With decades of personal injury trial experience in Missouri and Illinois, we know that people hear mixed legal messages about what to do when involved in a motor vehicle collision —the internet says one thing and loved ones say another. Noel Sevastianos, and the injury lawyers at Rogers, Sevastianos & Bante, are committed to providing true, clear, and accurate information that can help you make important decisions during a challenging time.
We are here to help if you or a loved one is involved in a car accident. We urge you to contact Noel Sevastianos or one of the personal injury lawyers at our firm to set up a free consultation to discuss your particular case. For a free evaluation of your claim, click here. We will map out a strategy to get you maximum compensation for what was taken from you – like your health, your money, and your freedoms.
In the meantime, however, we want to clarify and correct the myths and misconceptions about automobile accidents.
Any personal injury attorney can handle a car wreck claim.
Injury attorneys must be trial-tested and committed to practicing law at the highest levels. That means they take cases to trial, and are invested in constant learning and professional development. They must also have experience handling cases just like yours. Many lawyers claim to “have experience” – and they justify the representation as accurate because they handle a few cases like yours every year, maybe even over many years. That is MINIMAL or nominal experience. Attorneys like this do not even appreciate how unable or incompetent they are to handle your case.
Simply put, maximum experience requires trial work, constant education and training, and an investment of time and treasure. Noel Sevastianos and his team of injury trial lawyers at Rogers Sevastianos & Bante have made the investment that cases like yours deserve and require to maximize the value of every claim we accept.
Good lawyers know how to settle cases, and those that settle lots of cases are the best at it.
Any lawyer can settle your case – it doesn’t take any special skill to do so, and lawyers that run settlement shops don’t add value to your case because insurers know a minor work up will follow and a low ball settlement offer will be taken.
An exceptional lawyer is ready, willing, and able to bring your injury claim to a trial by jury, and present it in a way that commands maximum justice. The lawyers at Rogers Sevastianos & Bante work our client’s cases up to find the defendant’s lie, expose the defense hypocrisy, and to remove any bias associated with our client or the activity that led to the injury. We accumulate evidence other lawyers ignore so that insurers and their attorneys know how this case will play out at trial if they allow it to go that far. Our methods of preparing a case add risk to insurers of substantial jury verdicts. So our cases are all trial-ready, increasing the risk to an insurer and the settlement value of our client’s claim.
I don’t have a broken bone or obvious injury, and I only started to suffer pain 24 hours after the collision, so my case isn’t worth anything.
Jurors are ordinary people, and they know that some injuries cannot be seen. Some are emotional; some are otherwise internal – like a concussion, torn ligament, or internal derangement of joints or the attached tissue. Jurors know and understand that when an unnatural force is thrust upon you, unexpectedly, that people get hurt.
Medical literature tells us that most of these unseen injuries do not manifest themselves until 24 to 48 hours after car accidents or other similar traumas. We place your medical care even above your legal care, and we make sure you receive the treatment you need to get maximum health recovered. Our care and dedication assure us that we stay true and loyal to the cause that brings you to us, and it forms the foundation of our partnership to help you obtain maximum justice for your injuries – whether seen or unseen.
I walked away from my car wreck and I feel fine, so I don’t need to see a doctor.
Some injuries and symptoms that result from car accidents take time to manifest. For example, injuries to the brain, neck, back, or spine are difficult to detect and require diagnostic testing – like MRIs or CT Scans. Often, these injuries only slowly display their severity over time. So even if you feel fine after a car wreck – do yourself and your loved ones a favor and see a doctor.
I can’t recover anything because the part of me that hurts after the car wreck was injured years ago.
This is a lie insurers want the public to believe. The truth is that most members of our community have had pain or had to deal with one medical condition or another. When we try cases, we ask actual and potential jurors who they think is more susceptible to greater harm in a collision: the person with prior injuries, or the person who has no prior medical condition or symptom? Driver safety rules protect our community and keep us safe.
We also ask, who needs that protection more: the person with the pre-existing injury or the person with no history of any medical condition? People with preexisting conditions suffer the greatest harm and are often some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Aggravations and exacerbations of those injuries in car accidents are compensable and are often MORE compensable than injuries to those in perfect health before a wreck.
It is mandatory to give the insurance companies a recorded statement after the car accident.
You have NO obligation to do so. The insurance representative that calls you has an agenda – and the top of his or her list is to elicit information from you that will reduce or deny your claim. Insurers are more than happy to twist your words into arguments used against you. It allows them to make a simple car accident complex, to make clear facts appear to be ambiguous, to add confusion over the issue of whether their insured is responsible for your injury. They are trained to obtain this information and to make you feel guilty about asserting your rights against their insured. So be safe: call us before you call them.
I don’t need a lawyer – I’ll handle it myself and save the money.
Many folks believe that the claims process that follows automobile collisions will be fair and reasonable, so they don’t need a lawyer. They are wrong.
Twenty years ago, we obtained the adjuster training manual from one of the largest automobile insurers in the country. In the manual, Allstate Insurance Company admitted that the insurer paid on average three times more to people who were represented. It infused its adjusters with techniques on how to get unrepresented folks to trust them, and believe that they would be treated fairly.
The manual made it crystal clear that insurers have vast resources at work to minimize the amount of money you receive. Fairness is NOT part of their equation to delay, deny, and then defend claims.
Our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no upfront fee for legal representation and that we are paid only after you receive a settlement. If you believe what the insurance company admits, we earn our fee by many multiples on each case. Let us look after your bottom line, because the insurer is looking at its bottom line.
The other driver’s insurer already paid my property damage, so they won’t fight my injury claim.
