Category: Car Accidents

Auto accident involving two cars

10 Factors That Can Affect What Your Car Accident Case is Worth

The value of a car accident claim depends on numerous factors, many of which are within your control. Understanding how these factors affect your claim can help you avoid errors and mistakes that could lower the value of the claim.

Ten Factors That Can Impact the Value of a Car Accident Claim

Issues that can affect how much you might receive for a car accident claim include:

1.  Liability for Causing the Collision

To recover full compensation for damages caused by a car crash, the other driver or party must be entirely responsible for causing the car accident. If there is any doubt as to who caused the crash, the value of your claim decreases. Therefore, investigating the cause of the crash and gathering evidence to prove liability is crucial.

Allegations of comparative fault are used to reduce the value of your claim. The laws regarding comparative fault vary by state. In California, you could be 99 percent at fault for the cause of a car crash and recover up to one percent of the value of your damages. 

However, in Nevada, if you are 51 percent or more at fault for the cause of the crash, you cannot recover any money for your damages. In both states, the amount of compensation you receive for your claim decreases by the percentage of fault assigned to you for causing the car wreck.

2.  Statements About the Accident

Any statements you make at the accident scene can impact the value of your injury claim. For instance, if you say, “I’m sorry,” you could be accused of admitting you were at fault for the cause of the accident. Never apologize or admit fault at the accident scene. 

Likewise, any statements you give to an insurance company or questions you answer for an insurance claims adjuster could hurt your claim. Insurance adjusters are trained to “get people to talk.” The more you talk about the accident, the better chance the adjuster has of obtaining information the company can use to deny or undervalue your claim.

In most cases, it is wise to talk to a car accident attorney as soon as possible, especially if the claims adjuster is pressuring you to make a formal statement.

3.  Severity of Injuries

The severity and type of injuries a person sustains in a car crash impact the value of a claim. Traumatic and catastrophic injuries increase the value of a car accident claim. Minor injuries that do not require significant medical treatment lower the value of the claim.

Examples of injuries that can increase the value of a claim include, but are not limited to:

  • Paralysis
  • Severe burns
  • Amputations or loss of limbs
  • Loss of vision or hearing
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Any permanent disability

Severe injuries generally result in more damages. Medical and personal care are more expensive for traumatic injuries. Also, traumatic injuries typically result in a higher amount of lost income because the duration of the recovery is longer. 

4.  Delays in Medical Treatment

Insurance companies search for ways to deny valid car accident claims. Delays in medical care give companies a reason to question your claim. 

The insurance company may claim that the car crash did not cause your injuries. It may argue that if you had been injured in the car accident, you would have seen a doctor immediately. It is generally best for your health and a future injury claim to see a doctor as quickly as possible after a car accident. 

5.  Financial Damages

If another driver is entirely responsible for causing the car accident, all financial damages should be reimbursed in a car accident claim. Therefore, the higher your financial damages, the higher the value of your car accident claim.

Financial damages in a car accident claim can include:

  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Medical expenses
  • Personal care costs
  • Medications and medical equipment
  • Therapies and counseling
  • In-home health care
  • Help with household chores
  • Travel expenses
  • Legal costs

Careful documentation is vital. You can only receive reimbursement for financial damages that you can prove you incurred.

6.  Activities During Recovery

Remember, nothing you post online is private. A defense attorney may gain access to your social media posts and other information posted online. It is best to avoid using social media accounts until after your car accident claim has been settled.

If you were to post a picture of yourself at your niece’s pool party, a jury might believe you are lying about the extent of your damages. It would not matter that you were in chronic pain and left 10 minutes later. The perception would have already been created.

Failing to follow your doctor’s treatment plan can also hurt the value of your claim. An insurance company may argue that you caused your injuries to become worse by not following the treatment plan. Because you caused your injuries to worsen, you do not deserve full compensation.

To avoid problems with your car accident claim, follow your doctor’s orders, avoid activities that contradict your injury claim, and stay off social media.

7.  Pre-Existing Conditions

Insurance companies often use pre-existing conditions as a way to undervalue car accident claims. The company claims your injuries are from a prior accident or medical condition instead of being caused by the car crash.

