If you have been involved in a car accident, you are entitled to claim compensation for damage to your vehicle as well as for medical bills, salary or income loss caused by injuries sustained in the accident. You are entitled to claim for these and other related expenses from your car insurance company or the other driver’s insurer. There are various different types of claims that can be made and most people will enlist the help of an attorney to help them navigate the process and maximise the compensation they receive.
Keep in mind that depending on the nature of your accident, and your car insurance policy, there are different types of car insurance that will cover personal injury. Ask your car accident attorney to explain more about the following:
BODILY INJURY LIABILITY COVERAGE
This is from the negligent driver’s insurance policy and will be applied when it is the other driver’s fault. Your liability policy will not cover you, so be forewarned.
PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION
This is the no-fault insurance policy that will pay for your medical costs but is limited to the maximum set by your policy. This policy coverage will apply even if you are at fault.
MEDICAL PAYMENTS COVERAGE
This policy is similar to that of PIP but will not cover the loss of income, funeral expenses, loss of services, and other expenses. This policy will only cover medical bills.
UNINSURED OR UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
This policy will pay for your bodily injuries if you have been hit by a driver who has no insurance or whose policy has limits that will not cover your total bill, or if you will be a victim of a hit and run accident.
Determining who is at fault for the accident is the first thing that needs to be established. In the immediate aftermath of an accident it is a good idea to take photographs of the accident scene. You should also write down detailed notes while your memory of the incident is fresh. If there were any witnesses to the accident ask for their contact details. You car accident attorney will take this information along with your statement and present it to the claims adjuster. Some states practice contributory negligence which will determine if you are entitled to compensation. In cases of contributory negligence, if you are found to have been even partially to blame for the car accident, you will lose your entitlement to a personal injury claim.
Also, check with your car accident attorney if your state practices comparative negligence. This is a system used to determine your compensation. You may lose a part of your compensation if you are found to be partly at fault. There are laws such as pure comparative negligence, and modified comparative fault, where your compensation will be adjusted depending on your participation in the accident.
Your car accident attorney will need to have access to the following information to enable him to negotiate your compensation claim.
- The police report
- Medical attention required
- Pre-existing injuries that have worsened because of the accident
- DUI and DWI charges and other citations related to the accident
- Statements said to others involved in the accident
- Witness testimonies
- Photographs taken
- Documents that will prove the number of days and salary lost due to the accident
- Personal injury limits of your car insurance policy
We also recommend the following steps to help your case.
- Notes on anything you remember about the accident.
- Return to the scene of the accident so you can double check all the information you have given
- Preserve physical evidence such as rocks or debris on the road, damaged items, and clothing.
- Contact witnesses and make sure their statements are documented.
- Document all injuries, including medical reports and pictures
When you file for damages, you are referring to the cost of your injuries, which include the direct financial cost and the emotional and indirect costs of the accident. Your car accident attorney can explain this in greater detail. But the damages are usually limited to the following:
- Cost of medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of capacity to earn
- Property damages/loss
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Inability to procreate as a result of the accident
- Loss of extremities
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages (punishment for the defendant as imposed by the court)
Calculating the value of a car accident claim is a complicated process with many factors contributing to the final calculation. Things like emotional distress and punitive damages are difficult to quantify and will require negotiation amongst the parties. Hiring a competent car accident attorney will help you navigate the legal process and maximise the value of your compensation claim.
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