You may have sustained significant financial and personal losses due to a car accident. A car accident claim can enable you to pursue compensation from the other driver or another party at fault for the crash. But one of the most important questions you may have after a car accident is about the value of your car accident claim.
The value of your claim will depend on various factors, such as the severity of your injuries, liability for the accident, and the availability of insurance or other financial resources.
Continue reading to learn more about how much compensation you could pursue in a car accident claim and what to expect during the claims process. Reach out to a car accident lawyer.
What Compensation Can You Recover in a Car Accident Claim?
You may have various expenses and losses from a car accident for which you deserve compensation.
A car accident claim can provide you with financial relief for:
- Car repair bills or reimbursement for the value of your totaled car
- Medical treatment and rehabilitation, including hospitalization, surgeries, prescription drugs, and physical/occupational therapy
- Long-term healthcare and personal care for permanent disabilities caused by your injuries
- Lost wages and income from time taken off work or from reduced earnings in a light or modified-duty role during recovery from injuries
- Lost future earning capacity and job benefits due to permanent disability from working
- Physical pain and emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life caused by disabilities or permanent, visible scarring and disfigurement
What Steps Should You Take After a Car Accident to Increase the Value of Your Claim?
You can take several steps immediately after a car accident and in the days and weeks following the crash that will help protect your rights to maximum financial recovery.
These steps can include:
- Exchange insurance information with every driver involved in the accident
- Report the crash to law enforcement
- Take photos and videos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, visible injuries you suffered, skid marks, traffic signs and signals, and weather, lighting, or road conditions
- Seek prompt medical attention to have a doctor examine you for any injuries you may have suffered in the accident
- Follow your medical provider’s treatment plan and instructions, and do not delay your treatment or end treatment early
- Keep copies of any documentation of your expenses, including car repair bills and hospital invoices
- Gather your pay stubs or income statements if you miss time from work or experience a reduction in your earnings during your recovery from injury
- Request copies of the police accident report and your medical records
- Start a journal to document your recovery and the pain and physical difficulties that adversely affect your daily life
- Avoid social media during your injury recovery and your car accident claims, as insurers sometimes monitor accident victims’ social media accounts for posts that contradict the injured victims’ claims about the accident or their injuries
- Speak to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options for recovering compensation
How Can a Lawyer Help You Maximize Your Financial Recovery After a Car Accident?
You may want to focus on your medical treatment and rehabilitation after a car accident to recover from your injuries and get back to regular life as quickly as possible. However, you should act swiftly to seek compensation for your financial and personal losses. A car accident lawyer can handle the claims process, allowing you to devote time and energy to your physical and emotional well-being.
Some of the details of your case that your lawyer can take care of include:
- Investigating the accident to secure evidence for your case
- Identifying liable parties and applicable insurance coverages you can file claims against
- Documenting your injuries and losses to calculate the compensation you deserve to recover in your car accident claim
- Discussing your legal options with you
- Preparing and filing insurance claims or demand letters on your behalf
- Negotiating with insurance adjusters or defense attorneys to settle your claim
- Pursuing litigation and taking your claims to trial if necessary to maximize your financial recovery
Options for Financial Recovery After a Car Accident
You may have several avenues for recovering compensation following a car accident:
- Filing a personal injury protection (PIP) claim. Auto insurers in Washington State must offer PIP coverage to policyholders, who may decline the coverage in writing. PIP coverage reimburses policyholders for expenses and losses incurred due to car accident injuries, regardless of fault. PIP can help pay for medical and hospital bills, lost wages or income, and funeral expenses.
- Filing for collision coverage. If you purchased optional collision coverage with your car insurance policy, you could seek reimbursement for your car repair bills.
- Filing a liability claim against the at-fault driver. You can also file claims against the driver or drivers who caused the crash to recover compensation for losses not covered by your insurance. Drivers in Washington State must have liability insurance or a surety bond to pay for injuries and property damage they cause in a car accident.
- Filing claims against other liable parties. You may also have legal claims against other parties, such as the owner of the other car if they negligently entrusted it to the at-fault driver or the at-fault driver’s employer if the accident occurred during the driver’s employment.
