Pursuing Car Accident Compensation
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are over two million people injured each year in accidents involving passenger vehicles. Traffic collisions commonly result in severe injuries that require extensive and ongoing medical treatment. Insurance companies commonly offer minimal settlement amounts that do not fully cover medical expenses and other costs resulting from the accident. An experienced motor vehicle accident attorney can establish another party’s liability and help you recover adequate car accident compensation for your losses.
It can be difficult to estimate the total financial losses you may incur following an accident-related injury. Determining current and future costs for loss of income, medical expenses, and continuing therapy can be a complex process. Many car accident victims are unaware of the full monetary value of their claim and accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company. An experienced attorney can help you determine the appropriate amount of compensation to pursue and help guide you through the legal process.
Seek Medical Attention
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, it is imperative that you receive medical care as soon as possible. Your health and well-being should be your primary concern following a collision. Seeking medical attention immediately will allow you to get the care that you need and also establish documentation of your injuries.
Following an Accident
Immediately following a traffic collision, it is important to start documenting the accident scene. Using the camera on your cell phone is a great way to preserve crucial evidence about your accident that may be lost before the responding officers arrive. If your car is operable and it is safe to do so, you should move your car to the side of the road and out of the danger of oncoming traffic.
In addition to taking photographic evidence of the scene, gathering accurate and current information about the other driver(s) involved can help expedite the legal process. It is important to obtain copies or photographs of the other driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, contact details, and insurance information, especially the policy number and coverage limits if they are available.
You should obtain contact information from anyone who may have witnessed the accident, and speak with them regarding their recollection of events. Recording statements that are made by witnesses or by other drivers can prevent them from changing their story or deflecting liability for the accident. While you should avoid making statements of any kind, be sure to record any other drivers’ admissions of fault.
Car accident victims commonly pursue compensation for the mental and physical distress that results from their injuries.
Each state has different laws regarding consent to record conversations. It is generally the best practice to inform all parties that you are recording the conversation so that the evidence cannot be called into question.
In addition to the other drivers and witnesses, you should also document the names and badge numbers of the responding officers. Their reports will contain details about your accident that may not have been readily available at the scene.
Road and Weather Conditions
Following your accident, it is important to document any inclement weather or road conditions that may have inhibited your ability to drive. Icy conditions, debris in the roadway, or malfunctioning traffic equipment could strengthen your claims against the insurance company.
Pursuing Compensation for Your Injuries
Determining the appropriate amount of damages to pursue can be difficult due to the number of factors involved. Compensatory damages can be divided into two main groups that contain several subcategories.
Pecuniary remuneration, or physical cost, relates to the direct financial losses that you have incurred from your accident. These damages have a specific value that can be demonstrated through evidentiary support.
Many accident victims are forced to pay exorbitant costs for ambulance fees, overnight hospital stays, physical therapy, and many other expenses related to care for their injuries. If your doctor believes that your injuries will require ongoing treatment in the future, your medical team and your attorney may try to estimate the likely costs.
Loss of Income
Following a car accident injury, many victims will lose the ability to earn an income, or have their earning capacity diminished. Even those that are still able to perform the duties of their job may have to take time off to recover, attend therapy sessions, and meet with their doctors.
Depending on the extent of the damage to your vehicle, your attorney may advise you to obtain repair or replacement cost estimates that can be used as evidence of your physical property losses.
In addition to economic damages, many victims will also pursue compensation for damages that do not have a specific monetary value that can be easily defined.
Pain and Suffering
Car accident victims commonly pursue compensation for the mental and physical distress that results from their injuries. Pain and suffering awards are typically based on the type and severity of the injury, combined with the likelihood of experiencing pain in the future. These types of damages may also include mental or emotional distress that is caused by the accident or the injury, including anxiety and stress-related mood disorders.
Each state awards these types of damages in different ways. Some states make provisions for pain and suffering damages after an accident for a general loss of enjoyment of life. In other states, it is assumed that there is always some degree of pain and suffering associated with an injury.
Loss of Consortium
When an injury from a car accident prevents a married couple from showing affection, including but not limited to sexual activity, it is termed loss of consortium. In contrast to the other types of damages, this claim would be made by the spouse of the injured party.
In certain cases, the victim of a car accident can pursue punitive damages if the other driver is engaging in unlawful and negligent behaviors that show a conscious disregard for the safety of others. Punitive damages are only awarded when the circumstances surrounding the accident merit such action. What constitutes gross negligence will vary between each state, but in general, driving while severely impaired on drugs or alcohol could be considered reckless behavior.
Without uninsured motorist coverage in your insurance policy, you will not be able to pursue general damages beyond the physical costs pertaining to your case.
Texting while driving can also be considered gross negligence. Drivers who are engaged with their phones are consciously taking their attention away from the task of driving. An experienced attorney will know how to identify these dangerous behaviors and prove negligence on the part of the responsible driver.
Insurance is a very complicated and specialized area of law. It is important to choose an attorney who understands the tactics that are commonly used by insurance companies and knows how to fight for the interests of their client.
Insurance adjusters are typically only concerned with saving their company money. They will use any means they can to discredit your injuries, blame you for the accident, and minimize the amount of compensation you receive. Adjusters will commonly go through documentation for your medical care and look for any inconsistencies. In addition, they will attempt to find proof of a preexisting condition that could have contributed to your injury. This is why it is of the utmost importance to never make any statements to insurance company representatives.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is intended to protect drivers who are involved in an accident with a driver who does not carry liability insurance. Underinsured coverage can supplement your claim if the at-fault driver’s policy limits are too low to cover your damages. Without this provision in your insurance policy, you will not be able to pursue general damages beyond the physical costs pertaining to your case.
Choosing an Attorney
Following a car accident, it is imperative to contact an attorney immediately so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries. By obtaining legal representation in a timely manner, you can put yourself in the best position to fight against unfair insurance practices. Your attorney can explain any special circumstances in your case and help to prepare you for the legal process involved.