After a car crash, bicycle crash or a pedestrian accident, you might receive a phone call or even an unannounced visit from an insurance adjuster who works for the insurer of the person who caused your injuries and damages. No matter how sympathetic that individual might sound, he or she isn’t contacting you as a friend. That adjuster’s interests are directly opposed to your interests. With that phone call or knock on your door, a defense to your personal injury claim for damages is beginning to be built. Don’t help that insurance company build it.
The Insurance Adjuster’s Job
When an insured person is negligent and causes an accident that you’re injured in, a claim for damages can be made with the company that insures him or her. The insurer will probably be required to compensate you for the injuries and damages that you suffered. It’s the insurance adjuster’s job to try and minimize or even deny payment on your claim.
Don’t Relinquish Control of Your Claim
The opposing insurance company will want to try and maintain control over a claim. That’s done by controlling the evidence in it. One tactic that insurers use is to obtain a written or recorded statement from the accident victim. Accident victims can become quickly confused about their rights and duties. Most of them fail to contemplate the consequences of how giving an insurance company a statement can impact their claim or lawsuit. They don’t realize that their own words from that statement can be used against them in the future.
Prior Inconsistent Statements in Civil Cases
Any personal injury claim or a lawsuit is a civil case. When an insurance adjuster or insurance defense attorney tries to use a statement against a declarant, he or she is relying on the rules of evidence involving prior inconsistent statements. In a civil case, a statement made by an injury claimant in the past is generally admissible into evidence if it is inconsistent with their present testimony. What that means is that a person’s own words in a statement can be used against him or her in settlement negotiations or a trial in an unexpected attack on their credibility.
Just Say No
The law doesn’t require you to assist an opposing insurer is preparing its defense against your claim or lawsuit. No matter what an insurance adjuster says, you’re under no legal obligation to give any type of statement without an attorney being present on your behalf. Politely refuse to give any type of a statement and end the call or visit.
Don’t Fall for Scare Tactics or Attempts at Deception
You might be told that your claim file will be closed if you don’t give a statement. That’s fine. Let the adjuster close the file. A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to have that file opened up again in a matter of minutes. Until you consult with a dedicated and experienced personal injury attorney, don’t give the opposing insurance company any type of information. That company’s adjuster might even tell you that you don’t need an attorney for your claim. Don’t believe that. He or she is only trying to minimize what the insurer pays you for your damages.
After being injured in an accident, nearly all reputable personal injury law firms will be pleased to consult with you at no cost or obligation whatsoever. There are no up-front charges to retain them either. Rather than give control of your claim to the opposing insurer, give it to a quality personal injury attorney before the opposing insurance company has an opportunity to try to control the evidence in the case. Doing so might help your attorney maximize the settlement or award that you deserve.
Did you ever wish you had a personal injury attorney in reserve? Probably not. Either you think “it could never happen to me” or you equate the profession to “ambulance chasers.”
Until you are injured because of another person/company’s negligence, like most people, you don’t consider finding a personal injury lawyer.
If you sustain a serious injury and remain hospitalized for a long time, your medical expenses will skyrocket. Health insurance will not cover everything. Your job could be in jeopardy if you continue to miss work.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to find a personal injury attorney before “it” happens to you. You will be in a better position to evaluate personal injury lawyers and make an informed decision.
How to Find a Good Personal Injury Lawyer In Mesa
Personal injury attorneys grappled for decades to rise above the stigma of “ambulance chasers.” Ambulance chasers literally followed an ambulance and talked to victims of auto accidents. Nowadays, personal injury lawyers are well-respected members of the legal community.
Start your search by contacting family members, friends, and colleagues to find out if they have used the services of a personal injury lawyer. If they recommend a certain lawyer, set up a consultation with him.
If you have used the services of an attorney, ask him for a referral to a personal injury lawyer. You might also contact your local Bar Association. Again, schedule a face-to-face meeting with the personal injury attorney.