Having a pre-existing condition does not mean that you cannot recover compensation for a car accident claim. However, it can complicate the case. Always tell your attorney about any prior accidents and any medical conditions.

Most states require insurance companies and defendants to accept accident victims “as is.” In other words, you are entitled to compensation even if the accident caused a prior condition to become worse.

8.  Available Insurance Coverage

California and Nevada require drivers to carry minimum liability insurance. Unfortunately, the minimum insurance coverage is very low. If you sustain a severe injury, your car accident claim is likely to exceed the minimum coverage amount.

However, the insurance company is only required to pay your claim up to the policy limits. Therefore, the amount of insurance the other driver carries could impact the value of your car accident claim.

You could be entitled to additional compensation from your insurance company if you carry underinsured motorist coverage. 

9.  Permanent Disabilities and Impairments

Accident victims who sustain disabilities and permanent impairments are entitled to compensation for future damages such as:

  • Ongoing medical treatment
  • Personal care 
  • Future loss of income and benefits
  • Decreases in earning potential
  • Future pain, suffering, and loss of quality of life

The amount of future damages may be significant. Lost wages over a person’s lifetime could total millions of dollars. Medical experts, financial experts, economists, and other experts can calculate the value of future damages based on numerous factors.

10.  Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer

The insurance company is not going to tell you how much your claim is actually worth. It wants to pay as little as possible to settle your claim. Without an attorney, you cannot be sure that the insurance company is offering a fair amount to settle your claim.

Also, most insurance companies are familiar with the record and reputation of lawyers who handle injury claims. Because the insurance company knows that you have someone on your side who is knowledgeable about injury claims, it may take the claim more seriously and offer a higher settlement amount to avoid litigation.

Therefore, hiring a personal injury lawyer may give you the best chance of recovering the maximum value for your car accident claim.

Man suffering from neck pain after car accident injury

Should You Call a Lawyer if You’re Sore After a Car Accident?

Knowing when to call a lawyer after a car accident can be difficult. The truth is that it is never too early to contact a lawyer about a car accident. Obtaining advice about your legal rights and your options for recovering compensation for damages is helpful after any traffic accident.

Why am I Sore After my Car Accident?

It is common to experience some soreness when you are involved in a car accident. Even a minor “fender-bender” or low-impact car accident can result in serious injuries. The impact of the collision jolts and twists your body in unnatural positions, which can cause a variety of injuries.

Additionally, an airbag deploying or seatbelt locking could cause an injury. Violently striking the dashboard, steering wheel, door, or window can cause injuries. Also, debris flying through the air can strike your body, causing additional injuries.

Common car accident injuries include, but are not limited to:

  • Whiplash and neck injuries
  • Shoulder and back injuries
  • Head and brain injuries
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Lacerations and puncture wounds
  • Internal bleeding and organ damage
  • Amputations
  • Burns
  • Spinal cord injuries

Any of the above injuries can cause aches and pains. The severity and type of injury typically dictate the level of soreness or pain a person experiences. Also, a person’s overall health and age can be additional factors in how long it takes to heal and the pain involved in healing.

Soft tissue injuries can cause soreness after a car wreck, such as injuries to tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Ruptured discs, hairline fractures, and pinched nerves can also cause soreness.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to detect certain types of car accident injuries, such as soft tissue damage. It can also take days or weeks for the soreness to intensify. Therefore, an accident victim may not realize immediately following a car crash that the accident caused an injury.

When Should you see a Physician?

While some soreness after a car accident is common, soreness that persists or intensifies could be a sign of a severe injury. Because it is never wise to try to diagnose yourself, seeing a doctor after a car accident is always a good idea, regardless of whether you believe you were injured in the wreck.

Only a doctor can correctly diagnose car accident injuries and develop a treatment plan. Seeing a doctor immediately or soon after a car accident protects your health. It also helps protect your legal rights.

If the soreness is an indication of a more severe injury, you need to know about the injury as soon as possible so you can receive medical treatment. Prompt medical treatment increases your chances of recovering fully from an accident injury.

However, prompt diagnosis of a car accident injury also improves your chance of recovering full compensation from the driver who caused the car crash. Insurance companies use delays in medical care to claim that the car accident did not cause a victim’s injuries.

