Car accidents can cause serious physical and emotional injuries as well as property damage. If the accident was caused by the intentional or negligent acts of another party, they are responsible for the injuries and damage caused by the accident. A responsible driver often looks to their car insurance policy to cover the cost of these injuries.
Unfortunately, a victim’s damages can be extensive and are not always covered by the negligent driver’s insurance policy. The time after an accident is already stressful and confusing, and this is only exacerbated when an insurance company denies coverage for your injuries.
Read on to understand strategies to help you recover for the full extent of the damages caused by the party responsible for your injuries.
Understanding the Impact of Car Crash Injuries
Car accidents are a common source of injury in the United States, with more than four million people requiring medical attention because of an accident each year. In Louisiana alone, there were over 700 fatalities and over 72,000 injuries from car crashes in 2019.
While some accidents result in minor scrapes and bumps, some victims suffer serious injuries that require extensive medical intervention and rehabilitation, including:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries: If a passenger suffers a blow to their head, it could cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The symptoms of a TBI are wide-ranging and depend on the severity and location of the blow, but they run from physical and cognitive impairments to brain death.
- Head Injuries: A blow to the head can cause other injuries as well, including a concussion, lacerations, or skull fractures.
- Spinal Injuries: The spinal cord is the part of the body that enables communication between the brain and body. If a victim suffers a spinal cord injury, they are at risk of reduced immobility or, at its worst, total paralysis.
- Neck and Back Injuries: The impact of a car accident is very jarring on the body, often causing neck and back injuries including whiplash. These injuries commonly result in chronic pain, requiring long-term physical therapy.
- Internal Damage: Car accident victims are also susceptible to internal organ damage. Damage to organs like the heart, lungs, and kidneys can be deadly if not treated quickly, but the symptoms of internal damage can be delayed or difficult to identify.
- Dental and Facial Injuries: If a victim’s face comes into contact with a hard surface, they could suffer from a broken jaw or other facial bones or cracked or chipped teeth.
In addition to physical injuries, some car accident victims suffer from emotional trauma as well, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The costs of car accidents add up. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) found that the total economic costs of car crashes in a single year in the United States was $242 billion and when quality of life costs were included, the total jumped to $836 billion.
Determining Liability for a Car Accident
In order to recover for your injuries, you will need to determine whether any parties’ intentional or negligent acts caused the accident and your injuries. Work with your lawyer to analyze any party involved in the accident, including:
- Negligent Driver: Drivers are required to exercise the same or higher level of care as any other driver operating under the same or similar circumstances. This includes complying with all driving laws and regulations. If a driver fails to exercise this level of care, they are negligent. Common examples of negligent acts by a driver are speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and ignoring traffic signs or signals.
- Employer: An employer is responsible for the actions of an employee who is operating in the scope of their job duties. If a negligent driver was on the clock at the time of the accident, you can seek recovery from their employer, who is likely to have more comprehensive insurance coverage.
- Vehicle Manufacturer: The manufacturer of the vehicle is responsible for injuries caused by a vehicle malfunction. This is true even if the malfunction isn’t the cause of the accident. For example, if an airbag fails to deploy, this can significantly increase the severity of the victim’s injuries, and the manufacturer is responsible for that failure.
Your attorney will assess the details and evidence from the accident to develop a case against the responsible party. If possible, be sure to secure a police report after the accident in order to preserve important evidence from the scene.
Understanding Your Damages: Medical Bills, Lost Wages, Pain and Suffering, and More
In order to get complete recovery, you need to understand the full extent of the damages you have suffered because of the accident. Damages extend beyond your physical injuries. In addition to medical costs, you should also assess the following:
- Lost Wages: If your injuries cause you to miss work or work a reduced schedule, the defendant is responsible for these lost wages and any anticipated future lost wages or reduced earning potential.
- Property Damage: If the accident damaged or destroyed your vehicle or other personal property, the defendant is responsible for the cost of repair or replacement of the damaged property.
- Emotional Distress: If the accident has caused you emotional distress, work with your lawyer to include appropriate compensation in your damages demand.
- Loss of Enjoyment: Injuries can significantly limit a victim’s ability to participate in activities that were previously a meaningful part of their life and deserve compensation for this loss.
It is important to prepare a complete assessment of your damages in order to ensure you secure the maximum recovery you deserve from the defendant and their insurance provider.
Strategies for Securing Full Recovery
The defendant and their insurance provider will attempt to minimize the extent of your damages in order to settle your claims for the lowest amount possible. No matter how strong your case is, an insurance company will not pay out amounts that exceed the defendant’s policy limits.
If your damages exceed the defendant’s policy limits, discuss the following strategies for recovery with your attorney:
- Pursue Additional Insurance Policies: Many individuals are covered by policies beyond their car insurance policy, such as an umbrella insurance policy. An umbrella insurance policy will cover damages that exceed the defendant’s car insurance policy limits.
- Sue Multiple Defendants: Hold each responsible party for their part in the accident. If more than one party’s actions caused the accident and your injuries, seek recovery from each liable party.
- Sue the Responsible Party: A negligent defendant is responsible for all the injuries caused by the accident, even if the injuries exceed their insurance policy limits. A defendant must pay any additional damages out-of-pocket if they are guilty.
- Stop Insurance Bad Faith. Insurance providers are required to settle any claim in good faith. Acts that violate the good faith requirement include misrepresenting insurance policy provisions, failing to pay claims when the failure is arbitrary, capricious, or without probable cause, and failing to pay a claim agreed to in writing within 30 days. Work with your lawyer to ensure the defendant’s insurance provider is acting in good faith.
An experienced car accident lawyer will be an important partner as you pursue recovery after your accident. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in Louisiana, contact Charbonnet Law Firm, LLC today at (504) 294-5118 or through our website to schedule a free consultation.