Burlingame, CA Personal Injury Blog

Monday, January 26, 2015

If I'm injured in a car accident does my property damage matter?

 Burlingame and San Francisco Bay Injury Lawyer Helping Victims get Property Damage  

Shapiro Legal Group, we assess personal injury claims arising out of auto accidents on a regular basis.  While Mr. Shapiro has handled over a thousand auto accident cases he has reviewed a number far greater accounting for all the cases that do not meet acceptable criteria.  Some cases are rejected because the potential client is fully at fault for the accident.  In other cases the person may not have sufficient damages to warrant the hiring of counsel.  These situations are relatively easy to explain and provide free advice. 

One of the more difficult circumstances is when the injured person is not at fault but there is little property damage to the vehicle they were in.  In fact, this may be the fact pattern most commonly fought over between the general public and the insurance companies.  Why?  Because both sides, from their perspective, can feel they are very strong at the same time.

The view of the injured person is self-evident.  "The collision was not my fault.  I am significantly injured.  I should be compensated by the insurance company for the driver who hit me."  Sounds pretty good.

The view of the insurance company is not as readily known to the general public.  They look at the matter based on whether the injured person will be able to convince a jury that they were injured from a collision that caused minimal damage to the vehicle.  They believe, based on prior success, that if you show a jury a vehicle with very little damage then the jury will think anyone in the vehicle could not have been very injured either.  They back up this perception with biomechanical and accident reconstruction experts who work for them regularly.  There are also scientific studies, including those funded by insurance company interests, which such experts often rely on to buttress their opinions.

Of course, in reality, you cannot look at the car and tell if a person inside was injured or not.  Sometimes the property damage can be extensive and a person inside can be unharmed.  Other times the force of impact does not damage the car and instead is felt far more severely by the occupants.  This is why modern technology favors crumple zones so the force is absorbed by the car instead of the passengers.  But if you show a jury two photographs, one with no visible damage and one that looks like an accordion, it is only natural to draw assumptions.

So, in short, the answer is yes.  Property damage does matter.  It will matter not just because of the value of the evidence in proving injury was caused by the collision.  It will matter because it will affect the perception of the insurance company and can make the difference on whether a case results in a settlement or trial. 

If you have been injured in a car accident and want your property damage assessed from a legal view regarding a potential personal injury claim, please call Shapiro Legal Group for a free consultation with Mr. Shapiro.


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