How to Evaluate Personal Injury Attorneys in Advance
Like you need to know a good plumber if your basement floods after midnight, you need to know a good personal injury attorney in the event you need one. If you wait until after the event happens, you will likely be too emotional to make informed decisions.
Try to find an attorney you resonate with who works for a large firm. You don’t know in advance what kind of injury might cause you to need their services. Personal injury lawyers specialize in various types of injuries. For example, a car accident lawyer may not have experience working with slip and fall injuries. By choosing a large law firm, you’ll have access to lawyers that have different specialties.
What Kinds of Cases do Personal Injury Attorneys Represent?
There are several instances when you may need the services of a personal injury lawyer:
Vehicle Accidents: motorcycle, bicycle, car, truck; slips and falls, wrongful death, animal bite, medical malpractice.
Consultation with Potential Personal Injury Lawyer
Don’t expect to find out everything you’ve always wanted to know about personal injury lawyers if you consult with several before you need their services.
When you make an appointment, ensure the attorney knows it is in the nature of “meet and greets.” Then, be considerate of his time. The idea is to determine if you and your attorney of choice have a mutual connection.
Ask a few questions, thank him for his time, and leave before you become a pest.
“How many years of experience do you have in personal injury law?”
Chances are, you can expect a greater settlement when your attorney has a lot of experience under his belt. It’s a comfort to know your lawyer will fight for your best interests in court.
“What are the typical types of cases you handle?”
If the attorney doesn’t practice personal injury law exclusively, he cannot represent you for your highest good. Personal injury law is intricate and requires specialized knowledge.
Also, find out what areas of personal injury he specializes in.
“Do you generally settle out of court or prefer trying cases in court?” His answer will show his strengths and weaknesses as an attorney. Typically, you won’t get the best settlement if he prefers settling out of court with the insurance company. A strong, confident lawyer will settle your case in a court trial.
Ask your areas of responsibility for upfront payment. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee. (they only get paid if you get paid).
Thank the attorney for their time and depart. You will still have unanswered questions but wait until if or when “it” happens to get down to the nitty-gritty.
If you are in an auto accident and you sustain an injury, you may have the right to file a personal injury claim. You must be able to prove the extent of your injuries and figure out who is liable for the accident. Even when you share fault for the accident, you can file a claim against the other party if they are 50% at fault or more for the accident.
The Initial Accident Report
When officials respond to the scene of the accident, they will write a preliminary accident report that establishes fault. It’s important to remember that this is only the assessment of the responding officers, and not necessarily what the final outcome will be. If you find mistakes in the accident report and you can prove you are less at fault, it’s important to address these issues with the officer that wrote the report. You might be able to get the accident report changed if you can prove the report is wrong.
The Extent of Your Injuries
By filing a personal injury claim, you are trying to make the case that you have losses. You have suffered in pain, you are struggling or unable to work, and you have property damage to be compensated for. If you walk away from the scene of an auto accident and return to work the next day, it’s going to be difficult to prove you had losses. The extent of your injuries and the financial losses you have endured are taken into consideration when coming up with an award amount should you win your case.
Your Percentage of Fault
When you are less than 50% at fault for an accident, you can file a personal injury claim for damages. The lower your percentage of fault is, the more money you can expect from your claim. For example, if you are awarded $10,000 and you are 10% at fault, you receive a $9,000 award. If you are 40% at fault, your award will go down to $6,000. It is important to establish fault and argue down your percentage of fault if possible. Your personal injury attorney will be able to assess your case carefully to determine what fault you should share with the other party.
Proving Your Injuries
Proving your injuries goes beyond an emergency room visit and heading back home. You must follow through with all of your medical care in order to show a clear picture of what is going on with your injuries. If you are referred to specialists, you have to make these appointments and do all that you can to heal. If you skip appointments, it will look like you aren’t really as injured as you claim to be. During the course of your treatment, take pictures if that makes sense and document how you are feeling every day in a personal journal. Your progress and compliance with all therapeutic interventions must be easy for your medical providers to report.
