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“What Ifs” After a Car Accident

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If you have been involved in a Car Accident in Arizona, you might be confused and not sure what to do next. Rest assured Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law is here to help in your time of need. Below are some questions you might have after being a victim of a motor vehicle accident.

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– “What if I did not tell the officer that I was in pain?”

Adrenaline and stress that can result from a sudden accident may often mask the fact you are injured. Once these effects wear off however, you may start to feel the full extent of your injuries. As a result, you might have told the officer that you are not in pain at the time. If you tell the officer “I am not injured and you do not need to call an ambulance”, the officer will check a box on the report indicating your injuries were “level one”, meaning “no injury”. This is a common scenario but should not decrease your chances of an insurance claim.

– “What if the next day I could barely move; can I still make a claim for my injuries?”

If you feel pain a day, or several days, following the accident, it is not too late to file a claim. This reaction is normal for the body to not recognize injury symptoms until hours, even days, after an accident. Therefore, telling the police officer that “you feel fine” is not an obstacle in your claim, and can be dismissed. Emergency rooms often instruct victims of this exact scenario, giving patients information to identify indicators that their injuries are worsening.

Accident victims are kept at the hospital with potentially life threatening injuries such as brain injuries and blood clots, despite their earlier indications of feeling fine. It is commonly understood that symptoms can start as minor, but gradually progress into something serious. This can be anything from brain swelling to swelling of your spinal discs.

– “What if it was weeks before I began having problems with my back and neck?”

Again this is very common, even weeks after an accident, especially if you experienced more obvious pain at the time of the accident, such as pain in your arms and legs. The brain has a tendency to register the worst pain first, such as abrasions, scrapes, and bruises. It may not have indicated that a serious back or neck injury has occurred at the time of the accident. You might be stiff and ache all over for weeks after an accident, and at some point a damaged body part may quickly worsen.

– “What if there was very little damage to my vehicle?

There are two major causes you may have injuries, even if your vehicle was barely damaged. Either due to your body coming into contact with another object (typically the interior of the vehicle or the steering wheel), or a sudden change in the momentum of your body from front to back or from side to side, also known as whiplash. Whiplash can subject drivers to life endangering forces without significant damage to their vehicles. For example, the life of NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhardt, was tragically ended in a car accident during a race. Although it may appear his vehicle sustained minor damage in the accident, his head and neck moved quickly and harshly, resulting in his death. Injuries from collisions with little vehicle damage are sometimes even worse than those with damage – the impact energy is transferred to the passengers and vehicle’s movement, rather than to the vehicle itself.

– “What if I was not wearing my seat belt?

Not wearing your seat belt is a violation of the law. For the first offense, you are subject to a citation. Not wearing your seat belt may also cause an argument with the insurance company stating that you are at fault for your sustained injures, and are “partially at fault” when compared to the other driver. This has a possibility of reducing your recovery amount, however this reduction is nowhere near enough to deter Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law from representing you. There are many injuries that a seat belt cannot prevent in a motor vehicle accident.

– “What if I was wearing my seat belt?

It is advised that you should always wear your seat belt, as it can save you from hitting the windshield, steering wheel, injuring other passengers, or even being ejected out of the vehicle. However, because a standard seat belt is only secured around your waist and a single shoulder, one is held in a fixed position. This can aggravate the increased changes in acceleration and deceleration forces on the head, neck, and back. The resulting rotation which occurs on the unsecured shoulder creates even greater potential for serious injury. In rare situations, seat belts may result in increased injury, however they will almost always reduce any likelihood of injuries. It has been documented that they are not a 100 percent assured way to prevent injury.

– “What if I did not bump my head, yet I am still having severe headaches?”

Even if you did not hit your head on an object, windshield or steering wheel, you still could quite possibly have a traumatic brain injury. This could be the result of the whiplash effect, which occurs due to rapid acceleration and deceleration force. Basically, your head moves in one direction, but your brain moves in another, resulting in your brain impacting the inside of your skull. The impact causes the outer cellular structures on the brain to “sheer”. This injury happens due to differing densities of neurological tissues that move at different speeds, which in turn causes the tissue to be torn and displaced. Following the accident, there might not be immediate signs bruises on the outside of your head, however your brain may have suffered an injury regardless.

– “What if it was a friend, or family member, who was the driver and I was merely the passenger?”

In the event that you were not the driver of the vehicle, remember that someone is in fact responsible for your injuries and should be held liable for them. In most situations, the person operating the vehicle will likely be covered by insurance. Therefore, you are not filing a claim with them, but rather their insurance company. This is a prime example of why insurance exists, so you are covered even when you are not the person in control of the vehicle. If your friend or family member was at fault for the accident, their insurance should adequately compensate you for medical bills, damages, pain and suffering, and other costs.

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– “What if the other vehicle is uninsured?”

If you chose to insure your vehicle with more than the minimum liability, then your insurance company likely sold the policy to you with uninsured motorist coverage, meaning you may collect damages from your own insurance company for damages caused by the uninsured driver. In addition, you also may have under-insured motorist coverage, meaning that if the other driver is not fully covered, than your insurance company will compensate the remainder.

– “What if I do not want my insurance rates to go up?”

If you were not at fault in the accident, then chances are your insurance rates should not increase. Simply filing a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage will normally not increase your rates. However, if your rates happen to be raised by your insurance company, you may simply look into another insurance company to insure your vehicle. Additionally, this price increase will be small compared to the size of any recovery you will potentially receive. Regardless, you should never neglect to pursue a claim due to concerns about insurance rates, especially when you have Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law on your side.

If the other person involved in the accident is at fault, you need to receive representation as soon as possible. Contact Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law as soon as possible by calling us day or night at (602) 691-7278, or by filing out our Online Contact Form.

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