BODILY INJURY CLAIMS: FILING, FACTS, & FACTORS AFFECTING YOUR PAYOUT
If you or a loved one are among the millions of people involved in car accidents every year, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation — the process starts by filing your claim.
You can file two types of insurance claims after a car accident: a property damage claim and bodily injury claim. If you were physically hurt due to the car accident, then a bodily injury claim is what you must file with the at-fault driver's insurance company.
This type of insurance claim allows the injured accident victim to pursue financial compensation to help cover:
Pain and suffering
Loss of wages and income from time away from work
And other related losses and damages resulting from the car accident
Unfortunately, because the legalities around bodily injuries are not always well understood, innocent victims don't always pursue what is rightfully theirs. In fact, victims often don't even know that they are entitled to financial compensation for their pain and suffering (not to mention property damage).
In this article, I'll explain everything you need to know about bodily injury claims. You will learn how to file your claim, a few critical facts about bodily injuries, and the top factors that can affect your settlement amount.
If you're an injured person who has been involved in an auto accident, don't hesitate to contact Bruscato Law today for a free consultation. John Bruscato is an experienced Monroe personal injury attorney who can answer any questions you have about your insurance claim.
What's the Difference Between a Bodily Injury and a Personal Injury?
If you aren't a part of the legal community, you may use the terms "bodily injury" and "personal injury" interchangeably. This is understandable since there is a great deal of overlap between the two types of injury.
But they do differ in a few critical ways. Let me explain their differences to you now.
Personal injury is a component of civil law. Injuries may arise due to auto accidents, premises liability, medical or professional malpractice, defective products, and other incidents.
The common element in personal injuries is that the accidents are not intentional or criminal in nature; rather, they result from negligent or careless actions.
Bodily injury, on the other hand, tends to be seen most commonly in an insurance context, rather than in a criminal context. "Bodily injury" is the precise term insurance companies ascribe to a particular kind of liability.
The defining characteristic of a bodily injury is that another person causes this type of injury, to a particular location on the body, usually from a car accident.
In an insurance context, bodily injury is a type of insurance policy that compensates the injured victim through the at-fault party's insurance policy (typically).
To help illustrate this concept, let's say I was t-boned in an intersection by a negligent driver who breezed through a red light while responding to a text message. In this example, the at-fault driver was the cause of the accident, and thus, the cause of any injuries that I, the injured party, sustained.
This could reasonably be categorized as a bodily injury, and filing a bodily injury claim would enable me to pursue rightful financial compensation for my damages and losses.
Now that we've covered the difference between personal injury and bodily injury, I'll discuss what damages are covered by a bodily injury claim in the next section.
What Damages Will a Bodily Injury Claim Cover?
As the plaintiff in a personal injury case, it's in your interest to seek compensation for your damages from whoever caused them in the first place — the tortfeasor, also called the defendant.
"Damages" refer to property damage, injury, or loss that can be restored with financial compensation.
When you file a bodily injury claim, you may likely be entitled compensation for out-of-pocket expenses. However, you may be eligible for pain and suffering compensation as well.
In order to figure out the approximate value of your claim, you can start by calculating the estimated cost of your damages. The damages incurred from your accident will significantly affect your claim offer.
Here are the main types of damages to be aware of in a bodily injury claim:
Special damages — These damages compensate for monetary expenses incurred from an injury. An award for special damages is intended to make the victim whole again, replacing financial losses incurred by the accident or injury.
Loss of earning capacity
Lost wages of income
Loss of future earnings
Cost of future medical care
Expensive procedures like x-rays, therapy, ambulance, and emergency room visits
General damages — These damages cover non-monetary damages (hard to attach a number to) incurred in a personal injury claim and may include:
Pain and suffering
Loss of consortium or companionship
Wrongful death damages — This type of claim provides compensation to surviving family and loved ones and may include:
Funeral and burial expenses
Loss of financial contribution
Loss of consortium
Pain and suffering
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when evaluating the damages of your bodily injury claim. Remember, the objective of any claim is to seek fair compensation to help recoup losses and damages.
To maximize the amount of compensation you may receive in your settlement, contact an experienced Monroe personal injury attorney to help you through the process.
Bodily Injury Liability Insurance Coverage
So far, we've talked about the nuances of bodily injury claims under the assumption that you or someone close to you has been wrongfully injured in an accident.
But what if you're the at-fault driver? What about the possibility of future accidents where you assume the fault for the cause of an accident?
Nobody wants to be responsible for a car collision, but sometimes accidents just happen. And when they do, bodily injury insurance can be a real life-saver.
Bodily injury coverage, not to be confused with underinsured or uninsured motorist insurance, covers personal injury damages that the non-policyholder sustains during an accident. In this case, the policyholder is liable for damages incurred.
Bodily injury coverage is subject to a limit, or maximum amount your car insurance policy will pay toward a claim.
If you live in the state of Louisiana, laws require that you must carry liability coverage on any automobile you own. This coverage accounts for property damages or personal injury.
