You may still be entitled to compensation if you are involved in a car accident in which you are partially at fault. Say you are driving down the highway. The car next to you begins to swerve in your lane. You start to get nervous and swerve yourself. Somewhere along the way you overcorrect and send your vehicle spinning down the highway and you hit another car. You then seek medical treatment at the hospital for your injuries. After you are discharged from the hospital, you go and make a claim with you and the other party’s insurance company. The insurance companies ask you for the police report.
After obtaining the police report, you notice that witnesses, including yourself, stated to emergency responders that you overcorrected after swerving, which caused you to hit another vehicle. This scenario will surely give the insurance company enough information to deny your claim. They will put all of the blame on you, especially if you do not have an experienced car accident attorney. Placing the blame on you will relieve the insurance companies from ever having to pay you a dime—unless you keep fighting! Here are a few tips to make sure you put yourself in the best negotiation position possible when making a claim to an insurance company:
Do not tell anyone involved that you believe you were at fault
First, you may not be at fault. You do not know what can unfold once witness statements are taken. This is very important to remember. The insurance adjuster assigned to your case was not at the scene of the accident. He or she was not a witness, and can only evaluate what happened based on statements and written documents and diagrams. Since the adjuster was not present, they can only examine hearsay to determine whether or not you were at fault. Do not give them the dagger by telling emergency personnel or witnesses that you believe you are at fault. Do not even use the word “overcorrected”. Be very general with your statements.
Contact an attorney to help you make your claim
An experienced car accident attorney will know how to present your claim to the insurance company without suggesting you were at total fault for the accident. If the insurance company claims you were at fault, then an attorney should give candid arguments in your favor. You will want an attorney who is going to fight for you. He or she will understand the reports, diagrams and statements, which is important to develop your claim/case. An experienced car accident attorney will also know how to maximize your compensation if you were partially at fault.
Your claim may have to be filed as a lawsuit
It is no secret that a lot of personal injury car accident claims are settled before a lawsuit even has to be filed. This keeps the local Kansas City courts from being flooded with lawsuits. But if you were partially at fault for the car accident, your claim may have to be filed as a lawsuit. Do not be fearful if this is the route your case has to take. Some cases have to be filed in order for you to receive maximum compensation. It also might be better to get your case in front of an opposing attorney, rather than deal with an insurance adjuster who is surely there to minimize and downplay your injuries.
If your case goes to trial, the jury, if it is a jury trial, or the Judge, if it is a bench trial, will assess who was at fault and how much each person was at fault. This is called comparative fault. In Missouri car accident cases, your percentage of fault will decrease your damages proportionately, but it will not keep you from receiving compensation. Say a jury found you 20% at fault, but believed you deserved $50,000 for your pain and injuries. You will actually be awarded $40,000 when it is all said and done because the Judge will have to take away 20% ($10,000) of your $50,000 award because the jury found you 20% at fault. In Kansas car accident cases, the same deduction will be applied unless you were found to be 50% or more at fault. If you are found to be 50% or more at fault then you will be awarded nothing. This is one of the toughest parts about being injured in a Kansas car accident.
One thing to remember is that not all cases that are filed have to actually go to trial. Negotiations can still occur, and most often do occur. The experienced car accident attorneys at Krause & Kinsman will guide you through this process and make sure your voice is heard. We understand and have experienced the blame insurance companies place on our clients, and we know how to fight back. Call our office today at 816-200-2900 for a free consultation.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.