Car accident injuries mean expensive medical bills and, in some cases, a long and uncertain wait for compensation. How much money should you expect? What value does the insurance company place on your injuries?
Many clients of our firm want to know what they can expect from a car accident settlement. Unfortunately, there is no single answer. Instead, the amount you might expect varies drastically from one case to the next, even among victims with relatively similar injuries.
Who Caused Your Accident?
The limitations of the insurance policy that covers the person or entity legally liable for your accident can have a substantial impact on the compensation you receive. In many auto accidents, that party is the other driver involved in the accident. In Massachusetts, drivers who carry minimum liability insurance may have only $20,000 in bodily injury coverage for each individual injured in an accident, with $40,000 maximum coverage for all individuals injured in the accident.
Truck drivers, on the other hand, must carry minimum liability insurance covering up to $750,000 of damages. Other commercial drivers may carry significantly higher insurance policies for their drivers.
Likewise, other entities who contributed to your accident, such as the manufacturer of a faulty vehicle or its component parts, may offer significantly higher payouts for damages that occur due to those faulty components. In some cases, those companies may take responsibility for payment directly, rather than passing it off to an insurance company. You may also see higher compensation amounts when a mechanic who recently worked on the vehicle failed to repair a mechanical problem, leading to the accident.
When you have an accident involving multiple other parties, especially other parties who also suffer serious injury in the accident, it may also limit the compensation you receive. Insurance companies often offer a maximum payout amount for anyone injured in a single accident, especially a car accident. In some cases, this can significantly limit the compensation you receive for your injuries.
Consulting with an attorney can offer a much better look at the entities liable for your accident, allowing you to identify everyone who shares liability for the accident. If multiple parties contributed to your accident, it can substantially increase the compensation you receive compared to a single liable entity.
What Did Your Injuries Cost?
Generally speaking, the more severe your injuries following a serious accident, the higher the compensation you can expect to receive for your injuries. While your compensation in a car accident settlement may not exceed the maximum offered by the insurance policy that covers the legally-liable entity, you can seek to include all of your expenses in a claim to help you receive as much compensation as possible. Be sure to consider:
When you have serious injuries from a car accident, your medical bills can quickly skyrocket. Recovering from traumatic brain injury, for example, can cost between $85,000 and $3 million, depending on its severity. Amputation of a limb may cost $30,000 to $60,000 in initial hospital costs, with that amount added on again in aftercare. Surgical repair of a broken bone can cost $7,500 or more, depending on any complications—and that does not count the cost of physical therapy as you start walking again and try to regain mobility and flexibility in the impacted limb.
Talk with an attorney about what medical expenses to include in your claim. You may want to consider:
- Ambulance transport
- Emergency care
- Tests and procedures
- Therapy, including physical, occupational, and psychological therapy to help you recover from the accident
- Modifications to your home to help with physical independence with serious injuries
- Durable medical equipment
With serious injuries, you often cannot return to work immediately, if at all. Some injuries may require long-term hospitalization or many procedures that prevent you from returning to work. Other injuries can restrict your ability to handle your job responsibilities: with a traumatic brain injury, for example, you might struggle to deal with customers or to handle your normal creative job responsibilities, while even a broken bone could prevent you from completing very physical job requirements.
Many other factors could also contribute to missed work:
- Pain medications, which could prevent you from working due to insurance concerns, sleepiness, or decreased cognitive ability.
- Pain from your injuries.
- Appointments and procedures.
While your employers might have a legal obligation to allow modifications that will allow you to work from home or work on a limited basis while recovering from your injuries, others may not have that obligation or capacity. Lost wages can add up quickly, especially if you do not have adequate sick time to use as you recover from your accident. Including compensation for lost wages as part of your demand for payment can make it easier to pay your bills and receive compensation for that financial loss.
If your injuries permanently prevent a return to your former profession and industry, you might also seek damages for your lost earning potential, which can help you go back to school or seek certifications that could help you achieve other employment.
Pain and Suffering
Not only do car accident injuries cause significant physical pain and suffering, you may suffer a great deal of emotional anguish as you work through the ramifications of your injuries and your new limitations. Many insurance companies base payouts for pain and suffering on the extent of your injuries and your medical expenses. By talking with an attorney, however, you may significantly increase your compensation for pain and suffering by discussing how the accident impacts you, uniquely, and how you suffer based on your injuries.
Any time you suffer serious injuries in an auto accident, having an attorney on your side can help streamline your claim, maximizing the amount of money you can hope to receive in a car accident settlement and minimizing the time necessary to get those funds in your hands. An experienced attorney can also provide you with a better idea of how much compensation you should expect for your injuries. Contact a car accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible to start your claim.