Car Accident Expenses That Auto Insurance Companies Often Get Wrong

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are often miscalculated by insurance companies for numerous reasons, including the following:

  • Treatment taking longer than expected
  • Injuries being more serious than assumed
  • The cost of healthcare rising
  • Not knowing the accident victim received medical attention
  • Medical bills taking longer than expected to be mailed out
  • Hospital billing charging more because its an auto accident
  • The auto insurance company believing you were partially/completely at-fault

We have heard all of the reasons over the years. These are just a few common reasons. By hiring our law firm we would go after the insurance company to get this expense completely covered.

Lost Work Income

Accidents often put people out of work. It can be a few days or it can even end your employment.

Auto insurance companies will often ignore this expense. They’ll assume that your okay using your PTO (paid time off). Any lost work time should be paid for by the at-fault drivers insurance company.

And if you lost your job because you are no longer able to perform the tasks associated with your job, it should be compensated for.

Even when insurance companies are willing to cover missed days at the office, they’ll miscalculate your income or the time you take off. This is where our car accident attorneys can help.

Vehicle Damage

There are some insurance companies who have connections with auto body shops, and they can restore the car. Not all cars can be restored after a car accident. Cars that are totaled have to be added to the settlement, and insurance companies often pay a more conservative valued price for the vehicle. Our car accident attorney in Atlanta, can help by pushing to add this to the settlement.

Other Miscellaneous Expenses

The “other” expenses are easily forgotten in the insurance claim process. These expenses can be smaller – but they add up. Here are a few commonly missed miscellaneous expenses:

  • Uber/Lyft rideshare expenses for transportation
  • Rental car expenses
  • Towing expenses
  • Damaged possessions in the vehicle
  • Any other expenses

How Our Law Firm Can Help You

Protect Your Financial Future

Our lawyers have over 50 years of combined personal injury experience, and most members of our support staff have over twenty years’ legal experience. Very few Atlanta law firms who focus on car accidents have our depth of knowledge.

After an accident, our experienced legal team will take care of your medical and financial needs. This includes coverages for past losses as well any future ones that may arise from the injuries you sustained in this tragedy.

Protect Your Legal Rights and Your Family

Whether you were the driver, passenger, innocent bystander, or pedestrian, you have certain legal rights. When a dangerous, distracted, or negligent driver hurts you or a loved one, getting and paying for prompt medical care is critical. Your claim will need to be investigated by the auto insurance company or business so you can be compensated appropriately.

Your lawyer can obtain the police report, ensure evidence is preserved, and help you understand what to say to the insurance company. You and your attorney can increase your odds of compensation by getting medical attention immediately and documenting past and future expenses.

Our Advice to Car Accident Victims:

Don’t Give a Recorded Statement without First Getting Legal Advice

After an accident, you will likely begin receiving calls from an insurance adjuster on behalf of the at-fault driver. This is an important time because what you or your attorney says can have a serious impact on the outcome of your claim.

After a car accident, we recommend you decline to give a recorded or written statement. Instead, let the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster know they will hear from your car accident lawyer.

Get the Medical Care You Need to Increase Your Odds of a Settlement

For financial or other reasons, you may be reluctant to get the medical treatment necessary to prove the extent of your injuries after an accident. However, not getting medical attention may invite the at-fault insurance company to argue that you have “little or no injuries,” potentially making your claim harder to prove for you and your attorney.

If you do not have health insurance, The Millar Law Firm can provide resources and advice to help you get medical treatment. We can help minimize the risk of insurance adjusters accusing you of not being hurt or defeating your claim with arguments about exaggerated or pre-existing conditions.

Do Not Sign a Release or Settlement Agreement Too Quickly

Insurance adjusters know that the aftermath of a car accident can be a stressful time, and they may contact you claiming to offer “help” in the form of a quick, low settlement.

However, our lawyers recommend that you don’t sign a settlement release until you know the full extent of your current and future damages.

A settlement release agreement is a binding contract that, once signed, can prevent you from collecting additional compensation. Even if you discover that your injuries or losses are greater than you expected. Accepting a first offer or settling your claim early before your lawyer can determine the full value of your claim often means you’re leaving money on the table.

Hiring a Top-Rated Injury Lawyer Can Help You Recover More

The cost of hiring a well-known lawyer is often seen as too expensive. However, insurance industry studies show that victims who pay this price usually receive more money after receiving legal representation and paying fees for their claims: A skilled attorney with good reputation can be worth its weight in gold when you need someone on your side!

How can this be? Because an adjuster assumes you won’t be able to beat the insurance company in court without an attorney nor that you know how to present evidence proving the full value of medical and other losses. Therefore, the company may delay settlement or automatically discount the settlement offer—usually by a lot.

