At some point following a serious car accident, every victim will eventually want to know what his or her personal injury claim is REALLY worth.
For more than 20 years, attorney Matt Boulton has been answering this question for car accident victims throughout the state of Indiana. And no matter the size or type of car accident, he has continually been able to guide his clients’ injury claims through the insurance process to help determine the real value of each case.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding the value of Indiana car accident injury claims, so finding the correct answer to this question will be extremely important to someone who has never been involved in a serious collision. And make no mistake, learning what your case is worth may initially require patience, but the time it takes to arrive at this value is worth the wait!
Below, we are going to examine some of the many factors attorney Boulton takes into consideration when assigning a value to your case. We will also list some of the more important “do’s” and “dont’s,” as well as look at the types of compensation you may be entitled to after an Indiana car accident.
Ultimately, please remember, any advice you receive from a non-attorney has the potential to minimize the value of your claim and/or prevent you from receiving a recovery, should you choose to act on it.
And this leads us to our first point!
Now is not the time to take advice from friends or strangers
Once you have been injured in a car accident, a great number of people will likely have a story to share with you about someone they know who was in a similar situation. They may tell you how much money they received; they give their tips on how to deal with the insurance company; they’ll tell you how long the case should take, and how much you should demand, etc. Be careful!
While these folks likely have good intentions, please do not act on their advice.
The only person you should consult with about the value of your car accident case is an attorney that focuses exclusively on Indiana personal injury cases. It should be someone who has multiple years’ of experience handling similar claims and is versed in Indiana’s laws as well as common insurance company tactics.
You won’t find the value of your injury on a “menu!”
Never let anyone tell you that injury types have pre-determined amounts. (A popular myth exists that says injuries can be put into a “formula” where the value of a case is simply 3 times your medical bills.) This is not true. Two people who each suffer a broken ankle can receive vastly different amounts of compensation for their accident and injury based on their personal experience and medical recovery.
There are a number of potential factors that may affect the value of your specific injury, including:
- The type(s) of treatment your doctor prescribes.
- How you respond to therapy.
- How long it takes you to recover from your injury.
- Your age.
- The amount of insurance available.
- Whether or not you had any pre-existing medical condition(s) or injuries.
- Your ability to make all medical appointments as well as following your doctor’s advice.
- Whether or not you have partial liability for the accident.
If attorney Boulton suspects you have a policy limits case, he may demand the entire amount of the insurance policy to compensate you for your injuries.
Indiana’s insurance limits
Every state has laws that determine how much insurance coverage its residents are required to carry in order to legally drive a vehicle. After an accident, the amount of insurance carried by each party has the potential to play a significant factor in the value of your injury claim.
Indiana requires that every written auto policy for all Hoosier drivers have the following minimum liability limits:
- Uninsured Motorists (UM) Bodily Injury Coverage: $25,000/person & $50,000/accident
- Underinsured Motorists (UIM) Bodily Injury Coverage: $50,000
- Property Damage: $10,000
In the event that someone is left with a traumatic injury, and both Indiana drivers are carrying the state minimum, it is possible for medical bills to quickly exceed the amount of money that is available.
Does your case have a lien?
Liens are a common factor in car accident injury cases and they can affect the value of your claim.
For example, if you have suffered a serious injury, your health insurance may pay certain medical bills once your auto policy’s med pay coverage is exhausted. Ultimately, your health and auto insurance company will want to be reimbursed from the liable party’s insurance company for payments made on your behalf.
Similarly, if Medicare or Medicaid is involved in paying your medical bills, they may also look for reimbursement.
One of the advantages of having an attorney on your side is that they may be able to significantly reduce any medical liens, leaving you with more money in your pocket.
Were you partially at fault for the accident?
Indiana is a “comparative fault” state. This means that you may legally seek compensation for an accident that is partially your fault. However, if it is determined that you are 50% (or more) at fault, you cannot seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
For example, if the insurance company has determined that you are 30% at fault for a collision that has a case value of $100,000, the total amount of your injury claim would be reduced by 30%, leaving you with $70,000.
Boulton Law Group has helped several clients recover compensation despite the fact that they were found to be partially at fault for the car accident. In some cases, we may be able to reduce the percentage of fault placed on our client.
NEVER assume similar car accidents will have similar value
The truth is that no matter how similar separate car accident injury cases may appear, they will NOT have identical values. As mentioned above, there are a number of factors that affect personal injury claims, some of which adjusters may exploit if they believe it will decrease the value of your case.
Let’s look at an example of two similar Indiana car accidents that may differ significantly in case value:
Victim A: Mike is a middle-aged man driving his 2018 Ford Edge north on I-69. Traffic in front of him quickly becomes congested and vehicles start to suddenly apply their brakes. Mike is able to bring his Edge to a stop but the car behind him is following too closely, resulting in a rear-end collision.
