Motor vehicle accidents can result in costly damages. Between the injuries you sustain, the work you may miss because of those injuries, and the damage to your vehicle, the costs and losses from a car accident can quickly add up.
Most car accident victims expect to be able to seek compensation for the entirety of their damages through a car accident insurance claim. However, it may come as a surprise if you discover that the insurance coverage available will not cover your losses and, in some cases, may be far less than your actual damages. Without enough compensation to cover your damages from a crash, you may face financial stress and burdens as you try to move forward after the accident.
Fortunately, there may be other options for motor vehicle accident victims to get fair monetary compensation for their losses. Finding those options and determining which is most appropriate for the circumstances of your case can be challenging. However, a car accident lawyer can help you determine what options are available in your case and what your best chance at a successful outcome is in the aftermath of a car accident.
Table of Contents
- Determining Your Damages After a Car Accident
- Discussing Your Legal Options With a Car Accident Lawyer
- What Are the Minimum Insurance Coverage Requirements?
- Can the Number of People Involved in a Crash Affect the Compensation Available to You?
- Can You Successfully Pursue More Compensation Than the Insurance Policy Limits?
- How Can the Statute of Limitations Affect Your Car Accident Case?
- How Will You Know if You Need to Take Additional Action on an Insurance Claim?
Determining Your Damages After a Car Accident
Car accident losses vary and depend on many factors that can occur before, during, and after a crash. With all of the stress and uncertainty you face after a car accident, it can be difficult to calculate your losses and consider the future damages you might incur due to the accident.
A car accident attorney works each day to help their clients fight for their damages and determine what their actual damages might be. Damage calculations early on are imperative to help car accident victims know where they stand and how much money they may ultimately be eligible to receive as part of their claim and case.
An insurance claim might recover these car accident damages:
- Payment of medical bills for treatment, rehabilitation, and future medical needs associated with your car accident injuries.
- Compensation for your loss of income due to missed work, including permanent loss of income or future earnings because of the long-term impact of your injuries.
- Monetary compensation for the physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering you endure during the crash and its aftermath as you heal from your injuries.
- Compensation to pay for your repair costs for damage to your vehicle or, if the vehicle is a total loss, the fair value of your property.
Discussing Your Legal Options With a Car Accident Lawyer
You likely will not know what compensation you may be eligible for until you speak to a car accident lawyer. Consulting with an attorney allows you to get a more accurate estimate of your car accident losses and help you identify the options available under the law. Every car accident and every car accident victim’s situation is unique. No two scenarios present the same facts, damages, and liability issues.
As such, speaking with a car accident attorney about your case and damages is vital. Once a lawyer takes a closer look at your case, they can give you the best options to seek compensation for your losses under the law, whether through an insurance claim or include a combination of other options.
As a car accident victim, you may not know where to start and how to fight for your compensation, particularly when facing significant and expensive damages that will likely exceed the insurance coverage available.
What Are the Minimum Insurance Coverage Requirements?
It is not uncommon for a car accident victim to exceed the coverage available in a car accident claim. Minimum insurance mandates in many states protect victims in the event of a car accident to ensure coverage is available to handle a claim. However, even when drivers comply with the mandates, the minimum threshold is often low.
It can take very little damage in a car accident to exceed the coverage under minimum insurance requirements. A car accident attorney can help you review the laws in your state and the coverage available under all parties involved in the motor vehicle accident leading to your injuries and losses.
While some states have no insurance mandates, the vast majority do have some protections in place for victims of car accidents. However, the insurance requirements can vary from one jurisdiction to another. Additionally, the types of coverage necessary under state law can also vary.
For example, some states may mandate that drivers carry insurance for bodily injury, property damage, and underinsured motorist or uninsured motorist coverage others may only require property damage and bodily injury.
Furthermore, the minimum monetary coverage is also different in each state. For example, in Florida, one of the states with the lowest minimum car insurance requirements, a driver need only carry up to $10,000 in property damage and $10,000 in bodily injury.
On the higher end, some jurisdictions, such as Maine, require $100,000 in bodily injury protections, and Michigan requires a minimum of $250,000 in personal injury protection. While victims in jurisdictions with higher minimum requirements are less likely to exceed the insurance coverage available, those in a state with lower thresholds can exceed a policy limit even in minor car accidents.
Can the Number of People Involved in a Crash Affect the Compensation Available to You?
While the insurance coverage available is a starting point when determining whether your damages will likely exceed the policy limits, another factor is the parties to an accident. The more victims that suffer injuries and damages in a crash, the more complex a claim and the less compensation available in certain situations.
