Understanding what to do following a car accident can be daunting, especially when obtaining any compensation you may be entitled to. Although every situation is different, working with an experienced lawyer can be a big step in understanding the damages you may be entitled to and obtaining appropriate compensation for your car accident claim.
Here is an overview of what types of payment you may be eligible to receive, important things to know about filing a claim, and how a car accident lawyer can help you work through the process.
Why Should I File a Car Accident Claim?
Filing a car accident claim gives you the best possible chance of obtaining various types of compensation to help you manage the challenges you may experience following a car accident.
A car accident claim may provide the only option that will cover added expenses and financial hardships. Obtaining funds to help you pay your medical bills, make up for missed work, and cover other costs you could have never anticipated can help you focus on your recovery instead of financial hardship.
Even if you don’t know if you want to report a relatively minor car accident right away, keeping track of various types of evidence in case you change your mind later is critical.
What Types of Compensation Can I Receive Following a Car Accident?
Depending on the details surrounding the car accident you experienced, you may be eligible to seek financial compensation for various losses while returning to your normal life. The specific types of damages you seek can also impact the amount you can expect to receive once your claim has gone through a review.
Although every case is different, many car accident victims can seek these damages:
Your medical expenses are likely one of your most significant concerns following a car accident, especially a severe one that results in multiple costly procedures. Filing a car accident claim is crucial in obtaining the funds you need to cover these expenses, especially if the accident was not your fault.
In many circumstances, your medical records will be crucial in providing a detailed account of the injuries you experienced, any treatments and medications you require, and a breakdown of the costs associated with each aspect of your medical expenses.
Future Medical Expenses
Car accidents can also result in ongoing medical expenses. If your injuries require you to spend several weeks in a rehabilitation facility, schedule future surgeries, or even simply attend several follow-up appointments over a lengthy period, you will likely also qualify to have some or all of these expenses covered.
Although the exact amount that you may obtain compensation for can vary depending on the nature of the accident and the percentage (if any) you are at fault, many patients find that filing a car accident claim is a decisive step in managing ongoing medical expenses.
Your car accident claim may also provide compensation to repair or replace your vehicle. This type of compensation may also cover other types of damaged public or private property, such as someone’s yard or mailbox or a street sign or stoplight.
Taking plenty of photos and videos before leaving the scene of an accident is an essential step in ensuring you have evidence of any property damage that occurred, even if it seems minor.
Pain and Suffering
Healing your actual injuries can be far from the only medical challenge you face following a car accident. Although it is difficult to quantify the pain & suffering from a car accident compared to the financial costs of your medical treatment, they can still have a compelling impact on the current and future quality of your life.
Permanent physical disabilities can also fall into this category, especially if they mean that you can no longer participate in certain activities you once enjoyed. Determining financial compensation for these damages may be more challenging than covering expenses, but it can go a long way toward helping you rebuild your life.
Many victims of car accidents that are severe enough seek damages due to serious injuries that lead to lost income. Spending several days, weeks, or longer in the hospital or a rehabilitation facility usually means that you cannot work for an extended time, which can greatly impact your ability to cover basic expenses.
Although not every car accident results in a considerable amount of missed work, recovering these losses can be the difference between being able to cover crucial bills and not being able to make ends meet.
Future Lost Income
You may also qualify to receive damages for income that your medical team anticipates you will lose. Depending on the severity of your injuries, it may be several weeks or months before you can return to work, and you may be out of work for even longer than that if you have a particularly physical job.
Even once you can return to work, your injuries may allow you to only perform some of your typical duties or only work a limited number of hours or days each week. Your income may fall to the point where you cannot meet your basic needs.
Injuries that prevent you from driving to work, limit your overall mobility at work, or cause you to miss work frequently to attend medical or physical therapy appointments may also impact your income, especially once you have passed the number of days you can take off during a particular quarter or year. Although every case is different, you may obtain compensation to make up for future lost income until you heal completely.
What Types of Information Do I Need to File a Car Accident Claim?
Compiling as much evidence as possible surrounding what happened and your losses prior to filing your car accident claim is an important step in ensuring you can obtain the compensation you deserve.
Some of the most imperative types of information to help support your claim include:
- Photos and videos of any damage
- The other driver’s insurance and contact information
- A copy of the police report
- Copies of X-rays, prescriptions, and other medical records that provide evidence of specific injuries
How to File a Car Accident Claim
Knowing what steps to take to file a car accident claim can help you avoid delays and increase your likelihood of obtaining the best possible compensation. Here are six essential steps for filing an effective car accident claim.
Contact Your Car Insurance Company
Getting in touch with your car insurance company is the first step in obtaining compensation following a car accident. Your insurance company will work with the other driver’s insurance company to determine who was at fault and use that information to come up with the total amount of money that you are eligible to receive.
You must provide as many details as possible surrounding your side of the incident to best support your claim. This can be especially meaningful if the other driver also files a claim and you may be partially at fault.
File a Police Report
You will need to submit a copy of the police report that was made at the scene of the accident (or shortly afterward) to your insurance company because this document provides in-depth information on exactly what happened.
