Is My Car Accident Claim Worth Anything?
Every car accident claim is different, and some are worth more than others. The ultimate value of a claim depends upon the seriousness of the accident victim’s injuries and the length of their medical treatment.
A claim’s worth will also depend on whether or not the accident victim suffered a permanent injury—and whether they missed time from work due to their injuries. Finally, the amount of pain, suffering, and inconvenience that an accident victim experienced will help determine the final value of their car accident claim.
A car accident lawyer can meet with you to discuss your accident and the injuries you suffered. Your lawyer can also help you put a number on your claim and give you a ballpark on its ultimate value. Finally, your lawyer can help you decide whether you should accept a pending settlement offer from the insurance company or litigate your case to a conclusion in the civil court system.
Types of Car Accidents That Result From Someone Else’s Negligence
Negligence is a common cause of car accidents. A driver is negligent when they behave unreasonably under the circumstances. Careless driving can lead to several types of accidents, including rear-end collisions, broadside accidents, sideswipe collisions, and head-on crashes.
A rear-end collision occurs when the front of one vehicle strikes the back of another car. These accidents often happen when the rear driver fails to watch the road. If the accident occurs at a high rate of speed, accident victims can sustain soft tissue injuries, including whiplash injuries.
Broadside accidents, or T-bone collisions, usually happen at traffic intersections where a driver runs a yield sign, stop sign, or red traffic light, striking the side of an adjacent vehicle. The force of a T-bone collision might cause the car on the receiving end to overturn or spin around rapidly in the middle of the intersection, causing injuries.
Sideswipe accidents happen when the sides of two vehicles moving in the same direction strike one another. A distracted driver might veer into another travel lane, cutting off the oncoming vehicle.
Finally, head-on collisions happen when the fronts of two cars moving in opposite directions collide. When the cars or trucks are moving at high speeds, these accidents can result in a fatality.
Drivers operate their vehicles negligently when they disregard the law, operate their vehicles while intoxicated, exhibit road rage, and engage in distracted driving.
Traffic laws, regulations, and signs are in place to keep drivers—and their passengers—safe. However, when drivers are in a hurry and operate their vehicles carelessly, they sometimes disregard these traffic laws, bringing about a collision with another car or a pedestrian. Traffic violations that lead to severe accidents include speeding and failing to yield the right-of-way at traffic intersections—and while switching travel lanes.
Drivers also cause serious accidents when they operate their vehicles while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Alcohol can significantly impair a driver’s reaction time, muddle their thinking, and cause physical symptoms, such as blurred vision. The law prohibits people from driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit or while impaired by substances. Commercial vehicle drivers and minors under the legal drinking age must follow stricter standards.
Even drivers with a BAC less than the legal limit might experience alcohol impairment, like blurred vision or delayed reaction time. In many instances, a drunk driver physically cannot stop their vehicle in time to avoid striking a car, truck, pedestrian, or stationary object in the road.
Road rage is another common cause of car accidents. Drivers exhibit road rage when they react inappropriately to a perceived threat or circumstances that arise while driving. For example, another driver might not be going fast enough for them, causing them to become angry.
When drivers exhibit road rage, they often weave in and out of traffic aggressively—and without using a turn signal. They might also tailgate the vehicle in front of them. However, if traffic slows down suddenly, the driver might not stop in time to avoid striking the vehicle in front of them. When rear-end car accidents occur at high rates of speed, a chain-reaction collision that injures numerous drivers and passengers can ensue.
Some car accidents do not result from driver negligence but instead, occur because of defective vehicle repair work or defective vehicle parts that the manufacturer did not correctly test beforehand.
Whenever another person’s negligence causes or contributes to a car accident, the accident victim can bring a claim against the responsible individual for negligence. Your lawyer can help you determine the cause of your accident and bring a claim or lawsuit against all potentially liable parties.
Factors that Influence Car Accident Claim Value
The ultimate value of a car accident claim depends upon several factors. One crucial factor that helps determine a claim’s worth is the venue where the case is pending. Some venues are more ‘plaintiff-friendly’ than others, and insurance companies know that fact.
A venue is plaintiff-friendly when jurors in that area tend to award car accident victims higher compensation for their injuries, pain, and suffering at jury trials. If an accident happens in a plaintiff-friendly venue, the insurance company is more likely to offer more compensation than if the accident occurred where jurors tend to award less favourable verdicts.
In addition to the venue, the extent of the property damage to all involved vehicles is a factor in determining a claim’s ultimate value. In the minds of insurance company adjusters and jurors, significant property damage translates into severe injuries.