The insurance company argues that the injury could have occurred after the crash. In some cases, if medical care was not sought until several weeks or a couple of months after a car crash, it can be more challenging to prove that the collision caused the injuries.

Therefore, it is a good idea to see a physician for a full examination after a car accident. Your physician can document your current symptoms and diagnose any hidden injuries that you may not be aware of immediately following the accident.

Damages Caused by Car Accident Injuries

Depending on the type and severity of your car accident injury, you may be entitled to significant compensation from the at-fault driver. The value of a car accident claim depends on several factors including, but not limited to:

  • The type of injuries you sustained;
  • The severity of your injuries.
  • Your financial losses;
  • Whether you sustained permanent impairments;
  • The available insurance coverage; and,
  • Whether you may have been partially at fault for the cause of the car accident.

Common damages that are included in car accident claims are:

  • Cost of medical treatment;
  • Personal care costs;
  • Loss of income;
  • Future loss of income or diminished earning potential;
  • Permanent disabilities and impairments;
  • Physical suffering and pain;
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish;
  • Loss of quality or enjoyment of life; and,
  • Other financial losses associated with the accident or your injuries.

An experienced car accident lawyer can help you investigate the cause of the car accident and gather evidence to prove fault and liability. The attorney can also help you document damages to maximize compensation for a personal injury claim.

Texas Car Accident Police Reports: Everything You Should Know

What are the first things you should do if you are involved in a car accident? Always make sure that there are no severe injuries in any of the vehicles. If there are, call 9-1-1 immediately. You should also move your car to the side of the road if the accident was only a minor fender bender. This helps keep traffic moving and makes sure another accident won’t happen.

Your next step should be to call the police so you can get a report of the accident. This should be done regardless of the severity of the accident.

Do I have to call the police?

Texas law requires that an accident must be reported to the police if it results in an injury, fatality, or damage to a car that makes it not safe to drive anymore. While you may be tempted to drive-off if there are no injuries or damage, this is not recommended. You should call the non-emergency police number and have an officer come and file a car accident report.

Can I just settle minor crashes with the other driver?

You can, but again, this is not recommended. Some injuries like concussions may not be fully observable until days after the accident. Your vehicle may have sustained more damage than you think it did. Getting an officer to write a police report will be a record of the accident and what happened. This is useful in the future if you find out damage or injuries were more severe than you first believed.

What happens if I flee the scene?

You are legally required to report any damage to property that costs more than $1,000. You will not be able to assess the exact amount of damage after an accident. To be safe, do not leave the scene of the crime – even with minor accidents. You will also get in trouble if you flee the scene of an accident that causes an injury or fatality. If you do flee severe accidents, you face 2 to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000.

What will an officer do at the scene of a car accident?

This depends on the severity of an accident. If there are severe injuries, the responding officers will help those people first. Next, the officer will interview the people in the wreck to find out what happened. This could be the drivers, passengers, and witnesses. They will also assess the scene and take notes of factors like weather, cell phone use, car conditions, or if someone was driving under the influence of a substance. The officer may also decide some fault of the accident and hand out driving citations.

What will be in the car accident report?

It is not typical for an officer to write the complete report at the scene of the accident. Generally, they take notes or a worksheet and then file the complete report once they go back to their station. They will use all of the information they collected at the scene and describe the facts and who they believe is at fault for the accident.

How do I get a copy of my police report?

The officer will more than likely hand you their card when they are done with their assessment of the accident. If they do not do this, ask them for their contact information. You can also make a public information request with your local police station for information relating to the accident, your report, and any charges you may be facing.

What happens if the police report says that you were at fault?

It can be hard to change the opinion of an officer. If you were found at fault for the accident, it would be in your best interest to hire a car accident lawyer. This is especially true if the other driver decides to sue you to recover compensation for their injuries or damage to their property. A lawyer can also help you defend any criminal charges you may be facing to either get a lesser sentence or fine.

What do I need to show my car insurance carrier?

Texas requires that all drivers have some form of insurance or they must prove that they have the financial means to cover damage in a potential accident. When you have any type of car accident, even a minor one, you should file a claim with your insurance. They may offer some payment for damage to your car, medical bills, or even lost wages. Most insurance companies will require that you have a police report to file a claim for compensation.