Motor Vehicle Accidents Law

What Can I Financially Recover in a Car Accident Case?

If you've been in a car accident, you know how quickly your bills can add up. From car repairs and medical bills related to the accident, to lost time and wages as you recover, individual car accident costs can range anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars or more.

These costs can feel especially damaging if they accumulate from an accident that wasn't your fault. If you're suing another driver for damages in an accident they caused, you need to understand your rights and options for recovery.

What To Do After Your Accident

If you're badly injured in a car accident, getting medical attention should be your first priority. Tell your doctors that you were injured in a motor vehicle accident and be sure to get documentation of your visit, diagnoses, treatments, and follow up plans. If you require surgery, physical therapy, or other health care treatments following the accident, keep copies of those records and bills as well.

As soon as you're able to, start documenting everything about the accident. If you don't need immediate medical attention, get the other driver's license information, license plate number, and insurance details. Take pictures of the vehicles at different angles. If you required emergency care and couldn't get to the other vehicle before it was moved, be sure to at least take plenty of pictures of your own car after the fact. Write down the events that led to your accident for your records. No detail is too small. For example, consider writing down the following information:

  • Where were you?
  • Where was the other car?
  • What did you notice immediately before the accident?
  • What did you notice during the accident?
  • How fast were you going?
  • Where there any witnesses?
  • What time was it?
  • Were there any traffic lights or signs?
  • What was the weather like?

The sooner after the accident you do this, the better your details will be.

Your next step is to call a personal injury attorney. They will be able to help you make contact with the other driver's insurance to file a claim, or to file with your own. Either way, you'll need to contact your insurance company to let them know about the accident. Your insurance company may request or require that you take your vehicle to a car repair shop that they partner with. Wherever you end up taking your car, get documentation of all the damages they find, their recommended repairs, and the price estimates.

If your injuries are severe enough, you may be unable to return to work right away. You'll need to document all your conversations with your boss about the time you'll miss. Communicate via email as much as you can and print the emails for your records. Gather pay stubs from before your injury and copies of any short-term or long-term disability plans you have. You'll likely need these to prove your lost wages.

What Can You Recover in a Car Accident Suit?

Most at-fault car accidents are negligence cases, in which a driver doesn't operate their car in a reasonably careful way. Common indicators of negligence include speeding and distracted driving. Issues like drunk driving can include criminal charges for the offending driver as well.

If you decide to pursue the other driver for damages, you may be able to recover for your medical bills, car repairs, lost wages, and pain and suffering, or other expenses, depending on the details of your case.

Your insurance company will try to settle your case with the other driver's insurance, and they may be able to get you some of the money you deserve, but they might not always get you everything you're entitled to. For example, if the other driver's insurance plan doesn't have coverage for all the damages you've sustained, the insurance payout can fall short. You should also know that the other insurance company may try to get you to settle for less than you're owed by offering you a lower amount to see if you'll take it.

Should You Get a Car Accident Attorney?

While you may want rely on the insurance companies to determine your payout, you should keep in mind that those companies often have teams of lawyers working for them. Getting your own attorney to assist you in looking over your case and evaluating your evidence could help to even the playing field. Consulting with a local car accident attorney early on in the process can help you gather the correct documentation and provide you with guidance on your conversations with the insurance companies. This might help you get a better payout that supports you the way you deserve.