Therefore, if you have good property damage photos of your vehicle, they can be helpful when negotiating with the insurance company—and at a jury trial. Car accident cases where there is visible property damage to the vehicles tend to garner more favourable compensation than cases where property damage is minimal or nonexistent.
Finally, the injuries that a car accident victim suffers help to determine the ultimate value of the personal injury claim. Generally speaking, the more significant an accident victim’s injuries, the more compensable the claim. This is because insurance companies and juries tend to believe that an accident victim who suffers severe injuries will also experience intense pain, suffering, and inconvenience.
The same is true for car accident victims who suffer permanent injuries. To establish a permanent injury that probably won’t improve over time—an accident victim needs a medical provider on board in their case. Specifically, the provider must be willing to state, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that their injury is permanent and will not likely improve over time.
When you file a personal injury claim arising from a car accident, you need to have an experienced attorney on board in your case. Your lawyer will do everything possible to help you maximize the value of your case and recover the highest amount of damages possible. Your lawyer can do this by zealously negotiating with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf and by highlighting the strengths of your case while downplaying any weaknesses.
What Are the Most Common Car Accident Injuries That Victims Suffer?
Like monetary damages, the injuries that a car accident victim suffers will vary from case to case. An accident victim’s injuries will depend on the accident and the force of the impact from the at-fault vehicle. Some collisions are so forceful that they cause a part of the accident victim’s body to strike something in their car, like the door frame, window, steering wheel, dashboard, or headrest, leading to a severe injury.
Typical car accident injuries include:
- Bone fractures
- Soft tissue contusions
- Traumatic head and brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Internal injuries
The most important thing you can do after a car accident is to seek emergency medical treatment right away for your injuries. In addition to ordering the necessary imaging studies, like X-rays and MRIs, the attending physician can thoroughly examine your body and make the required medical diagnoses. Your doctor might order you to continue your treatment after you leave the hospital. For example, you may need to follow up with your primary care doctor, a medical specialist, or a physical therapist.
Seeking same-day medical treatment after your car accident, along with follow-up treatment, is essential to your case. If you do not seek treatment immediately, or if there are significant gaps in your medical treatment over time, insurance companies and their adjusters will become skeptical.
Specifically, the insurance company will believe that your injuries are not severe—and that you did not prioritize your medical treatment following your car crash. In either instance, the insurance company is unlikely to award you favourable monetary compensation when your medical treatment records have lengthy gaps.
Your car accident lawyer can handle all of the legal components of your case while you focus on getting better. Your lawyer can gather up your medical treatment records, lost wage documentation, photographs, and other evidence to forward with a demand package to the appropriate insurance company. After you complete your medical treatment, your lawyer can start the settlement negotiating process and pursue a favourable settlement offer on your behalf.
Potential Damages that a Car Accident Victim Can Recover in Their Case
Car accidents often leave their victims seriously injured and incapacitated for a significant time. When an accident victim suffers a permanent injury, they might not care for themselves, and they may require around-the-clock care for the remainder of their life.
To recover monetary compensation for accident-related injuries, an accident victim must demonstrate that their injuries directly resulted from the car crash. In many instances, they will need to establish this causal relationship through medical testimony. In other words, a medical doctor must be willing to state, in writing and to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that a causal relationship exists between the car accident and the alleged injuries.
When victims can prove the legal elements of their car accident claim, they may recover compensation for:
- Lost wages, when they have to miss time from work due to their injuries, pain, and suffering
- Loss of earning capacity, when they have to switch jobs—often at a lower pay rate—because of their accident-related injuries
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of the ability to use a body part when they suffer a permanent injury in their accident, such as paralysis
- Loss of enjoyment of life, when they cannot participate in the same activities as before their accident
- Loss of spousal consortium and companionship
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer who represents you in your claim can tell you what damages you can pursue in your unique personal injury case. Your lawyer can then seek those damages on your behalf and work to maximize your financial recovery.
Insurance companies will undervalue your claim, and you should never walk away with less compensation than you need to cover your losses. Having the right lawyer calculate your claim’s value and negotiate for maximum compensation is always the best course of action for car accident victims dealing with injuries.
Talk With an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
Car accidents leave many victims confused and unsure of what to do next—or where to turn. As soon as possible after your car accident, you should retain an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you throughout the claims-filing and litigation processes.
In addition to speaking with you and investigating your accident, your lawyer will zealously advocate for you when negotiating with the insurance company. If the insurance company refuses to offer you the compensation you need for your car accident injuries, your lawyer can represent you in court—or at an arbitration hearing—and litigate your case to a favorable resolution. Contact a lawyer today to get a consultation.