Rhode Island Car Accident Lawyer
Hiring a car accident lawyer in Rhode Island is an important decision. The best attorneys are able to evaluate your case quickly and provide advice so you can make an informed decision. No attorney should ever pretend to know the exact value of your case in advance, and you should never pay for an initial consultation. The law office of Louis W. Grande handles car cases on “contingency” contracts, meaning that you never pay unless we win your case.
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