Most people don’t anticipate getting involved in a legal matter, whether it’s a criminal charge, family law issue, or—as we’ll discuss here—a personal injury case. Regarding motor vehicle accidents, we assume our car insurance will cover us when they occur, and that’s about it. But, in fact, car accidents are a legal matter, especially if you sustain serious injuries. When you’re hurt in a collision involving other drivers and insurance companies, you have a personal injury case on your hands, and you need to know about your legal rights.
What are my legal rights after getting injured?
From movies and TV shows, we’re all familiar with our right to remain silent and right to an attorney after an arrest. At work, there’s probably a poster outlining your rights as an employee. In school, you learned about the right to free speech and other civil liberties, but what exactly are your legal rights after getting injured?
After being injured in an accident, you have the right to be treated for your injuries, even if you don’t have insurance. To cover the cost of the medical treatment you need (and other damages arising from the accident), you have the right to make a personal injury claim to an insurance company (either your own or the at-fault party’s) or to bring a civil lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for your injuries. But to have a viable personal injury case, you must show that you suffered a personal injury (not just property damage), that your injuries were caused by the negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing of another person or entity, and that you have recoverable damages (for example, medical bills, lost wages, diminished quality of life, etc.).
What rights do I have when dealing with insurance companies after an accident?
While you have the legal right to pursue compensation for your injuries and damages through the court system, most personal injury cases are settled through insurance companies—which brings us to the legal rights you have when dealing with an insurance company. Your own insurance company is required to act in good faith in handling your claim, to thoroughly investigate your claim, and to respond to your claim promptly. Failure to do so may amount to unfair claim settlement practices, giving you the right to file a bad faith lawsuit against your insurance company.
The duty of good faith does not extend to an insurance company that is not your own. But this doesn’t mean you don’t have legal rights when dealing with another insurance company. For example, your right to privacy means you don’t have to release your entire medical history to an insurance adjuster. Only relevant records—i.e. the specific health care providers who treated your injuries sustained in the accident—are typically required to fulfill your obligation.
Knowing and protecting your legal rights is the key to getting fair compensation in most personal injury cases. An experienced Stockton and Sutter Creek personal injury attorney can help you do so. In the Stockton and Sutter Creek area, please contact Redkey & Gordon to learn more.