- Filing an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim. If an at-fault driver doesn’t have liability insurance or their insurance cannot cover all your losses, you can turn to your policy if you purchased optional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Types of Car Accidents
Some of the most common types of car accidents we see in the cases we handle include:
- Head on collisions
- Side impact/T bone collisions
- Sideswipe collisions
- Rear end collisions
- Rollover accidents
- Road departure accidents
- Single vehicle accidents
- Multi vehicle/pile up accidents
Injuries Suffered by Car Accident Victims
The value of your car accident claim will depend on the extent and severity of the injuries you sustained in the crash.
Some examples of injuries typically suffered by car accident victims include:
- Lacerations, abrasions, or degloving injuries
- Burns or lung damage from post-accident car fires
- Crush injuries
- Perforation injuries
- Dislocated joints
- Broken bones
- Ligament sprains and tears
- Muscle and tendon strains and tears
- Nerve damage
- Herniated spinal disc injuries
- Internal injuries and bleeding
- Facial injuries
- Hearing or vision loss
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Traumatic amputation and limb loss
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Some of the most frequent causes of car accidents in Washington State include:
- Aggressive driving or road rage
- Reckless driving, such as excessive speeding, racing, or swerving around traffic
- Tailgating or following too closely
- Running red lights or stop signs or disregarding traffic signs and signals
- Distracted driving, especially texting while driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Drowsy driving
- Unsafe or illegal lane changes or turns
- Failing to use turn signals and mirrors when changing lanes, turning, or backing up
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Mechanical failures caused by inadequate car maintenance
- Car or auto part defects
Frequently Asked Questions About Recovering Compensation From a Car Accident
Some of the most frequent questions that car accident victims have about their legal rights and the claims process include the following:
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim?
Under the Revised Code of Washington Section 4.16.080, you have three years to file a lawsuit to recover compensation after a car accident. If you file suit after the statutory three-year deadline, the trial court can permanently dismiss your case, and you may lose your opportunity to seek compensation in civil court.
In addition, if you have a car accident claim against the state government or a local government in Washington, state law requires you to give notice of your claim to the appropriate government agency before you may file a lawsuit. The government has 60 days after receiving notice of your claim to decide whether to accept or deny your claim. You may file suit only after the government denies your claim or the 60-day review period expires.
How Long Will My Car Accident Claim Take?
Unfortunately, car accident claims can take a short or long time to resolve. Some cases settle in just a few months, while others take a couple of years to reach trial.
Multiple factors will determine the duration and timeline of your car accident claim, such as:
- The nature and severity of your injuries and resulting physical disabilities
- How long it takes you to reach maximum medical improvement for your injuries
- The extent of your financial losses, including medical expenses and lost income
- The number of people injured in the car accident
- The number of liable parties in the case
- Whether you share any responsibility for causing the car accident
- The complexity of the evidence or legal issues in your case
- The availability of insurance coverage and applicable policy limits
- The response time of the insurance company
- Whether you need to file a lawsuit to pursue your car accident claim
- The schedule that the trial court imposes on your case if you pursue litigation
Do I Have to Go to Court To Recover Compensation?
Most car accident claims settle rather than go to trial. However, a car accident victim may need to pursue litigation if the insurance company or at-fault driver denies liability for the crash or refuses to agree to a fair amount of compensation in a settlement.
Your car accident lawyer can diligently pursue a full financial recovery through settlement to get compensation for you as quickly as possible. However, your lawyer can advise you when litigation will give you the best chance of maximizing your financial recovery.
Does My Partial Fault for the Car Accident Affect the Value of My Claim?
Under Washington State law, you may still pursue compensation for your injuries from a car accident even if you share fault for the crash. Washington’s pure comparative negligence rule permits you to file a claim regardless of your degree of shared responsibility for the car accident.
However, under this rule, a judge or jury may reduce your compensation according to your share of liability. A car accident lawyer can advocate for your interests when the insurance company tries to reduce your financial recovery by shifting some blame for the accident onto you.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Compensation From the Insurance Company?
While not required to file an insurance claim, a lawyer can help you maximize your financial recovery from your car accident claim. Insurance companies have many tactics to undervalue or deny injury claims, such as offering you a quick settlement soon after the car accident or asking you to provide a written or recorded statement they can turn against you.
When you have legal counsel, your lawyer can communicate with the insurance company to protect your interests and prevent the insurer from taking advantage of you in the claims process.
For more information, reach out to a personal injury lawyer.