How much to expect from a car accident settlement? The last thing anyone expects to happen is a car accident. After all, you’re very careful while driving. However, you can’t control others on the road.
Many things could happen to cause an accident, such as someone exhibiting road rage, even if that person is not directing the road rage at you, someone having a medical emergency, a person driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, someone driving distracted, or something on the vehicle malfunctions.
Poorly maintained roads and weather conditions, including a bright, sunny day, could cause someone to crash into you. Reach out to a car accident lawyer.
Common Causes of Accidents
It is often negligence that causes car accidents. However, in some cases, the wreck is genuinely an accident. However, true accidents rarely happen. An unexpected medical emergency is an example of an accident most likely not caused by negligence.
Common causes of accidents include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other illicit substances, including legal and illegal prescription medications.
- Driving while distracted. Examples include eating, fiddling with the radio and other controls, talking to passengers in the vehicle, texting, and talking on the phone (even hands-free).
- Aggressive and reckless driving.
- Speeding and excessive speeding.
- Running from the police.
- Driving while tired.
- Driving too fast for conditions, whether because of the weather, the sun, poorly maintained roads, or because a road is hilly and curvy.
- Poorly maintained vehicles.
- A vehicle malfunctions because of an unknown issue that should be set for recall but hasn’t yet.
- A vehicle malfunctions because an auto technician installed defective or improperly installed parts.
- Other drivers.
Never assume that an accident was or was not because of the other driver’s negligence. For example, an accident that looks as though a medical emergency caused it might be a medical emergency caused because the driver took medication that stated they should not drive.
Also, never assume that you might not recover damages because the accident was your fault. Let the attorneys determine who was at fault for the wreck—even if the police report blames you. The police can only write down what people at the scene tell them. An accident investigation often uncovers lies by defendants.
You could sustain many injuries during an accident, from seemingly minor cuts and scrapes to catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries. Car accidents could even be fatal, leaving loved ones in emotional distress and financial trouble.
Accident injuries include:
- Cuts, scrapes, scratches, bruises, and bumps.
- Strains and sprains.
- Pulled and torn muscles and other soft-tissue injuries.
- Face and eye injuries.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Ear injuries, including deafness, if the accident causes an explosion.
- Road rash.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
- Chemical and thermal burns.
You could also sustain secondary injuries, such as open wound infections, minor scratches, or surgical wounds. Accident injuries could also exacerbate existing illnesses and injuries. In both cases, the at-fault driver is responsible for the extra medical costs, pain and suffering, as you would not have suffered from these injuries if not for the actions or inactions of the driver.
Some people also suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression after an accident. Those who sustain long-term or permanent disabilities because of accident injuries might suffer depression since they can no longer work or care for their families.
Others suffer post-traumatic stress disorder because of the severity of the accident. Even if the accident injuries are minor, victims could suffer PTSD if the accident is gruesome or if the thought of a loved one suffering injuries as an oncoming vehicle crashes into their car.
Finally, victims of a car accident could suffer from anxiety every time they get into a vehicle—even if they are not the driver. Once someone is in an accident, that person could worry about getting into another accident. If the anxiety is too bad, they may not be able to drive or even ride as a passenger in a vehicle without extensive psychological therapy.
What Not to Do After an Accident
As with the items you should do after an accident, there are several things that you should not do. Insurance investigators always look for reasons to deny a claim. They will stalk your social media accounts and may even send investigators to watch you.
You can minimize the tricks an insurance company uses by retaining an experienced car accident attorney and by:
- Do not post on social media. Do not post about the accident, your medical care, or anything related to the accident. You should also refrain from posting any of your activities. You might go out to dinner with your spouse or parents, which is no crime, but the insurance company will twist that to say that you are not hurt as badly as you say. This goes for all social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, TruthSocial, Instagram, YouTube, and others.
- Do not wait to seek medical attention. The longer you wait, the more it looks as though you were not seriously injured.
