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10 Common Myths and Misconceptions About Your Car Accident Claim

  1. The insurance company will be fair. Whether you know it or not, you are at war with the insurance company and the insurance industry generally. From the minute you had your car accident, the insurance company for the at fault driver is working hard to deny or minimize your claim. An insurance adjuster might pretend to be nice to you, but his or her only goal is to save their boss, the insurance company, money. Even if you send a reasonable settlement demand, don’t expect the insurance company to give you a reasonable settlement offer in return.
  1. The insurance company will pay my medical bills promptly. The insurance company is not obligated and will not pay your medical bills as you submit them. The insurance company will only pay you once you reach a settlement of all of your claims and have signed a release of their insured or after you have received a final, non-appealable court judgment against their insured.
  1. I am required to give a recorded or written statement to the insurance company. There is no requirement that you must provide the insurance company for the at fault driver any written or recorded statement. In fact, these statements can be extremely prejudicial to your case. We have settled countless car accident cases without any recorded statement from our clients. When an adjuster asks me, my standard answer is always a firm “No” and yours should be too.
  1. I can sue the other driver’s insurance company if they aren’t being fair. In Texas, you are not allowed to sue the at fault driver’s insurance company, no matter how mean or unreasonable they may be. In fact, at trial, the rules of evidence prevent you from evening mentioning the other driver’s insurance.
  1. My insurance company will cancel my insurance if I make a claim. Texas law gives you certain rights regarding your automobile insurance. The Texas Bill of Rights states that your insurance company cannot refuse to cancel or renew your insurance policy unless you have two or more no-fault claims in a one-year period. Often times, it is faster and much more beneficial to make a claim under your own insurance instead of waiting for the other driver’s insurance while they drag their heels on your claim.
  1. All lawyers are the same when it comes to injury cases. Perhaps the most important decision you will make after your car accident will be the lawyer you choose to help with your case. Yet choosing the right lawyer can be extremely difficult. Every time I turn on a TV or drive down the interstate, I see the same type of ad promising easy cash and aggressive representation. Do your homework people. Look for a lawyer that only represents injury victims. Think twice before hiring that TV lawyer who will pawn your case on a paralegal or inexperienced lawyer. Look for a lawyer who has done injury work for many years and who has significant experience handling complex cases with trial experience.
  1. Car accident laws are the same in every state. Did you know that Texas has some of the worst laws of any state for car accident victims? There are all types of laws that negatively affect the value of your car accident case in Texas. For example, there is a law that limits the amount of money you can recover if your health insurance company pays your medical bills. I have the fortune of practicing in New Mexico as well as Texas. New Mexico does not have the same restrictions on damages for people that use their own health insurance. I have personally been involved in cases that are worth hundreds of thousands of more dollars in New Mexico than in Texas because of this one law. If you are seriously injured, your lawyer better know the Texas laws and how to avoid or minimize them as best as they can.
  1. Hiring a lawyer is too expensive. A good personal injury lawyer can dramatically increase the value of your case. Don’t just take my word for it. The results of a 1999 study from the Insurance Research Council (IRC) found that the decision to hire an attorney pays substantial dividends for automobile accident victims. In the report from the IRC titled “Auto Injuries: Claiming Behavior and Its Impact on Insurance Costs," the IRC found that insurance payouts are, on average, 3.5 times higher for clients who have hired an attorney than for those without one.
  1. I must hire a lawyer for my car accident case. If your accident is minor and your injuries are also minor, you can probably handle the case on your own. Our website has a ton of free information to help you with your claim if you choose to go it alone. With that said, I always recommend hiring a qualified personal injury lawyer in cases involving significant personal injuries.
  1. A jury will always be fair to me. The insurance industry has paid millions and millions of dollars in spreading the myth that car accident victims are only out for money. As a result, and because of tort reform efforts, juries in Texas are not always generous in car accident cases. We always prepare every case as if it will go to trial, yet many times discretion is the better part of valor and a settlement before trial is in our client’s best interests. I had a good trial lawyer tell me once, “It’s not all candy canes and rainbows at the courthouse.”