Being involved in a minor car crash can be frustrating and time-consuming. However, serious car accidents that result in substantial property damage or personal injury can be life-altering events with far-reaching effects.
If you have been involved in a car accident, what can you expect of your case? Each state has different laws relating to car accident claims and lawsuits, so it is important to get accurate information and seek legal advice from a local, experienced personal injury attorney.
Our team at Minton Law Firm is committed to serving Arkansans in the aftermath of a serious car accident. We represent the best interest of our clients and work to protect them from being taken advantage of by insurance companies.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to offer the help you need. Call us anytime at 855-Xadjuster or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation with our legal team.
Common Damages in Car Accident Lawsuits
The truth is that each car accident is unique. However, there are a number of damages that car accident lawsuits commonly seek as compensation.
Damages in most car accident cases often fall under three categories: medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional damages. However, in some cases, there may be punitive damages awarded as well.
Punitive damages do not compensate for a specific loss. Rather, they are designed as an additional punishment for the liable party when their actions are deemed especially negligent or reckless.
Depending on the nature of the accident and injuries, medical care is often the largest type of damage after an accident. Not only may there be immediate, emergency care needed, but medical care such as physical therapy and rehabilitation can continue for weeks, months, or years after an accident. A car accident settlement amount should include not only current and past medical costs but also future medical bills as well.
The amount of medical expenses that can be included in a personal injury lawsuit depends on a number of factors, including:
- Where medical treatment is received
- How extensive the injuries are
- How long treatment is necessary
- Whether there was permanent damage
Serious injuries such as head, spine, or neck injuries can cause lasting damage. However, even injuries that may be considered somewhat minor can result in considerable medical bills.
For example, depending on the facility, treatment for the following may cost between $41,000 and $132,000:
- Cervical spinal fusion
Some facilities, such as UAMS, allow you to view the costs of procedures beforehand. This can help you and your lawyer determine a settlement amount to cover your medical care.
Serious car accidents almost always result in time lost at work. Whether it be for seeing a doctor, hospital visits, or recovery at home, missed work days can add up to a considerable amount of lost wages.
In addition to the lost wages suffered due to the recovery process, a car accident injury can sometimes result in permanent damage, which affects a person’s ability to return to work. When this happens, car accident lawsuits will often include damages for lost earning capacity in addition to the loss of wages.
Due to their nature, it can be difficult to put a price tag on emotional damages. In the case of wrongful death, emotional damages can include the loss of companionship and sexual intimacy between spouses or the loss of support and guidance of a parent to a child.
Personal injury victims may suffer from serious scarring or permanent disabilities that have a lasting effect on their quality of life. As a result, their emotional and mental health may suffer. Most car accident lawsuits will include emotional damages and pain and suffering as part of the settlement.
While these are some of the damages available in car accident cases, the specific type and compensation amount will differ from case to case. A free consultation with a car accident lawyer at our firm can provide additional information and advice.
Factors That Influence Compensation in a Car Accident Lawsuit
No two car accident lawsuits are the same. Certain factors unique to each collision influence the amount of compensation that an injured party can recover.
Most car accident cases settle out of court, but if a fair settlement cannot be reached with the insurance company, a trial in court may be necessary. A consultation with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you better understand the legal factors at play in your specific car accident case.
The role fault plays
In some states, often referred to as “No-Fault” states, each person injured in a car accident recovers compensation from his or her own insurance company. However, many states, including Arkansas, are “Fault” or “Tort” states, meaning the at-fault driver, or his or her insurer, is responsible for providing compensation after an accident.
For car accidents that happen in Arkansas, the victim is able to recover damages from the other driver’s insurance company as long as he or she is less than 50 percent at fault for the accident.
Even if an injured person was less than 50 percent at fault for the accident, his or her level of fault still affects the amount of compensation he or she can recover. If, for example, Driver A was 25 percent responsible for the accident, he or she would only be able to recover 75 percent of the damages.
The role the car insurance policy plays
While we pay for liability insurance each month, we hope never to find ourselves in a situation when we need it. However, when you are involved in an at-fault car accident, your car insurance policy should be in place to protect you.
While an at-fault driver may be named in a lawsuit after a car accident, it is the responsibility of the car insurance company to defend the client and pay the settlement as required. This is part of the contract between a driver and his or her insurance company.
However, the accident damages may exceed a driver’s insurance policy limits. In this case, the insurance company is not required to offer more coverage than the policy provides.
The minimum amount of liability insurance coverage for drivers in Arkansas is $25,000 per person, up to $50,000 per accident. Each insurance company will also offer additional coverage as well.
Once the other driver’s policy limits are exhausted through a car accident claim, the injured driver has a few options to recover additional compensation:
- Filing a claim with his or her own insurer, for PIP coverage
- Suing the other driver directly
- Filing a lawsuit against other parties
What If the Car Insurance Company Refuses to Pay?
It is important to understand that insurance companies are businesses. As with any for-profit entity, their goal is to maximize revenue while minimizing cost. For an insurance company, revenue is generated by collecting premiums, while costs come from paying out settlements.
Claimants rightfully expect that the insurance company will work with them in “good faith,” meaning that the company will follow the contract and fulfill its responsibility to the client. However, insurance companies are often found acting in “bad faith” – attempting to minimize the damages or outright deny claims that they rightfully should pay.
If you feel that your insurance company has acted in bad faith by refusing to pay for your legitimate car accident claim, you may have legal options. A personal injury lawyer at Minton Law Firm can assess your potential case and advise you further.
With his unique experience as a former insurance adjuster, our experienced lawyer Justin Minton is familiar with the bad faith tactics insurance companies use. Knowing how to identify these methods and being able to fight against them is essential to building a successful bad faith claim.
Contact the Car Accident Attorneys at Minton Law Firm
A car accident can be a traumatic, life-changing event. It can affect your family life, work abilities, and your physical and mental health. Adding stressful legal processes and negotiations with a car insurance company or other parties on top of everything else can quickly become overwhelming.
At Minton Law Firm, we are happy to offer free consultations with our legal team to provide the legal guidance you need. With the help of an experienced car accident lawyer, you do not need to face your legal hurdles alone.
We strive to provide our clients with the best representation possible, protecting individuals and their legal rights during difficult times, such as the aftermath of a serious car accident.
Our team is dedicated to helping Arkansans navigate their car accident cases, and we are proud to support our clients around the state, in the following areas:
- Little Rock, Pulaski County
- Benton, Saline County
- Conway, Faulkner County
Get in touch with us today for your free consultation. Call us 24/7 at 855-Xadjuster or fill out our online contact form to start receiving legal help today.