Although accidents are common occurrences on our nation’s roadways, most of us never expect to actually get into an accident. Unfortunately, accidents are unpredictable by nature, and anyone can get rear-ended or side-swiped by a semi while taking a routine drive; and when those accidents occur they can often be devastating.
Look at the case of actor Tracy Morgan, whose limo van was rear-ended by a Wal-Mart truck: one of the passengers in the van died, and the actor himself suffered broken bones and a traumatic brain injury. Car accidents can also have a devastating effect on your finances.
The Impact of Accidents
Reyes Law, a group of Dallas auto accident attorneys, reminds us that the financial impact of an accident can include lost wages, medical bills, and property damage. If you are found at fault, the consequences can be even more devastating.
Lost wages refers to the time you are unable to work due to an accident or injury. In a minor accident it could mean a few hours; for a major accident it could mean several days, or even indefinitely. For example, Tracy Morgan might not ever be able to work again as a result of his injuries. If you are at fault for the accident, it could also mean jail time that keeps you away from your job, or your employer terminating your employment because of the accident.
Medical bills include medical services received at the time of the accident as well as on-going and follow-up care after. In the case of a serious injury, it could include rehabilitation, nursing care, and medical supplies and devices like wheelchairs. It could also include the cost of psychiatric care to treat post-traumatic stress and other emotional trauma from the accident. In cases where drugs or alcohol were a factor, it could also mean the cost of court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment.
In an accident that includes multiple vehicles, or in heavy pedestrian areas, the medical costs could include those of everyone involved in the accident, including pedestrians.
Property damage includes damage to the vehicles involved as well as any buildings and structures impacted by the accident, such as telephone poles. It could also include items inside the vehicles, which may have been damaged as a result of the accident.
In an area with a lot of buildings and structures, such as a congested shopping area, the cost of property damage could be catastrophic.
If you are the victim of an accident, there are things like traffic laws and insurance in place to protect you in the event of an accident. You should be able to file a claim with your insurance company, and/or with the insurance company of the responsible party, and get financial compensation for the accident.
However, getting the compensation you deserve is often easier said than done. An insurance company could stall, prolonging the process while you languish with no income and your bills piling up. By the time you do get compensation, it could be too late to avoid a financial crisis.
Insurance companies often respond more quickly to lawyers than they do to private individuals; seeking legal representation shortly after your accident could help make the process of getting compensation run more smoothly.
If you are found at fault things can be more difficult. While your insurance might cover some of your financial responsibility to the victims, it might not cover all of it. Your insurance company might also terminate your coverage, and you might have to pay extra for a high-risk policy from another company. Additionally, your insurance will not cover your court costs or any other fees if you are arrested as a result of the accident.
If you were driving without insurance at the time of the accident, you will be liable for all of the costs to yourself, and to the victims of the accident. If you have any assets, this means the victims or their insurance companies can sue to take those assets.
If you are found at fault, a good lawyer might be able to help you dispute the charges in court, and even remove some or all of your financial liability. For example, if the accident occurred in the winter, your lawyer could argue that weather or road conditions were a mitigating factor.
If you were driving without insurance, a lawyer can also help you negotiate with your insurance company, and the companies of the victims, to reduce your financial liability or make appropriate arrangements.