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How Expensive Are Car Accidents?

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Statistics report says that there were 7.27 million motor vehicle crashes in 2016. That breaks down to around 34,000 fatalities, 2.1 million injuries, and 5 million cases of property damage. How much do these crashes cost?

According to NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, the total cost in 2010 was $242 billion. That doesn’t count other factors like changes to your quality of life. If you factor in those, the total cost is estimated to be $836 billion. The total number of motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2010 was just over 5.4 million. That breaks down to an estimated $154,814 per crash. You can imagine how much more 2016’s crashes cost.

How expensive are car accidents? The total cost depends on so many things. Medical bills and the cost of the vehicle’s replacement or repairs are just a small part of it. Other factors may include loss of work, emotional toll, property damage, legal fees, and increased automobile insurance premiums.

Start With Vehicle Repair or Replacement Costs

An auto insurance company looks at several things when deciding how much they will pay. First, there is the value of the car and the cost of repairs. If the cost of repairs is too great, the vehicle would be declared a total loss and the replacement value with a similar used car is calculated instead.

Car repairs can get costly. A lot of people are shocked by the full cost to repair damages in what seems to be a minor accident. Say someone backed into your front bumper. A bumper replacement is fairly common, so you’d think it would be inexpensive. It can be very costly. The mechanic has to check that the frame didn’t get bent.

If that’s okay, all of the wiring to the lights needs to be checked and disconnected. The trim is removed and the bumper is replaced. Warning systems connected to the bumper have to be removed. This can take several hours. The bumper is either repaired or replaced. Several coats of paint are needed, along with the time it takes for each coat of paint. Wiring and sensors are re-installed and anything damaged is replaced. Western Auto Body estimates the cost of a bumper replacement as being as much as $1,500.

Add Medical Bills

The medical bills are looked at. If the person making the claim has been injured in the past, those medical records are examined to see what is a new injury and what was pre-existing.

The total cost of medical tests, such as CT scans, x-rays, and MRIs, is totaled. If you needed surgery, the cost of that surgery is added. Time with the doctors and any follow-up appointments are added to the medical expenses. There is also the cost of prescription medications, medical equipment, and transportation to and from the hospital or medical offices for follow-up.

Vox asked readers to submit hospital bills. They can be costly. One of the more surprising charges was the cost of simply entering an emergency room. These “facility fees” can come to thousands of dollars.

Next Comes the Loss of Work

There’s also loss of income. If you need to take a week off of work, that is factored in. If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to provide detailed records that record exactly how much income is lost. What if you’re a stay-at-home parent? The lost income includes things like the cost of hiring a home care aide while you recover or a partner’s lost income while he/she stays home to care for you.

Property Damage Is Another Factor

If any property was damaged, that’s also factored in. Say you were parked at the end of your driveway and a driver swerved to avoid a branch in the road and hit you. The force of the impact pushed your car into your fence. The cost of that fence is also factored into a claim.

Don’t Underestimate the Cost of Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering are also considered. This is harder to calculate. It covers the cost of emotional pain and mental anguish, inconvenience, any disfigurement from the injuries, changes to how much you enjoy life after the accident, loss of time for companionship, and changes to your reputation.

Changes to reputation can happen if you were the victim. For example, you were a popular daycare provider, but the accident left you dealing with PTSD. You had a panic attack in front of the children while driving them to a local park. Since then, parents have been sharing that story and telling others not to use you as a daycare provider. That’s a detrimental change to your reputation.

Don’t let the expense of the car accident force you into accepting the first settlement you’re offered. You may need the money, but you don’t want to settle for an unfair offer. Talk to the experienced personal injury attorneys at Trial Lawyers for Justice. We’ve helped our clients and their families win more than $1 billion in settlements. Talk to us. We offer free consultations, so there’s no cost to you to see if you have a case. Call 866-854-5529 today.

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Trial by Human

Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".