Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of debilitating injuries for people of all walks of life in the USA. Medically-consulted injuries involving car accidents were estimated at 4.5 million in 2019, with the cost of the injuries surpassing $463 billion. If you get into an accident and sustained injuries, you may need to file a bodily injury claim to receive compensatory damages for your losses.
Whether you sustained severe or minor injuries, our bodily injury lawyers are fully capable of representing you. We are committed to fighting for the maximum amount of compensation to cover medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, and more. Phone us today to book a free initial consultation.
What’s the Difference Between Bodily Injury and Personal Injury
You often hear the terms personal injury and bodily injury when a person gets hurt in an accident. Although some people use the terms interchangeably, the two terms have entirely different legal connotations.
Here is the difference:
- Personal injury falls under the umbrella of civil law: Personal injury claims may arise due to defective products, motor vehicle accidents, premise liability, nursing home abuse, professional malpractice, and more.
- Bodily injury has a more limited scope: Bodily injury refers to a specific injury to the body caused by someone else. A bodily injury claim is a request for compensation for expenses related to physical injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash. These claims can either be paid by the injured party’s insurance company or the at-fault-driver’s insurance.
Common Types of Bodily Injuries in a Car Accident
Notably, any injury to the body due to an accident, no matter how temporary it, is considered a bodily injury. Common types of injuries due to road crashes include:
- Soft tissue injuries: This type of injury includes sprain neck, back, and ankles. Seeking compensation for this type of injury is easy, especially where the liability is clear.
- Hard injuries: Hard injuries may encompass broken bones, spinal disk rupture, cartilage or ligaments damage, or vertebra dislocation. Hard injuries may lead to lingering disabilities and pain and typically attract high bodily injury settlements.
- Whiplash: Whiplash is also a common type of injury that victims of car accidents sustain. Whiplash is the back and forth snapping of a victim’s head due to a sudden stop or start of a motor vehicle. Typically, you will need to prove some treatment or medication for you to receive compensation for a whiplash claim. An experienced lawyer can better negotiate whiplash injury claims.
- Head injuries: Head injuries can be soft tissue injuries such as contusion or skull fractures. Head injuries are severe and may require comprehensive treatments, from CAT scans to MRIs. They may also result in lasting impacts such as memory loss and chronic headaches. If you sustain head injuries due to an accident, ensure your doctor document your treatments and any ongoing problems in the medical report.
- Spinal cord injuries: These injuries are severe and may cause blinding pain, paralysis, and permanent disability. For you to get maximum bodily injury compensation, ensure your claim attorney reviews these types of injuries to establish the actual value.
- Residual injury: Residual or permanent injury can cause the injury claim to increase in value. If you suffer a limp, back pain, extensive scarring, disfigurement, and any other permanent reminder of your car accident, ensure you appropriately document every treatment expense to get the full compensation.
What Is Covered Under Bodily Injury Insurance?
Bodily injury insurance can cover the following:
- Medical expenses: The bodily injury claim covers emergency services and hospitalization care arising from injuries of the accident. It may also cover the necessary follow-up visits to the doctor and related costs, such as purchasing crutches or a wheelchair.
- Property damage: If the crash results in vehicle damage or any other property damage, you could have the costs of this covered. The damages sought in property damage claims typically include the cost of repairs to or replacing your car, damage to personal items inside the vehicle, or damage to other property caused by accident.
- Lost wages: Victims of road accidents may need to attend several months of physical therapy as part of the recovery process. Besides, a person injured in a road accident may lose the ability to work or perform normal functions of their job. In both cases, the victim loses income or wages. Bodily injury claim covers these losses.
- Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering refer to a myriad of injuries that victims of road crashes may suffer due to an accident. It includes physical pains, emotional and mental injuries such as insomnia, anxiety, fear, grief, worry. It may also encompass the inconveniences and loss of the enjoyment of life.
- Legal fees: Once you start your accident claim process, you need the help of an experienced injury lawyer to advise you on several issues related to the accident and your rights. Hiring a lawyer costs money, and the legal expenses are settled via bodily injury liability.
What Are the Insurance Limits?
Bodily injury liability coverage may be subject to a limit. A limit refers to the maximum amount a car insurance policy pays for a covered claim.
Generally, there are two coverage limits when it comes to bodily injury liability:
Per Person Limit
The per-person limit applies to everyone injured in a crash. If your per person limit is $60,000, it means each person injured in the accident and who qualifies would receive a maximum of $60,000 for their medical expenses.
Per Accident Limit
The per accident limit applies to each motor vehicle accident where several people are injured. If a per accident limit is $150,000, it means the most the bodily liability would pay for all combined expenses of everyone injured is $150,000.
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The Steps to Claiming Bodily Injury in a Car Accident
Bodily injury claims are considered a third-party claim, which means that you will be filing a claim against the negligent driver’s insurance company that caused the accident.
