If you’re making an injury claim after a car accident, you could find yourself in a dispute with a car insurance company over issues like coverage or the severity of your injuries, to name just two examples. In this article, we’ll look at a few real-world car accident injury claims that hinged on issues related to car insurance.
(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, Side-Impact Car Accident Injury Case Examples, and Real-Life Car Accident Jury Verdicts.)
Darlene reports that a red light runner rammed into the rear of her car, totaling it. As a result of her accident, Darlene has limited mobility in her left arm and pain in her neck and low back. So far, medical treatment has cost $3,000. In addition, Darlene has had to quit a part-time job because of her arm problem. She says that has cost her $14,000. Darlene is representing herself and has sent a demand letter to State Farm asking for $37,000, the amount she would like to recover.
Comments: Darlene may be beginning negotiations with State Farm too soon. It sounds like Darlene is still in treatment. If that is right, she doesn't know yet how long she will be in treatment or how long she will suffer from the symptoms of her injuries. On top of that, she doesn't know whether she will ever be able to return to her part-time job.
You should not begin settlement negotiations until you completely recover from your injuries or, if you won't recover fully, until you recover as much as you will. Only then will you know the full story of what your accident caused. Darlene doesn't know her full story yet. So it would be wiser to hold up settlement negotiations until she ends treatment and returns to her normal pre-accident health.
Noelle reports from Arizona that an erratic driver ricocheted off a retaining wall and ended up in Noelle's lane where Noelle hit her head-on. Noelle received 3 fractures in her wrist, severe soft tissue damage to her knee, disc injuries in her neck (which will be chronic) and a right shoulder strain. She has been treated for 5 months, at a cost of more than $12,000, and is not yet fully recovered. Unfortunately, because she couldn't work due to her injuries, Noelle lost her job. The value of that loss, to date, is more than $20,000. The driver who caused all of this had only the Arizona minimum liability insurance coverage of $15,000. On her insurance policy, Noelle has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of $50,000.
Comments: The driver who caused this accident is financially responsible for all of the damage and harm that she caused. Therefore, Noelle can file a lawsuit against her and expect to get a judgment for the full amount of her damages, whatever that turns out to be. However, because the at-fault driver only has $15,000 of liability insurance, that is all her insurance company will have to pay. The balance owed will be the at-fault driver's problem. Actually, it will end up being Noelle's problem, too, if that driver doesn't have any assets that can be used to pay what Noelle is owed.
Fortunately, Noelle has uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage on her insurance policy. Uninsured motorist coverage pays when the driver who caused your accident has no insurance. That is not the case here. Underinsured motorists coverage pays you if the driver who caused your accident doesn’t carry sufficient coverage, as is the case here. So, after the at-fault driver's insurance company offers its policy limit, Noelle can make a claim under her underinsured motorists coverage and recover up to a total of $50,000, her policy limit.
Ada and her fiancé were stopped at an intersection in Ohio waiting to make a left turn when they were rear-ended by a car going about 40 mph.
Ada sustained 3 herniated cervical (neck) discs and severe middle and low back problems. Ada has had surgery on her neck in which the surgeon "fused" the bones together, causing a loss of mobility and leaving a 5 inch scar on the front of her neck. She needs more surgery on her back, but she is putting it off. So far, Ada's medical care has cost about $68,000.
More than 3 years after her accident, Ada is still in treatment. Her injuries are permanent.
Ada has not been able to work since her accident. She has applied for disability, but her claim is pending. She is thinking about filing bankruptcy.
Ada reports that this ongoing saga has caused problems in her marriage, including a loss of intimacy because of her constant pain.
She cannot sit or stand for long or do many of the things that she used to do.
Ada has hired a large law firm to represent her, but she reports that her lawyer does not return her phone calls.
The insurance company that is defending against Ada's claim is American Family Insurance which is arguing that the "real cause" of Ada's problems is degenerative disc disease that she had before the accident, not her accident. However she never had any neck or back problems before the accident and her doctor has testified (at a deposition) that, in his/her opinion, the accident caused the herniated discs.
Ada reports that "I am so depressed that I do not even get dressed most days.. . I just feel like my life is hopeless." "I am trying so hard to be patient but when you cannot pay bills or go to the grocery and your marriage is hanging on by a thread, it is tough to be optimistic."
Comments: American Family Insurance is claiming that the obvious cause of Ada's injuries -- a 3,000 metal missile going 40 mph ramming into her stopped car -- is not the "real cause." They are arguing that the real cause of Ada's neck problems is that, like virtually all of us, she had degenerative (aging) changes in her neck and back before the accident that were causing her no problems and might never have caused her any problems. But, she had no neck or back pain before the accident and massive neck and back pain after it, so there is a clear opportunity to fight the carrier on this argument.
While the above examples are helpful, remember that every case is unique. The best way to get a sense of the strength of your claim is to sit down and discuss your case with an experienced car accident lawyer.