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5 Common Mistakes That Many Idaho Victims of Injury Do After a Car Crash

Over the past 3 decades, I have met scores of clients and adverse insurance claim representatives as apart of the process associated with settlement negotiations for injuries resulting from a vehicle collision. I thought you might benefit from my observation concerning the five most common mistakes that Idaho victims of personal injury make after being involved in a car crash.

1) Failure to call the police to come to the scene of the collision.

Police officers are trained to investigate and/or in some cases reconstruct motor vehicle collisions. In many cases, the investigation includes, but is not limited to, the following:

a) Taking recorded statements from the drivers involved in the collision;

b) Taking recorded statements from eye witnesses located at the scene of the collision;

c) Taking photographs depicting both the damage to the vehicles involved in the collision and the position of each vehicle in relationship to each other when the vehicles came to rest following impact.

d) Taking measurements and photographs of any skidmarks, gouges or other marks on the road or at the scene of the collision;

e) Preparing a diagram or map of the area where the collision occurred showing where the point of impact occurred and where the vehicles came to rest after the impact;

f) Making calculations to determine the braking and stopping distances involved takinginto consideration the road condition and other factors to determine the proper drag factor;

g) Determine the crush depth of the vehicles involved in the collision.

Given the above and additional factors, the reconstructionist will attempt to calculate the rate of speed that the vehicles were traveling at the time of the collision. Once the investigation of the crash is completed, the investigating police officer may issue a traffic citation to the "at fault" driver.

Why is it a mistake not to summon the police to an accident scene?

After the responsible party talks to an insurance claim representative or attorney sometimes the adverse party's position may change. Calling the police and having them come to the scene of the collision reduces the risk and hassle an injury party may have later in establishing the other party’s liability. In Idaho, if a traffic citation is issued to the at fault party and the at fault party pays the penalty associated with the traffic citation, that payment under Idaho law is considered an "admission against interest." As an admission against interest the plea of guilty and the payment of the fine are both admissible as evidence in any subsequent civil case that the injured party may file against the at fault party thereafter. In some cases, the traffic ticket may be used to establish that the other driver was negligent per se.

Hence, the evidence gathered at the scene of the collision is typically made available to the victim's lawyer at the conclusion of the criminal case brought against the at fault party by way of the traffice citation issued by the policy which may be used against the at fault party to establish liability (or responsibility) for the cause of the crash.

2) Failure to have EMTs transport the victim to the hospital.

Everyday people are hurt as a result of motor vehicle collisions. If a person is injured as a result of an auto crash, EMTs are trained to assess and treat the victim’s injury at the scene of the wreck and also transport the injured party to the hospital for further assessment and treatment if appropriate. People who fail to follow the recommendation of an EMT regarding treatment and/or transport to a trauma center may end up later that day or evening having to sit in a waiting room to see a doctor. Nothing is more frustrating than having to go to an emergency room while you are in pain and having to sit and wait 30, 45, 60 or more minutes before you are admitted back to the ER for treatment due to the long line ahead of you waiting to see a physician. Transport by ambulance puts you to the "front of the line" for assessment and treatment so a number of ER doctors tell me.

Another reason for having the EMTs take an injured person to the hospital is that oftentimes medical conditions of an injuried person may rapidly worsen following a collision, and injuries themselves become a distraction to a driver trying to drive home from a car wreck while suffering in pain. Injured drivers can become distracted drivers due to their pain and increase the risk of another accident. If an EMT tells an injured party that they should take the ride to the hospital by way of an ambulance, the injured party should trust the wisdom, experience and training of the healthcare professional.

Last but not least, insurance claim injuries tend to devalue a case where people refuse or decline medical care when they are hurt. How many times over 3 decades I have heard an adjuster say, "Well, how bad could your client’s injuries be when he (or she) failed to go to the hospital by way of an ambulance?" Or, "your client refused to abide by the treatment plan of the healthcare professionals so why should we be held responsible for their pain and suffering when your client refused to get the treatment and therapy they needed to treat the injury in a timely manner?" Taking the ride to the hospital reduces the chance that an insurance claim representative will contend that the injuried party's injuries are insignificant.

