The value of car accident claims varies based on the severity of the crash and the severity of any resulting injuries. Extensive damage to a vehicle and serious injuries, especially long-term or permanent injuries, increase the value of a car accident claim. Additionally, intentional or grossly negligent actions on the part of the defendant may also increase the value of a claim.
What may add the biggest value to your case, however, is hiring a car accident lawyer who can evaluate your claim, thoroughly document and account for your injuries, and present a compelling case for the compensation you deserve.
Types of Injuries in a Car Accident
Some of the injuries that you might suffer in a car accident can cause long-term or even permanent suffering. More importantly, the full effects of a particular injury might not present themselves until hours or days after the accident. Seeking medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident not only documents those injuries for your car accident claim, it can make sure you receive the earliest possible medical intervention. In the case of internal bleeding, that can make the difference between life and death. In other instances, it can make the difference between full recovery and lifelong injuries.
Injuries might include:
- Cuts, scrapes, bruises, and lacerations
- Sprains, strains, pulled muscles, and other soft tissue damage
- Simple and compound fractures
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
In many cases, on-site first aid is not going to address the injuries sustained in a car accident. Many car accident injuries require surgery, hospitalization, and long-term rehabilitation (such as physical or occupational therapy).
In general, you could potentially recover three types of damages after a car accident. Special and general damages are the most common. In some cases, you might also recover punitive damages.
Economic damages, or special damages, compensate for actual expenses.
Special damages attempt to make you whole again and may include:
- Past medical expenses for those you’ve incurred as a result of the accident
- Future medical expenses for those you will incur for continued care and secondary injuries that doctors attribute to the accident, including follow-up appointments, additional surgeries, and injuries that show up hours or days later
- Past lost wages for the time you lost from work because of the accident
- Future lost income for the time you will lose from work. Future lost wages may include the difference in your income if you can no longer do the work you used to do, but can go back to work at a job that pays less.
- The expense for physical, cognitive, and psychological therapy.
- The repair or replacement of personal property, including your vehicle and personal property inside the vehicle.
- Burial and funeral expenses if you lost a loved one in a car accident.
Non-economic damages, or general damages, also intend to make you whole again. While money does not heal an injury or bring back a loved one that you lost in an accident, it does relieve the financial stress of having less income while you recover or because you lost a loved one.
General damages may include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship if your spouse, a parent, or your children can no longer participate in daily family activities and events
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse
- Loss of use of a body part or function, such as a foot or your eyesight
- Disfigurement, such as scarring
- Loss of a limb
The court orders a defendant to pay punitive damages not to make you whole, but to punish the defendant’s intentional or grossly negligent behavior. In most cases, you must prove gross negligence. The court often looks at particular behaviors as grossly negligent, including driving under the influence, texting while driving, and driving at excessive speeds.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies
While many people believe that they can settle with insurance companies on their own without legal representation, never take that path, especially if the accident involves a commercial driver, such as a truck driver. These cases are notoriously difficult. If you’re not an experienced lawyer, for example, you will have trouble determining if a trucking company encouraged the driver to ignore the hours of service regulations or put off maintenance of a truck.
Additionally, insurance companies are in business to make a profit. That means that their first interest is protecting their bottom lines. The more an insurance company must pay you, the lower its profits. Thus, an insurance company will try its best to deny your claim or offer you the lowest amount possible.
When you retain an attorney, the insurance company knows your attorney is going to look out for your best interests and isn’t going to let the insurer take advantage of you. This means that you have a better chance of maximizing your settlement, since the insurance company does not want to spend money on a trial. However, in some cases, you will need to go to trial, such as when the insurance company’s offer is still too low.
If you suffer from car accident injuries, contact a car accident lawyer for a free consultation to discuss how a legal case can help you pay for your medical and other expenses.