While sometimes insurance coverage indicates a per person coverage, there are also thresholds on the amount of coverage per accident. When multiple parties suffer injuries in a crash with a low insurance threshold, the coverage may not pay for everyone’s injuries. Hiring a car accident attorney can make your interests a priority amongst all parties involved, including other victims who will likely have their own lawyers trying to get them the maximum compensation possible.
Can You Successfully Pursue More Compensation Than the Insurance Policy Limits?
When it becomes apparent that the insurance coverage in a car accident will be insufficient to cover a victim’s losses, an attorney can look into other options to pursue compensation. It often takes some investigation into the accident and parties involved to discover all available avenues for compensating your losses due to injury and other damages.
You may have additional options. The only way to know which options can help you recover the remainder of your losses when your damages exceed the policy coverage is to speak with a lawyer.
Filing an Underinsured Motorist Claim
In some states, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is a requirement. Still, in many states, it is optional coverage meant to protect a victim if they are in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or does not have enough coverage to meet your losses.
Underinsured motorist coverage is a policy that would cover you. However, as the insured, that does not mean the compensation from the insurance company is a guarantee. Underinsured motorist insurance carriers can still give you a hard time seeking the maximum damages available in your case.
Your lawyer can file an underinsured motorist claim and seek the remaining damages available under the law, not payable under the other vehicle liability insurance relating to the car accident.
Discovering Whether Another Party Could Be Liable
Car accidents can reveal complicated scenarios with differing relationships between an at fault driver and others that may be liable. For example, if you suffer damages in a car accident with a commercial vehicle driver, their employer may also be liable for your losses.
Additionally, rideshare drivers and others using vehicles owned by another party could present alternative options to you seeking compensation. It is also not uncommon for accidents involving multiple parties to have multiple drivers that share fault for the events leading to the accident.
If another negligent driver has available insurance coverage, your attorney can help you pursue a claim through them.
Ultimately, a car accident attorney will look at everyone involved in the car accident and whether any additional parties could be responsible for the accident and your subsequent injuries. An attorney working for you can take the action necessary to protect your rights against all parties potentially liable to you.
Filing a Lawsuit
When a victim exhausts all possible avenues for an insurance claim for compensation, and there is still not enough money to cover the extent of the damages, a lawsuit may be appropriate. Although most car accident claims end in a settlement through negotiations with an insurer, there are instances where it is not possible to seek the damages you are eligible for under the law through only an insurance claim.
With the help and guidance of a motor vehicle accident attorney, a victim can determine whether a lawsuit is possible to seek the additional damages sustained from the accident.
The law clearly states that a negligent party is personally liable for their negligence and actions leading to a victim’s harm. However, even when a lawyer may know a victim has a strong case against a liable party for damages, they must consider the likelihood of payment of those damages.
If a defendant is clearly in a position where they are unable to pay for your losses, then a lawsuit may not be a viable option. However, if your attorney determines that the at fault driver or another party responsible likely has the means to pay your damages, they may recommend filing a legal action in court to seek the damages not covered through the insurance claim.
How Can the Statute of Limitations Affect Your Car Accident Case?
Sorting through insurance claims and discovering insurance may not be enough to cover your losses takes time. It may be weeks or months after the accident when you discover that an insurance policy may not be able to cover the extent of your car accident damages.
Depending on where and when the car accident occurs, the time you must take legal action through a court may not be long. Statutes of limitations are different in every state, and while in one state, a car accident victim might have several years to file a lawsuit, in another, it could be as little as one to two years.
Car accident lawyers know how a statute of limitations can affect your case and can make certain when you hire them to represent you that you remain within the time limits established by the laws of your state.
How Will You Know if You Need to Take Additional Action on an Insurance Claim?
It is impossible to know in the initial stages after an accident whether further action beyond an insurance claim may be necessary in your case. First, your injuries may not yet be obvious to you or your doctors. Car accident injuries can develop into complications or worsen, affecting your ability to work, the cost of your medical care, and other impacts on your life.
Contact a lawyer following a motor vehicle accident immediately. Getting started to protect your legal rights and determine available insurance coverage and liability will help give you the best possible chance at receiving the maximum compensation possible for your losses.
Once a lawyer takes your case, they will handle everything from phone calls from insurance representatives to investigating the accident, gathering your evidence and medical records, and preparing to file a claim for your losses. Contact our personal injury law firm in Philadelphia today for your free consultation.