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Car Accidents: Why Walk Away?

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Beaumont, TXIt is said that the odds of injury or death in a plane crash are a lot lower than simply getting into your car and driving to the corner store for milk. Comforting for anyone with a fear of flying. But what happens in the event of a car accident, and especially if other parties or entities are at fault?

Do you simply say, "oh well, I escaped with my life and it's all that matters, or I sustained an injury that will harness me to chronic pain for the rest of my days - but hey, that's life."

That's nuts.

car accidentIf some never do well slams into you because he was talking on his cell phone, or the store clerk because she was putting on her make-up at 60 miles an hour, why should you just defer? Even if you walk away without a scratch, emotional trauma from a car accident can last for years, possibly for the rest of your life.

If you bear a physical cost, that argument takes on even greater meaning.

Why shouldn't you pursue the compensation that the law entitles you to pursue? That settlement could pay off your mortgage, send your kids to college, or help your grandkids buy that first house. If you're facing medical bills, compensation is even more important in the face of the spiralling costs of health care.

You may not be the type of person who likes to make waves. But when it comes to economics and moral fairness, prudence may dictate calling up that lawyer and digging into what your options are.

Especially when, despite doing everything right, it was beyond your control.

Take the woman whose throttle stuck open in her Ford Expedition. She literally stood on the brake but to no avail, and the resulting collision cost her a job and has caused chronic pain. A mechanic found a definite problem with the Expedition's throttle, which Ford repaired. But just because she didn't buy the vehicle through a Ford dealer, Ford would not do anything for the woman's pain and suffering. Even while acknowledging the Expedition was defective, it found a loophole to escape through.

A good lawyer can help close that escape hatch.

Take the case of a Moline woman who was killed by a train. The car that Dorothy Price was driving in 2005 became stuck at a railroad crossing off Illinois 92, near Joslin. A front wheel fell over a drop-off, and Price couldn't move her car.

Her grieving family could have let things be.

Instead, they filed a lawsuit against the rail company and two of its employees - the conductor and engineer - for negligence. The suit alleges that the train was going too fast, and that the engineer had ample time to stop, but didn't. The crossing had no crossing arms at the time of the collision.

Or take the case of the woman who was minding her own business, driving along Church Street in Beaumont Texas in June, 2005 when the driver of a stolen Mustang ran a stop sign and T-boned her car. As a result of the crash, Ethalene Jean-Louis has been left with serious and permanent injury, and is not happy with the way in which her insurer, Progressive County Mutual Insurance Company, has treated her. Compensation has been inadequate, she alleges.

On the surface, it's a sticky situation. The driver of the stolen car is unknown, and has never been found. As such there is no second-party insurance available to draw from, so it's up to Progressive to pay the freight, and it is alleged that they are dragging their heals.

And yet, according to documents filed with the Jefferson County District Court on May 30th, Jean-Louise's policy with Progressive includes coverage against un-insured motorists, which the thief most certainly was.

Jean-Louis is suing for past and future medical expenses, loss of earnings and earning capacity, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and physical impairment. Her lawyer argues that his client has co-operated fully and has complied with every requirement, and is simply now seeking the full measure of damages entitled to her by her policy, and the coverage included.

And why not? Jean-Louis couldn't help it if a thief stole a car and ran a stop sign. Is that her fault? Of course not. All she was doing was obeying the letter of the law and driving conscientiously.

Should the plaintiff be made to suffer physically, emotionally and financially while a thief gets off scott free? Unfortunately the thief doesn't have to pay, but it's not right that the plaintiff should be made to pay as a result. And by denying their client of what is rightfully hers' according to her policy, Progressive would be rewarding the thief.

That's why a good lawyer is worth the weight in gold. Car accidents are not always cut-and-dried, and corporations and others with a vested interest in the outcome of a claim will do everything in their power, fair or not, to protect their bottom line.

A lawyer can speak for you. It's what they do. And simply asking for what you're entitled, is not asking too much at all.

Coming next week: a look at Unum Insurance Company and Acts of Bad Faith Insurance...

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