Personally, I have not spoken to a single person in my whole life that doesn't speed. Sure there are some folks blatantly going 20 to 30 miles over the speed limit, but most people only go about 5 to 10 miles faster.
People driving 20 to 40 miles above the speed limit know what they are doing. They know it is illegal and dangerous. However, the people going only 5 to 10 miles more tend to believe they are within the limits of the law and that a little extra speed won't hurt anyone. But that's not really true. Those few extra miles per hour really could make all the difference during an insurance claim after a crash.
Even Slight Speeding Can Impact An Insurance Claim
Let's say, you're driving down the road, when someone merges into your lane and hits the side of your car. The initial hit then causes you to lose control and hit a median. Your airbag goes off, and you end up in the hospital with severe injuries. Through no fault of you're own, you find yourself with fairly significant injuries.
When you call the other driver's insurance company to file a claim, they tell you that you are on a recorded line and then ask you what you need help with. While discussing the details of your crash the insurance agent may say something like, "Okay, so you were going a few miles over the speed limit, just like everyone else, when the other car hit you?"
This question sounds harmless, right? You might respond, "Maybe, I was following the flow of traffic when I was hit." The problem is if you tell the insurance agent "yes," you unwittingly admit to bad behavior, speeding.
If you're like everyone else, you may assume that the law requires the person who caused the accident to pay the victim for the resulting medical bills and vehicle repair fees, but it's simply not true.
The reality is that an insurance company only needs a plausible reason to deny someone's claim, and personal injury lawsuits are all about cause. By admitting to driving a few miles over the speed limit, a victim gives the insurance company both a plausible reason to deny and someone else to blame the crash on. Those couple of miles over the speed limit potentially have an outsized impact.
When Are Insurance Companies Most Likely to Trip Up Victims Who Were Speeding Slightly
Whenever an insurance company denies a claim, they're basically saying, "We don't think you can make your case in court." According to truck accident attorney Michael Grossman, this usually happens after crashes where the injuries are serious, but not catastrophic.
Mr. Grossman explained that it isn't worth an insurance company's time to play games with relatively minor injuries resulting from car crashes. If you have a couple thousand dollar ER bill, it would cost an insurance company more time and money to dispute the claim than it would save them to just pay you. At the same time, if your injuries require major surgeries and a long hospital stay, your losses will far exceed the policy limits. In that case, the insurance company wouldn't have any good reason to play games. It's the cases in the middle, where you may have $10,000, $15,000, or even $20,000 worth of injuries where they might try and trip victims up.
In this range, the insurance company can save more money than they're paying their adjusters to work on the claim, while not exposing themselves to potentially catastrophic losses like they would when a victim suffers a catastrophic injury.
Of course, these rules only apply to car accident cases. According to Mr. Grossman, when a crash involves a commercial vehicle, the value of the policy means the insurance company has a lot to lose, no matter how large or small your injuries are. In these cases, they will make you prove your injuries, and tripping up victims who were going a mere 5 or 10 miles an hour is just one of the many tools they have in their toolkit.
What Should I Do if I Was Injured By Another Driver, While I Was Driving Over the Speed Limit?
Again, I spoke to Mr. Grossman about how he generally approaches these types of cases. Some people might read this and think, "This is an easy fix, I'll just tell the adjuster on my claim that I wasn't speeding." While this might seem like a good idea, attorney Michael Grossman explained why victims should never lie to an insurance company.
His take is that while admitting to speeding in a recorded statement can damage your case, lying makes it worse by damaging your credibility. From a victim's attorney's perspective, in a perfect world, no one would make a recorded statement without first talking to an attorney for advice. However, Mr. Grossman was adamant that the damage done by a recorded statement can be overcome with the right help, whereas the damage to a victim's credibility is far more difficult to undo.
In many crashes there is a lot of evidence, but if the matter goes before a jury, the jury is forced to choose between your story and the insurance company's. Your fellow citizens (i.e. jurors) are smart enough to realize that the fact you were a smidge over the speed limit is less of a factor in your crash than being sideswiped by another vehicle. But it's a whole different story if you're caught lying on tape. Then they're going to be hard-pressed to believe your version of events if they see you as a liar. At that point, you're relying on the physical evidence to bail you out of an unnecessary jam.
Obviously, it would be best if we lived in a world where insurance company shenanigans never took place. We don't. However, being aware that something as innocuous as driving a few miles over the speed limit can have unforeseen consequences for your case puts you a step ahead of most, when trying to resolve your claim. And if something feels off about how an insurance company is treating you, then feel free to call Grossman Law Offices. Our attorneys are always happy to discuss how we can help you.