How to Recover Damages From a Car Accident
Even a minor car crash can dramatically change a family's lives, especially if injuries are involved. The length of time it takes to recover the victim's health and finances often takes longer than expected.
Many individuals seeking compensation will accept the first initial offer from the insurance company, hoping to offset their ongoing costs. Unfortunately, claims adjusters are trained to offer the lowest amount possible to maximize the insurance company's profits at the victim's expense.
Were you, or a loved one, involved in an auto accident with a damaged car? Are you facing extensive medical bills, hospitalization costs, lost wages, and future health expenses, pain, and suffering?
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help. Our Chicago car accident lawyers can speak directly with the insurance company, the other driver's legal team, and claims adjuster to ensure you receive maximum compensation.
Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule an initial free consultation.
Compensation for Car Accident Damages
Recovering from injuries, losses, and damages that an accident caused can be staggering. Many crashes involve someone else's reckless or negligent actions, leaving accident victims with property damages, medical costs, a lack of a paycheck, and incredible suffering.
The amount of financial compensation accident victims can receive on various circumstances, evidence and factors.
Compensation usually involves:
- Property damage – Most compensation claims cite property damages in a car accident. Typically, damage recovery includes funds to pay for an automotive repair or lost personal property.
- Medical expenses – extensive injuries can generate substantial health care costs. An accident claim may seek to obtain a compensable recovery for hospital costs, doctor's office visits, and rehab/therapy expenses.
- Lost wages – Even minor injuries could keep the car accident victim out of work for days, weeks, months, or longer. Those missed paychecks can be restored through financial compensation, worker's compensation benefits, and money from paid time off.
- Loss of consortium and companionship – Your Chicago auto accident attorney might use the legal term consortium or loss of companionship of a spouse or intimate significant other caused by accident-related injuries or preventable death.
- Loss of enjoyment – The extent of the victim's injuries might make participating in everyday activities difficult or impossible. Your attorney might seek compensable damages involving loss of enjoyment in your daily life.
- Punitive damages – Typically, these damages provide compensation over and above compensable compensation and are used to punish the defendant for their egregious behavior. An attorney must prove that the business, entity, or individual recklessly or intentionally caused the victim's injuries or death to receive extra compensation.
Typically, the insurance company claim adjuster's initial offer is significantly less than the victim deserves, typically reflecting the minimal medical costs and other expenses the victim already amassed.
Determining Who is at Fault
Typically, local law enforcement officers arriving at the car accident scene are the first to report who is the at-fault driver causing the motor vehicle accident. Their determination is often based on a quick investigation of the car accident scene and testimony from the drivers, bystanders, and eyewitnesses.
In many cases, the determination is made under dangerous circumstances, in the middle of the road, surrounded by oncoming traffic, under hazardous conditions, or in the dark of night. Making a mistake in determining who is responsible for causing the crash is not only possible but highly likely.
Finding out exactly who caused the motor vehicle accident is crucial to everyone involved. Usually, the at-fault driver will be financially responsible for all crash victims' damages and injuries, including motorists, passengers, motorcycles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
The accident's financial recovery will begin once the driver responsible for causing the crash has been identified.
However, getting this answer might require skilled car accident attorneys working on behalf of the victims, investigating the auto accident scene and evidence to find out who was entirely or partially at fault for causing the crash.
If it has been determined that the other driver is at fault for causing the collision, crash victims will likely recover damages through that driver's insurance company's liability coverage policy.
If the responsible party does not have insurance or sufficient insurance coverage and no available assets, you could receive financial compensation for your family's policy.
You could seek compensation by filing an uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) claim on your family's coverage.
Typically, filing an uninsured motorist claim does not raise the victim's premiums.
Medical Treatment Costs are Damages
Within moments after a motor vehicle accident, the victims begin racking up substantial medical bills. If the traffic crash is severe, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) will arrive at the car accident scene to transport injured victims to the nearest hospital as soon as possible to obtain immediate medical attention.
The ambulance ride cost, the time spent in the emergency room, admittance into the hospital, intensive care expenses, follow-up costs, and other medical expenses could wind up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
Many of these medical expenses include:
- Diagnostic imaging, including MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds, and x-rays
- Laboratory tests including CBC (complete blood count)
- Surgical procedures involving a full staff of surgical doctors, nurses, anesthesiologist, and supplies
- Hospital care lasting days or weeks based on the injury's severity
- Follow-up doctors visits
- Months or weeks of aftercare
- The use of medical devices
Long-term nursing care costs and the facility's expense, or in-home care provided by medical professionals around-the-clock or hourly, are substantially expensive. Insurance policies and Medicare assistance follow strict payment limits for long-term health care at nursing homes, assisted living centers, and rehabilitation facilities.
