Car accidents come in all sizes, from one vehicle to a multi-car pile-up. Injuries range from minor to catastrophic, including death, depending on speed, size of the vehicle, and angle of impact. Even a fender-bender could be psychologically traumatic, especially if you have a child or vulnerable person in the vehicle with you.
Let a car accident lawyer handle your case to relieve your worry about pursuing the compensation you need for your losses and damages. Your focus should be on recovering from your traumatic experience.
Car Accident Injuries
The best-case scenario is to avoid a car accident, or if you cannot, that your injuries will be minor. However, you cannot always prevent an accident. Sometimes an accident occurs in a split second, or traffic and obstacles block you in, giving you no time or room to react or maneuver.
In any instance, accident injuries can include:
- Cuts, scratches, scrapes, bruises, and bumps
- Face and eye injuries
- Strains and sprains
- Pulled and torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries
- Internal injuries
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Simple and compound fractures
- Crushed bones
- Crush injuries
- Road rash
- Ear injuries, including deafness from an explosion
- Shrapnel injuries if a car accident involves an explosion
- Chemical and thermal burns
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Amputation of a limb or digit (during the accident)
In addition to injuries you might suffer directly from the accident, you could suffer secondary injuries, such as infections that could lead to amputation. You are more likely to suffer from additional infections if you have a compromised immune system, whether from a preexisting condition or medication, including chemotherapy.
You could also suffer extra pain and suffering if the accident exacerbates an existing injury. The at-fault driver is also responsible for medical expenses and other damages since you would not have experienced those expenses but for the accident.
How Do I Pay for Medical Expenses While Waiting for a Settlement or Trial Award?
After a car accident, you likely have injuries of some degree. Even minor injuries can keep you out of work for some time. One of the first questions the average person asks is how to pay medical expenses if they are not working.
Most insurance companies would rather settle than go to court. Court costs for an insurance company can be high and waste money they would ultimately have had to pay in a settlement. While settling is much faster than going to court, you could still lose several weeks of income.
You can cover medical expenses from your accident with your auto and health insurance policies. If you have accruing medical expenses, an attorney can write a letter of intent to pay, advising your medical professionals and requesting they hold off on collections.
Recovering Damages After a Car Accident
After a car accident, you can typically recover compensation for two types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. The law breaks compensatory damages into economic and non-economic damages.
Most people can recover some compensatory damages. While money cannot erase physical and psychological injuries, it can help reduce financial stress from lost wages or losing a loved one's income.
Special damages, often called economic damages, are the most common compensation an accident victim can recover after an accident. Economic damages have a monetary value and include:
Almost everyone in a car accident can collect medical expenses, including reimbursement for:
- Doctors' appointments
- Initial and follow-up surgeries
- Follow-up appointments
- Appointments with specialists
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Cognitive therapy
- Psychological therapy
- Vehicle hand controls and modifications
- Ambulatory aids
- Over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, and other items a doctor might prescribe
- Upgrades to your home, including wheelchair ramps, grab bars, and widened doorways.
Some people might not suffer major physical injuries but psychological issues after a traumatic accident. For example, a mother might have post-traumatic stress disorder if her vehicle was struck with her child was in the rear seat. Even though the mother and child did not suffer significant injuries, the fear of losing a child because of the accident could cause anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you cannot work after an accident, you could recover lost wages. Additionally, if accident injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities, or if you lose a loved one in an accident, you could recover your loss of earning capacity.
Even if you can work, if you can only work part-time or must take a lower-paying job, you could recover the difference in salaries. In most cases, you can collect compensation for loss of future earning capacity in a lump sum calculated based on your expected retirement date.
In addition to other damages, you could also recover compensation to pay for any personal property destroyed or damaged in the accident. Personal property includes your vehicle and anything of value in the vehicle, such as computers, cell phones, or even clothing you just picked up from the dry cleaner.
If you lost a loved one in a car accident, you could recover compensation for funeral, burial, and cremation costs. You could also recover compensation for certain probate costs, including probate court filing fees and a probate attorney.
Some accident victims may be able to recover non-economic damages. Non-economic damages usually result from long-term or permanent disabilities and a loved one lost in a car accident.
Non-economic damages do not have a set monetary value and include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life if you have to change your lifestyle, use ambulatory aids, take prescription medications, or make other changes
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy spending time with your family or participating in family activities and events
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a hand or foot
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as bladder control or eyesight
- Amputation, whether during the accident, later because doctors cannot repair the damage, or because of infections
- Inconvenience if you must hire someone for domestic services, such as home repair and maintenance, lawn maintenance, grocery shopping, or house cleaning
- Compensation for excessive scarring and disfigurement
If someone's gross negligence caused the accident, a plaintiff could recover punitive damages. However, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant's actions were intentional or grossly negligent.
How much will a car accident attorney cost?
The initial case evaluation is free. Car accident lawyers typically work on a contingency basis, which means that they only receive a fee if you get paid. We will go over a contingency contract with you during your case evaluation. This contract outlines the attorney's fees deducted from your settlement or trial award. The agreement will consider your losses to ensure your remaining settlement amount will be enough for medical expenses and other damages.
We will also review the additional costs a case might incur, such as depositions, filing fees, expert witnesses, and other case expenses. Many of these expenses are only associated with taking a case to court. However, some may be involved in settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
If you win your case, the insurance company forwards your attorney a check. Your lawyer will pay outstanding medical expenses for you, reimburse your insurance companies, and deduct attorney's fees and any costs fronted for your case. The lawyer will then cut you as a check for the remainder.
Do I Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
It is highly recommended to retain an experienced car accident lawyer for your car accident injury case. Often, people want to try to save money by settling on their own. However, experience has shown that those who retain an attorney recover substantially more compensation than someone who tries to negotiate with the insurance companies and their expensive attorneys.
Why Do Attorneys Almost Always Obtain a Better Settlement?
Insurance companies are in business to make a profit. Every claim they have to pay out cuts into their bottom line. Thus, insurance companies will use tricks to deny your claim, or at the least, justify a low settlement.
An insurance company trick is to get you to talk about the accident. The representative then twists your words to assign blame to you. An insurance company might also agree that its client was at fault to get you to trust them. Once the representative gains your trust, it will offer a low amount, hoping you accept it thinking they are honest.
Instead of being taken advantage of by the insurance company, allow an experienced car accident attorney to negotiate your settlement.
How Else Can a Car Accident Attorney Help?
When you retain an attorney, they will begin investigating your case. The sooner you can retain a car accident lawyer, the better the likelihood of preserving evidence. Evidence from your accident scene could be washed away by the weather, inadvertently destroyed by police, or inadvertently or purposely destroyed by defendants.
If the police release a vehicle back to the defendant, they may have repairs done before damage can be documented.
A lawyer also has the money to retain experts needed to prove your case. Experts can testify that your injuries caused or will cause long-term or permanent disabilities, that you suffered psychological issues, or that the accident happened as you say so. A lawyer can use a network of experts to help affirm your damages and losses.
A lawyer will review your medical records and work with doctors to determine whether your injuries will become long-term or permanent disabilities. They will approximate the cost of long-term medical care, lost wages, and other long-term consequences of the accident to determine a fair settlement.
A car accident attorney can also help hold off medical collections on reporting and collecting unpaid medical bills until you receive a settlement or a trial award.
These are only a few ways that a car accident lawyer can help you navigate the challenging settlement process following an accident. Though each case is unique, an experienced car accident lawyer can simplify the confusion and take the burden of your financial future off your shoulders. Contact a car accident lawyer today for a free case evaluation and learn how they can help you fight for what's yours.