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Facts vs. Emotions: How they play out in auto accident matters

For those that suffer serious injuries, an auto accident is an emotional event. Victims' lives become complicated and unfamiliar. Rather than following normal routines, individuals spend much of their time in doctors' offices and rehabilitation clinics. Many-and in particular those whose injuries prevent them from returning to work-report that their lives feel foreign, and that they find themselves acting rashly.

Unfortunately, letting your emotions guide you can have a negative impact on your ability to recover. This isn't merely about attitude. As they seek to move on quickly from the trauma of injury, auto accident victims are prone to act in ways that sabotage their best interests. Most crucially, they often settle too early with the insurance companies who are responsible for paying their injury claims.

This is understandable, as dealing with insurers is a headache, and many simply want to put unfortunate matters behind them. However, agreeing to accept an early offer can leave victims with inadequate compensation for their long-term medical bills. In fact, insurance companies bank on victims' emotional vulnerability, leveraging it to pay as little as possible on any given injury claim.

How insurers and jurors reckon with the facts

While many accident victims are guided primarily by emotions, insurers are careful to work strictly with data and facts. Likewise, if matters go to court, jurors are compelled by law to make their decisions based on factual evidence provided, rather than on emotional appeals.

The word ruthless isn't too harsh to describe the efforts insurers make to gather evidence that is favorable to them. They arrive early to the accident site and begin photographing. They take pictures of any damage to the vehicles involved and of any telling marks on or around the road where the accident took place. They take statements from witnesses and are skilled in twisting testimony to use it to their own advantage.

But they don't stop there. In many situations, insurance companies engage in surveillance-that is, they keep close tabs on victims. They follow injured individuals on social media and track their posts They will also verify that victims strictly follow any medical regimens that have been prescribed. At times, insurers will hire private investigators to tail victims in their day-to-day lives; they watch for any activity that might suggest an injury is falsified or is not as severe as the victim claims.

Jurors have no choice but to consider such forms of evidence when deliberating.

How to fight back

This is why it is important for accident victims to work closely with a knowledgeable attorney after an injury-producing car accident. Attorneys, simply put, know how to fight insurers. They know how to gather evidence to establish the full extent of an injury and collaborate with a network of medical professionals to establish the appropriate amount of damages. They are skilled in negotiating with insurers and, whenever necessary, can present a strong case in court on behalf of those they represent. Most importantly, a good personal injury attorney knows what the insurance company is going to argue before the insurance company even begins their evaluation. And we all know that the best offense is knowing the defense.

Conversely, a lawyer can help victims protect themselves against their own emotions. It is common for victims to become angry or upset with the at-fault party, and believe their case to be worth more than it actually is. This can only lead to a double-helping of disappointment. A knowledgeable attorney, meanwhile, can help individuals understand the true value of a claim. 

It is crucial to settle based on the facts and evidence and not let emotions rule the day. Very much so easier said than done.

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