After an accident, insurance companies often rush to give what seem like generous offers, but you shouldn't be that quick to accept. It can be tricky to determine just how much your car is worth after an accident, but you should make sure you know before accepting any low-ball compensation packages. But do you know how to determine your car accident claim value?
Whether you sustained physical injuries or simply have a few scrapes on your vehicle, here are a few ways you can determine what the damages to your car and the cost of medical coverage are worth. In addition, depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may also be able to sue for pain and suffering.
Determining the Value of Property Damage
In most cases, your car should have the bulk of the accident damage. This is in part because modern cars are built to cushion and crumple around the person they are transporting. However, this also means that modern cars do collapse easily.
To assess the damage to your property, you will need to first figure out what condition your car was in before the accident. This also includes any extra features that could increase its value. As a general rule, the insurance company will usually pay out whatever the market value of the car is if they can’t pay for repairs.
You should make sure your insurer knows of any upgrades or improvements that were made to your vehicles, such as new paint jobs or wheel rims. Unfortunately, regular maintenance doesn’t improve the value of your car, though it does keep it from depreciating in value so rapidly.
Double-check the exact year, make, and model of your vehicle and what kind of drive (4WD, AWD, etc.) that it has. Make sure you have the proper documentation that shows what features your car has and what items or parts of it were damaged.
If you feel your insurer isn’t giving you enough in return for your car, consider contacting a car accident attorney. They can go over your options for a bigger claim with you.
Determining Property Damage in a Rented Car
But what if you’re in an accident where the car wasn’t yours? For example, if you’re in an accident with a vehicle you rented, can you get anything extra out of the claim?
You’ll want to check what your car insurance covers regarding rental vehicles. Some insurers provide coverage that extends to rental cars. Many people just buy rental insurance or rent from companies that include it automatically.
This coverage will usually handle liability and possibly a waiver for collision damage, but it may not cover the replacement cost of personal effects or medical costs.
Calculating Healthcare and Medical Costs
Money can be complicated, especially between partners. According to a recent survey, 74% of millennials and Gen Zers have been angry at a partner over money matters. And medical and healthcare expenses only increase that level of stress. The inability to plan for some shocking accidents means that it is vitally important
Don’t give your insurer any information regarding your mental or physical health, not even to say “I’m feeling fine,” if they ask how you are doing. It can take weeks, if not months for injuries and repercussions from an accident to surface, and many accidents can have long-lasting effects.
Make sure that you visit a healthcare provider as soon as you can after an accident, and keep careful documentation of all medical expenses and ongoing treatments. Include incidental costs such as transportation and income lost from missing work or business opportunities.
If you’re unsure what can and can’t be factored into your claim, contact an attorney. They have the expertise and experience necessary to determine the value of your medical costs.
Pain and Suffering: What’s It Worth?
Pain and suffering is considered slightly different than medical costs are. For starters, it doesn’t actually cover tangible or measurable costs, but rather the lasting repercussions of an accident. For example, if you are permanently disfigured or disabled by a crash, this is going to have lasting effects on you down the road that you have a right to get more money for.
Getting recompense for pain and suffering can be more complex and often requires you to file a lawsuit. This means that you will definitely have to get the help of a skilled attorney to get paid back for these difficult-to-quantify claims.
The good news is that a successful claim will often multiply your insurance payout many times over. Often, insurance companies will double, triple, quadruple, or even quintuple the cost of your medical bills to cover pain and suffering.
Pain and Suffering Claims in Court
While the payout is high, pain and suffering can be difficult to prove in court. You will need to document your specific claim, justification, and calculation in any demands you make to the other party.
As a general rule, pain and suffering will be indicated to the court based on the severity of your injuries and whether they will cause permanent scarring, discomfort, or disability. Physical and lasting injuries will be more likely to win a pain and suffering suit than mental or emotional distress.
If you don’t look up your car’s value, keep track of medical costs, or ask your lawyer about pain and suffering charges, then you could miss out on the full value of your car accident claim.
At the same time, there may be instances where pursuing a claim isn’t worth it, especially if the other party is willing to fight you in court regarding culpability. If the other party or insurance agency refuses to admit fault, you may be forced to litigate. You may determine that the size or intensity of injury or damage isn’t worth pursuing in court.
However, if your injuries are severe and your car will need major repairs, make sure you contact a trustworthy car accident attorney for help.
Deborah Goldberg writes and researches about car accidents and insurance for the legal advice site, FreeAdvice.com.
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