How Much Can I Expect to Get for My Car Accident Claim?
If you are injured in a car accident, there are several types of damages that you may be able to recover depending on the circumstances, who is responsible for causing the incident, and other factors. Most claims are resolved before a lawsuit is filed, and those claims that result in lawsuits are often settled out of court before trial. Here is an overview of the types of damages you may receive as a result of a car accident settlement or verdict.
Receiving payment for vehicle damage after a car accident is usually a straightforward process. Some insurance companies have approved body shops that get paid directly from the insurance company to perform repairs. Other times, your body shop may supply you with an estimate or appraisal for approval by the insurance company, or the insurance company may send an adjuster to do an appraisal and advise you of the amount the insurance company will reimburse you.
If you are injured in a car accident, you should be reimbursed for the cost of any medical treatments you received as a result of the accident, even if those treatments occur months or years after the accident. For example, if you injure your back in an accident, your doctors may choose to try to treat you conservatively with medication and physical therapy to see if your injury heals on its own. If it does not surgery may be needed to alleviate your pain at a later time.
As long as your medical doctors can relate that surgery to the injury you received in the accident, those medical expenses should be recovered. If you are in a no-fault state, those expenses will likely be covered by your own automobile insurance policy. If you are in a state with traditional insurance, you may need to sue the negligent driver of the opposing vehicle to recover for those medical expenses.
In addition to direct costs of medical treatment, medical expenses coverage may also include reimbursement for medication and transportation costs to and from medical appointments related to the accident.
If the injuries you receive in a car accident cause you to lose time from work, you may be able to receive compensation for your unpaid wages. If you will be out of work permanently, or if future surgery or medical treatment is planned which could cause you to lose additional time from work in the future, your compensation should include reimbursement for those losses as well.
Pain and Suffering, Loss of Enjoyment, and Psychological Damages
Pain and suffering may be one of the most difficult elements of your claim to prove, and it is often the most heavily contested element of compensation after a car accident. Pain and suffering damages include the pain and suffering at the time of the accident, as well as future pain and suffering. This might include things like your inability to do the same activities or perform at the same level you could before the accident, and can take into account the likelihood that you may develop additional impairments later as a result of the accident.
Loss of enjoyment damages cover changes to your lifestyle or your ability to enjoy or participate in activities that you were able to engage in before the accident. For example, you might make a claim for loss of enjoyment of life if you were an avid golfer before the accident, but your injuries prevent you from playing golf any longer.
In some states, you may also be able to recover for emotional distress resulting from the accident, including anxiety, sleep loss, or other psychological problems.
Loss of Affection, Companionship or Consortium
Damages for loss of affection, companionship or consortium are typically only compensated when the injury is very serious or results in the death of the injured person. These damages can be recovered by family members of the injured person, not by the injured person themselves. For example, if your car accident injury prevents you from performing certain activities with your spouse or children, they might have a claim under this category of damages.
Ultimately, how much you receive for damages as a result of a car accident may depend on several factors, including who was at fault for the accident, whether the accident occurred in a no-fault state or a state with traditional automobile coverage, the limits of your own insurance policy, or the limits of the other driver’s insurance policy.
Negotiating a Settlement with an Insurance Company
Insurance companies often attempt to take advantage of people who do not know all of their rights by offering a quick, but minimal settlement. Accepting such an early settlement can prevent you from bringing a claim or lawsuit later if additional injuries are discovered, or if you realize the compensation offered will not cover your losses, especially if you were not at fault for the accident.
It is important to consult an attorney early if you are injured in a car accident, particularly if the injury is serious, results in time lost from work, or may require ongoing or future medical treatment. If you are offered a settlement from an insurance company that does not adequately compensate you for all of your past and future expenses, use our website to find a personal injury lawyer to help you evaluate the settlement and decide if you should file a lawsuit.
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