In one recent year, the CDC estimated that vehicle crash injuries affect about three million people each year, amounting to $75 billion in medical care and productivity losses.
Car accidents often lead to damages for the injured party, paid either as a settlement agreement or through the court. Many factors contribute to how much the at-fault party might pay as part of a settlement. If you were in a car accident, discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the complex legal process.
Determining Fault in an Accident
After an accident, the parties involved exchange insurance information, take photos of the scene and vehicles, and the police write a report about the accident. The accident report documents essential evidence, but it’s not the only evidence that’s useful to support your case. An experienced attorney can help you gather all relevant evidence, such as witness testimony, damage expenses, and medical bills to fight for adequate compensation for your losses.
Whether you think you might have partially caused the accident or blame the other driver for the crash, call a car accident lawyer to review your case and determine your options. A car accident lawyer should know how to negotiate with insurance companies and fight sham claims to get you the settlement you deserve.
Types of Physical Injuries
People in car accidents can suffer from many injuries, including:
- Cuts, sprains, and bruises: Shrapnel from the accident and bumps on the steering wheel or another part of a car can cause severe cuts and bruises that adversely affect an individual’s ability to work and engage in their everyday activities. If cuts and bruises require medical attention, you may recover compensation for the hospital bills, ambulance bills, medication, and other medical expenses.
- Spinal cord injuries: The spinal cord allows the brain and the rest of the body to communicate with each other. Symptoms of spinal cord injuries can depend on the extent of the physical damage, but may include numbness, muscle weakness, and paralysis.
- Head and brain injuries:Head and brain injuries are common in car accidents, particularly in rear-end collisions. For example, a car accident victim might strike their head on the windshield or side paneling. The likelihood of injury increases if the vehicle doesn’t have airbags or they don’t deploy properly. Victims can suffer from concussions, skull fractures, or severe traumatic brain injuries. Symptoms of traumatic brain injuries can vary widely and range from severe headaches to coma or brain death. Traumatic brain injury symptoms might not immediately appear, so seek medical attention after any car accident.
- Neck and back injuries: Any car accident can cause severe neck and back injuries, including from herniated discs. Even in low-speed collisions, the body’s twisting due to impact can cause significant pain. These injuries often require rehabilitation, physical therapy, and other measures to manage lifelong pain.
- Internal injuries: Various internal injuries can result from an accident, including punctured lungs and internal hemorrhaging. Almost all of these severe injuries can result in extensive, long-term health problems.
- Dental and facial injuries: Injuries to the head, face, and mouth can happen as the skull collides with various surfaces in the car. Mouth and face injuries resulting from the collision include fractures, lacerations, and cracked or chipped teeth.
- Whiplash: Whiplash caused by forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement is common in rear-end accidents. Whiplash is more severe when an individual doesn’t expect the accident and their body cannot brace for impact. Common whiplash symptoms include soreness, limited range of motion, headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. Less common symptoms include blurred vision, memory problems, ringing in the ears, and depression resulting from an accompanying head injury or concussion.
- Wrist and arm injuries: It’s an instinct when seeing an oncoming car for a driver to place their arms on the steering wheel to brace for impact, but this increased rigidity may cause more harm than good. The increased tension within the body can cause serious injuries to a person’s arms and wrists, such as broken bones and dislocated joints.
You must see a doctor and get an accurate reporting of injuries you sustained directly after an accident. Tell the doctor exactly what you’re feeling. All information is relevant when formulating a case to bring to trial or when calculating damages for a possible settlement.
What Damages Can You Recover After an Accident?
The most commonly recovered damages in a car accident settlement include:
- Property damage: The most likely damage from a car accident is the actual damage to the car itself. If destruction occurs to other property (e.g., phone or laptop), those losses can also factor into a compensatory award. Photographs of the scene and destroyed property provide proof of damages.
- Medical expenses: All medical expenses, including hospital bills, medication, and rehabilitation costs, might entitle you to recover compensation. Keep an accurate and full log of all injuries and the steps taken to remedy them.
- Emotional distress: Car accidents undoubtedly cause psychological distress, such as PTSD, following a car accident. Symptoms do not always immediately appear, but once psychological pain surfaces, it may require professional treatment. Costs related to psychological treatment may qualify for inclusion in a car accident settlement.
- Lost income: If you can no longer work, must work fewer hours, or must perform fewer work responsibilities, you may qualify for compensation to cover lost income. Under civil statutes, the negligent party is responsible for lost wages as part of any restitution made due to an accident. If you cannot return to work for an extended time, your lawyer can consult an economic expert to help project potential lost earnings.
- Loss of enjoyment: An accident may prevent an individual from engaging in everyday activities and hobbies. Settlement discussions can consider these noneconomic losses. Consult an experienced car accident lawyer to discuss the potential value of your claim.
Insurance companies and courts consider all the elements mentioned above when discussing settlement amounts. Due to the subjectiveness of a claim based on the specifics of your case, it’s difficult to determine a definitive answer to the question: “How much can I expect from a car accident settlement?” Work with an experienced car accident attorney to navigate the legal process and negotiate the highest possible settlement.
Pain and Suffering
You can receive compensation for emotional distress in a settlement agreement, or a court can calculate your pain and suffering to compensate you at trial. Emotional distress is a noneconomic damage, meaning it doesn’t have an actual monetary value. Calculating pain and suffering is difficult, which is why an experienced car accident lawyer will gather evidence to demonstrate the physical and emotional distress you’ve endured. For example, not having the ability to pick up your kids or drive to and from the grocery store can add to your pain and suffering.
Various factors influence the extensiveness of your injuries, including:
- The pain you’ve endured from your physical injuries and related medical treatment;
- Emotional or mental trauma;
- Chronic pain or discomfort;
- Your diminished quality of life; and
- Your inability to complete specific tasks.
Quantitatively demonstrating these factors and negotiating with the other party or parties and the insurance companies is something you should not do alone. Experienced car accident attorneys help people like you get the settlements they deserve.
Wrongful Death Claims
If a driver killed your loved one in a car accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. A state’s wrongful death statute may allow the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased, or the estate’s personal representative, to bring wrongful death claims. To prove wrongful death, you must ascertain liability.
Therefore, the family member must prove:
- The defendant (driver) owed the deceased a duty;
- The driver breached that duty;
- The driver caused damage to the deceased.
If you can prove these elements, you can recover compensation for:
- Funeral and burial costs;
- Medical expenses;
- Loss of future income from the deceased;
- Loss of companionship (if you are filing as the surviving spouse);
- Loss of love and care (if you are filing as the deceased’s child); and
- Pain and suffering.
When Should I Contact an Experienced Attorney?
As soon as possible. The statute of limitations provides a maximum amount of time after an accident to initiate a legal proceeding. A car accident claim’s statute of limitations varies from state to state. In Texas, for example, it’s two years. If you don’t bring your case before that deadline, you will lose your right to receive compensation for your damages.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney for More Information
When you’re the victim of a car accident, the legal process can seem impossible as you also struggle with medical treatment, family responsibilities, and loss of work. Contact an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your case’s details and determine your options to get compensation.
Patino Law Firm
1802 N 10th St
McAllen, TX 78501