No matter how sudden a car accident or truck accident may be, severe accidents can be traumatic and, in a moment, leave injured claimants with bodily injuries that require months or even years to heal. For the injured claimant, it is often a rare and devastating life event. But to insurance companies that handle auto accidents claims, it is a matter of business – just another part of the job. Because of this, it can be difficult to get them to understand each injured claimant’s unique injuries. Even when insurance companies do recognize obvious bodily injuries right after an accident, it can be difficult to get insurance companies to agree that an injured claimant also suffered from long term damage.
It is necessary to find out all of the details surrounding a bodily injury claim to determine how much a potential settlement award is going to be worth.
What is bodily injury?
Bodily injury is usually defined by the insurance policy contract. Generally, bodily injuries are the injuries that a person suffers to their mind and body. Some policies include emotional distress as a bodily injury, defining it as bodily injury, disease, shock, humiliation, sickness or anguish. Typically, doctors have to step in and decide what caused the bodily injuries and their severity.
How does the insurance company measure how severe my injuries are?
There are many different types of damages. Using various methods and tools, insurance companies look at how much medical treatment cost, the opinion of experts and healthcare providers, how the accident affected the ability of a claimant to work and live their life normally among other factors. After looking at all the documents and evidence, the insurance company decides how bad an injured claimant’s injuries are and the value of his or her claim. Of course, insurance companies typically say the claim is only worth much less than the claimant can actually get as compensation—if anything at all.
Sometimes, the severity of injuries is measured by using guidelines like the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Healthcare providers can also evaluate an injured claimant over time, and may have the injured claimant maintain a log of how bad his or her pain is every day on a scale of 1 to 10, and which pills and medication the injured claimant takes. Healthcare providers may measure the range of motion of a claimant’s limbs through flexion, extension and rotation.
If the healthcare provider sees that the injured claimant is still suffering from injuries after the accident, they should document the pain each time they evaluate the injured claimant. This documented pain, ongoing muscle spasms or rigid movements can be signs of problems with the spine and the body that will get worse over time. Only the opinion of licensed medical professionals and experts can make these determinations. Put simply, doctors run a lot of tests and consult expert resources to get answers about how severe a claimant’s injuries are worth. The insurance company will then take these facts into consideration when making offers for compensation.
Common Questions About Bodily Injuries:
What is the injury?
How did the injury happen?
Who was injured?
How bad was the injury?
Did the accident result in disability, disfigurement, make it so that the injured claimant cannot enjoy life or work like before?
Did the accident make a previous injury worse?
Was the injured claimant taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance?
Did anyone refuse medical attention at the scene?
Who saw doctors after the accident?
Who are the doctors?
How was the injured claimant sent to that doctor?
What did the doctor say and do?
What kind of treatment did the injured claimant receive?
What was the doctor’s diagnosis and prognosis of the injury?
Who is held responsible in a car accident lawsuit?
The defendants are usually the people or businesses being sued by the injured claimant and the ones at-fault after an accident. It is important to determine find out everyone involved in the accident so that the injured claimant can bring in all the responsible parties as defendants in a lawsuit. It is also important to determine whether the injured claimant is also partially responsible for the bodily injuries suffered.
Each state has unique laws. Since there can be multiple causes of a single accident and bodily injuries, some states consider whether the responsibility for the accident is shared between multiple drivers or the injured claimant. If the Defendants are not 100 percent at fault, this can become an issue in a lawsuit. Depending on the state’s laws that apply, the insurance company may try to refuse to pay if it can say that the injured claimant is partly to blame. This would be the kind of issue that a claimant’s personal injury attorney needs to handle, since this can result in reduce how much the claim is worth, or even cause an injured claimant to lose his or her lawsuit.
Pre-Existing Injuries Excuse
In addition to blaming the injured claimant for being the cause of his or her injuries, another insurance company tactic to try to undervalue bodily injury claims is by saying that the accident did not cause the injuries. Instead, the insurance company says it was caused by pre-existing injuries. Injuries that happened before the accident are considered “pre-existing injuries.” The defendants will argue that they are not responsible for injuries caused before the car accident.
However, if a car accident makes someone’s pre-existing injuries worse, then the insurance company should still compensate an injured claimant for making the claimant’s injuries worse.
Methods to Recover
When multiple defendants are responsible for the accident, there are four ways the responsible parties can share financial responsibility for the damages and split the value of the compensation owed the injured claimant.
1. Even Split
The defendants can split the total amount of compensation owed to the injured claimant equally.
For example, let’s say that the value of the claim for a person’s injuries is valued at $30,000 dollars. Under this method, each defendant would share equal responsibility for the accident. In this case, each responsible defendant would pay $10,000 dollars each.
2. Only Responsible for its Own Accident
This may be used when there are multiple accidents that hurt the same part of the injured claimant’s body. The accidents that happened later on made pre-existing injuries worse. In this kind of case, the defendants can split the total amount of compensation owed to the injured claimant by the date each accident happened and divide the amount of compensation owed to the injured claimant.
For example, let’s say the first accident happened in January. The second accident happened on February. The third accident happened in November. The responsible party that caused the February accident will ignore the other two accidents when it makes its settlement offer with the injured claimant, as if the accident that happened before, in January, and the accident that happened after in November never happened. The defendant in the February car accident will pay as if it was the only accident that ever happened.
3. Split by Date Range and Condition: From the Date of Injury to the Date of Recovery
Under this method, the defendants pay for the value of the injuries a claimant suffers based on the date of the accident and the date he or she recovered. The injured claimant’s personal injury lawyer will look at the medical records, and may question medical experts like doctors for each accident. Then, each defendant that caused the separate accidents will pay for the injuries caused by the defendant that caused that specific accident, plus the cost of any overlapping medical costs.
Using the example above, the defendant that caused the first accident in January will pay for the cost of medical treatment from January through the next accident in February as well as any overlapping costs. Then the defendant that caused the second accident in February will pay for the cost of medical treatment from February through November plus any overlapping medical costs.
Of course, one defendant may argue that the second defendant’s acts (or failure to act) cuts off
the first defendant’s liability for the injured claimant’s medical expenses and pain and suffering as of the date of up until the date of the second accident.
Similarly, the defendant in the second accident may argue that the first defendant should pay for all medical expenses from the date of the first accident until the defendant would have fully recovered.
Rely on the experience and knowledge of skilled personal injury lawyers to help you hold each responsible party liable and get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer
Without experience in the insurance industry or legal experience, understanding which factors or evidence can help or hurt your case can be difficult to understand.
Are you trying to secure your financial recovery with the help of experienced attorneys? If so, we can help.
The Pusch & Nguyen Law Firm has helped countless Texans handle their insurance disputes. Our experienced trial lawyers have gone up against some of the biggest names in the insurance industry while successfully bringing home payouts for clients. Our successful reputation speaks for itself, and with offices in both Houston and San Antonio, we are well equipped to assist Texans who are in dire need of our services. Register online for a free case evaluation or call us today at 713-524-8139 (Houston) or 210-702-3000 to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.