Losses That You Can Measure
If you are out of work because of your injuries, it is simple to calculate your lost wages. Car damage and medical bills are easy to prove, as well as any damage to property that was in your vehicle. These are your pecuniary damages, and only a part of your overall compensation. You also have non-pecuniary losses, which are those losses that are more difficult to assign value to. These include things like pain, suffering, or loss of enjoyment. This is where the extent of your injuries and your ability to recover fully becomes important. If your treatment team determines that you are at a medical end to treatment, and you still can’t return to work, your award should become much higher.
Settling Your Personal Injury Case
When you work with a personal injury lawyer, you may come to a place where you are ready to settle your case. Your attorney will have a good idea of what your case is worth and what you are likely to receive if you take the case to trial. The defendant and their attorney will also understand this, and they are going to want to cut their losses. Trials take time and money, and an insurance company would rather settle the case out of court. If you are comfortable with a settlement offer and you can live with the final amount, you may consider a settlement offer and take it.
You have the right to file a personal injury claim, even when you are partially at fault. It’s important to point out any problems with the accident report that will reduce your percentage of fault. When you are injured and you are suffering, a personal injury claim makes it possible to recover and get the financial compensation you need during this time.
On any given day, the average driver will comply with traffic laws due to the strength of social influences. Drivers on the road, passengers, police officers, and personal characteristics often affect driving behaviors. In social psychology, the driving behaviors that arise from these factors are due to conformity and social norms. Conformity is defined as “adjusting our behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard.” These group standards or social norms are often what changes a person’s behavior or morals. This change occurs as a result of the need to belong, the fear of rejection, or simply the desire to be a part of a group without standing out. For example, a person might quit smoking because his or her group of friends frowns upon tobacco. This article explores the topic of conformity and covers the positive and negative aspects of conformity, concluding with the effect of conformity traffic laws.
Imagine yourself on the interstate in a big city, driving along with traffic that is traveling at 80 miles per hour (mph) in a 55 mph zone. Even though you know you’re breaking the law by going over the speed limit, you don’t slow down because you don’t want to be perceived as a “jerk” for slowing down everyone around you. At the same time, your conscience is telling you that you are violating the law and that you can’t afford a ticket. Studies show that you are more likely to continue to drive with the flow of traffic simply because everyone around you on the road is doing it. In big cities, this type of driving, even though it might go against one’s personal beliefs, is a social norm. In order to fit in, you are forced to conform. In one study, people were surveyed about the effectiveness of a 55 mph speed limit and their actual driving speeds in that zone. Out of the sample, 28.9 percent of the people that thought the speed limit was too low, reported driving at a higher speed. Others responded that the speed limit was somewhat useless because no one else followed it anyway, making the speed limit irrelevant, which ultimately had little effect on driving speeds. While speeding due to conformity and social norms is one of the most common driving violations that we can observe and relate to, there are more dangerous driving behaviors that drivers engage in due to various social influences.
Social and peer influences that result in a violation of traffic laws are the most common among teenagers. One study reports that drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident when there are passengers in the car. Under the pressure from friends, young drivers engage in risky behaviors including speeding, swerving in and out of the traffic, street racing, and other reckless driving behavior that leads to a higher chance of making an error, which ultimately results in serious accidents. The author adds, “passengers encourage drivers to conform to the prevailing norms of their social group.” Additionally, two more studies support that teens are likely to drive recklessly if the driver believes this type of driving is expected by their peers, even if these peers are not in the car. Even though these actions are extremely dangerous and possibly fatal, this shows how society and the social environment can influence us to conform to what we perceive will make us feel accepted by a group.
