Most of us readily understand that car accidents are common and driving on the road is inherently risky. But a surprising number of us also believe in several car accident myths, which distort our perceptions and cause us to underestimate the risks and potential impact of car accidents.
What are these most common car accident myths, why are they myths, and what can we do about them?
The Most Common Car Accident Myths
These are some of the most common car accident myths you should be aware of:
- You can trust insurance companies. Car insurance is legally mandated for drivers in the United States, but even if it wasn’t, most of us would choose to have insurance because we see our insurance company as a kind of protector. We trust that our insurance company is going to look after us if we’re involved in an accident, compensating us for damages.
But your insurance company isn’t necessarily interested in protecting you; this is a corporate entity only interested in protecting its bottom line. Your insurance company is only going to compensate you the minimum amount required by your policy, and it’s going to work actively to find ways to minimize that payout.
This is one reason why it’s so important to work with an auto accident lawyer in the aftermath of an accident. Your lawyer can help you understand the compensation to which you’re entitled and negotiate with insurance companies to increase your settlement.
- Police reports are truly optional. After an accident, you aren’t strictly required to file a police report in most areas. If you and the other driver reach an agreement, you can simply go on your way. But if you want to protect yourself, you should treat police reports as mandatory. Police reports serve as an official record of events, and they prevent other participants in the accident from changing their story later on.
- Car accident laws are identical everywhere. It’s tempting to think that a car accident is a car accident, regardless of where it occurs. But different states have very different laws on how car accidents are handled and how negligence is determined. You should be aware of these differences if you travel frequently, and you should be intimately familiar with car accident laws in your home state.
- Car safety features will prevent most accidents. Modern cars are equipped with a cavalcade of safety features designed to minimize the risk of accidents and prevent injuries. But these safety features can only do so much; it’s still your responsibility to remain attentive and drive responsibly. Don’t let new technologies make you lazy.
- Fender benders don’t cause injuries. Some accidents are so minor that the people involved in them assume that they couldn’t have been seriously injured. But even the most minor fender benders can cause serious injury. For example, you may experience internal bleeding without noticing any immediate symptoms.
- You can skip seeing the doctor. In line with this, even if you feel you haven’t been injured in the accident, it’s important to get medical attention right away. Go to the hospital or schedule an appointment with your doctor to see if there are any invisible injuries affecting you.
- Pain after a car accident goes away on its own. In many cases, the lingering pain you feel after a car accident will subside after a few days or weeks. But this isn’t a guarantee. In fact, some people suffer from chronic pain after a car accident for the rest of their life. This is another reason why it’s important to get early and frequent medical attention.
- All personal injury lawyers are the same. When hiring a lawyer, all you need is a personal injury attorney, right? Wrong. Different types of lawyers have different areas of specialty and experience. If you want the best results, you should work with someone who has specific experience in car accidents like yours.
- Hiring an attorney is too expensive. Some people are turned off of the idea of hiring a lawyer because they view lawyers as expensive. It’s true that hourly rates for lawyers are higher than they are for people in other professions, but the value they provide to you will more than make up for this in most cases.
- If you don’t sue immediately, you lose the ability. There is a time limit for when you can sue – but it’s different in every state, and it’s often quite generous. Don’t write off the possibility of suing the negligent driver just because a few days have passed.
- Car accidents only hurt you physically. Some of the worst effects of car accidents aren’t physical injuries; they’re mental and emotional ones. If you feel heightened anxiety or symptoms of PTSD, consider attending therapy or seeking help in alternative ways.
Prioritizing Car Safety
Here’s the good news, and it’s not a myth in any capacity: 98 percent of car accidents are caused by human error. In other words, 98 percent of car accidents are entirely preventable. With a greater commitment to road safety and ongoing awareness of our surroundings, we can avoid all but the most aberrant of accidents and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Simple actions, like wearing a seat belt, remaining alert and attentive while driving, and practicing defensive driving can literally save your life.
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