What damages am I entitled to regarding injuries suffered in a car accident?

UPDATED: May 27, 2011

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What damages am I entitled to regarding injuries suffered in a car accident?

I was rear-ended and pushed into the vehicle ahead of me. I hit my head on the rear window and have some soreness in my shoulder/neck area. The bump has gone down and the soreness gets less everyday. I don’t plan on going to the doctor, unless things change in the coming days. I am curious what I should expect (monetarily) for pain and suffering, emotional distress and inconvenience from the responsible parties insurance? The vehicle will probably be a total loss (bent frame). Am I entitled to loss of use compensation?

Asked on May 27, 2011 under Personal Injury, Arizona


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Your case has two components; property damage and personal injury.  The property damage is usually resolved early in the case.  If the car can be repaired, the property damage would be the cost of repairs.  If the car is a total loss, you would receive compensation for the value of the vehicle, but the amount from the insurance company will be considerably less than what you might expect due to its present condition.  There would not be any separate amount for loss of use.

As for your personal injury claim, it would be advisable to go to a doctor to document your injuries.  If you don't go to a doctor, it will be very difficult for you to prove you were injured.  Also, if you don't go to a doctor, the insurance company will claim that you must not have been seriously injured and that will have an adverse impact on the amount of compensation you receive.  If you do go to a doctor, you will need to have a record of consistent appointments.  If there are gaps in treatment or little or no treatment, the insurance company will claim you must not have been seriously injured and the compensation you receive for your injuries will be minimal.

When you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor, obtain your medical bills and medical reports.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injuries and will be used to determine the amount of compensation you receive for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to your medical bills.  Compensation for your medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Your personal injury claim you file with the other driver's insurance carrier(the driver who rearended you) should include your medical bills, medical reports, and documentation of any wage loss.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.

You asked about emotional distress.  You would have to document any emotional distress by going to a psychiatrist or psychologist and obtaining their medical reports and medical bills to include in your personal injury claim.

As for a dollar value in your case, without medical bills and medical reports at this point, it would not be possible to determine; however, as a rough estimate of determining compensation for pain and suffering, I would ask for quadruple the medical bills, but NOT expecting to get that. This would be a starting point in settlement negotiations with the insurance carrier.  The insurance carrier will respond with a much lower offer as a starting point in negotiations.  You can either continue negotiating or reject or accept the settlement offer(s).  Also, if you have residual complaints (pain after you have been released by the doctor at the conclusion of your medical treatment) which may require future treatment, that has to be factored into the amount of compensation you receive for pain and suffering.  If it is not included and the case is settled, you won't be able to obtain additional compensation from the insurance company in the future. 

If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carrier, you can file a lawsuit against the other driver for negligence.  You will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.  If the case has been settled, no lawsuit is filed.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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