Our Investigative Process

At The Millar Law Firm, our investigation of a car accident almost always starts with determining and proving who was at fault. If you do not already have an accident report, our firm will usually begin by getting the police report and 911 calls and recordings. We also interview witnesses and police officers, review your past and present medical bills, records, and history, and help you prove the full extent of your injuries.

To prove the facts of a car accident and whether there was negligence, our law firm will collect and review the following types of evidence:

  • Photographs of the scene and the vehicles involved in the crash
  • Interviews of other drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses
  • Video from phones, traffic cameras, nearby businesses, and police cars
  • Top accident reconstruction expert reports that can build and prove negligence
  • Medical records of care from your doctors to prove all your injuries
  • Proof of past medical bills and lost wages as well as future estimates

To recover compensation, Georgia law requires proof that the other driver was at fault, and that all injuries and lost pay were a direct result of the accident.

Even if you are partly to blame for causing an accident, however, you may still be able to recover compensation. Under Georgia’s law of comparative negligence, a driver may recover monetary damages if the accident was less than half their fault.

A good car accident lawyer can carefully build and present your argument so that you receive all the compensation you’re entitled to under the law.

Proving Your Injuries Using Medical Evidence

Infographic on medical expenses

Anytime you are going after additional compensation from an insurance company, you or your attorney must prove who was at fault and the full extent of your injuries. This includes verifying any ambulance, emergency room, hospital, ICU, surgical care, and even x-ray, MRI or CAT scan costs. Not only will you and your attorney have to prove you received the medical care and tests, but also that they were necessary and related to your accident.

In some situations, your lawyer may need to prove that your conditions were not pre-existing. If they were, it’s essential to show how that issue was aggravated or made worse by the wreck.

It’s a common insurance defense tactic to argue that anyone who had a past diagnosis was not truly hurt in the car accident. This often occurs with conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tendinitis, or other painful syndromes. Fortunately, our law firm knows how to present the right evidence to overcome this defense, which often includes expert testimony from healthcare providers.

Settlement Negotiation: Get the Most Compensation

Once you’ve reached full or maximum recovery from your injuries, our firm’s next step is usually to negotiate settlement with the insurance company. The insurance company’s goal is to try to pay out as little as possible, and it will look for any excuse to deny or reduce your compensation.

The best way to achieve a fair settlement is for your lawyer to present a demand package. This should include documentation of everything possible that shows you can beat the insurance company in a courtroom battle, if necessary.

Our firm prepares demand packages that include:

  • Police and accident reconstruction reports
  • Photos of your injuries and the damage to your car, truck, or motorcycle
  • Your medical bills
  • Lost pay and earnings
  • Special narrative reports from your doctors explaining your condition
  • Expert reports describing your future medical and economic losses

With auto accidents, the insurance company will only make a full and fair settlement after your lawyer convinces it that you have the evidence necessary to win in court.

The Millar Law Firm provides this level of proof and presentation. It’s how we consistently achieve great results both inside and outside the courthouse.

Types of Car Accidents We Handle

Since 1993, the firm has expertly represented your neighbors in the Atlanta metro and all across the state of Georgia. Wrecks we handle include:

  • Interstate highway accidents and collisions on I-75, I-85, I-285, I-16, and state highways
  • City street and roadway crashes
  • Intersection, stop sign, and traffic light collisions
  • Wrecks involving totaled vehicles
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Hit-and-runs
  • Head-on crashes
  • Wrongful death or fatal accidents
  • Paralysis injury claims
  • Side-impact and side-swipe incidents
  • Wrecks due to failure to yield or maintain lane
  • Injuries caused by DUI/drunk drivers
  • Distracted driving disputes
  • Negligent and careless drivers
  • Speeding and reckless drivers
  • T-bone collisions
  • Multiple-car pile ups
  • Single-vehicle accidents
  • Vehicular roll-overs
  • Road rage and aggressive driving attacks
  • Phantom vehicle crashes with or without contact

Other Automobile Related Practice Areas

Automobile products liability

In addition to accidents where the driver was negligent, our law firm has worked on lawsuits that resulted from defective vehicles, design, and parts as well as repair issues.

Potential defects or crash-worthiness issues our law firm handles include seat-belt defects, airbag issues and malfunctions (failures to deploy or unwanted deployment), tire-tread separations and blow-outs, seat-back failures, and brake failures, among other things.

Our firm has also encountered several instances where repair shops failed to safely replace or repair components, like steering racks or transmissions, or where a used car was sold with dangerously worn or bald tires. Knowingly selling a used car that has defective equipment or brakes may also result in a legal claim.

