There are many factors that go into a good car accident case. Things like your age, accident history, amount of property damage, injuries, medical treatment, and bills all factor into valuing your case.
We will assume you’re not at-fault for the accident and the other driver is insured. It’s important to remember that no car accident case is the same. Factors discussed should be taken as a whole. No single factor will make (or break) your car accident case.
One of first factors the insurance company will look at in evaluating your car accident case is the property damage to your vehicle. If you think about it logically, the bigger the impact, the more property damage. So, the more property damage the more likely your injuries are significant and caused by the crash. But there is one problem — there is a complete lack of an established relationship between collision force and probability of injury. In other words, property damage is NOT a useful tool in determining causation of damages. You can have significant injuries to the neck and back in minor fender-benders.
Expect the insurance company to hang their hat on property damage in low impact cases. Conveniently they will ignore property damage when the vehicle is a total loss. I’ve seen trial after trial where defense counsel waives photographs of minor property damage in front of the jury arguing how could the plaintiff possibly be injured in such a minor crash. This is a situation where the physics and logical not match-up. That being said, property damage is a factor that cannot be ignored.
Most car accident attorneys will tell you that injuries are the key factor in determine the value of your car accident case. The more injured you are — the more your case is worth. It’s very much a double-edged sword in that regard. For example, a broke-bone is generally worth more than a sprain or strain. A concussion with loss of consciousness is worth more than a headache. You get the point.
It’s important to touch on what damages you’re entitled to in a car accident case. First, in order to collect money damages for pain and suffering, you must prove you have suffered a permanent injury. Well how do you do that? By presenting evidence in the form of testimony from your treating physicians. Q: Doctor, in professional medical opinion do you believe Plaintiff has suffered a permanent injury as a result of this car accident? A: Yes.
Permanent injury does not mean you’ll never walk again. It simply means you won’t be 100%. You’ll have good days AND bad days. If your say to your doctor that you’re completely healed and have no pain, you do not have a permanent injury. Without a permanent injury and impairment rating from a doctor you’re only entitled to your past medical expenses, not covered by your Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) benefits.
The easiest way to prove your injuries were “caused” by the crash, you need look no further than the timing of your pain. In other words, when did you start to feel pain? Was it immediate? Did you have any pain BEFORE the crash? Is there any reasonable explanation for why you have pain AFTER, other than the crash? In the legal world we call this “temporal proximity.” The closer in time that you became symptomatic to the crash, the more likely your pain was “caused” by the crash.
Waiting to see a doctor after an accident can cost you money. The thinking is if you wait to see a doctor, then the pain cannot be that bad. The insurance company and defense attorney would like nothing more than to paint you as a “malinger.” Someone making up their injuries. They’ll argue you think you’ve won the litigation lottery and you just want money. If you seek immediate medical treatment it shows the defense you’re serious about your injuries. If you do wait, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a case, it just might not be worth as much to the insurance company or a jury. This is true even if you have a valid reason — like a death in the family or work.
The best thing to do after a car accident is take a ride in the ambulance to the Emergency Room. It doesn’t get more immediate than that. Effectively you’ll close the door on one of the defenses’ many arguments against you by seeking immediate medical treatment.
Medical history and prior accidents play a role in valuing your car accident case. A red flag for the insurance company is a plaintiff with a long history of accident claims or injuries. The argument is that the pain you’re now suffering wasn’t caused by the crash, rather it was pre-existing. The insurance company will request your prior medical records to see if you complained about your injuries before the crash. For example, if you treated with a chiropractor for chronic back pain a year before the car accident, and now your claiming back pain, the insurance company will argue your pain was pre-existing. If your pain is pre-existing the insurance company is not responsible for it. Also, pre-existing conditions play a part in the battle over proving permanency.
Age is an important factor in determining whether you have a good car accident case. As we get older out bodies start to break-down. If you’re over the age of 30 the insurance companies will also argue that your pain is a natural function of your age. So, let’s assume you have an MRI which shows a herniated disc. MRIs say whether that herniated disc was caused by the car accident or if it was pre-existing. It’s quite normal for people who are over 30 to have herniated discs due to age and not even know it. Because of this the insurance company will argue that your injuries and resulting pain are degernative. Now, if you’re under 30 and have no history of prior accidents or pain, it will be hard for the insurance company to claim your herniated discs were caused by age.
For more information on whether you have a good car accident case and how much it might be worth contact a qualified car accident attorney in your state. Also check out some of the other articles I’ve written on the subject. And please don’t forget to like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more content updated regularly.
Micah J. Longo
The Longo Firm, P.A.
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel: (954) 862-3608
Fla. Bar No: 97333