Costs for Traffic Accidents Rise
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Average medical costs and property damage from traffic accidents have risen significantly in recent years, the insurance industry says. The average auto liability claim for bodily injury increased nearly 33% from 2004 to 2013. At the same time, the average claim for property damage rose nearly 25%.
The numbers mean that if you are seriously hurt in a car accident, it is important to make sure your insurance payment fully covers your costs. A car accident attorney on your side can help you maximize your insurance compensation.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, from 2004 to 2013:
- The average claim for bodily injury in private passenger auto wrecks increased from $11,640 to $15,443.
- The average claim for property damage increased from $2,596 to $3,231.
An analysis by the Insurance Research Council based on nationwide insurer data found that even as medical costs, lost wages and other expenses for accident victims grew, the severity of the average injury decreased. The council attributed rising medical costs in part to more expensive treatments and diagnostics as well as increases in charges billed by medical providers.
The Insurance Research Council also found that insurance claimants are increasingly likely to be represented by attorneys.
Economic, Societal Losses
Total economic and societal costs of motor vehicle crashes in the United States are $871 billion annually, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This includes $277 billion in economic costs — or about $900 per U.S. resident — and $594 billion in harm from pain, decreased quality of life due to injuries, and deaths.
Individuals who have been victims of auto accidents feel the economic pain most acutely. The National Safety Council says that in 2012, average economic costs from motor vehicle accidents were:
- $1.4 million per death
- $78,900 for nonfatal disabling injuries
- $8,900 for property damage
Deciding Whether to Hire an Auto Accident Attorney
When deciding whether to hire a lawyer, consider the total amount of your losses alongside attorney fees, which may be about one-third of the amount of your compensation.
For minor injuries with a straightforward recovery period (say, a broken leg), it may not be worth your while to hire an attorney. But for serious injuries with long recovery periods, such as brain and spinal injuries that can require indefinite care and untold losses, an attorney can make the difference between a fair payment and a payment that stretches you to the financial limit.
Bear in mind that the vast majority of injury cases are settled out of court. So your attorney’s negotiation skills and ability to forecast medical bills and lost wages far into the future will be important.
Most personal injury law firms offer free consultations. It’s worth at least discussing your case with a lawyer to get a sense of what is at stake financially for you and your family.