It might seem shockingly insensitive to place the blame of a car accident on a victim, but that's exactly what happens in some courtrooms today. The concept of "blaming the victim" is a well-known problem in today's society, and it is a constant issue in the legal world.
Rape victims are told they wear outfits that are too revealing. Kidnap victims are told they went along with a ruse and were part of the crime. Victims of car accidents are told they were driving recklessly and helped cause the accident.
During a civil trial, you may be questioned about small details designed to shift the blame from the responsible party.
- Why were you at that intersection at midnight?
- When was the last time you got your car serviced?
- How long have you had a driver's license?
- Do you always come to a complete stop at a stop sign?
- Have you ever had an accident?
These simple questions, as well as many others, may be designed in such a way that it appears as though the victim of a crash was at fault, even if he or she suffered debilitating injuries. Sitting in a hospital bed for a month is no match for a lawyer who tries to grill you on the witness stand months after the incident occurred.
Lawyers are adept at arguing about the smallest details and turning them into huge issues. Something you might not even realize is important could cause a major argument during a trial. One misstep during a deposition could mean a difficult, uphill battle if you're unprepared and unrepresented. The wrong answer during a trial could make your legal journey complicated and lengthy.
Be a Smart Witness
Learning how to testify smartly is an essential lesson you need to have with your lawyer. The opposition will have tricks up their sleeves to try and get you to answer questions in an incriminating way, even if you did nothing wrong.
Insurance companies spend a lot of money on their legal team and can blindside you with paperwork, invasive questions, and accusations. You may be suffering every single day from your injuries and yet the insurance company would like to convince you that you don't require a lawyer or need to sue for rightful damages.
There are several things your Philadelphia car accident lawyer will ask you to remember before you submit to questions.
- Never volunteer information
- Keep your answers short and simple
- Speak clearly and confidently
- Tell the truth
You may have to sit across the table at a deposition from someone who lies right to your face about the circumstances of the accident, but this is just a scare tactic. Insurance companies and big businesses are experts at trying to make you feel small and insignificant. They'll do anything possible to weasel out of paying their fair share for an accident.
Never Speak to the Other Side
Sometimes the opposing side won't even wait for depositions and trial dates to try and make you think you've got no chance. If you wait too long to seek out legal assistance, the other side may take the opportunity to blame you and turn the case against you.
Remember that Pennsylvania’s statute-of-limitations begins the moment you have an accident and that you can bring legal action against another party for a limited amount of time. The statute of limitations is two years; however, waiting until the last minute to file a complaint is cutting it close.
Without the protection of a personal injury lawyer by your side, insensitive, persistent questions can feel overwhelming. Don't be a victim for a second time by a ruthless insurance company. Protect yourself by retaining a Philadelphia car accident attorney who will act as your advocate from the beginning to settlement or trial.