How Much Do Auto Accidents Cost?

If you’re in a car accident in Nevada, or anywhere in this country, your initial worry might be about injuries. Are you and your loved ones going to be alright after your crash? Where will you get the medical help you need? You may even be thinking about whether you will heal completely. Quickly, however, you might find money starts to be a big concern as well.

Until you’re in a car crash, you might not realize how much accidents cost. Each day, the attorneys at Dallas Horton & Associates, who are some of the top car accident lawyers in Las Vegas get phone calls from people who have suffered an injury in a car accident or traffic crash. One of the most common things we hear is, “I thought insurance would cover it all!”

Unfortunately, car collisions are more expensive than you might think, and your insurance company likely won’t pay you for the full, long-term costs of all your damages. That’s why you’ll want to talk to a car accident attorney as soon as possible after you’ve been injured. A lawyer can help you see how much your accident will dig into your budget — and where you can find compensation to pay for it all.

How Much Will My Car Accident Cost?

The price tag of a car accident will vary widely, depending on:

  • The severity of the crash
  • The damages sustained
  • The injuries passengers (and others) have suffered
  • The number of injured passengers
  • The value of your car (and other property) affected by the collision
  • Where the accident took place
  • Other factors

One of the most significant expenses associated with car crashes is medical insurance, and it is actually increasing faster than the rate of injuries. While the severity of injuries is declining thanks in part to better safety systems in cars, the amount of money spent and claimed for medical injuries is on the rise. The average claim for bodily injury was $15,443 for car accidents in 2013, while claims for property damage averaged $3,231.

When trying to determine how much your injuries will cost, you’ll need to consider both short term-costs and long-term costs. Short-term expenses, for example, might include a visit to a clinic or emergency room and immediate treatment. Long-term costs can mean therapy, rehabilitation, physiotherapy and other treatments.

Average Costs of Car Accidents

The average cost of auto accident damage can differ depending on injuries sustained. The average cost of auto accident damages in a car accident that led to a wrongful death, for example, was $6 million for total costs — economic and non-economic damages as well as societal costs — according to a 2011 AAA report. Non-fatal injuries cost a total of $126,000.

With the average injured party in a car accident picking up 23% of car accident costs, it could mean an average cost of over $28,000 per injured victim.

The problem with trying to come up with an average cost of auto accident damage is the wide range of incidents, locations and collisions possible. For a minor accident, the mean medical expenses were $2,713 in 2010, according to the NHTSA. The mean wage loss in these crashes was $2,661 per victim, and the loss of household productivity was $860.

For the most severe accidents, however, mean medical expenses were $503,638. Mean wage loss from the worklife expectancy analysis was $439,191, and mean lost productivity was $119,759. Statistical changes and the way the numbers were calculated could change the figures somewhat, but this gives a general idea of the costs accident victims sometimes have to face.

The type of injury can also have a significant impact on average costs of a car accident. A severe back and neck injury, for example, had a mean medical cost of $992,867 between 2008 and 2010, compared with $1,564 in mean medical costs for the mildest injuries to the upper extremities. Mean medical costs for traumatic brain injury ranged from $3,977 for a mild injury to $408,684 for the most severe injuries.

In general, severe spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries are most expensive injuries to sustain in a car crash. Both of these injuries can have a huge impact on quality of life, mobility, independence and earning power. Patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, for example, may face cognitive issues, memory loss, vision problems and personality changes. They may need surgery as well as rehabilitation. In some cases, they may not be able to return to their previous jobs, or they may need permanent care.

Spinal cord injury patients with severe injuries may be unable to walk or may be placed on a ventilator and be almost completely immobile. They may need specialized medical devices or may need to be placed under constant care. Since they cannot move easily, patients with this injury can have a higher risk of bed sores and other complications. With both severe head injury and spinal cord injury, patients face high medical expenses, long-term costs and reduced work opportunities.

The differences between over $2,000 in wage losses and over $400,000 in wage losses is significant. It’s one reason why you’ll want to contact a personal injury attorney after your car accident. An attorney can give you a more precise evaluation of how much your specific injuries are likely to amount to and what compensation options exist for you under current laws.

How Much Does a Car Accident Cost Us as a Country?

Car accidents are common across the United States. In 2010 alone, 3.9 million people were injured or killed in car accidents. There were 13.6 million accidents that year, involving 23.9 million cars and vehicles. In 2013, there were more than 5.6 million police-reported traffic crashes, and an estimated 10 million unreported collisions.

The financial impact of auto accidents is immense for us as a country, and even if you’ve never been in a car accident or don’t even drive, you may be affected. A car accident can touch everyone economically because of the many costs associated with the crash. These expenses include:

  • Lost productivity
  • Car repairs or replacement
  • Environmental costs (including environmental or clean-up costs)
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning power
  • Lowered standard of life
  • Hospital costs
  • Lost household income
  • Legal costs
  • Insurance costs

Let’s say you run a business, and someone in your company is injured in a car accident. You’ll need to pay someone else to do the employee’s job until they recover. In the meantime, you may experience lower productivity at your workplace (especially if there’s no one else at your workplace with the same level of skill and knowledge as your injured worker).