Although you are not required to report a minor accident that does not cause any injuries if both parties agree not to, it can still be a good idea to file a police report to document the accident in case you change your mind later.
Seek Legal Advice
Although your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company should theoretically handle most of the work of assessing damages and obtaining compensation for you, the reality is that these companies may not always be as helpful as you would like them to be.
Seeking legal advice early on can go a long way toward helping you better understand what types of compensation you may be entitled to and present your case in a way that increases your chances of obtaining the best possible settlement from car accident. While every car accident is unique, and no attorney can guarantee a particular amount of remuneration, working with an attorney with experience working with car accident victims has a higher likelihood of helping you obtain more damages than trusting your insurance company on its own.
Wait to Hear From Your Insurance Adjuster
Once you have filed a claim with your car insurance company, your claim will be assigned to an insurance adjuster who will review your claim, determine fault, and assess damages. You may need to provide additional information to this adjuster to help them make the best possible decisions, such as allowing the adjuster to inspect your vehicle to see specific damage and submitting updated medical records as you continue to receive treatment for ongoing injuries.
Remember that even your insurer’s adjuster may not be entirely honest with you or provide the most compensation you deserve. For this reason, you should still hire a lawyer for car accident to ensure the insurer treats you fairly and considers all your losses.
Get a Report From Your Insurance Adjuster
Once your insurance adjuster has reviewed the details of your claim, they can provide an estimate of the damages they acknowledge and will likely cover. They will send the information back to your insurance company, which can agree to offer a settlement based on the expected cost of repairs, medical bills, and other related expenses.
Receive Your Payment
Once your insurance adjuster has thoroughly reviewed your claim and consulted the other driver’s insurance company (if necessary) to determine the damages you deserve, they can authorize a payment for the appropriate amount. If you and your attorney determine this amount is acceptable, you can sign a release to accept the full claim.
You are not required to immediately take this claim if it does not cover your accident-related expenses or is otherwise unreasonable. The right lawyer can work with you and your insurance company to increase your chances of obtaining a more appropriate level of compensation.
How Much Is a Car Accident Claim Worth?
Because every car accident is different, it is impossible to estimate the amount of compensation you may be eligible for without reviewing the specific details of your claim.
Damages are typically based on the amounts of your medical bills, estimates of the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, the amount of time you will be out of work, and other related expenses. However, an attorney can work with you to determine what an appropriate level of compensation might look like and provide assistance if you experience problems when working with your insurance company.
Car Accident Victims Also Face Non-economic Losses
Economic losses from car accident injuries only make up part of how much your car accident claim is worth. If you have recently suffered car accident injuries, you have first-hand experience with the physical and emotional challenges related to your injuries.
Your lawyer will review your claim, use previous similar cases, and possibly consult with experts to review how your injuries have affected your life in ways that aren't easy to quantify.
Examples of non-economic damages that add to the value of a car accident claim include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
These intangible losses are difficult to quantify, so you need an experienced lawyer to review your claim.
Skilled car accident lawyers know the typical range for fair compensation from their experience and have connections with experts who can support your claim for damages.
Many factors can impact the value of your non-economic losses. However, three major considerations factor into non-economic losses in almost every claim:
Severity of Car Accident Injuries
In most cases, those who suffer the most severe injuries have car accident claims worth more. Severe injuries are more costly and directly lead to more economic and non-economic losses.
For example, someone who breaks their leg needs medical treatment, a cast, and some physical therapy. A simple break often heals completely in under a year and does not require surgery. Yet, someone who suffers a severe back injury, spinal cord injury, or brain injury might need surgery and often spend weeks in the hospital.
Nature of Car Accident Injuries
The nature of some car accident injuries can drastically increase how much their claim is worth. Some car accident injuries leave victims with lifelong pain and struggles. In addition to their physical pain, car accident victims with severe injuries that impact their function and mobility cope with negative feelings like anger, frustration, and embarrassment.
For example, those with permanent visible scars, those who suffered an amputation of digits or limbs, or those who suffered severe burns from an explosion during a car accident might receive more compensation because of their injuries.
If your treating physician(s) determine you will not fully recover from your car accident injuries, your car accident claim will be worth more than if you made a full recovery. Your long-term prognosis is strongly related to the severity and nature of your car accident injuries because they all document the amount of money your lawyer demands for damages in your claim.
Your lawyer will consider how your prognosis will impact your life and your work to determine the non-economic losses you've incurred from your injuries.
How Can I Increase the Value of My Car Accident Claim?
Although we cannot guarantee that your insurance company will provide an appropriate level of compensation for every car accident claim, working with a lawyer instead of handling all communication with your insurance company yourself can be necessary to ensure you obtain as much compensation as possible for your claim.
These legal professionals can help you work through the details of your claim to include all pertinent information and ensure your insurance company is handling it appropriately. Further, they can step in if your insurance company does not appear to be being as diligent about managing your claim as it could be. Contact an experienced personal injury Lawyer in Chicago for a free case evaluation and learn how much you may claim after your accident.