Property damage claims are resolved between insurers, and in those instances where the two companies cannot agree, their differences are resolved by arbitration. The liability determination in either scenario has absolutely nothing to do with, and has no precedential value in, a claim for personal injuries (also known as bodily injury).
So just because the negligent driver’s insurer paid for the property damage to your vehicle, don’t believe for a second that that same insurance company attorneys won’t blame you for the car wreck. They will, and they do.
Myth #9 (The opposite of Myth #8):
My insurer already paid the other driver’s property damage, so I can’t make a claim for personal injury because the insurers agreed the collision was my fault.
Just because your insurance company paid the other driver’s insurer on the mistaken belief that YOU were at fault for an automobile collision, you can still pursue a claim for personal injury against the other driver. You might very well have to prove that a police crash report contained mistaken information or drew inaccurate conclusions, but that’s where exceptional lawyers are required. You need experienced and creative lawyers to find a way to win and prove that a negligent driver hurt you.
I was hit from behind, so it must be the other driver’s fault.
It is true that rear-end collisions are most often the fault of the driver who strikes the rear of a leading car, but not always. For instance, you might have struck the rear of another car by virtue of the actions of a third driver – someone who cut you off causing you to take evasive action.
Or what if the leading driver didn’t even have working brake lights or other defects that reduced or eliminated your ability to see that the leading car was slowing down or had fully stopped.
Too much time has gone by for me to do anything about my injuries from the car accident.
There is indeed a limited window of time to make a personal injury claim. For instance, people hurt in Missouri car wrecks have five (5) years from the date of the collision to file a claim in a court of law, or that claim will be forever barred. Those hurt in Illinois have only two (2) years to make that claim, and those hurt in Tennessee car accidents have only one (1) year.
Therefore, as a general rule – we advise treating your claim for compensation with the belief that it will not get better with time. The sooner you act, the better able your lawyer is to collect and preserve critical evidence, and to make sure your rights are protected and asserted to the fullest ability allowed by law.
All drivers carry auto insurance, so what’s the big deal?
Like 48 of our 50 states, Missouri and Illinois require all drivers to carry insurance: only New Hampshire and Virginia residents are not required to carry automobile insurance. Despite these laws, many drivers in all states do not carry any automobile insurance. For this reason, and others, Rogers Sevastianos & Bante believe that most drivers should carry an absolute minimum of $100,000 of collision insurance, per person, per automobile collision. Those drivers with assets, careers, or positions that justify or compel additional coverage should carry a minimum of $500,000 per person, per collision.
Umbrella coverage of $1 Million is very inexpensive, and can be – and often should be – added coverage, even for those who carry the minimum insurance required by law. When the negligent driver proves to be uninsured (which almost always means that driver has no financial assets to lose if he or she harms another driver), the victim can go to his or her insurer and make a claim for UM (uninsured motorist) benefits. This is the victim’s contractual right and the victim’s insurer MUST cover the loss up to the policy limits.
My recovery is limited to the amount of insurance the other/negligent driver carried at the time of the loss.
False – there are very often other sources of recovery available to our clients. For instance, even where the negligent driver is uninsured (as in myth #11), we find our own client carries underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage on his or her insurance policy, allowing for additional funds for their loss. (The lawyers at Rogers Sevastianos & Bante also believe that most drivers should carry an absolute minimum of $100,000 UIM coverage, and to make sure it is measured by the size of your loss – not the size of any other policy that might pay you – which is a common trick insurers hide in the details of their policies.)
In addition, if the negligent driver worked for a company, or if he/she was driving a car that belonged to another person, some claims might be available to the injured person against the company or the person who entrusted the at-fault driver with a vehicle. (See our blog on negligent entrustment claims.)
The auto accident seems minor, so it’s OK to leave the scene or not call the police.
Leaving the scene of a collision is NEVER okay – it can land you in a heap of legal problems, including criminal charges.
Even if the collision seems minor, follow a few simple tips – no matter if the collision is your fault or the other drivers:
- Leave your car exactly where it came to rest until a police officer shows up and records the scene as it existed at the moment of impact.
- Call 911 – especially if there are injuries. Tell the operator if there is significant damage to either car or if you suspect the other driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- If it is safe to do so, exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver.
- Check to see if you or your passengers are injured. If it is safe to do so, check on the condition of the other driver – no matter who is at fault.
- Take photographs and videos of every car involved in the collision, and of the collision scene.
- Make sure you record the make, model of the vehicles and their license plate numbers. If the other driver is acting erratically or in any suspicious manner, record that too. These images can help you establish the location, date, and time of the automobile accident as well as the relevant conditions at the scene.
- Make a complete statement to the police.
- Get witnesses’ contact information; police officers very often do not record their contact information, and some will not even take their statement. Try to make sure the officer who makes your report speaks to and records the statements of these witnesses and includes their contact information in the crash report.
- Notify your insurance company of the collision, and try to do so within 24 hours. Insurers can deny coverage under certain circumstances if you delay reporting the claim.
- Make an appointment with a physician so you can receive a diagnosis and treatment for any potential injuries or conditions caused by the accident.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney if you’ve been hurt.
Learn More About Your Rights and Legal Options Today — Schedule a Free Consultation with Noel Sevastianos or One of Our Injury Lawyers
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, the most important thing you can do is contact one of our personal injury attorneys immediately. The sooner you contact us after a crash, the greater ability we have to help you. DO NOT WAIT.
We are ready, willing, and able to help you get the health care you need and to assist you during this challenging time.
For more information, contact us by phone at or online, and set up your free, no-obligation consultation. We will visit with you at your home, in our office in Clayton or virtually via Zoom, FaceTime or a similar platform so that we can expedite our ability to get to work on your behalf.