A car crash can result in severe injuries and damages, regardless of how minor it might be. The truth is most victims do not have the financial capability to deal with all the medical expenses that come with these accidents. Therefore, filing for a personal injury claim settlement may be the only way to get through the accident’s aftermath.
Besides the physical pain, car accidents can severely affect your psychological aspect, both of which the law permits compensation. Physical injuries and emotional distress bear the same magnitude of pain and suffering. Both can disrupt your life significantly. But are they settled equally? The first step to receiving compensation for a personal injury claim is considering your time-sensitive legal options.
How Long After A Car Accident Can You Claim Personal Injury?
When you sustain injuries after a car crash, you do not have to file a personal injury claim immediately. However, there is a time limit to when you should have filed the claim. The time limit, also known as the statute of limitations, differs from state to state. Once it elapses, a claim may no longer be filed.
In some states, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years from the date of the crash. In other states, the limitations for these claims, especially where negligence is involved, can go up to four years from the date of the incident. The limit holds for all victims: pedestrians, passengers, motorists, and motorcyclists. While courts rarely grant extensions to the limitations’ deadlines, some exceptions and conditions can be permitted.
- If the injured victim is a minor.
- If the accident causes a wrongful death.
- If the injured victim was incapacitated for some time.
- If the cause of the injuries was unknown until recently.
- If the defendant and the plaintiff are not in the same state.
- If the defendant flees.
- If a victim was severely injured and needed help filing the claim.
Statutes of limitations have been put in place to ensure the timely prosecution of crimes. The law believes that anyone with a valid personal injury claim should pursue it immediately. Therefore, do not wait to take action after a personal injury. Remember, you need time to build a solid case to get the compensation you are entitled to.
Approaching the insurance company a few days before your statute of limitations expires will not do you any good. Filing your injury claim promptly will help you to:
- Preserve evidence from the scene of the crash.
- Get continuous treatment even for the injuries that show up after some time.
- Get the proper amount of settlement.
- Reduce the chances of your claim being denied by the insurance company.
Factors That Affect How Personal Accident Injuries Are Settled
Several factors determine the compensation you might receive for personal injuries after a car crash. These factors include;
- The Nature of Injuries
After a car crash, the injuries sustained can either be physical or emotional. The extent of damages by both aspects is put into consideration when appropriating compensation to victims. Car crash victims who suffer from disfigurements and permanent scarring are justified in seeking more compensation than victims with fractured wrists. Similarly, victims who have PTSD are more likely to receive a higher settlement than those who suffer from anger and frustration after a crash.
The location of an injury is also a crucial aspect when settling personal accident injuries. A wound or a scar sustained on your face cannot be compared with one on your thigh. Therefore, a facial injury or scar victim is entitled to higher compensation.
- The Severity of Injuries
Different car accidents result in various injuries. It is not determined by how minor or major an accident is because both can cause serious injuries to victims. Victims of severe car accident injuries are entitled to a higher settlement. Severe injuries include spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and amputations. These injuries require months or weeks of medical care and rehabilitation, which means immense medical expenses.
Dealing with severe injuries could also mean taking time off work to recover. You may also miss work to attend follow-up medical check-ups and therapy. Missing work means loss of wages. A fair settlement for such victims will also include compensation for their loss of income. Therefore, their payment could be slightly higher than victims who sustain minor injuries.
- Permanent Injuries Sustained
While car accident victims are focussed on gaining full recovery, it is not always achievable for some. The severity and nature of the injuries sustained after a car crash significantly affect your chances of full recovery. For example, if you suffer from spinal cord injuries, the possibility of permanent paralysis is high.
Other permanent damages that could result from a car accident include brain damage, impairments, body disfigurement, limb amputation, and permanent scarring. The physical, emotional, and psychological pain and suffering inflicted on the victims and their loved ones due to permanent injuries are life-altering. Therefore, such permanent damages call for a higher settlement.
- The Economic Losses
Economic losses make up for all the medical expenses incurred after the car accident. They constitute the most significant portion of your injury claim, especially after a severe incident. Some severe injuries, such as brain injuries, need continuous care; hence, the more severe the injuries, the higher the accumulation of medical costs.
Economic losses also account for any loss of income due to personal injuries from the car accident. Our Houston car accident lawyer calculates your economic loss by adding all the financial losses related to your injuries. Those with the highest economic losses are entitled to a higher settlement. The medical costs related to your injuries that are worth receiving compensation for include the following;
- Emergency treatment.
- Surgeries and other required procedures.
- Long-term medical care.
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy.
How To Get the Most Out of a Personal Injury Settlement
According to a report by Esurance, approximately 77% of drivers have been involved in at least one accident. A car accident is a possibility that you have to prepare for. Therefore, it is essential to understand some of the crucial steps that you can take to get the appropriate personal injury settlement after an accident.
- Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
In a perfect world, the insurance company quickly conducts investigations after an accident. When you are ready to settle, a claim representative negotiates a fair settlement, which is then released to you. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. There are tedious formalities involved before a payment is released by the insurance company, most of which are meant to sway you into accepting their offer.
Some insurance companies also threaten to pull away if you fail to accept their first offer. Lawyers cannot be threatened because they have the expertise to deal with insurance companies and their adjusters. Their negotiation skills are also top-notch. Contact a Houston car accident lawyer today to recover every loss.
- Collect Evidence
After a car crash, take as many photos and videos as possible. Document the scene of the accident. Take the pictures from different angles, up close and distant. Ask a bystander or one of the local authorities to capture your injuries too. Check for anyone who might have witnessed the accident and note the facts they share with you. Talk to as many witnesses as possible, and remember to ask for their contact information.
Evidence is crucial in proving the extent of damages and injuries that resulted from the car accident. Sufficient evidence also protects you should the insurance company claim that you exaggerate your injuries. Ideally, adequate proof from the accident scene makes it easier for you to get the most out of your injury claim.
- Seek Medical Attention
To get the most out of your personal injury claim, seek immediate medical attention. Feeling “okay” after a car crash does not mean you are “okay”. It could be the shock and adrenaline rush blocking you from pain. Fatal injuries like internal bleeding may not show immediately after the crash. A thorough medical check-up could be the thin line between life and death.
Delayed medical attention raises questions with the insurance company about your injuries. They may insinuate that you failed to get prompt medical care because your injuries are less severe than what is stated in your claim. Such an assumption could have a significant effect on your injury compensation.
- Notify the Insurance Company
Reporting a car crash to the insurance company is an added advantage should you decide to file for a personal injury claim. Most insurance policies require you to notify the insurance company after an accident within a specific period. Once the time frame elapses, the insurance company could reject your claim entirely.
A delayed notification strips you of any right to ask for a proper settlement. It gives the insurance company the upper hand in deciding what your injuries are worth. Instead of getting what your injuries are worth, you lose more.