If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident that was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other accident-related expenses. But how can you ensure you get every penny you deserve? That’s a good question!
Your first step is to hire someone who has experience working with auto accident victims and who knows how to maximize your compensation: A personal injury lawyer who handles car crash cases.
Just as you’d go to a cardiologist if you were having heart problems or an orthodontist if you needed braces, there are many types of lawyers. Auto accident lawyers are the ones who will have the skills and expertise to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company, calculate how much you money you deserve and take your case to court, if necessary.
The money you receive after a motor vehicle accident is known as damages, and it’s designed to compensate you for several types of losses. Some damages compensate you for what are known as economic losses, including:
- The cost to fix or replace your car
- The cost to replace other items—such as clothing—that were damaged or destroyed in the accident
- All of your accident-related medical expenses, including costs you’ve already incurred and those you might reasonably incur in the future
- Lost income, if you were unable to work
- The cost of transportation to and from medical appointments or physical therapy
- The cost to hire someone to do things around your house (such as mowing the lawn or cleaning) if you’re unable to do them after the accident
Another category of damages covers non-economic losses, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Any temporary or permanent disabilities you’ve suffered as a result of the accident
- Loss of consortium
- Mental anguish, emotional distress and/or post-traumatic stress
Finally, you may be able to get punitive damages, which are designed to punish the other driver if the behavior that caused the accident was particularly egregious or reckless. For example, you might receive punitive damages if the other driver was drag racing, or if it was a truck driver who shouldn’t have been on the road.
Your lawyer will have experience calculating all of these costs. If necessary, he or she will also turn to outside experts for help estimating your losses.
It’s important to remember that if you are contacted by the other driver’s insurance company, you should refer them to your attorney. That’s because the insurer has one goal: To settle the claim for as little money as possible. They are not looking out for your best interests and they don’t want to pay you a fair amount of damages.
As soon as the insurance company realizes you’ve hired a lawyer, they will probably increase their offer. And once your attorney sends them a demand letter that includes a calculation of all of your losses, they may offer even more. Let your lawyer be the guide—he or she will tell you if the insurance company has made a fair offer, or the attorney may suggest that you litigate the case in court. That’s value of working with a personal injury attorney.