After another driver causes an accident with your vehicle, you may have a lot of questions. You may wonder how much compensation to expect from an insurance settlement or lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Ultimately, two factors determine the available compensation in a car accident case. Available insurance coverage and the scope of the damages determine available compensation.
Damages in a Car Accident
Even a seemingly mild vehicle accident can lead to significant damages for the victim. Car accidents can cause injuries requiring long-term medical treatment and rehabilitation. Some victims may develop permanent disabilities from their car accident injuries, missing time from work and losing income. These experiences can also be painful and traumatic, causing tremendous pain and suffering to victims and their families.
The first step in determining the value of a car accident claim is to review the available insurance coverage. In states that follow fault-based rules for car accidents, drivers must purchase and maintain auto accident liability coverage that meets their states’ minimum requirements. For example, if a state upholds a 25/50/20 minimum, a driver’s auto insurance must provide $25,000 or more bodily injury liability coverage, $50,000 or more total accident liability coverage, and $20,000 or more in property damage liability coverage.
If an at-fault driver’s auto insurance offers enough coverage to fully cover the victim’s damages, the case ends with an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s policy. However, if the accident occurred in a no-fault state or the at-fault driver does not have insurance, the victim will need to file against his or her own auto insurance policy.
When Insurance Is Not Enough
The damages from a car accident may exceed the insurance coverage between the drivers involved. An accident in a no-fault state may also involve damages substantial enough to qualify for a lawsuit. No-fault states generally require that a car accident’s damages must exceed a certain threshold or involve a severe injury to qualify for a lawsuit.
If the circumstances of a car accident allow the victim to take legal action, several types of damages are available to the victim.
If insurance cannot fully cover the property damages, the victim can claim repair and replacement costs of his or her vehicle and other possessions damaged in the accident as economic damages.
A car accident victim can claim compensation for the cost of medical expenses resulting from the accident. This can include emergency room fees, ambulance fees, surgical costs, and ongoing costs for physical therapy or other forms of rehabilitation.
An accident could leave the victim unable to work during his or her recovery, or the victim may have sustained severe injuries that result in disability, limiting his or her future earning potential. The plaintiff in a car accident lawsuit can claim compensation for lost income and lost future earning potential, if applicable.
Pain and suffering
Noneconomic damages include the physical pain of an injury and recovery and the mental suffering from a traumatic accident or acknowledging a disability resulting from car accident injuries. The jury hearing the case will consider expert witness testimony and the severity of the victim’s injuries to determine an appropriate amount of pain and suffering compensation.
In the event an at-fault driver was engaged in criminal activity at the time of the accident, such as driving under the influence or fleeing from police, the at-fault driver will likely face criminal charges in addition to the victim’s civil claim. A jury may award punitive damages to further punish a defendant and to discourage similar behavior in the future.
Ultimately, a car accident can involve various types of damages including substantial economic harm as well as physical and psychological injury to victims. Anyone who experiences a car accident should consider hiring a Phoenix car accident attorney to help with the subsequent insurance issues, investigations, and legal actions that might arise from the situation.
An experienced personal injury attorney in Phoenix can help a car accident victim determine his or her best options for legal recourse after a serious accident in Arizona. To schedule a free consultation with the top-rated team at Begam Marks & Traulsen, P.A., contact us online.