Car accidents can profoundly impact your life physically, emotionally, and financially. While they vary in severity, even minor accidents can result in significant financial burdens. According to the National Safety Council, total motor vehicle injury costs in the U.S. were estimated at $498.3 billion in 2021.
If you have been involved in a car crash, you may be wondering, how much will my car accident cost me? The cost of your accident depends on several factors, such as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, insurance rates, legal representation, and liability.
While the costs incurred from a motor vehicle accident can be financially devastating, you may be entitled to compensation for your accident-related expenses. An experienced attorney can help you recover these damages.
Get in touch with us today to schedule your first consultation.
Costs Associated with Car Accidents
The average costs of a car accident depend on several factors, which will vary from case to case.
Typically, one of the most immediate and significant expenses resulting from a car accident is medical costs. In 2018, the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,785, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Medical costs vary depending on the nature and severity of your injuries and may include expenses such as ambulance fees, emergency room visits, hospitalization, doctor visits, follow-up appointments, rehabilitation, therapy, medications, and future medical expenses.
Car crashes can lead to time away from work due to injuries or the need for medical treatment and recovery. This absence can lead to lost wages. Depending on the severity of your injuries and whether you will suffer long-term disability or impairment, the amount in lost wages will vary. In some cases, individuals may need to take extended leaves of absence or even change careers due to the lasting effects of their injuries, potentially resulting in reduced earning potential over their lifetime.
Car accidents often result in damage to vehicles and other property. These expenses include vehicle repairs, towing and storage, and personal property damage for items inside your car, such as electronics and other personal items.
If your car has been deemed a total loss by your insurance company, they will pay you the amount it is worth. In some circumstances, your car loan could be worth more than the amount you receive from the insurance company, and in that case, you are responsible for paying the lender the balance left on the loan.
Generally, car accidents can lead to increased insurance premiums, particularly if the driver is at fault. On average, car insurance policy rates increase by around 47% when a driver is involved in an accident that causes an injury. Insurance rate increases differ depending on the state, the insurance company the policy is with, who was at fault, driver history, driver experience, and miles driven. This increase usually results in higher monthly or annual premiums for several years. Some insurers even choose to drop coverage for policyholders with a history of accidents.
However, if you weren’t “principally at fault” for the accident in California, your insurer is prohibited from increasing your insurance rates. If you are not responsible for the crash, your insurer cannot use your insurance claim to raise your rates.
Having an experienced lawyer fighting for your interests following a car accident is a good idea, as it can significantly impact the outcome of your claim. An attorney can assess your case, help accurately determine your damages, negotiate with the insurance company, file a lawsuit, and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
If you hire an attorney, you typically do not need to worry about up-front legal fees. Most personal injury attorneys will charge based on a contingency fee. That means you will not pay any legal fees unless they recover compensation on your behalf. If your lawyer does recover compensation for you, their payment will be a percentage of the award, usually around 30% to 40%.
California law requires that all drivers have at least 15/30/5 liability insurance coverage. These minimum liability insurance requirements include:
- $15,000 for injury or death to one person;
- $30,000 for all persons injured in any one accident; and
- $5,000 for property damage.
Liability coverage compensates the victims of a car accident for their damages. It is important to note that California is an “at-fault” state when it comes to insurance claims, meaning the person responsible for the accident is financially responsible for the cost of the auto accident.
If you were responsible for the accident, your liability insurance should cover the other party’s medical bills, property damage, and potentially additional costs up to your policy limits. Your property damage and injuries are typically covered under your collision and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, subject to deductibles and policy limits.
If you were not the at-fault driver, the other party’s insurance should cover your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other related expenses. In this case, you usually won’t face increased insurance premiums in California.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
If another person’s negligence caused your car crash, you might want to file a personal injury lawsuit to be compensated for your damages, particularly if the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured or if your damages exceed insurance policy limits.
It is important to note that California is a pure comparative negligence state. If you are partially at fault for your accident, your compensation is reduced by your percentage at fault. In a pure comparative negligence state, no matter how high your percentage of fault, you can still recover damages. For example, if you are in a car accident and a jury finds that you have suffered $100,000 in damages but also determines that you are 75% at fault, you will still be awarded $25,000 in damages.
Contact an Attorney Today
Car accidents in California can be financially burdensome, but a knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate this challenging situation, including understanding the costs, the impact of liability, and how to recover the compensation you deserve. The Frederick Law Firm is a California-based firm that has advocated for our clients for 40 years. Our personal injury attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for our clients and are committed to achieving the best possible outcome of your case. Contact us today for your initial consultation.