The True Cost of a Car Crash: Looking Beyond Insurance

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Summation

  • The amount that a person's car insurance covers when an accident occurs, which is the first part of determining the true cost of an accident, depends on the type of insurance they have.
  • An adjustor from the insurance company will look at the damage to vehicles and take the medical professional's opinion into account when determining the total cost of an accident.
  • If an accident occurs and a person doesn't have adequate coverage for that type of accident, they may need to meet the cost of repairs or medical expenses out of pocket.

No driver wants to find themselves involved in an accident on the road, but it’s not possible to control the actions of other drivers. A person can be the safest driver in the world, obeying all traffic laws and scanning the road around them constantly, only to find another driver barreling towards them out of control.

In fact, thirteen car accidents occur every minute in the United States alone, which goes to show just how common accidents are. The majority of these car accidents are not fatal, fortunately, but that doesn’t mean they don’t cause lasting impacts in a person’s life. There are a number of costs associated with a car accident, both tangible and intangible, which go beyond the pure cost of insurance coverage. Learn about these additional costs to see why car accidents are so devastating.

How Much Does a Car Accident Initially Cost?

The most recognized cost associated with a car accident is the damage to another person or their vehicle. The average cost for a property damage only accident was around $5,700 whereas the average cost for an accident with an evident injury was as high as $40,000 in recent years. However, this cost is something that few people see following an accident due to the existence of insurance.

How Much Will Insurance Cover in an Accident?

The amount that a person’s car insurance covers when an accident occurs, which is the first part of determining the true cost of an accident, depends on the type of insurance they have. However, most insurance companies will start by determining the value of the accident. An adjustor from the insurance company will look at the damage to vehicles and take the medical professional’s opinion into account when determining the total cost of an accident.

 

At this point, the investigation into fault will be performed. This will be done by taking interviews of both sides and listening to what occurred, along with talking to witnesses or examining footage of the event in more serious cases. The determination of fault will determine which person’s insurance is responsible for some or all of the damages. From there, the type of insurance coverage a person has dictates how much they will pay out-of-pocket.

Common Types of Vehicle Insurance

There are a number of different types of vehicle insurance. If an accident occurs and a person doesn’t have adequate coverage for that type of accident, they may need to meet the cost of repairs or medical expenses out of pocket. The primary types of insurance coverage include:

  • Comprehensive Coverage: This type of insurance coverage provides compensation for damage to a vehicle resulting from events such as a tree falling or lightning strikes.
  • Liability Coverage: Legally required in the states, liability coverage covers damage to another person’s vehicle or body in an accident. 
  • Collision Coverage: Collision coverage insurance offers compensation for damages to your own vehicle or person resulting from a collision with a vehicle or object on the road. 
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage: This form of insurance is specifically for when you have an accident with a person who doesn’t carry any form of insurance. 

Additional Expense Types Incurred from Car Accidents

Insurance will only cover so much when an accident occurs, and any amounts afterwards will be out-of-pocket. In addition to this cost, there are a number of additional expenses beyond insurance that may come into play:

Medical Expenses

Beyond the initial medical expenses that result from a car accident, it’s possible that you may have additional injuries emerge over time resulting from the wreck. Injuries such as long-term brain or head damage from an accident, chronic joint pain, the development of smaller injuries from the primary injury, and more can all cost you thousands in future medical expenses.

Lost Wages

Time spent recovering from a car accident is also time you are not working. While employers are often generous and understanding, many people often lose wages during this time. While some insurance policies cover lost wages, the amount typically isn’t as high as you would believe.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering damages refer to the non-tangible psychological damages that develop in a person’s mind following something traumatic. For example, PTSD following a horrible wreck may cause a person to avoid driving everywhere themselves, so they take the bus and spend thousands over the years. This is a form of an expense resulting from pain and suffering damages.

Property Damage

Your vehicle may be repaired right away following an accident, but it’s entirely possible that it caused something small to break which compounds later on in the future. Tracing it back to an accident can be a challenge, which means you’d be on the hook for paying to get the item repaired.

How to Recover Funds After a Car Accident

When insurance doesn’t cover the amount of expenses you have incurred as a result of a car accident, filing a personal injury lawsuit may be in your interest. This lawsuit is when one person sues another and claims that the other person acted with negligence in such a way that they caused the direct or indirect injury of another. It can award the plaintiff with thousands of dollars that cover some of the above expenses, but it can be difficult to prove your case in court. If you’re uncertain about whether your situation warrants a case, it’s advisable to contact a qualified personal injury attorney with proper accreditation.

The Bottom Line

Getting into a car accident is an extremely terrifying experience. Even if there are no injuries in the wreck, the trauma of what just occurred can stick with a person for years and can even cause some people to avoid driving entirely. The best way to avoid a car accident is to practice safe driving every day, which includes hyper vigilance on the road. A person can’t control the actions of others but being watchful for danger will help that person respond quicker to avoid an accident. Understand all of the potential costs of a car accident so that you know what to expect should you still ever find yourself involved in one.

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