Car Accident Costs

Content Reviewer, Attorney James P. Maniscalco
Created by our team of legal writers and reviewed by James P. Maniscalco. J.D.

A Vehicle Accident Costs More Than You Think

If you live in Los Angeles or another metropolitan city with heavy traffic, vehicle accidents are the norm. There are just too many cars on the road to avoid getting in an accident.

When most of us think about vehicle accidents, two things come to mind: our health and our car. The first thing to think about after an accident is your health. No matter how minor your injuries might seem, don’t self-diagnose. Go see a doctor right away. If you don’t, it could cost you.

Being in a car accident is expensive. But do you know how expensive?

And after a car accident, should you have to spend one night in the hospital, depending on what medical procedures and tests are prescribed, you could easily see a bill of $10,000 or more!

Let’s say you don’t go to the doctor but start feeling pain in your neck a few weeks later. Another few weeks go by and the pain is still there. Finally, you go to the doctor. You’re told you have whiplash and should stay out of work for the next few weeks. Whoa. You never thought a vehicle accident would lead to this. How are you going to pay the bills if you take time off?

Hopefully, if you’re in an auto accident, your injuries will be mild and you will quickly recover. Here’s another scenario. You get in an accident and your car is so damaged that you have to rent a car to get to and from work. Your insurance only covers so much, so you have to pay a ton out of pocket. Then you get the bill to fix your car. Ouch! You don’t have enough to cover it, and it’s going to take weeks to save up. Then you go to the doctor and find out your leg was actually hurt pretty badly and you’ll need rehabilitation therapy for at least six weeks. Your insurance doesn’t cover the full cost of therapy, so you’ll have to cover the difference each session.

Let’s talk about the costs of repairing your car. According to a recent survey by Bodyshopbusiness.com (of body shop owners from around the country), the cost to repair the frame of your car is nearly $60 an hour. Body repair and painting is at least $50 an hour. Mechanical repair is nearly $70 an hour. And these prices do not include the cost of parts and materials!2

Add in your lost wages, physical therapy, insurance deductibles and possible increases in premiums to your auto insurance and health care, and you’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars in accident-related costs, from even a moderate “fender bender.”

Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t always pay you all you need to cover your losses. There have been reports of insurance companies routinely denying and delaying payment of claims in hopes you’ll accept any amount of money they offer, no matter how small.

How Do Car Accidents Impact Insurance Rates?

Feeling hesitant about contacting your insurance company after an accident is understandable. Most drivers make the assumption that filing any kind of claim with their insurer will automatically result in higher premiums. While this is true in some cases, how car accidents impact insurance rates really depend on specific state and provider rules.

A 2015 study by insuranceQuotes.com found that drivers who make just one claim could end up paying an average of 41 percent more for their car insurance – this is usually the case for single claims of $2,000 or higher. The average U.S. auto insurance premium is $815 and this would equate to an increase of $335 per year. Drivers who make two claims in one year can expect an increase of more than 90 percent.

Fortunately, if the accident was not your fault then your payments should not be affected to such an extreme extent. Minor accidents and fender benders may not automatically cause an increase, especially if you have a long history of safe driving. This may also be the case when it comes to fault. If you were not at fault in the accident, there is the possibility that your rate could remain the same.

Some insurance policies include accident forgiveness for your first violation or claim. If you’ve just had your first accident and your insurer provides accident forgiveness, you do not have to worry about a rate hike. Review the details of your policy or call your provider to find out if you are protected by this clause.

In general, states with stricter insurance regulations seem to have larger rate spikes after an accident. This is because laws mandate that insurance premiums be based solely on a handful of factors. In California, for example, a driver’s premiums are based on driving safety record, miles driven per year, and years of driving experience. If you get into an accident, your driving record does not help you, leaving insurers only two factors for determining your rates. However, states like Maryland allow insurers to include many factors in deciding rates such as gender, age, occupation, credit score, etc.

When it comes to how long drivers will have to pay increased premiums, there is no exact answer. These payments also vary by insurers and state, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Minor tickets – Moving and non-moving violations aren’t likely to impact your premiums too much. However, if you receive a second ticket, you could see a 3 to 10 percent increase to your premium. A third ticket could result in an additional 10 to 15 percent increase. Repeat offenders with a history of bad driving can expect to see the worst penalties. Traffic violation tickets will usually stay on your record for three years from the date that you are convicted.
  • Major tickets – One major ticket can cause a big increase to your monthly payment, possibly for the next two to five years. It is not uncommon for one major ticket to result in a 10 to 50 percent increase, while subsequent tickets will result in even higher percentages.
  • Car accidents – If you have an at-fault accident within a six-year period, your rates are unlikely to be affected, but you should consult with your insurer to confirm. If you get into a second accident, you could experience increased rates lasting between three to six years.

A Vehicle Accident Lawyer Can Give You The Protection You Need

Insurance companies are smart! To reduce their operating expenses, sometimes they will offer you a settlement check right away for a “full and final release.” While you may think they’re providing great service, what they’re really trying to do is buy you off before you discover how serious your car’s damages or your physical injuries are. Generally speaking, once you accept their settlement check, you can’t go back for more money. Clearly, with so much money at stake, it’s critical for you to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. Time is money – especially in relation to an auto accident.

A personal injury lawyer works for you. He or she is on your side and will work to protect your legal rights and your best interests.

A personal injury lawyer can help get your doctor and hospital bills paid, while your insurance claim is being reviewed. An attorney can help get your car repaired and your auto body shop bills paid prior to settlement of your case. Life without a car is challenging, imagine having to wait weeks or months for your claim to be settled before getting your car repaired. Nobody in Southern California should be forced to wait that long!

A personal injury lawyer will deal with the insurance companies and their adjusters so you don’t have to, saving you time and frustration.

Your personal injury lawyer will work to maximize the monetary compensation you receive for your pain and suffering.

There’s one additional cost of being in an accident that no dollar figure can be put against: the impact it has on your family and your quality of life. An accident that happens in the blink of an eye could affect you and your loved ones for life.

These are just a couple of ways the costs of a vehicle accident can quickly add up to thousands of dollars that you don’t have. If money is tight, it can start to feel like a car wreck is wrecking your life in more ways than one. The good news is you could avoid a catastrophe with one quick call to us. You need not go thorough this traumatic experience alone. I encourage you to get help by immediately retaining an attorney you feel comfortable working with. Everyone has the right to get justice after a car accident. Hiring an attorney is step one to making sure you get it.


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