How Your Credibility Affects Your Liability

How Your Credibility Affects Your Liability (by Chris Spinelli) If you've suffered a motor vehicle accident, the defendant’s insurance company will often be looking to pinpoint reasons to deny your claim.  Often the defendant’s insurance company will begin to lay the groundwork to challenge your credibility right away. If the defendant’s insurance company believes that along with the negligent defendant, you were also negligent, it will seek to exploit anything that suggests that you did not act reasonably.     Say you were involved in an auto accident in which another driver merged into your lane and hit you, causing you to sustain a personal injury in the process.  If the defense can prove that you could have moved over or taken other action to avoid being hit by the other vehicle, or that you should have been able to see the other driver but did not, you risk having difficulty at trial.  Avoid Making Statements You should consult an attorney before you make any statements to the defendant’s insurance company.  Simply by describing the accident, you may inadvertently misspeak and damage your credibility.  For example, you may say that you “swerved” to try to avoid the collision.  The defense adjuster may very well conclude that you lost control of your vehicle, and thus, you contributed to the crash.  Or you may say that you “never saw” the other car until after the crash, which suggests to defense-minded adjusters that you were not paying attention to traffic conditions before the crash. Seeking Medical Care If you sustained an injury from a car accident, it is important to show the court that you are actively participating in the appropriate medical care.   If you’ve been hurt, as a general rule, it is usually best that you first promptly seek emergency medical care.  From there, if needed, visit with your primary care physician, who may then refer you to physical therapy.  Generally speaking, it is best for you if you do not go directly to physical therapy or a chiropractor without first allowing a physician to make appropriate treatment recommendations.  Making your own independent decisions about what care you should receive may have a negative impact on your credibility before a judge or jury.  Also, make sure you follow a physician-guided treatment regimen.  Try to keep all appointments, but if you have to miss a treatment appointment, call the provider in advance and let them know you will be absent.  Doing these basic things will enhance your credibility and will help you to recover faster than otherwise. Remember, credibility is key, and there are easy ways to keep your credibility strong to maximize your recovery.    

William B. Kilduff


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