If you are involved in a car accident caused by another motorist, you have a legal right to pursue full financial recovery for your damages.
For most people, the best course of action is to retain an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you claim the compensation you deserve.
Who Is Responsible for Costs Incurred by a Car Accident?
If you live in a state that utilizes the at-fault or tort system of insurance, the person who caused the accident is liable for all costs. Assuming they carry insurance, you can pursue a third-party claim for your expenses.
While the claims process itself is straightforward, you will be dealing with a for-profit business looking to pay you as little as legally possible in compensation. Even in a case where you were demonstrably injured and your car sustained significant damage, the insurer might try arguing that you were at least partially to blame. Alternatively, the insurance company may imply that your damages are not as high as claimed.
To maximize your chances of obtaining fair and reasonable compensation for injuries sustained in a car wreck, retain a personal injury lawyer. Legal counsel can also help you accurately calculate your costs, and to negotiate in the event of receiving a lowball initial settlement offer.
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How Much Could You Recover After a Car Accident?
The amount of a car accident injury settlement varies from case to case and in line with the severity of the accident and the dollar value of your expenses.
The most common damages you can claim after being injured in a car crash include:
- Medical expenses
- Vehicle damage
- Lost earnings
- Pain and suffering damages
You should always see a doctor as soon as practical after a car accident. Schedule an appointment even if your injuries do not initially seem too bad. Many medical issues develop over time.
You should account for the following medical costs:
- Medical bills
- Prescription medications
- Doctor visits
In the likely event that your vehicle is damaged in an accident, you can include all those damages in your claim, up to and including a totaled car.
Most people injured in a car accident need some time off work to recuperate or to attend medical appointments. You are legally entitled to seek financial recovery for any lost earnings resulting from your injuries.
Pain and suffering damages
Calculating damages for pain and suffering can be challenging. This component of a claim is intended to compensate you for general damages (any non-financial damages).
The amount you should request for pain and suffering will vary depending on the severity of the accident and of your injuries, specifically how these issues impacted you.
A pain and suffering pain can include:
- Disfigurement from injuries
- Loss of a loved one
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional damages
Insurers use a three-part formula when calculating pain and suffering:
- Hard costs of medical expenses and car repairs
- Your suffering is rated on a scale of 1 to 5
- Total hard cost amount multiplied by the suffering rating
Using this formula, an accident involving costs of $50,000 with a suffering rating of 3 should yield a pain and suffering damages of $150,000.
The Insurer Will Try to Get You to Settle for the Lowest Possible Amount
Any final settlement amount is contingent on the insurer agreeing to pay the full requested amount of damages. Often, insurers deny an initial claim or try to offer you a low initial amount as settlement.
Additionally, insurers sometimes offer a lump sum upfront immediately after the accident. Do not accept this until you speak with an accident injury attorney. Do not sign any documentation or admit blame until you have had legal counsel with an attorney.
The precise amount you could get paid for injuries sustained in a car accident that you did not cause will vary. Some cases settle for tens of thousands of dollars, while others settle for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Your goal is simple: to get enough money to cover all of your damages and no need to make out-of-pocket payments.
How You Can Accelerate Your Financial Recovery After an Accident
Evidence is critical when making a car accident claim. To recover all your damages, the other party must be entirely at fault. Also, your injuries and any other damages must be legitimate and provable.
To ensure you protect your rights, here are some vital steps to take if you are involved in a car accident.
Call the Police
If you are involved in an accident where vehicles are damaged or there are injuries, you must report the accident to the police.
Call the local police and relay what happened. They will create a police report concerning the accident, a crucial piece of evidence for your claim.
Take a Video of the Other Motorist
If you see the other motorist displaying behavior that suggests they may have been driving under the influence, try to capture a short video of their behavior.
See a Doctor
As soon as possible after the accident, you should get medical treatment. If injuries are severe, this should be the first thing you do.
Talk to Witnesses
Speak with any witnesses to the accident and get their contact information. Your lawyer can reach out to these people on your behalf.