Even if you don’t run your own company, car accidents can hurt you. Car accidents increase the costs of insurance rates for everyone, for instance, by increasing expenses for insurance companies. Car accidents also directly affect the economy. Everyone who is injured in a car accident is one less person earning a wage and contributing to the economy with their skills and talents.

Of course, the hurt and pain of losing a loved one or being seriously injured also must be measured. The pain, depression and suffering of traffic crashes is immense and can last for many years after a catastrophic collision.

What Is the Financial Impact of Car Accidents on the US?

Highway accidents alone cost this country $871 billion each year in economic damages, loss of productivity and other social harm. Of this total cost, $277 billion includes economic damages, while $594 billion is the cost of social harm from highway accidents. The economic costs alone add up to about $900 for each American. Speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving cause the biggest economic impact.

A fatal car accident in a city has an economic impact of about $6 million. This number includes loss of wages, decreased productivity, economic damages, impact on quality of life and other costs. Over a lifetime, a single fatality has an economic cost of $1.4 million for the economy, with more than 90% of this number linked to lost productivity (at work and home) and legal costs.

How can the costs of one accident or one fatality be so high? It’s because one injury or fatality can impact society in a lot of ways. Most of us think about crashes in immediate financial losses related to medical bills, car repairs or getting a damaged cell phone replaced. However, non-economic costs can also add up.

Car accidents can damage the roads and cause environmental devastation, meaning localities use or raise taxes to pay for road repairs or cleanup. Crashes can also lead to traffic delays, which can mean lost productivity at work, wasted fuel, a need for traffic intervention (in the form of police resources) and other effects.

All these expenses can add up. Some of the economic and non-economic costs of car accidents in the US in 2010 included:

  • $57.6 billion for lost workplace productivity
  • $19.7 billion for lost household productivity
  • $76.1 billion for property damage
  • $23.4 billion for medical costs
  • $28 billion for costs related to extra fuel use, traffic congestion and environmental impact

Car Accident Costs If You’re Not Injured

In 2010, property-damage-only accidents (where no one was injured) cost the country $71.5 billion. When accidents cause injury, they mean patients need medical care. Even without these extra bills, however, accidents where you walk away without a scratch can end up being expensive.

If you’re in a crash involving property damage only, you could have to pay for car repairs, replacement of any electronics damaged in the crash and potentially legal fees. Whether it’s a work laptop costing $2,000 or a $30,000 car, property-damage-only collisions can still be expensive.

These accidents can still cause you to lose time at work, too. The accident may prevent you from getting into work, especially if you need to be evaluated for injuries. You may need to spend time meeting with insurance adjusters or attorneys, which can also rob you of productivity or take you away from your job.

Just because you’re fortunate enough not to be injured, it doesn’t mean you won’t end up with bills from the car accident. If you’ve been in a crash, it’s important to get legal advice about your injury and the whole situation, and to seek fair compensation for all your losses — including wage loss and car repairs. Speaking to an attorney can show you how much your case could be worth.

Who Pays?

The federal government pays for 4% of all car accident costs, while municipalities and states pay about 3%. Private insurance companies pick up the majority of the tab — about 54%. People injured in crashes pay for 23% of the costs, while others (including health care facilities, uninvolved drivers, charities) pick up 16% of the costs. About 1% of the cost is handled by organizations and parties funded by government money.

Society as a whole pays over 75% of accident costs in taxes, traffic congestion, environmental costs, taxes and other costs. In 2010 alone, for example, society paid more than $187 billion for traffic crashes in this country.

If you’ve been injured in a roadway collision, you may assume your insurance company will pick up most of the cost, but as you can see, this is not the case. Insurers often have caps on what they will pay in a claim, and in some cases, they may offer you less than what you might rightfully secure through a legal claim or via negotiation. Your insurance money might not cover all your medical costs, car repairs, lost hours of work and everything else.

In addition to having to pay some of your costs out of pocket, you might find your insurance rates going up after your crash, which means you can add another expense to your car accident total. The significant expenses of car collisions in Nevada and elsewhere mean you should consult with a personal injury attorney quickly after your accident.

An attorney can look at the facts of your case and can tell you how much your claim may be worth. If you’re having trouble getting benefits or insurance money from your insurer or decide you want to file a civil claim, your attorney can help with those processes.

You shouldn’t be paying for someone else’s mistakes and recklessness, but unfortunately with vehicular accidents, this is what ends up happening. Whether someone is driving drunk or is texting and driving, they only pick up a small portion of the total tab if an accident happens. Even if your car insurance company promises they handle all the details, the reality is insurers only cover a little over half of total car accident costs. You and others may be paying for the rest, so get good legal advice if you’ve been injured to avoid paying more than you have to for costs caused by someone else’s bad driving.

Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident?

In Nevada, the total cost of car accidents in 2013 was $356 million. The costs of car accidents here are high, and they’re only rising. You need to protect yourself if you’ve been injured and are facing high medical costs and losses. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact Dallas Horton & Associates for a consultation. Our team of caring attorneys has already resolved more than 7,000 cases in e Nevada region, so we understand what it takes to make a successful claim.

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