In Louisiana, you are required to have 15/30/25 liability limits:
$15,000 for bodily injury per-person limit
$30,000 for bodily injury to more than one person per-accident limit
$25,000 for property damage liability coverage (vehicle damage or other)
Some states require that their residents secure personal injury protection (PIP) to cover the healthcare costs related to injuries caused by an automobile accident. However, Louisiana does not require drivers to carry PIP insurance.
The Benefits of Holding Bodily Injury Auto Insurance
Car accidents are almost always caused by some negligence. However, there are some situations where crashes are inevitable and at neither driver's fault.
Weather conditions, unpredictable or dangerous roads can all lead to accidents that would not have otherwise occurred.
Whatever the conditions may be, holding a good bodily injury auto insurance policy will pay for any expenses for the other driver's damages.
That means if you cause a car accident that injures someone else, bodily injury coverage will help pay for their medical costs, lost income, or any other damages incurred from the accident.
That way, if you're found liable for causing a car accident, you'll be protected from financial liability. Liability insurance may also help cover your legal fees if you're taken to court over an accident.
How to Claim Bodily Injury from a Car Accident
Bodily injury claims are considered "third-party" claims because you are filing a claim against the at-fault party's insurance company.
If you were the victim of an accident, you'd want to file your claim against the at-fault driver. If you were the at-fault driver, then the victim will be filing a claim against your insurance company to seek rightful compensation.
Here's how to file a bodily injury claim as a victim in an auto accident.
Contact an Attorney
If you're thinking about filing a claim, know that there is no need to file your claim alone. An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the entire process, helping you receive the maximum compensation.
It's important that you have a partner by your side to navigate this complex arena.
Prepare Evidence to Boost Your Claim Value
Before making a claim, you'll do well to consolidate records of how the crash happened — these resources will be used as evidence to boost your claim value. They'll also be used to protect the strength of your case.
When sorting through your records, it's better to have more materials at your disposal than less. When deciding what can be used as evidence, it may help to ask yourself this question: "What information will I need to substantiate my bodily injury claim?"
Gather records whose contents include the following details:
The date of your injury
The type and severity of the accident
Your treatment plan
Any prescribed medications
Evidence of emotional distress
Ongoing pain management
Scarring, disfigurement, or disability from your injury
You'll also want to make sure to include formal reports and documents such as:
Medical records, bills, and doctor's reports
Police reports (if applicable)
X-rays, radiology, or similar test results
Photos or testimonials of the scene of the accident
Once you've gathered your records, it's time to file your bodily injury claim formally.
File Your Claim
With your attorney's help, you can file your bodily injury claim and begin the process. Follow your attorney's lead and expect to wait for a while while the insurance adjusters review your case and come up with a compensation offer.
During this time, your attorney will communicate with you about the status and progress of your claim.
As the insurance company reviews your injury claim, they'll be considering a few key factors in determining your offer's value.
3 Factors Affecting Payouts for Bodily Injury Claims
If there's one question I get asked most about personal injury settlements, here it is: "What's the average payout for a bodily injury claim?"
In 2018 researchers found that the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,785.
Remember, this is the average claim value. No two cases are alike, and several relevant factors go into the final calculation of any claim. The next section will cover the three main factors involved in calculating the final payout amount.
Factor 1: Damages
As you already learned, the damages you've incurred from your injury will account for a substantial amount of the compensation you'll receive.
The primary damages an insurance adjuster will look at include:
Out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury
Lost income or wages
Pain and suffering
The total estimate of your damages will make a good approximation of your bodily injury claim's value.
Factor 2: Accident Location
Insurance claims adjusters frequently consider the location of the accident as well.
Insurance adjusters will often research the "venue" or the location where your bodily injury claim will go to trial (if it goes to trial, that is). Here, the adjuster may find that the venue has historically been favorable to large personal or bodily injury settlements.
If that's the case, and the venue is well known to offer large payouts for injury lawsuits, then the adjuster is likely to offer more money to settle your claim to avoid going to court.
Likewise, personal injury attorneys may research the venue, looking at previous personal injury cases to see how much compensation is typically awarded in injury cases.
Factor 3: Medical Costs
Higher medical costs tend to be associated with higher bodily injury claim payouts. However, insurance companies are only obligated to cover "reasonable and necessary" injury medical treatment bills.
That means as long as your costly treatments for medication or physical therapy are reasonable and necessary to facilitate your full recovery, there should be no pushback from the adjuster.
Remember, adjusters are in the business of limiting their liability coverage as much as possible. A personal injury lawyer can help you negotiate better terms and guide you through the process for the highest possible payout on your claim.
Get The Compensation You Deserve From Your Bodily Injury Claim
If you are suffering from a bodily injury due to an accident that was not your fault, Bruscato Law Firm can help defend your rights. You need help fighting insurance companies, and you can't rely on adjusters to look out for your best interests. You need a professional to partner with you and guide you through this complicated legal process.
John Bruscato is an experienced personal injury lawyer offering legal advice in Monroe, Louisiana. He has successfully helped clients claim and recover damages from car accidents, slip and falls, 18-wheeler accidents, and more. Call us today at 318-855-1613 to schedule your free consultation.