How is Damage Assessed After a Car Accident?

How is Damage Assessed After a Car Accident?

North Carolina car accidents resulted in more than 1,400 deaths in 2017, but even more drivers and passengers were injured. Although far from the most dangerous state to drive in, North Carolina drivers should exercise caution to avoid accidents.

Assessing the Damage

Insurance companies follow certain formulas and processes for determining damages after an accident, both for property damage and physical injury. Your car accident injury claim will begin with totaling up the medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident. Next, the insurance adjuster will add in the value of non-monetary claims, such as pain and suffering. The amount of compensation offered for non-monetary claims will vary depending on the severity of your injuries, with much smaller amounts being added for minor injuries not requiring continued care and much larger amounts offered for life-long injuries, such as paralysis.

This total will be multiplied by different numbers,
depending on the severity of the injuries. Less severe injuries are typically
multiplied by one and a half, while extreme injuries with a high degree of
non-monetary losses may be multiplied by as much as 10. The resulting number
will be added to any lost income to arrive at the total damage amount. For example,
the formula for an accident resulting in a severely sprained ankle and some
lacerations requiring stitches might look like this:

            (($5,200 medical bills + $2,500 pain and suffering) x 1.5) + $500 lost income = $12,050

Bear in mind that the amount of medical expenses may also
vary based on your insurance coverage, or lack thereof. However, the multiplier
is based on the severity of the injuries, not on the cost of treatment to you.
Still, higher medical costs can help to persuade a jury to award you
compensation if the case goes to trial.

Finally, it is important to note that, in order to pursue compensation for both your injuries and the damage to your vehicle, you will need to pursue two separate cases. One will be a personal injury claim, which covers your medical bills, and the other will be a property damage claim, which covers the repair or replacement of your vehicle. Generally, the personal injury claim has the greater value, since medical diagnosis and treatment are high-cost events, with the potential for ongoing costs, but this does not mean that you should not pursue a property damage claim if necessary. The insurance company will also treat them as separate claims, so one will not impact the other.


If you agree with the insurance company’s assessment of your damages, then you will sign an agreement and receive payment. However, insurance companies are not out to fully compensate you, but instead to minimize their expenses. Therefore, your compensation, as determined by the insurance company’s assessment and formula, may not be enough to cover your actual expenses. While you and your attorney can attempt to negotiate with the insurance company or even offer further evidence to encourage them to reconsider, you will likely find yourself filing a personal injury claim in court in order to recover the necessary compensation.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

If you believe that you deserve more than the insurance
company offers, you can work with your attorney to file a personal injury claim
after your accident. However, the formula originally used to calculate the
amount of your damages will not change. Your personal injury case will instead
argue that the amounts used in that formula were incorrect. This may include
errors such as:

  • Exclusion of medical expenses
    related to the accident
  • Failure to account for future
    medical expenses
  • Inadequate allowances for pain and

You will work with your attorney to calculate your damages,
using a similar formula to that described above, which will form the basis of
your personal injury claim. However, your attorney will carefully consider all
of the factors surrounding your case and will conduct his or her own research.
This means that any information you can compile and share with your attorney to
help build your case is essential. This information might include:

  • Photographs of the accident scene
  • Police reports
  • Copies of all medical bills and
  • Evidence of time off work and the
    amount of pay lost

Your attorney will utilize this evidence to support your higher compensation claim.

Contact an Attorney

If you have been involved in a car accident, contact the
attorneys at theLaw Office of D. Hardison Wood today. North Carolina law requires
that your case be filedwithin three years of
the accident
so do not wait for the insurance company’s offer before contacting your
attorney. Even if you accept the insurance company’s settlement rather than
going to court, your attorney can help you to maximize your compensation.


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