If you find yourself involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be eligible to seek legal compensation. As a standard, the insurance company of the offending driver may reach out to you with an initial offer, covering damage to your vehicle, your property, and your body. But in many cases, this amount doesn’t cover the full extent of the damages.
According to Craig Swapp, if you talk to a lawyer, you’ll learn that you can often enter a negotiation to try and receive more compensation for damages. In some cases, this will move to the court system, where you’ll make a case to receive a bigger payout.
But what types of compensation, exactly, could you be eligible for after a car accident?
Types of Compensation
These are some of the most common types of compensation you could expect to receive:
- Property damage. The most obvious source of compensation is likely property damage—any damages sustained by your car, possessions, and other forms of personal property. For example, if you own a $15,000 car and it was totaled, you’ll be entitled to $15,000 (minus depreciation). If you were transporting items and those items were damaged in the crash, you may receive compensation for them as well. The same is true if your home or other physical property is harmed in the accident.
- Medical costs. Next, you’ll be entitled to direct medical costs associated with your injuries. This includes immediate costs, like the cost of an ambulance ride and hospital visit after the accident, as well as the costs of long-term care, like the costs of follow-up appointments and physical therapy. You’ll need to provide proof of most of these expenses, so make sure you’re attending your appointments regularly.
- Lost wages. If you miss work because of the accident, you’ll also be entitled to any wages that you lost. For example, if you make $200 a day, and you miss 3 days of work due to being in the hospital after the accident, you could be able to reclaim up to $600.
- Lost earning potential. Things get even more complicated when you factor in lost earning potential. Here, you’ll be entitled to compensation for whatever work you might have been able to do, were it not for the accident. This often applies to jobs that involve manual labor; in some cases, your working capacity will permanently diminish after an accident. A good lawyer will make sure you’re compensated accordingly.
- Pain and suffering. The legal concept of pain and suffering allows you to receive additional money to make up for the negative subjective experiences you had as a result of the accident. For example, if you experienced significant pain in the wake of the accident, or if you’re struggling with ongoing emotional issues because of the trauma, you could be entitled to further compensation.
- Loss of consortium. In some cases, you may qualify for loss of consortium. Here, you’ll be able to receive additional compensation if your primary relationship/partnership has been negatively affected by the accident, like if you’re no longer able to give or receive emotional support in the relationship.
- Punitive damages. On top of that, the courts may order the offending driver to pay punitive damages, which are designed to penalize the person in the wrong. These are most commonly applied to egregious cases, like if the other driver was driving while intoxicated.
Variables That Affect Your Payout
That said, there are several variables that could affect your payout, including:
- Fault. Different states have different systems for determining “fault” in an auto accident. If you’re found to be partially at fault for the accident, you may receive a lower payout. If you’re determined to be half at fault or fully at fault, you may not get compensation at all.
- Severity. The extent of your sustained damages will also factor into the equation. Obviously, the more extensive your injuries are and the more damage your property sustained, the more you’ll be entitled to receive.
- Proof. In some cases, your evidence may be unsatisfactory, or too minimal to warrant action. For example, you may not be able to conclusively prove that the accident was the other driver’s fault, or you may not have ample documentation to prove the extent of your injuries. This can complicate your case.
If you’ve been involved in any type of accident, with any level of damages, it’s in your best interest to talk to a lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with a high-level assessment of your potential claim, and provide you with advice on how to proceed—oftentimes for free, if it’s an initial consultation. It’s entirely within your power to decide where to go from there.