Conformity can also have a positive influence on a motorist’s life. Using the principle of conformity, a social group can work together to change their member’s or friends’ driving behavior. Though conformity often carries a negative connotation, it can be used to prevent potential accidents, tickets, and/or fatalities. Before discussing how to apply this principle to drivers, we have to understand how it functions. In order to increase the likelihood for conforming behavior to occur, individuals must be in a group with at least three people, made to feel incompetent or unconfident, have one common belief or opinion, know that their behavior is being observed, and they have to admire the group’s status and/or attractiveness. However, if these characteristics are absent in the group, the likeliness for someone to conform dramatically decreases. Nevertheless, if they are all present, this could be applied in real-world circumstances.
Conforming behavior can be manipulated for good or bad, and it is easy to see in real-life circumstances. Social groups can influence a person to change their behavior with group efforts. This can be done by getting everyone in a group to voice the same opinion towards the behavior of an individual with the goal to get him/her to conform. For example, if one person within a group of people constantly exceeds speed limits, doesn’t use turn signals, and runs stop signs, that group can express that they are against this type of driving because it is dangerous and it could be fatal. When everyone in the group agrees and expresses their concerns toward these negative behaviors, the individual with risky driving behaviors is more likely to change and begin exhibiting prosocial behaviors, due to the group’s unified disapproval and concern. When an individual is made to feel insecure about their actions compared to a group or social norm, they are more likely to change and conform in order to fit in.
Another way to use conformity to increase awareness of traffic laws is by reinforcing positive punishment. For example, speeding tickets written by a police officer are a form of punishment, done in an effort to change an individual’s bad driving habits. To increase the awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence, an ad featuring popular celebrities speaking out against driving under the influence, sharing stories of losing loved ones to these types of accidents, or even just encouraging people to take a taxi after drinking can be very effective. This sort of conformity is known as mimicry or the subconscious copying of someone else. By using a famous person to spread a message, fans are more likely to conform and begin to start mimicking or copying their behaviors.
A famous example that shows the power of mimicry in conforming behavior is the popularity of “short shorts” in basketball. Coaches believed short shorts would allow for more agility and better performance. However, with the airing of professional basketball games on TV, famous players like Michael Jordan wore loose-fitting shorts. The Washington Post noted that “Michael Jordan inspired a major alteration when he appealed for a longer and baggier cut”. Even though many believed short shorts were better for agility and performance, most still followed the trend Michael Jordan and other famous players set. Shortly after, the coaches’ attitudes changed towards baggy shorts. They began to see that the same high level of performance can be achieved, even if a player isn’t wearing short shorts. This can be used as an example of how, by gaining celebrity support, awareness for following traffic laws could be raised through the reinforcement of perceived dominant ideology.
State legislators create laws to discourage deviant behavior. They do this by reinforcing punishment, such as by giving speeding tickets that are paired with a required safe driving class. This type of pairing fosters cognitive dissonance with speeding. Cognitive dissonance theory is “discomfort caused by two simultaneous inconsistent thoughts,” and can cause an uncomfortable reaction, which can change one’s attitude towards negative behaviors. A person subjected to repeated reinforced punishment after breaking traffic laws is, in theory, less likely to break traffic laws.
Finally, conformity can be used to prevent automotive accidents and catastrophes. Since everyone in a group must agree on an issue in order to pressure the group members to conform, it only takes one group member stating a different opinion for the likelihood of conforming behavior to decrease significantly. This can be applied to group standards in a positive or negative way. However, in this case, it’s negative. One study stated that college students that have friends who drive under the influence are more likely to drive under the influence themselves. These students conform and go along with their friends in the car, overlooking the dangers of impaired driving. This behavior is also found in Ashch’s 1940 conformity experiment. For example, a person might not speak up because they don’t want to get put down for speaking up with an unpopular opinion or get called a “sissy.” However, if one person speaks up and reminds everyone that it’s not a good idea because it’s against the law and dangerous, it will make a great difference in preventing drunk driving. It only takes one person to change the group members’ minds and shift their behavior from risky to safe. Though the individual might create tension in the group, ultimately their actions will be safer.