Did you know that only 43% of car accidents involve injuries? Too often, people involved in a car accident think that only injuries are compensable. They settle for insurance payouts that barely cover the cost of repairs and think that’s the end of the story. But is it? If you’re wondering if you can sue for a car accident if you’re not hurt, the short answer is yes, you can!
Why would I need to sue if I wasn’t hurt?
It’s no big surprise to realize most car insurance companies aren’t on your side…or anyone else’s side, for that matter. Most operate best when they take the customer’s monthly payments and find reasons to deny claims. Appealing will take time and expertise that the average person just doesn’t have. Understand that you can file a lawsuit for property damage compensation following a car accident, even if you’re physically ok, and that hiring a qualified attorney to fight on your behalf is essential.
With insurance companies looking for every exploitable loophole they can find to keep their money in the bank and out of your wallet, filing a property damage lawsuit may be necessary to make sure your property is replaced or repaired…fully.
What insurance covers
Each state varies with the insurance coverage amounts required by law to comply with regulations. In Indiana, for instance, the minimum insurance requirements are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person (there may be multiple injuries)
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident (this is the coverage for all injuries combined)
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
While on paper that sounds sufficient, consider this: Most people injured in a car accident will have multiple injuries. ER visits, rehabilitation, and hospital stays will add up to far more than the $50,000 cap.
Even without injuries, repair bills alone will cost a bundle depending on the extent of the damages. Just replacing the airbag costs up to $1,500, with frame damage costing as much as $10,000. And that’s not including all the bodywork that will be done.
If the cost of repairs is greater than the value of the car, insurance companies will “total” it and pay you the blue book value of the car. That’s not a lot of help if you are still making car payments, and it won’t go very far if you need to buy a new car.
And that’s assuming the other driver was insured. Uninsured and underinsured drivers present a unique set of problems.
What can I sue for if I wasn’t Injured in an accident?
You’d be surprised at what can be compensated following an accident, even if you weren’t injured.
First (and most obviously), you can sue for property damages to your vehicle. If your car repairs are more than the value of the car, you can sue to have the car replaced and possibly even pay off the totaled car. To understand your rights, consult with an experienced automobile accident attorney.
2. Car rentals and transportation costs
Your car may be in the shop for a day, a week, or even longer depending on the damages. You can add the costs of temporary transportation to the claim, such as car rental or public transportation costs.
3. Lost wages
If you can’t drive and can’t afford a rental, or if you live where public transportation isn’t an option, you may be forced to miss work. Lost wages, if applicable, can be added to your claim.
4. Other personal property
Did you know that if you had a pet in the car and they were injured (even if you weren’t), they are considered “personal property” and your vet bills can be covered? What about that laptop or phone that was damaged on impact? Yes, these are all considered property and yes, you can sue for repair or replacement as long as it can be proven they were damaged during the incident.
5. Pain and suffering
Not all damages are visible. Emotional or psychological distress can be as damaging as a physical injury.
Common signs of emotional and psychological trauma following an accident can include:
- Fear of unexpected and loud noises
- Nightmares and flashbacks
- Fear of getting behind the wheel
- Panic attacks
- Sleep disturbances (sleeping too much, too little, or interrupted sleep patterns)
You can sue for pain and suffering, but you will need to prove the psychological trauma is a direct result of the crash. Schedule a therapist appointment as soon as you recognize a problem. Don’t go this avenue alone, though; your accident attorney will help you figure out if you can be compensated for pain and suffering, then file for recovery of these expenses including therapy visits, rehabilitation, and medications.
6. Split the difference
If the insurance company’s payout won’t completely cover the damages, you can file a lawsuit to make up the difference. Your car accident lawyer will help move this process along.
Who would I sue if I wasn’t injured in the accident?
The first place to start will always be the negligent driver’s insurance company. If it’s found that the insurance company should compensate you for damages but refuses to do so, you may need to take the provider to court. If you still can’t recover your damages, your attorney will file a property damages suit on your behalf. If the amount is small enough, a small claims court will suffice. If you’re looking for more than the small claims court will allow, the case will be brought to a civil trial.
Why do I need a car accident attorney?
As we mentioned earlier, car insurance companies aren’t on your side. Dealing with them can be overwhelming, and many will try to pay you less than your repairs will cost you.
Your car accident lawyer will help file for property damages as well as initiate a suit for pain and suffering, if appropriate.
What will my attorney need from me?
Your attorney will need a few things to help the claims process. This includes:
- The accident report
- Estimates for repairs
- Photos of both vehicles
- An inventory of what you intend to recover
- The other driver’s information
Finding the right attorney
It’s important to do your research on accident attorneys before you need one, and keep their contact information for quick reference. Make sure the attorney has experience in insurance recovery and presenting accident cases in court.
At Yosha Law, we’ll be by your side, advocating for every penny you are entitled to recover, and we will never stop fighting for you and your family.