Doing The Right Thing: Admit Responsibility for Car Crashes
POSTED BY Scott O’Sullivan
August 26, 2021
Car accidentsSafe DrivingSafetyTips
By Scott O’Sullivan
I just finished a case that was tragic in many ways, but the thing I found most frustrating was that the driver who caused the car crash maintained his innocence until the very end. Then, when it was in his best interest to tell the truth (because I put him in a corner), he admitted that, yes, he was at fault. He blew through the stop sign and plowed into my client, causing her physical injuries and totaling her car.
If he had admitted this three years ago, the entire case would have been behind him and my client years ago. Even more galling: he had great insurance, so his admission would have simply triggered a payment to my client and the negligent driver could have walked away knowing he had done the right thing. Yes, his monthly premiums would have gone up, but what was the cost (to his quality of life and to his bank account) of prolonging this thing for three years? Daily and weekly meetings with his attorney, wrangling with insurance companies, fighting with me – for three years!
The lesson? Do the right thing. Admit responsibility. This is exactly why you have insurance.
How did I box this guy into telling the truth? He and his insurance company thought I would take a low-ball settlement offer. I advised my client to refuse, to stay the course, and continue receiving the medical treatment she needed. She followed my advice and, ultimately, we ended up in court.
This is when I really love facing liars because I believe it is important for a jury to know that the negligent driver lied for three years. I said, “He is a liar. And the only reason he is now telling the truth is to limit his liability.”
Juries don’t like liars.
And again! What is the toll of three years of lying, dragging a case out, interrupting your personal life, when you have insurance to make it all go away!?
An Example of Doing the Right Thing
I have an employee who recently got a call from her teenage daughter, who was obviously upset and admitted that she had backed into a car in a parking lot, causing damage.
No one saw this happen.
My employee advised her daughter to “do the right thing” and put a note with her phone number on the windshield.
The next day, the car’s owner called and thanked the mom and daughter for their honesty. Then, they proceeded to work together on a solution. The mom hoped that the damage was something that she and her daughter could cover without insurance, hoping not to make the daughter’s rates go up. The car’s owner understood, but they exchanged insurance information to be safe.
Then, the car’s owner got an estimate to repair the damage… and it was WELL beyond the mom’s ability to pay. (She intended to make her daughter pay a portion, too, but this sum was too large.)
The mom bit the bullet and filed an insurance claim. The daughter will pay the deductible and they will discuss what to do when her insurance rates increase.
Now, you may be thinking, “The daughter could have driven away and it would all be fine!”
But consider these facts, which have only been realized by the mom and daughter in the weeks since the accident:
There was a camera in the parking lot. Since it was a small private organization, it would have been easy for the car’s owner to identify the car that hit her.
They frequent that organization all the time. If they had lied and the truth had been revealed, they may have been kicked out. (And shamed.)
Most important: They have since discovered that they have mutual friends with the car’s owner! If they had lied and been discovered, many of their friends would have learned that they were dishonest, calling their integrity into question.
The mom, my employee, felt good about making the right decision from the very beginning, particularly because she wanted to model honest behavior for her daughter, but these additional revelations drove the point home. Do the right thing. Every time.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney with Courtroom Experience
If you are the victim of a car accident and the other driver is lying, you want to be sure that you hire a personal injury attorney who won’t take a low-ball offer. You need an attorney with proven skills in the courtroom, who is willing to be patient through all of the medical treatment you need, and who puts your needs first.
Many of those big personal injury firms are simply machines that churn out high quantities of cases, taking as many settlement offers as they can. Make sure you hire a firm with the resources to be patient and to demand the absolute best solution to your case.