A car accident can occur in a fraction of a second. But the consequences of an accident can linger for months or years. Many serious car crashes result in unanticipated expenses that are far more costly than simply vehicle repairs. A car accident can leave you burdened with significant medical debt if you don’t know how to protect yourself.
Below we will explore common expenses associated with car accidents, the types of coverage that may be applicable, and how you can protect yourself financially if you are involved in a car crash in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
A knowledgeable Harrisonburg car accident attorney at Kendall Law Firm can help you understand your legal options to rebuild your life after a serious accident. Contact us to get started with a free initial consultation.
How Expensive Is a Car Accident?
There are many ways to calculate the cost of a car accident besides the cost of car repairs. The most significant cost we pay as a society is the loss of thousands of human lives every year in crashes.
Car accidents frequently result in many other significant expenses, including:
- Medical costs – According to a recent report from CBS News, the average cost of a moderate-severity emergency room visit in a Virginia hospital is $1,941, the 11th-highest state average in the nation. Healthcare.gov says the average cost of a three-day hospital stay can be as high as $30,000, while the cost of fixing a broken leg alone can be up to $7,500.
- Societal costs – According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle accidents result in $463 billion in societal costs every year, including loss of wages and productivity, and medical and administrative expenses.
- Repair costs – According to the Automobile Association of America (AAA), the average cost of many common vehicle repairs is between $500 and $600. However, repair costs are often much higher after a serious accident and often involve the replacement of a vehicle.
- Insurance increases – According to the Consumer Federation of America, many major insurance companies raise their customer’s insurance premiums by $300 or more after an accident, even when the customer was not at fault.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Provider
One of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself financially after a Virginia car accident is to report the crash to the police and to your insurance provider. The police will produce an accident report detailing the accident, who was involved, and how it happened. A police report is essential if you need to file a claim later.
Generally speaking, you should report the accident to your insurance provider as soon as possible, regardless of who was at fault for the crash. Many people are concerned about their insurance premiums going up if they report a crash. However, most insurance policies require you to report accidents to your insurer within a certain period of time. If you fail to comply with the terms of the policy, your insurer may cancel your policy. That may cost you more money in the long run.
When you speak to your insurance company, remember to watch what you say. Make sure you stick to the facts. Avoid providing unnecessary details. Decline to give a recorded statement when you consult with your own attorney.
Use Your Health Insurance
If you have health insurance coverage, you should use it as much as possible to cover your accident-related medical expenses. You want to use your insurance to avoid incurring medical debt and having debt collectors calling you. Taking advantage of your health insurance is an important part of protecting yourself financially after an accident.
Don’t expect that the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay immediately for your medical bills. The insurance company, if it accepts liability, will only issue payment at the end of the process.
Your health insurance provider may have the right to demand repayment if you receive money from the at-fault driver’s insurance company or some other source. This means you could end up paying back your health insurance company if you ultimately receive a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
File a Claim with the At-Fault Party’s Insurance
You are may have a right to file a claim with the other driver’s liability insurance if the other driver was at fault for the accident. Most Virginia drivers carry at least the following minimum amounts of liability insurance.
- $30,000 per person for bodily injuries
- $60,000 per accident for bodily injuries
- $20,000 per accident for property damage
The at-fault driver’s liability insurance should pay for your losses after a car crash.
However, Virginia drivers are allowed by law to drive uninsured vehicles at their own risk if they pay a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle (UMV) fee. If the at-fault driver who hit you is uninsured, you may still file a claim against your own uninsured motorist insurance policy.
File a Compensation Claim for Lost Wages
If you were injured as a result of an accident, you may be forced to take time off from work while you recover. Depending on the available coverage options, you may file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance to recover your lost wages and against your own uninsured motorist insurance policy or the at-fault.
To ensure you get the full lost wage compensation you deserve, it is important to have solid evidence. Common types of evidence in a wage loss claim include pay stubs, W-2s, tax returns, invoices, and letters of employment. A doctor’s note can also help prove that your physician recommended taking time off to heal from your injuries.
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, you may claim compensation for lost income among the types of damages you seek. You may also seek compensation for future lost income if you won’t be able to return to work or will have diminished earning capacity as a result of the accident.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer in Virginia for Help
To get a handle on your finances and understand your options for recovering your losses after a serious injury accident, talk to Harrisonburg attorney David Kendall, an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney and a proud veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. As a personal injury lawyer, David Kendall has helped hundreds of people facing financial hardship similar to your situation.
Kendall Law Firm is prepared to help you hold an at-fault driver financially accountable after a car accident to protect your future. Call us at (866) 590-9773 or contact us online to learn more about your legal options in a free initial case review.