Q & A: Car Accident Injuries

Unfortunately, being injured in a car accident is not a rare experience. Even so-called “fender benders” can result in serious personal injuries or even long-term disability. If you have suffered physical and/or emotional harm due to another motorist’s negligence, you are entitled to collect damages. This is the time when you require the services of a knowledgeable, highly-skilled car accident attorney. In the meantime, below are some frequently asked questions related to car accident injuries:

What are the most common types of car accident injuries?

Those injured in car accidents frequently suffer whiplash which occurs when the neck is suddenly jerked back and forth during a sudden stop. Other common car accident injuries include back injuries, chest injuries, fractures of the arms, legs, ribs, hips, shoulders or knees, internal bleeding, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What kind of collision between vehicles occurs most often?

Rear-end collisions are the most common. These happen when the car in front suddenly brakes and the car behind does not have time to avoid impact. They are often the result of tailgating – when the car in the back does not leave enough room between the two vehicles.

Do I need a car accident attorney if I have been seriously injured in an auto accident that wasn’t my fault?

Yes. Having an experienced personal injury attorney represent you is essential if you want to recover maximum damages to cover your medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering. Insurance companies want to pay you as little as possible so you need an advocate who knows how to navigate insurance negotiations and possible litigation so that you come away with the just compensation you deserve.

What does “comparative fault” mean?

In many states, such as California, individuals injured in car accidents can recover damages even if they were partly at fault for the crash. “Comparative fault” means that the injured party will receive court-awarded damages minus the percentage of blame the court assigns to that person. So, for example, if the court awards you $100,000 for your injury-related compensation but determines that you were 20 percent responsible for the accident, your final takeaway amount will be $80,000.

How does the court assess the amount to compensate me for “pain and suffering”?

Obviously, it is difficult to assign a dollar value to non-economic damages, such as physical pain, emotional distress, permanent disfigurement, or loss of enjoyment of life. Typically, once actual medical and other costs are calculated, a number between 1 and 5 is multiplied by that total amount to determine non-economic damages. The more severe or permanent the injuries, the higher the multiplying factor used.

What are “punitive damages”?

In some cases, the misconduct of the driver causing the accident is so egregious that the court feels it necessary to assign damages over and above economic and non-economic compensation. This amount is known as “punitive damages” since it is designed to punish the responsible (irresponsible!) party and prevent others from engaging in similarly outrageous conduct. Punitive damages may be awarded, for example, in cases in which the driver who caused the accident was driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol or engaging in drag racing on a public thoroughfare.

What are some simple steps I can take to prevent car accidents and resulting injuries?

Although not all car accidents are preventable, many are. Never driving when you are distracted, impaired, or exhausted or when the weather is hazardous will go a long way towards protecting you and your loved ones. It is also important to be alert for unexpected dangers and to avoid speeding, tailgating and other reckless actions. Maintaining your vehicle by having regular maintenance is a good means of protecting yourself and others on the road. Making sure you and your passengers are wearing seat belts is also critical to lessening the risk of serious injuries if you are involved in an accident. Drive as if your life depends on how careful you are – because it does.


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