Car Accident Injuries We Handle

Car accidents can cause a wide variety of injuries. At The Millar Law Firm, we can and do handle any injury proven to have been caused by a crash. Even if you think your injuries are minor in the immediate aftermath of a collision, you should see a doctor right away for a medical evaluation.

Some types of injuries can take days or weeks to become symptomatic, and others may worsen significantly over time. Our law firm knows that insurance companies often try to avoid paying maximum compensation for these types of injuries, arguing the injury was pre-existing, insignificant, or nonexistent.

Sometimes insurance companies will even deny coverage for catastrophic injuries, and our lawyers must coordinate with treating physicians, life-care planning professionals, and economic and vocational experts to estimate the current and future costs of treatment.

Here are some of the most common types of accident injuries our law firm have handled:

  • Neck and whiplash
  • Back injuries
  • Amputations
  • Leg and knee injuries
  • Hand and foot injuries
  • Internal and abdominal injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head and traumatic brain injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Wrongful death
  • Facial injuries
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Chest injuries

Damages and Compensation Available in an Atlanta Car Accident

According to Georgia law, you’re legally entitled to recover damages after a car accident. This includes current, past, and future medical bills as well as other damages, like pain and suffering. You may be entitled to reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses for your medical bills, even if health insurance paid for your care (subject to certain subrogation requirements).

Often, our lawyers can resolve a dispute and recover damages for the victim through a settlement. If a settlement is not possible, however, all your damages are available through legal action.

To receive maximum compensation, your car accident lawyer Atlanta should present all medical and economic damages evidence to an insurance adjuster in a settlement demand. If the claim cannot be resolved through negotiation, you and your attorney may choose to file a lawsuit.

Our law firm can help you identify how much compensation you’re entitled to for your accident. They will go over various expenses that are factored into an injury settlement, including past and future medical bills as well as pain and suffering. Disputes involving permanent injury or an impairment rating from a doctor will generally have a higher projected value than those where complete recovery is expected. If you believe you are permanently injured, an AMA disability rating may be needed to receive the highest level of compensation.

Because Georgia is a comparative negligence state, the damages you may recover can be reduced if you were partially to blame. If a jury finds you were at least fifty percent at fault, you could not recover any damages.

An experienced car accident lawyer can often estimate a settlement value during a free consultation. But remember, this is not exact. It is not always possible to provide an accurate figure until more is known. The extent of your recovery, the amount of available insurance, and the driving history of the at-fault driver will all impact your settlement.

Damages That Can Be Recovered in a Settlement

“General damages” are non-economic payments for your physical pain and suffering and lost quality of life caused by the trauma of an accident.

“Special damages” means reimbursement for past and future medical expenses and lost employment earnings.

“Punitive damages” are a separate category of damages intended to punish or deter an at-fault driver who is especially reckless or derelict. These damages may be applied to claims of drunk or drugged drivers, road rage incidents, or hit-and-runs.

“Future losses” include the costs of medical bills or forced retirement due to a catastrophic injury.

“Loss of consortium” includes the loss of companionship of a spouse or family member.

Proving Your Non-Economic, General Accident Damages

Payment for non-economic losses is usually negotiated with the auto insurance adjuster or lawyer, or decided by a jury at trial. Under Georgia law, victims of serious crashes are entitled to reimbursement for pain and suffering. This can involve either temporary pain or permanent impairment and disability. These damages are intended as payment for short-term or long-term loss of enjoyment of life.

Medical records and testimony from doctors, nurses, chiropractors, or therapists are often used to prove the extent and lasting effect of the injuries. Exhibits can also be shared to show the injuries or medical treatment received.

Family members, friends, or sports coaches can be called-on to share personal accounts of how the crash has changed your life. In Georgia, loss of companionship of a spouse is known as a “loss of consortium.” Spouses and other family members may be able to claim these damages by providing testimony.

Recovering Your “Special” or Economic Damages after a Vehicle Accident

Our lawyers determine Economic losses, bills, or special damages by calculating the total expenses incurred because of the incident. These damages may include vehicle repair or replacement cost and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Special damages after an accident may also cover lost work income and earnings, loss of future earnings, and compensation for your current and future medical expenses for surgery, injections, or therapy you may eventually need. In more complicated accidents, we consult expert witnesses, such as doctors, vocational experts, or an economist, to calculate future financial losses.

How to Repair or Replace Your Car after an Accident

If your car, truck, or SUV is totaled in a car accident, you are entitled to recover its fair market value as special damages. This is known as the replacement cost. Unfortunately, this does not always mean you’ll get what you paid for it or what you owe.