- Do not miss medical appointments. If you miss appointments, the insurance company will argue that your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim.
- Do not try to settle your claim by yourself. Insurance companies use all kinds of tricks to deny your claim or offer you a pittance that might not cover your medical expenses, never mind other damages you deserve.
- Do not discuss your case with any insurance companies, including your own.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Some people prefer to negotiate their own cases with insurance companies. However, we do not recommend this, as insurance companies will use every trick in the book to deny a claim or pay a pittance. They know you do not know the law like an attorney does, so they can tell white lies about recovering the compensation you deserve.
Additionally, insurance companies will twist what you say to use it against you. When you retain an attorney to deal with the insurance company, the attorney is careful of how he or she states things so that the insurance company can’t use those statements against you.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
No attorney can tell you how much your case is worth without investigating the case and doing a thorough review of your medical records. In many cases, your attorney may need to hire expert witnesses, including medical professionals and accident scene investigators. They also have to interview witnesses.
You can recover two types of damages after a car accident: Compensatory damages and exemplary damages. Compensatory damages, which are intended to make you whole again, consist of economic damages and non-economic damages. The court orders defendants to pay exemplary damages if their actions or inactions are malicious, fraudulent, or oppressive.
Most accident victims may recover economic damages. However, those who suffer long-term or permanent disabilities caused by the accident or lose a loved one in an accident are usually the only people who recover non-economic damages.
The Social Security Administration defines long-term or permanent as disabilities lasting at least 12 months or that will result in death. Each insurance company may have its own definition of long-term or permanent.
Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages have a monetary value and include:
The amount of medical expenses you incur depends on the severity of your injuries. In some cases, you might have medical expenses that are related to the accident for the rest of your life.
Medical expenses include:
- Doctor’s appointments.
- Emergency room, ambulance, and Life Flight expenses.
- Surgeries and follow-up appointments.
- Physical therapy appointments.
- Cognitive therapy appointments.
- Occupational therapy appointments.
- Psychological therapy appointments.
- Prescriptions and prescribed over-the-counter medications.
- Ambulatory aids.
- Hand controls for your vehicle.
- Updates to your home, including but not limited to handrails, grab bars, wheelchair ramps, and widened doorways.
- Medical equipment, such as oxygen tanks.
- Home health care.
- Nursing homes, rehabilitation homes, and other short-term or long-term care.
After an accident, you might have a few days, weeks, or months where your injuries do not allow you to work. You can recover compensation to make up for lost income. If your injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities, you can also recover compensation for loss of future earning capacity from the time of the accident through the time you would normally retire.
If you are able to return to work despite your disabilities but can only take work that pays less than your previous salary or are only able to work part-time, you could still recover the loss of partial future earning capacity.
You can recover compensation to repair or replace personal property damaged or destroyed in an accident. Personal property might include your vehicle and anything of value in the vehicle, such as a computer, dry cleaning, and cell phones.
If you lose a loved one in a car accident, no amount of money will bring that person back. However, recovering damages helps you with the financial burden the at-fault driver laid at your feet.
In addition to other economic damages and non-economic damages, you could recover compensation to pay for:
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Cremation expenses.
- Certain probate court expenses.
- Probate attorney’s fees and costs.
Sometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages do not have a monetary value and include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to make changes such as taking prescriptions or using ambulatory aids for the rest of your life.
- Loss of use of a bodily part, such as a foot or an arm.
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your hearing, eyesight, or bladder.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer enjoy a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer participate in family activities and events.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, including home repair and maintenance, lawn maintenance, grocery shopping, and house cleaning.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
In cases where you can prove the defendant’s actions were malicious, fraudulent, or oppressive, you could recover exemplary damages. Unlike compensatory damages, which the court orders in an attempt to make you whole, the court orders exemplary damages as a punishment for the defendant’s actions or inactions that caused the accident.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a car accident, contact a personal injury lawyer for a free case evaluation as soon as possible.