The accident is serious enough to cause several thousands of dollars in property damage to Mike’s Ford Edge. He also suffered a significant cut on his hand and had immediate neck and back pain.
Mike is transported by ambulance to Community Hospital North where he receives stitches to his hand, is X-ray’d, and told to follow up with his primary care physician (PCP).
Mike’s PCP re-evaluates his condition and recommends an 8-week course of physical therapy as well as a future follow-up to assess his progress.
When Mike last follows up with his PCP it is noted that he missed a few physical therapy appointments due to work. It is also documented that the cut on his hand has left a visible scar, however, his neck and back pain has improved.
Victim B: Susan is a middle-aged woman driving her 2018 Ford Edge when she is involved in an accident on I-74. Similar to Mike’s accident, she is also rear-ended by a speeding car.
Susan’s vehicle incurs thousands of dollars in property damage, she suffers a cut to her hand, and also complains of soft-tissue injuries.
Susan is taken by ambulance to Hendricks Hospital ER, has her hand stitched, is given x-rays, and released on orders to follow-up with her primary doctor.
Susan is also prescribed an 8-week course of physical therapy and a future appointment with her doctor.
Susan completes her PT without missing an appointment. Her doctor notes that there will be a visible scar on her hand, yet her neck and back have improved to their pre-accident condition. She is then released from future care by her PCP.
Mike and Susan have been involved in identical accidents, drive identical vehicles, suffered similar injuries, and were given the same course of treatment. With this in mind, why would these claims have different values?
Because Mike missed a few PT appointments, the insurance company will suggest that his injuries must not have been as severe as he initially thought, or else he would have made every appointment.
These missed appointments have the potential to cost Mike thousands of dollars in compensation if he is not represented by an experienced personal injury attorney.
And not only will Susan’s case have the potential to be more valuable because of her non-missed appointments, but it is also possible that she may receive more money for the scar on her hand, as cosmetic injuries are sometimes awarded a higher value for female victims.
Types of compensation: The Big Three
The vast majority of this article examines factors that can affect the overall value of your car accident injury claim, yet it is important that we also briefly look at the various types of compensation accident victims may recover under Indiana law.
Compensation for your accident may be made up of one or all of the following:
- Present and future medical bills – In most cases, compensation for your injury claim will include payment of all the medical bills you have incurred up until the point you are released from care by your doctor. However, if a person suffers especially traumatic injuries that require long-term care, your attorney may demand compensation for any and all anticipated future medical bills.
- Pain and suffering – This includes the physical and mental pain a person suffers as a result of their accident and can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances.
The physical pain simply refers to the level of discomfort your injuries inflicted as well as any potential future negative effects.
The mental pain includes any negative cognitive effects caused by the accident. This may include the fear of getting back into a vehicle, nightmares, sexual dysfunction, etc.
- Lost wages – It is important to note that you will only be able to recover for lost wages related to time off that was excused by your doctor. If you choose not to go to work without a doctor’s order, those hours may not be included in your recovery amount.
Did the accident only cause damage to your car?
If you were fortunate enough to escape your accident injury-free, you will want to file a property damage claim.
Property damage claims are generally much more straightforward than cases that also involve injury. Typically, the insurance company settles these claims by compensating you for the cost of repairs to your car and/or any replacement parts needed.
In the event that estimated repairs or parts exceed the value of your vehicle, the insurance company will deem the vehicle a “total loss.” They will then cut you a check for the amount your car was worth in its pre-accident condition.
For example, if it is found that your car had hail damage or other defects not related to the accident, this damage will be deducted for the overall amount paid by the insurance company.
It should also be noted that property damage claims and personal injury claims are always treated independently of one another. It is not uncommon for separate adjusters to be assigned to each claim.
What’s the REAL value of your car accident injury claim?
As we have discussed throughout this article, the only way to truly learn the REAL value of your car accident case is to ask an experienced Indiana personal injury lawyer to evaluate your case.
Attorney Matt Boulton has been helping car accident victims throughout Indiana for more than 20 years. He is sought after for his vast experience, approach to customer service, and award-winning track record of success on behalf of his clients.
It should also be noted that attorney Boulton also routinely speaks with victims who have received poor advice regarding the value of their Indiana car accident injury claim. In these instances, he may be able to correct any potential damage done to the case, assuming the accident victim has not already settled with the insurance company.
If you want to learn more about the value of your car accident claim, Boulton Law Group offers a Zero Fee Guarantee. This means that you will never pay a consultation fee and the only way the firm receives money for its services is if we make a recovery on your behalf.
To speak with attorney Boulton today, please call 317-350-2680. If you prefer to write to us, you may use our confidential contact form.
We look forward to learning more about your story and going to work for you!
Attorney Matt Boulton is an award-winning personal injury attorney with more than 20 years of experience helping seriously injured people throughout Indiana reclaim what was taken from them. His firm was created for for the client who expects exceptional service and passionate, successful legal representation.