You and your attorney must look at the value of cars in or near your area, versus what it’s worth in other locations. Further, the value will be affected by the mileage, overall condition, and options on the car.

Your lawyer can obtain the necessary records from body shops, appraisers, and sometimes directly from the insurance company. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may be required to pay for your repairs or total loss. Otherwise, you may go through your own insurance company and pay a deductible. If you did not cause the accident, your insurance company would usually attempt to recover your deductible from the at-fault insurance carrier and refund it to you. In Georgia, this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

How to Recover Punitive Damages in Georgia

Punitive damages are not automatic in Atlanta car accident claims—your lawyer must usually present evidence, showing some level of gross negligence. You can recover punitive damages in a negotiated settlement when the defendant driver has acted outrageously (e.g., intoxicated or reckless driving).

Punitive damages can also be awarded for road rage incidents, hit-and-runs, or intentional accidents. You and your attorney will have the responsibility of proving that the driver acted in a malicious, violent, oppressive, wanton, or willfully indifferent manner.

Our law firm collects police reports, officer and patrol car videos, and eyewitness testimony to prove punitive damages. Criminal and driving history can also demonstrate whether the at-fault driver is a repeat offender with prior convictions. These reports are excellent sources of evidence that can support an award of punitive damages to punish or deter the driver from similar future behavior.

You should know that Georgia has a $250,000 cap for awards of punitive damages in personal injury verdicts. This cap, however, does not apply to drunk driving accidents. There are no caps for general and special damages (meaning pain and suffering and proven economic losses).

Understanding the Fundamentals of Car Accident Court

Going to Court Over a Car Accident. Will a Lawsuit Be Necessary?

In well-documented major injuries where victims received prompt and necessary medical care, our attorneys can usually reach a settlement without having to file a lawsuit. In claims involving complicated medical conditions or disputed facts, you and your attorney may have to file a lawsuit to recover compensation.

Even after a lawsuit is filed, very few legal claims actually make it to trial. With the right preparation and aggressive litigation from your attorney, your compensation request is likely to settle once the insurance company makes a large enough offer.

What Happens When a Claim Goes to Trial?

Before going to trial, the car accident attorneys will meet with the judge to decide which issues will be litigated and what evidence will be admissible, or allowed.

In a jury trial, the jury will decide whether damages should be awarded and how much after the attorneys present their arguments. A car wreck trial can be as short as one day or last more than a week.

Our attorneys never accepts or takes frivolous automobile injury claims to trial. We strongly believe that there are already too many lawsuits and that only the best and most-worthy claims should be pursued.

How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Typical Car Accident Claim?

You and your attorney should avoid settling your car accident injury claim until your medical care is complete or until your future condition and needs are known. Thus, many car accident disputes will settle two or three months after your medical care ends.

If the facts of your accident are in dispute or the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer, your attorney may need to file a lawsuit. Civil suits in the Atlanta area usually take one to two years after filing before they are tried. Once the parties agree to a settlement, clients are typically paid within weeks or months after a release is signed. However, some settlement structures may require payment over time.

What is Mediation, and How Does it Work in Atlanta?

In Atlanta, mediation or alternative dispute resolution is a conference where both sides attempt to negotiate the settlement of a legal case. In an injury case, this means the victim and their attorney on one side and the defense lawyer and insurance company representatives on the other.

A neutral party, or mediator, listens to the positions of both sides and helps them negotiate settlement offers and counteroffers by discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the case. Mediation can be voluntary by agreement of the parties or ordered by the court.

Increasing Your Odds of Achieving a Good Settlement

Who has the Burden of Proof in a Georgia Car Accident Settlement?

The injured victim, or plaintiff, has the burden of proving everything in a case. That means you and your attorney must show that the other driver’s negligence caused the accident and that your medical care and expenses resulted from the crash.

What Evidence Can Be Used to Prove a Georgia Accident Claim?

To prove a car accident case, our law firm gathers physical evidence such as photographs, drone recordings, witness testimony and interviews, the police report, video recordings from the vehicles or surrounding businesses, measurements of the scene and skid marks, cell phone recordings, vehicle inspection records, electronic data downloads from the vehicles’ recording devices, manufacturer’s data, 911 recordings, EMS and first responder statements and reports, and police body cameras and patrol car recordings.

How Can Evidence Be Preserved after a Car Accident?

Crucial evidence can deteriorate or be lost over time. To ensure all evidence is preserved, our attorneys recommend documenting the accident scene, physical evidence, and vehicle damage as soon as possible. Once you’ve hired a car accident attorney, they can safeguard all pieces of evidence they collect during the investigation.