The following is a step by step process to file a bodily injury claim:
- Seek Medical Treatment
Car accident injuries may take time to manifest. While you may assume that since you don’t feel any pain or other symptoms, there is no need to be examined, you may find yourself in severe pain a few months later. Medical treatment can also help your compensation process. The medical documents and expert opinions from the medical team are credible evidence used to prove your claims.
- Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Insurance companies will always try to dispute your claims or settle for less than it is worth. Even in minor accidents, working with an experienced lawyer guarantee your rights are protected. A personal injury lawyer comes with a wealth of experience dealing with similar cases and will provide crucial guidance to ensure you receive your rightful compensation.
- Setting Up a Claim
The next step is for your attorney to notify the at-fault party and their insurance company that you plan to file a claim. This step could help settle your claim quickly.
- Gathering Evidence
As you continue with your treatment, strive to gather as much information about your injuries and other damages as possible. Collect all relevant medical records and invoices from your doctors. Find out the full extent of your injuries and determine the cost of the continuing treatment that you may require. You should also get estimates of the damage to the vehicle and other personal property. Similarly, ensure you maintain records of lost wages.
- Negotiating a Settlement
Your attorney may make a demand for compensation to the at-fault driver or their insurance company before even the case goes to court. When this happens, the defendant’s lawyers will try to negotiate a settlement acceptable for all parties.
During the negotiations, both parties present different versions of what encompasses your claim and its worth. To arrive at an agreeable amount to both parties, your lawyer enters into a negotiation process called “back and forth.” This process involves offers and counteroffers that go on until a compromise is reached. The majority of bodily injury claims settle at this point, though sometimes a settlement cannot be reached.
- Filing a Lawsuit
If the negotiation reached a settlement that is agreeable for you, you would accept the offer. However, if the other party fails to respond with an acceptable offer, your attorney can file a lawsuit to seek an appropriate amount to cover your damages.
It is critical to be alive to the statute of limitations in your state when considering a lawsuit. You should file your case before the deadline lapses or else lose your chance to be compensated for your injuries and losses.
Bodily Injury Lawsuit Process
The following is a typical bodily injury lawsuit trial process:
- You or your attorney initiates a lawsuit by filing a complaint about the damages in court. The complaint is a written document with a summary of your damages and the amount you seek as compensation.
- Lawyers of both parties may have another opportunity to settle the case after the discovery phase. This step, referred to as attempt mediation, involves a meeting between the parties and a court-appointed neutral third-party mediator. The mediator will try to bring the plaintiff and defendant into an agreement. If the mediation process fails, the case moves to full trial.
- As part of the litigation process, both parties in the lawsuit exchange relevant documentation and information regarding the dispute. This process may also require giving a deposition. A deposition refers to testimony given under oath regarding the injuries and other damages.
- When the case moves to trial, both parties present evidence to the court and argue their case. The jury will consider disputed issues and decide the evidence they find credible.
- Finally, if you win the case, the judge and jury determine the amount of compensation to award you for your injuries.
How to Prove Your Bodily Injury Claim
Some of the evidence to prove your injury case includes:
Medical records: Medical records are vital in establishing your injuries and the amount of compensation you deserve. Your medical bills may also form a basis for your pain and suffering, which is an integral indicator of the value of your bodily injury case
Photographs and videos: Photographs and videos of your injuries may also help establish the extent of your damages. Detailed photos of bruising, burns, disfigurements, lacerations can help tell the story of your pain and suffering.
Police report: Car crashes involving injuries are typically investigates by law enforcement. Ensure you obtain an official copy of the police reports containing all the responding officer’s names, contact, and signatures. It is also critical to have a final copy of the report. In DUI/DWI crashes, the report may be amended at a later stage to capture the at-fault driver’s alcohol levels.
Witness statements: Robust, objective, and independent witness statements can help you prove your injury claim. If you are relying on written statements, ensure they are dated and signed.
Lost wages verification: You may ask your employer for a signed statement that shows the number of days you missed work and the amount lost. You can support the wage loss statements using copies of past stubs and income tax records. Your employer may also be asked to testify or provide a sworn affidavit to support your lost wages claim.
How Fault Affects Your Claim
If you get into an accident and you are found to be at fault, there could be repercussions with your insurance company. Unless you have accident forgiveness on your policy, your premium will likely increase at renewal. You should expect your rates to spike over the next three years before they gradually drop.
Getting Legal Help When Claiming Bodily Injury in a Car Accident
Insurance companies are notorious for denying claims or offering low settlements to severely injured claimants who are unrepresented. If you sustained a bodily injury in a car crash, don’t settle for less. Our personal injury attorneys are committed to pursuing your rightful compensation. They have the experience, resources, and training to investigate the accident, gather solid evidence, and negotiate a fair settlement. Let our team set you on the right path to your compensation. Contact us today to book a free initial consultation.