Injuries 6 months after accident?
I was involved in a car wreck six months ago. They charged me with possession of alcohol because I admitted to the cop that I had been drinking, but no alcohol was found and I passed all of my tests. I was not drinking, but was in a state of shock and confusion when being asked questions at the time. I was also charged with failure to make left turn, and the accident was my fault.
I paid my tickets off and my insurance went up $200 dollars more, since I am a minor. Now, six months later, the 3 people that were in the car that I hit are suing me for "injuries," but they were fine at the scene and nothing was reported to the police at the scene.
Their insurance wants us to pay for their medical bills to doctors and such. How should I go about this if I cannot afford the hospital costs? How can they claim injuries 6 months after the accident? Is there any way I can defend this? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Injuries 6 months after accident?":
Jennifer (Snellville, GA):
Don’t wait! Contact your insurance company. You are contractually obligated to do so immediately, or as soon as reasonably possible after an accident. Your contractual obligation can be found in the "cooperation clause" in your insurance policy.
The cooperation clause requires you to assist your insurance company in the event a property damage and/or personal injury claim is filed against you. By following the cooperation clause, your insurance company can obtain from you important and relevant information about the circumstances behind the crash. This gives your insurance company a firm basis upon which to defend you.
Your insurance company will then defend you in the personal injury and property damage claims brought against you by the passengers in the other car. Additionally, according to the terms of your insurance policy, your insurance company is obligated to provide to you at no cost, an attorney to defend you in personal injury and property damage claims up to the limits of your policy.
Because the police were dispatched to the scene of the accident, a police accident report will have been created by the investigating police officers. Be sure to secure a copy of the police report and send a copy to your insurance company.
In the report will be a notation about the tickets issued to you, a diagram of the crash scene, the officers' opinions about the cause of the crash, names of witnesses, weather conditions, and other pertinent information.
Here's some more information on using police reports to help your claim.
While it is true the passengers failed to display symptoms of injuries at the accident scene, it is altogether possible their injuries were latent, meaning the symptoms didn't appear for hours or even days after the crash. However, to succeed in a personal injury claim against you will require medical proof from a competent licensed physician in the area.
While the crash was indeed unfortunate, that’s what insurance is for. As long as your insurance policy is current, you will not have to worry about about the personal injury or property claims filed against you - at least up to the limits of your policy.
To read more about the cooperation clause in insurance company policies, see the American Bar Association’s article...
"The Cooperation Clause and Communications between Insurers and Their Insureds"
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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