If the injured victim states too long in the facility, families who can barely afford to survive without a paycheck are on the hook for all expenses over and above policy limits.
Some families survive through federal and state benefits and subsidies unless they can receive adequate financial compensation through an auto accident injury claim.
Building a Strong Case
Tracking down crucial evidence is essential to resolving a Chicago car accident case with maximum compensation. The reports on accidents submitted to the insurance company or used during the negotiation process can strengthen a car accident claim.
These reports include:
Obtaining all medical reports is an absolute necessity to resolving a motor vehicle accident case involving personal injury, property damage, extensive injuries, or wrongful death. Without evidence of property damage or personal injury, there is no case.
Auto accident lawyers working on behalf of the innocent victim tell their clients to go to every doctor's visit as scheduled to diagnose the extent of the injuries accurately, the care required, and the length of time it will take to heal completely, if possible.
The doctor will report every injury, recommend treatment, prescribe medications and give ongoing care. The information will serve as the foundation of a substantial compensation claim.
Typically, numerous doctors and specialists are involved in the car accident victim's treatment to detail the patient's recovery progress carefully. This information is used during the negotiation process or a trial to give accurate details of how the injuries have affected the victim's life.
The police usually arrive moments after the car accident occurs, initiating an investigation in filing a report with valuable information on every party involved. The report usually contains vehicle details, drivers' information, eyewitness interviews, photographic evidence, and other car accident scene observations.
These reports serve as a useful tool in the initial stages of building a compensation case, including identifying who might be at-fault for the accident. Many reports include information where the other driver talking to the officer admitted their responsibility for causing the crash.
Emergency medical technicians typically transport crash victims by ambulance to the emergency center to receive an immediate diagnosis and care. The ambulance report usually details the technician's observations of the extent of the victim's injuries and first impressions of how the injuries occurred.
Most ambulance reports contained essential bits of information required to craft the best narrative of precisely what occurred in the moments after the accident.
Eyewitnesses should give statements as soon as possible after the car accident. In many cases, their accounts of what occurred may not correlate with each other. However, each statement can corroborate specific details and which driver they believe might be at-fault for causing the damage.
For example, the eyewitness may have seen the collision from different angles, explaining their different points of view. Others may discuss hazardous road conditions or describe how one driver on their cell phone was distracted in the moments before the collision.
The small bits of information garnered from witness reports are sometimes the information needed when filing a compensation claim to draw the larger picture showing precisely what happened.
Auto Body Shop Estimates
Estimates from more than one auto body repair shop can identify the extent of vehicle damages and how much it will cost to repair or replace the victim's car. Additionally, studying the vehicle damage can help investigators determine the angle or speed the car was traveling when the car accident occurred.
Accident Scene Reconstructionist Report
In some cases, determining fault is nearly impossible without a car accident reconstructionist expert trained in gathering additional evidence of what happened. Typically, the expert will reconstruct the car accident scene and generate a report for the victim's attorneys, who will use the information to build a solid compensation case.
The report is often an essential component in accurately describing how all bits and pieces of evidence fit together.
How Much Non-Economic Damages Are Worth
Placing a monetary value on the level of pain, suffering, mental anguish, and emotional trauma the victim endures could never be a set amount. Often, the crash victim will go to court seeking payment for their economic damages, including the cost of their treatments, future rehabilitation, and future lost earnings.
However, a car accident can be catastrophic on the victim's emotions and mental health. Some injured drivers and passengers will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), significantly altering their daily lives.
Personal injury lawyers specializing in auto accidents use established methods to calculate the value of non-economic (non-tangible) damages, factoring in the mental and emotional damage the victim suffered from the crash.
Usually, our law firm will use a network of expert professionals serving as expert witnesses to establish the extent of the victims' injuries and the amount of harm they have endured.
These professionals typically include accountants, psychologists, psychiatrists, health care experts, and CPAs trained in giving expert testimony showing how much non-economic damages are worth.
Why an Insurance Company Wants to Settle a Chicago Car Accident Out Of Court
Receiving an initial settlement from an insurance company is their acknowledgment that their policyholder was responsible for causing the crash. The insurer wants to resolve the case through a settlement to avoid litigating the claim or taking the case to trial.
Often, a quick settlement resolution ensures that counsel does not represent the claimant (victim filing a claim). Auto accident lawyers investigating the case could calculate the maximum worth of what the victim is owed: hospitalization expenses, medical costs, lost earnings, pain, and suffering.
