What payout are you entitled to if you are injured in an automobile accident?
Actually, after motor vehicle accidents that were caused by someone else’s carelessness (the correct legal term is “negligence”), there are two different accident claim payouts that you are entitled to receive.
Car Damage Payout
One is a payout for the damage to your car. This entitles you to . . .
1. Have your car repaired.
2. Or, if the repairs would cost more than the vehicle is worth, be given its fair market value (usually called “Actual Cash Value,” or “ACV”) before it was destroyed.
3. A replacement (rental) vehicle while yours is being fixed or, if it was totaled, until you are paid.
4. The cost to repair or replace any property in your vehicle that was damaged or destroyed in the accident. This includes such things as the golf clubs that were in your truck . . . right where you were hit.
5. Of course, the cost of towing your vehicle if that was necessary.
Sometimes, you are also entitled to . . .
6. The amount that your car’s value was reduced by the accident. This reduction in value claim is based on the common sense notion that a buyer will not pay the same amount for a car that had extensive damage repaired that she would pay for an otherwise similar vehicle that has not had such damage. Reduction in value claims are also called diminished value (“DV”) claims or diminution of value claims.
Look hard at the possibility of a DV claim if the damages were extensive and your vehicle is fairly new, say not more than 2 or 3 years old.
The other payout you are entitled to receive is for any injuries that you suffered in the accident.
This payout has two parts: financial losses and non-financial losses.
If someone else’s carelessness causes an auto accident in which you were injured, one thing the at-fault driver (actually, his insurance company if he had insurance) must do is pay you the full amount that was spent to treat the injuries you received. Note that I said all of the medical bills, not simply your out-of-pocket co-pay or deductible amount.
However, if your health insurance company paid any of your medical bills, it probably has a right to be repaid after you recover from the driver who caused the accident. In other words, you receive the payment from the other driver with one hand but have to use the other hand to deliver it to your health insurance company. Don’t forget, though, that the health insurance company will usually agree to reduce its claim if you ask them the right way.
In most cases, the other financial loss that you can recover from the at-fault driver is your loss of income. This is true even if you were paid for the time you missed from work. That’s right, if you missed two weeks but were paid because you are entitled to sick leave or vacation pay from your employer, you can still collect the value of your lost time. Why? Because it’s not fair for the at-fault driver to benefit from something you negotiated with your employer and paid for. Yes, I said, “paid for.” Presumably, if your employer was not paying for these benefits, it would be paying you their value as additional pay.
You can also recover any other financial losses that result from your accident. Common examples are the cost of traveling to and from doctors’ appointments and the cost of hiring people to do things you couldn’t do while you were injured, such as house cleaning and lawn mowing.
Non-Financial Losses – Pain And Suffering
As an injured victim of someone’s carelessness, you are also entitled to a car accident claim payout for your “non-financial losses.”
This means that you have suffered losses that didn’t cost you money and that aren’t normally measured financially.
The main example is that, in spite of the fact you did nothing to deserve being injured, you have had to go through the experience of your injury. There may have been pain, tingling, stiffness and the like from your physical injuries. In addition, there may have been uncertainty about your recovery, about whether your job would still be available when you got well, about who was going to take care of your kids, about how you would pay your bills if you weren’t paid while you were out of work, and about many other things. True justice requires that you be compensated for these losses.
The difficulty, of course, in calculating a car accident claim payout for these types of losses is that there is no recognized and agreed method for converting these very real losses to dollars and cents. In other words, there is no real auto accident pain and suffering settlement calculator.
However, the fact that converting pain and suffering to dollars and cents is difficult does not mean that it should not be done. My view is that in a typical claim, this is the most significant part of the claim. Sure your vehicle was damaged and you suffered financial losses, but years after when you look back, I predict that what you will remember will be the sleepless nights, the worry and uncertainty about whether you would fully recover, when you would recover, and the like. That’s why, from my point of view, compensation for your non-financial pain and suffering damages must be more than you receive for your financial losses.
Click here to learn more about calculating your car accident settlement.
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In addition, you can get MUCH MORE information about accident clam payouts in my ebook, The Car Accident Claims Kit. My book gives you all the information, advice, tips, forms and checklists you need to get what you are entitled to get . . all for the price of dinner and a movie . . . and with a no-questions-asked money back guarantee.