If you're making an injury claim after a side-impact car accident, read about these real-world cases, submitted by our users, to get a sense of what to expect.
(For more real-world examples of car accident cases and payouts, check out our companion articles Rear-End Car Accident Case Examples, Car Passenger Injury Claim Examples, Real-Life Car Accident Jury Verdicts, and Examples of Car Accident Cases Involving Insurance Issues.)
Jane reports that her daughter was injured in a car accident in Texas. She appeared to have a cervical sprain with muscle spasms and headaches, as well as a lumbar sprain. At some point, Jane's daughter, acting without a lawyer's advice, settled with State Farm for $15,000. Now, Jane is suffering from severe headaches and it has been determined that she has a brain injury. Jane's mother wants to know what she can do to get justice for her daughter.
Analysis: Jane's daughter made a trade when she settled her claim. State Farm paid her money to compensate her for her injuries and other damages. In return, Jane signed a release giving up her right to make any further claims against the driver who hurt her, or State Farm, as a result of her accident.
Unfortunately, the release is probably binding on Jane's daughter. This outcome highlights the fact that you should not resolve your claim until you are sure that you know all of the consequences of your accident. You only get one settlement (or court decision) per accident. And, once you settle your case, the case is over.
It can be particularly hard to detect brain injuries after a car accident. These injuries can cause physical, cognitive or emotional symptoms. If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor for an evaluation and do not settle your claims until you know the full extent of your injuries.
Finally, always get advice from a car accident lawyer before you sign a car accident claim release.
Charlie reports from South Carolina that he could not avoid T-boning the SUV of a driver who had run a red light. Charlie's car was totaled. In addition, his shoulder was injured and he has been left with major scarring on his left hand, which was cut by his windshield. Charlie was treated for 3 months and his medical care cost $1,200. Charlie missed one day from work, which cost him somewhere between $500 and $1,500. Charlie is handling his own claim against State Farm, which insures the negligent red light runner.
Comments: Charlie's medical bills sound awfully low. Hopefully he is claiming the full amount of the bills, and not just the co-pays that came out of his pocket. He is entitled to recover the full amount of the bills. And that's a good thing, because, if his health insurance paid the bills, they have what is called a "subrogation claim" against Charlie if he recovers from the negligent driver. That means that Charlie will have to pay them back all or part of the amount they paid for his medical bills.
Figuring out fair compensation for scarring is always difficult. Charlie's scars should improve over time. There may also be surgical procedures that he could have to improve the scarring even more. If he elects to have this surgery, the cost of the surgery becomes part of his claim. In fact, even if he does not actually have the surgery, the cost of it is probably part of his claim.
Hiroshi has posted his car accident which occurred in Rhode Island. His car T-boned a truck in an intersection. The truck driver and his insurance company, Geico, admitted responsibility.
Hiroshi's injuries include a forehead bruise, headaches, a stiff neck and pain in his shoulders and arms. He is still sore one month after the accident.
So far, these are the numbers: repair of vehicle, $3,000; medical bills, $420; lost income, $235.
Hiroshi is representing himself.
Comments: It is too early to "evaluate" Hiroshi's claim because he is still recovering from his accident-caused injuries. When he submits an injury claim to Geico, he will want to be able to tell "the whole story." That is, he will want to be able to explain all of the effects that this accident caused, in terms of his injuries, lost income and the other effects on his life. These are the losses that he wants to be compensated for. Obviously, he won't know "the whole story" until the story ends. Usually, this means when he fully recovers from his injuries.
Dekki reports on an Illinois intersection crash. As Dekki was lawfully going through the intersection, with a green light, another driver ran a red light and T-boned Dekki's car. It cost $7,000 to repair the car damage.
Dekki received whiplash, stiffness and swelling in the back and neck and a soft tissue knee injury which caused pain for 2 months, a limp for about 4 months and a weakened knee for about 11 months. Dekki's medical bills total about $6,000. There is no lost income.
The driver who hit Dekki did not have car insurance, so Dekki is dealing with his own insurance company under his uninsured motorist coverage.
Dekki is negotiating with State Farm and they have offered $3,000 as compensation for Dekki's pain and suffering. (Presumably they are also willing to pay Dekki's medical bills.) Dekki, who does not have a lawyer, asks how to "build a case" for more pain and suffering compensation from his "own insurance company."
Comments: It sounds as if Dekki has fully recovered from his injuries. Therefore, there is no reason to wait any longer to try to resolve his injury claim.
There is no evidence that Dekki did anything to contribute to causing this accident. Therefore, he is entitled to recover the full value of his claim. The Big Question, of course, is what is "full value." It appears to me that Dekki is entitled to more compensation -- possibly much more compensation -- than has been offered. If he hangs in there and is patient, he should be able to do much better.
These examples are helpful, but remember that every case is unique. The best way to get a sense of the strength of your injury claim after a side-impact car accident is to sit down and discuss your case with an experienced car accident lawyer.