Part II: Do I Have a Case?

By Chris Dixon


Part II. Do I Have a Case?

We recommend that you consult a personal injury lawyer to determine whether or not you have a valid car accident case. However, there are three components to personal injury claims that, if answered affirmatively, generally yield a valid case:

  1. Was the at-fault party negligent? For example, did the other driver run a red light, roll through a stop sign, fail to yield, or make another careless or illegal move that the law would consider negligent before striking you or your vehicle?
  2. Did the negligence of the other driver cause your injury? For example, did the impact cause a slipped disc, broken arm, or other injury?
  3. Did the injury result in actual harm to you (compensable damages)? For example, did the slipped disc, broken arm, or other injury result in medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, or otherwise?

If you answered “yes” to the three questions above, you likely have a personal injury case. To discuss your potential case or any questions you may have about how your claims apply to the questions listed above, call a car accident lawyer with knowledge of these personal injury tenets.

How Do You File a Car Accident Claim?

In order to get reimbursed after a crash, you need to take several actions. First, it is important that you exchange information with the other driver at the scene of the incident so that you obtain their insurance information. Next, you’ll want to contact your insurance company to review your coverage and discuss the insurance claim process and next steps in the investigation. However, before you discuss your damages with the other insurance company or file any claim, it is strongly recommended that you discuss your case with an attorney. He or she can guide you and provide advice on whether or not you should undergo the typical claims process or initiate a lawsuit to receive full and fair compensation.

How Do You Prove Mental and Emotional Injuries From a Crash?

Proof of mental and emotional injuries following a car accident can be difficult. But, where proved, these types of injuries are compensable. In personal injury cases, the majority of emotional and mental damages are called “pain and suffering” damages. This category of damage includes a wide range of injuries not limited to fear, shock, distress, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Individuals who suffer this type of trauma after a car crash may have a variety of symptoms such as appetite loss, sexual disturbances, sleep issues, mood swings, and anger. Depending on the severity of the injuries, psychological treatment may be required. This type of treatment can include counseling, prescription drugs, or forms of psychotherapy.

Of course, unlike a broken leg, black eye or injured spinal cord, mental and emotional injuries are not visible. In order to prove them, you may have to rely on the testimony of others to prove your impaired state. Because this element of damages is extremely difficult to prove, it is important to select the right legal representative who can guide you through the process of adequately proving this factor of your compensable damages.

How Much Is My Case Worth?

Without knowledge of the details of your specific case, it can be difficult to estimate its worth. However, there are a few tenets that can be used to calculate the value of your claim. The following items are an important part of this valuation:

  • Liability
  • Damages
  • Insurance Coverage

Liability is simply a fancy term for fault. The first step to calculating the value of your claim is determining who was at fault for the accident. This is not to say that you are barred from recovery if you were at fault, but your fault determination is relevant to your calculation. Relatedly, even if you were partially at fault for the crash, you will still likely be able to make a recovery, but that recovery may be reduced.

The next factor used to determine how much your case is worth is the severity of your damages. In Missouri and Illinois, the law on damages is clear — if you are injured because of someone else’s negligence, you have the right to be put back into the same place/condition you were in before the crash. This ultimately means that where no injuries are suffered, no value is added to your claim. Or, on the other hand, where serious injuries are suffered, a substantial amount of money will likely be required to fix what can be fixed. The seriousness of the damages you incurred is generally calculable on a spectrum and is a crucial part of the valuation of your claim.

>The third and final prong to calculating the value of your claim is deciphering how much insurance coverage is available to compensate your damages. If the crash was caused by a driver who carries adequate insurance, there may be enough coverage available to cover all of your losses, injuries and damages. However, where the at-fault party has no insurance or only a minimum amount of insurance, there may not be enough coverage available to cover all of your losses, injuries and damages. This does not mean you will not be able to recover at all, but it may mean that your recovery is reduced or that you have to explore other avenues to seek recovery. For a calculation of the actual value of your claim, you should discuss the details of your accident with a personal injury attorney that specializes in auto accidents.

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