Some people fail to take the ride to the hospital, because they do not have health insurance or medical payments coverage. However, the fact is that the responsible party and its insurance carrier will be responsible to pay your damages arising from the motor vehicle collision vis a vis a settlement or verdict thereafter. It's always better to seek care when you need it.

Do what is right and let the consequences follow.

It is wise policy to have the EMTs assess you at the scene of the collision. If the EMTs recommend that they transport you to the hospital, you should follow the EMTs’ advice. They are trained professionals, and they are there to serve and help you. The ambulance transport will provide you with expedited access to further medical care by healthcare professionals (nurses and doctors) who are trained to treat you for your injuries.

I have had a number of cases where people drove away from a collision, only to go to the hospital to find that they need immediate surgery to correct a herniated disc in the back.Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish!

3)  Give a Recorded Statement to the Adverse Insurance Company.

Oftentimes, an adverse claim representative will request the injured party to provide the adverse insurance company with a recorded statement. The law doesn’t require that you give a recorded statement in order to obtain compensation for your property or bodily injury claim. Before you speak with the other party’s claim representative, it is wise for your in consult with an experienced trial lawyer during a free initial consultation. Allowing yourself to be cross-examined and recorded by a highly trained adverse insurance claim representative gives them a tactical advantage and opportunity to misconstrue the facts of the case particularly at a time when you may be suffering from your injuries and under the influence of pain killers and/or an anti-inflammatory and/or muscle relaxer which can affect your ability to focus and/or affect your recall of events. Furthermore, the adverse claim representative may ask you to speculate about facts you have no knowledge about. Hence, a meeting with an attorney in a free consultation can help you understand your legal rights and remedies before you meet with an adverse claim representative.

4)  Sign a blanket authorization to allow the adverse claim representative to perform a fishing expedition into your medical history and other confidential information.

Another mistake that is common for a number of clients is that they provided the adverse claim representative with a signed blanket authorization prior to meeting with an experienced trial attorney.  

Blanket authorizations are unlimited in scope and time and allow the adverse insurance claim representative access to information that far exceeds the scope of allowable discovery. Again, before you consider signing any documents for the adverse claim representative, it is wise for you to talk with an experienced trial lawyer first to ascertain what parameters the adverse insurance claim representative is entitled to obtain with regard to your claim.

5) Failure to consult with an experienced trial attorney to learn about their legal rights and remedies early in a case.

Meeting with an experienced trial lawyer can provide you with a treasure trove of information regarding your legal rights and remedies including,

a) Whether there are any notice requirements that you must fulfill prior to filing suit including, but not limited to, a notice of tort claim or a notice of dram shop or other notice requirements;

b) Whether Defendant was working withing within the scope and course of his or her employment at the time of the collision to ascertain any vicarious or secondary liability sources of additional insurance coverage;

c) What period of time in which you have to file a complaint in order to avoid the expiration of the statute of limitations;

d) What documentation you should assemble to document your claim and more importantly what documentation or information the adverse insurance claim representative ISN’T entitled to review; and

e) What you should and/or should not do in order to obtain a fair and equitable resolution to your claim.

Failure to meet with an experienced trial lawyer early in your case, may prejudice your legal rights and remedies.

Mr. Morton is an experienced personal injury attorney who has consulted with and assisted thousands of individuals who have been injured or damaged due to the choices and decisions of others that has brought injury or death to others arising from motor vehicle collisions. He is committed to working to achieve the interests of justice on their behalf. If you would like to schedule an initial free consultation with him, you may contact him telephonically at 208.344.5555 or toll free at 888.716.8021 or complete the online contact form . Don’t hesitate to give Mr. Morton a call. He would be happy to schedule an initial free consultation with you at his office or your home, workplace, hospital or any other convenient location to discuss your legal rights and remedies. Call him. Right now!!







Alan Morton
Advocate for Justice/Trial Lawyer