After being involved in a car accident, your main goal should be to better yourself physically, emotionally, and financially. The financial part comes in to play because you are going to be bombarded by medical bills and liens in relation to your treatment. You deserve to seek the help you need in order to become healthy once again.
You need to seek medical attention if you have been injured! A car accident can be devastating. You may be experiencing injuries and symptoms after your car accident that range from life threatening to less severe, or moderate. Complications can also arise in parts of your body that were not injured in the auto accident. Regardless, the person who was at fault, and their insurance, is responsible for paying for your treatment.
Finding out who will pay, and how much they will pay, can be a tricky process. Insurance adjusters will low-ball you. They will try to trick you in to admitting you were at fault even if you weren’t. You will be bogged down with paperwork that you may not understand. Your insurance company, or Medicare, Medicaid, and the like, will likely want to file a lien on any potential settlement.
One thing to remember is the type of damages, or compensation, you can collect after being involved in a car accident:
Cost of Medical Bills
Depending on the severity of your injuries after your car accident, your medical bills may very well be in the 100’s of thousands of dollars. If you were not at fault in the car accident then you should not have to be burdened with paying these bills. Medical bills are usually the first thing insurance companies assess when they are determining the value of your case or claim. They will look at whether you were transported in an ambulance, if you went to the hospital, if you continued treatment with your primary care physician or a specialist, and whether you went to see a chiropractor, physical therapist, or pain management specialist. They will also assess when you went to these treatment facilities. You need to seek the right medical treatment for your injuries. Remember goal #1: you need to better yourself physically, emotionally, and financially.
Future Medical Treatment
Not only can you receive compensation to pay for your medical expenses up to the date of settlement, but you can also receive compensation for your future medical expenses. These types of damages are harder to argue for. You will need a medical provider (i.e. doctor, chiropractor, etc.) essentially prove to the insurance company that you will certainly need procedures performed in the future in order to heal your injuries you sustained in the car accident. Insurance companies will usually balk at these requests initially. You need someone who will advocate for you against the insurance company to protect your rights.
If you are involved in a car accident, your vehicle will need to be fixed. Even if you have your own car insurance, which you should, you may be responsible for paying a deductible. However, if you were not at fault then the opposing person who was at fault should be held accountable so that no money comes out of your pocket to fix your vehicle, or at the very least you should be reimbursed.
Again, depending on the severity of your injury, you may have had to take time off from work. You will need to document this! Make sure people at your work can also vouch for you. In order to receive compensation for lost wages, you will need to prove your hourly pay and the amount of time off. It will also be easier if you can have a medical provider (i.e. doctor, chiropractor, etc.) draft letters or notes to your work stating that you need some time off to rest because of your injuries.
Loss of Earning Capacity
Loss of earning capacity refers to a decrease in a person’s ability to earn income. Lets say you are expecting to be promoted at work. You’re happy as can be. A promotion is what you have always wanted! You worked hard for this; earned it. Then all of a sudden a negligent and reckless driver slams in to you causing you to suffer serious injuries. That promotion is no longer practicable. You have to take quite a bit of time off and you continue to be in pain. You can no longer perform the duties of the job you have always been waiting to receive. If you can no longer move up the chain at work then the law allows you to collect the earning capacity that you lost, or will now fail to obtain.
For another example, say you injured your leg and cannot walk, or it is hard to get around comfortably. That will certainly impair your ability to work in the future, especially if the job requires activity or maneuvering. These types of injuries may qualify for lost earning capacity. The person who is at fault for your injuries is liable for your lost earning capacity. However, these types of claims are harder to prove. An experienced attorney will help you prepare an argument by collecting your work history, including skills, trade, and experience. You will also need a medical expert to determine the extent of your injury and advocate on how it will affect your ability to work after the car accident. Then, an economist will perform certain calculations to determine how much income you will lose in the future. This can be an impossible and/or expensive process if you do not hire an attorney to guide you along the way.
Pain and Suffering
Being involved in a serious auto accident can be a life-changing event. No one deserves to be hurt by another person’s negligent or reckless conduct. Many times, people who suffer physical injuries in a car accident will endure pain, grief, and emotional issues afterwards that are a result of the accident. These types of damages will certainly be the most controversial when you are presenting your case or claim to the insurance company. Assessing how much you deserve for the emotional toll the accident and your injuries has had on you is a tough job, which is often left up to the jury. There is not one calculation in the world that will tell you how much you deserve for the pain and suffering you have endured. That is why you need a personal injury attorney who will tell your story and advocate on your behalf. The attorney should be able to understand and acknowledge your emotional grief. He or she should then be able to advance your grief to the insurance company.
Other Types of Damages
You may also be entitled to other types of damages, including but not limited to loss of an extremity, loss of consortium, inability to have children as a result of the accident, and so on. Much like pain and suffering, these types of damages are not easily calculated dollar amounts.
What About Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages is compensation awarded to an injured party that goes beyond that which is necessary to compensate the individual for losses and that is intended to punish the wrongdoer. The defendant has to be especially careless when causing the accident, for instance driving while drunk. You may think the opposing party was exceptionally careless, but in many instances the law does not allow for punitive damages. Simply put, not every case allows for punitive damages. An insurance company will certainly not award you punitive damages. You will more than likely have to go to court to receive them.
To better understand the type of compensation applicable to your case, call one of our attorneys today at (816) 200-2900. We will guide you through the claims process and get you the money you deserve.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.