Were you recently in a car accident and are curious about how your claim will be valued?
Many factors contribute to this.
First, it is important to understand that there are typically two separate claims after a car accident: a property damage claim and a personal injury claim. These claims are usually handled distinctly from one another.
Your property damage claim has everything to do with your car. Whether you need to get your car fixed or replaced altogether. If you seek to get reimbursed for the diminished value of your car. If you need a rental car to have wheels while your car is being repaired. All of this would fall under your property damage claim.
With the exception of helping with diminished value, car accident lawyers do not typically manage your property damage claim. Some lawyers may offer advice for talking to the property damage insurance adjusters, or they may even offer to talk to them on your behalf as a courtesy. Typically, property damage claims are up to you to manage on your own.
Your personal injury attorney will handle everything to do with any injuries you received from the accident. They will be able to walk you through the whole claims process and do all of the heavy lifting for you. There are two parts to measuring an injury claim: special damages and general damages.
Special damages are the more straight-forward part of the claim. This is the part you can measure tangibly. For example, the bills from all of your medical treatment, any prescriptions you needed to fill, the income you lost due to missing out on work while recovering from your injuries. These damages can be calculated pretty clearly.
If you missed work because of your injuries, you should not have to dip into your own sick days or vacation time or lose out on that money altogether. In fact, wage loss due to your accident can play an important part in increasing the value of your claim. You’ll need a doctor’s note for the specific time off and a pay stub showing that you missed work.
Medical bills are probably the most important factor of the special damages part of your injury claim. They need to be reasonable, necessary, and clearly connected to your car accident. These bills are key when insurance adjusters are measuring the value of your claim.
Since insurance adjusters will want clear proof that your medical bills were necessary and connected to the car accident, you should get a medical doctor to manage your treatment plan. Having a doctor handle your care offers credibility to your case and typically can increase the value of your claim.
General damages are a little more difficult to place a value on. This includes pain and suffering, your inability to perform activities of daily life, any loss of enjoyment of life you may be experiencing, any inconvenience you had to endure, mental anguish, and disability or permanent impairment.
To get an accurate value of your claim, it is important to understand each element and then evaluate the strength of your evidence. A personal injury lawyer will help you do that.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering refers to the nature of the injury and the extent you were hurt or distressed. Here are the types of things taken into consideration under this component:
- What type of pain did you endure?
- What was the duration of your pain?
- How often were you in pain?
- What was your mental status while you were in pain? For example, did you lose hope in recovering from your injuries?
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
This portion under General Damages would consist of the things you enjoy doing in life but were unable to do while you were recovering from the accident.
For example, are you someone who loves to stay in shape and usually follows a workout regime?
Are you a dancer who finds artistic expression and community through your weekly dance classes?
Are you a hiker that finds fulfillment in life by getting out in nature on the weekends?
Do you have kids that you like to run around the park with?
Are the injuries you sustained from your car accident preventing you from being able to do any of those things?
Not being able to do the things that help you enjoy life is no small matter. Getting injured robbed you of those experiences and potential memories. These are damages your attorney will seek to recover in your claim.
Inability to Perform Activities of Daily Living
Activities of daily living are the routines and chores most people do every day. This would include taking a shower, getting dressed on your own, cooking, going grocery shopping, vacuuming your house, taking your dog for a walk, mowing the lawn, etc. Maybe you are able to do some of your normal daily activities just fine, but need assistance with others, such as carrying your groceries to the car. Maybe most of your daily activities have been substantially affected by your injuries. Whatever the scale, these will all need to be discussed with your car accident attorney.
Mental Anguish can sometimes be even more damaging than physical injuries. Unfortunately, it can be a difficult one to prove.
Oftentimes, after being in a car accident, a person can be traumatized, leading to anxiety and a fear of driving. They may continue to replay the accident over and over again in their mind. They may look both ways when crossing the road, yet still feel as if someone is going to crash into them.
Seeking a mental health professional, such as a counselor or psychiatrist can greatly help in these circumstances. First and foremost, they’ll be able to help you work through the trauma and find healing. Secondly, they’ll be able to provide validity and proof of mental anguish on your car accident claim.
Disability or Permanent Impairment
Though this outcome may seem to be pretty straightforward, putting a fair value on it is not.
In these cases, it is crucial to get a medical expert who specializes in the body part that was impaired to examine your injury. Their evaluation of your impaired body part’s current function will help maximize the value of your claim. Also, forensic doctors can do what’s called a permanent partial impairment rating, which can help determine the value as well.
If you were indeed permanently impaired, other factors may contribute to the value of your claim. For instance, if the disability in your hand affects your work, seeking a vocational rehabilitation counselor may help the claim. If your doctor says that you will require future medical care or surgery for your impaired body part, then a life care planner would be suitable in helping your claim.
Car accident claims can be complex, complicated, and a headache to deal with on your own. A personal injury lawyer will be able to help you navigate the whole claims process and maximize the value of your claim.