For evidence that is beyond your control, such as surveillance video, auto maintenance records, or electronic data, our attorneys can usually send a preservation of evidence letter. If a defendant receives a request to preserve evidence and later destroys it, that person or company could be sanctioned or punished for “spoliation of evidence.”

Hiring an Atlanta Lawyer Who Handles Car Accidents

How Soon Should I Hire a Lawyer after an Atlanta Car Accident?

Under Georgia law, you and your attorney will generally have two years to file a lawsuit. This time period is called the statute of limitations. In some situations, the statute of limitations may be either shorter or longer than two years depending on who has been involved in the crash. O.C.G.A. Section 9-3-31.

Even though you have up to two years to file a lawsuit, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. To assess your files, your attorney will need to thoroughly investigate your claim, collect evidence, review applicable insurance policies, and consult with medical experts to determine the extent of your losses. This process takes time, so it’s imperative that you don’t delay in consulting and hiring a car accident lawyer.

What Happens if a Doctor Says I Will Never Fully Recover from My Accident?

If you have been left with permanent injuries that will require ongoing medical treatment, reduce or prevent you from working, or diminish your enjoyment of life, your lawyer will take these factors into account when seeking full compensation.

The best personal injury lawyers review medical and work records and consult with medical experts, vocational experts, economists, and others to determine the full amount of past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and noneconomic losses you should recover.

Accidents involving serious permanent injury are likely to have a much higher value than an injury in which the accident victim has a full and complete recovery.

How Do I Know which Car Accident Lawyer in Atlanta Is the Best One for Me?

There are hundreds of car accident lawyers advertising their services in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. When you’re trying to find the best accident lawyer, consider the following:

Lawyers who know and understand your area and the local court system can give you an advantage.

Be wary of “discount fee” lawyers. Some lawyers advertise cheap or discounted rates (25% contingency fees, or even less), which often means they are high-volume firms or are inexperienced lawyers with few staff or resources. These firms may lack the experience, time, and resources, to conduct a full-blown personal injury trial.

When deciding which law firm to hire, be sure to ask how many trials the firm has had recently. Most strong car accident firms go to trial several times each year.

Car accident law is very specialized. You want lawyers who are experts in car, truck, and motorcycle legal disputes. Experienced lawyers know and understand insurance law, how to effectively interact and negotiate with adjusters, how to discover all the available insurance coverage information, and how to collect all of the damages you deserve.

Before hiring a car accident lawyer in Atlanta, be sure to check out their online reviews (we have dozens of 5-star reviews), AVVO rating (ours is a perfect 10), and Better Business Bureau rating (The Millar Law Firm is rated “A+”).

How Many Lawyers Will Be Working on My Legal Claim?

In our office, we have an assigned car accident lawyer who is assisted by staff in collecting medical records and other evidence. All of the lawyers litigate “first chair,” which means that they’ve tried cases to verdict themselves! Many times two or more will work together on trial teams so you can be sure your case gets top priority from start-to finish.

Furthermore, we work with a team of experts including accident reconstruction specialist and private investigator to build the strongest possible lawsuit.

What Should You Bring to a Meeting or Consultation with a Car Accident Lawyer?

Our lawyers are often asked by clients what to bring to their free initial consultation with The Millar Law Firm.

Depending on your situation, you should bring the following items if available:

  • A copy of the police report or the police report number. Don’t worry if the incident report is not yet available, a good law firm will get it for you.
  • Photos from the accident scene, the damage to the vehicles involved, and your injuries.
  • The at-fault driver’s insurance company and policy number, and their full name, address, and phone information.
  • Names and contact information of witnesses.
  • A list of hospitals, clinics, and doctors you have seen. The law firm will obtain your medical records and bills for you.
  • Contact information for your job and supervisor so that the law firm can obtain records showing time you may have missed from work.
  • Any journals you have kept that describe how your injuries have impacted you.
  • Your auto insurance card or policy.

Of course, if you do not have some or all of these items, don’t let it stop you from seeking legal help. A lawyer can help you track these items down.

How Much Will It Cost to Hire One of the Best Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer?

The Millar Law Firm is a reputable personal injury law firm that offers free consultations and operates on an agreement of “contingent fee.” This means you are not charged legal fees unless the firm actually recovers money for your claim or family through settlement, jury verdicts/judgments.

Personal injury legal fees in Georgia generally range from one-third for most settlements to forty percent when your lawyer must file a lawsuit. Our lawyers will evaluate your accident by telephone or in person at no charge and discuss the fee arrangement with no obligation or pressure to retain us.