Ensuring Company Profits
Insurance companies make profits for their stockholders by looking out for their best interests. Insurers often accept auto repair estimates using substandard parts instead of OEM (original manufacturers' equipment).
Quick settlements resolve the case entirely before the victim realizes there might be future medical expenses, including the cost of therapy, rehabilitation, additional surgeries, and follow-up care.
Taking Advantage of Victims
In the moments, hours, days, and weeks following an accident, the victim is at their most vulnerable in dealing with injuries, property damage, and the stress of financial changes involving mounting medical expenses.
Some claim adjusters understand the stress and confusion the victim feels while working through the process of healing and getting their damaged vehicle repaired. Unfortunately, the insurance companies often exploit this vulnerability and take advantage of the victim, who might be eager to settle quickly.
A Minimal Settlement Offer
The claim adjuster might pressure the victim to settle quickly, saving the insurance company money. Usually, the sum offered is much lower than the victim deserves.
Once the victim accepts the offer, any additional expenses for clinical care or property damage cannot be obtained through a "re-claim" involving the same accident.
Saving Their Reputation
Insurance companies want to keep their name and reputation out of the headlines when frequently entangled in ongoing litigation or lawsuits that go to court. Instead, they promote themselves as an altruistic, caring company that restores the damage and helps families injured in auto accidents.
The millions of dollars spent on advertising every year promotes their reputation, failing to mention that they are not always willing to provide the compensation you deserve.
Calculating Auto Accident Settlements
Calculating the value of a motor vehicle accident settlement can be tricky. If the car accident resulted from another driver's negligence, their insurance policy would compensate the victims' damages, losses, pain, and suffering.
However, the amount they offer might be significantly lower than the actual value of all costs to restore the victim's life to normal.
An insurance company deals with property damage by paying the victim a fixed amount to repair the car based on the estimates. If the cost of repairs is higher than the car's value, it is often considered "totaled," meaning it is not worth the repairs.
Instead, the insurance company may offer a lump-sum settlement based on the car's worth determined by its year, mileage, and condition before the accident.
Compensating the victim for their injuries or wrongful death is challenging. There may be future care, therapies, rehabilitation, and surgeries, in addition to existing medical costs.
Survivors who lost a loved one in an auto accident can seek compensation for all the expenses listed above and the cost of funeral/burial bills, loss of future earnings, loss of consortium, grief, pain, and suffering.
Car Accident Damage FAQs
Below are some frequently asked questions related to compensation for civil damages in a Chicago auto accident. We appreciate that these questions may give rise to additional questions.
Consequently, we invite you to contact our law firm for a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.
What is the Average Most Common Damage from Car Accidents?
Most auto accidents in the United States result in minor to severe injuries of the driver, passengers, and others, including motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
According to statistics, the most common injuries associated with car accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries, including paraplegic, tetraplegia/quadriplegia
- Back injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Broken bones and fractures
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Whiplash and neck injuries
- Foot and ankle injuries
What is the #1 Cause of Accidents?
According to statistics, distracted driving is the number one cause of fatal car accidents, especially among young drivers.
These drivers were distracted while talking or texting on their phone, adjusting the radio, speaking to others in the vehicle, reaching for an object somewhere in the car, or eating/drinking while driving.
Do Slow Drivers Cause More Accidents?
Driving slowly can cause significant problems for other motorists sharing the roadway. Statistics show that driving just five mph slower than the surrounding traffic causes accidents.
Other motorists may weave through traffic to avoid the slow driver, creating an unsafe environment for everyone. Car accident data reveals that nearly one in ten highway car accidents are the result of lane changes.
Can a Car Accident Ruin Your Life?
A horrific Chicago car accident with severe injuries cannot only ruin your life but change the lives of your family members who must deal with the aftermath. Car crash victims often require extensive surgery to repair the damage.
Some injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, could leave you with severe cognitive issues and permanent deficits. Any severe back injury could lead to paraplegia or quadriplegia requiring significant life-altering changes in living your everyday life.
Hiring a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer
Were you involved in a Chicago car accident and suffered property damage, injuries, or lost a loved one through wrongful death? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can pursue compensation on your behalf, building a case using Illinois law.
Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 to discuss filing a claim to recover compensation. Let us begin the process now before the statute of limitations "two years" restriction expires.
Our Chicago auto accident attorneys accept all personal injury cases through contingency fee agreements. This arrangement ensures you pay for our services only after we have successfully resolved your case.
Our legal team’s practice areas include car accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, premises liability, product liability, wrongful death, and more. Our accident attorneys currently follow CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines on social distancing to ensure everyone’s safety.