The High Cost Of Recovery From A Car Accident

In this post, we will explore the costs injured victims face after an automobile accident, which often extend well beyond expected medical bills.

In the aftermath of a car accident, the losses you suffer will be divided into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are the most obvious and the amounts are typically easy to assess, while non-economic require deeper understanding of the law and how to attach value to losses that don’t come with bills. Let’s examine what constitutes economic damages first.

Economic Damages: Easy to Calculate, Hard to Afford

Injuries require medical attention, and these in turn lead to steep medical expenses. Medical expenses are examples of economic damages, for which you will receive tangible bills with set monetary demands. The kinds of medical bills you can expect include the following:

  • Ambulance transportation. The average cost is approximately $1,500 as of this writing (may be more or less depending on services rendered beyond transportation, cost per mile to an emergency room, and other considerations)
  • Emergency room assessment. On average, these run approximately $3,000 in California. Again, this may be more or less depending on the type and severity of your injuries, and treatments and tests rendered.
  • Hospital stay. Average cost per day is approximately $2,800. Again, this amount will vary depending upon services rendered, whether you are in intensive care or a regular room, and more.
  • Outpatient/primary care physician visits. This one will also vary quite a bit depending on the doctor you see, but the range in 2024 is an estimated $150-$300 per visit.
  • Physical therapy. Average cost for PT is approximately $100 per session.

Other economic expenses associate with post-accident injuries may include assistive medical devices like crutches, canes, and walkers or adaptive equipment like grab bars, over-the-toilet commodes, and ramps.

Please keep in mind that these are the costs without insurance. Depending on the kind of insurance you and the other driver have, at least portions of these expenses should be covered. However, if you or the person who caused your accident does not have insurance or are inadequately insured, the out-of-pocket expenses can quickly become overwhelming. You may also find yourself fighting with insurance over treatments you need to recover, but that they arbitrarily decide are unnecessary and therefore refuse to cover.

Economic Expenses Beyond Medical Bills

While the costs directly associated with your injuries are daunting enough, you might face additional expenses. These include:

Lost wages

While some employees benefit from short or long-term disability coverage, that is not the case for everyone. And even with this support, you will still be earning less than you would if you were still working normal hours. Also consider that some injuries may be so severe that you are unable to work again, in your current role or any job at all. Most people, especially those living in the costly Los Angeles area, would be hard-pressed to provide for themselves or their families on California State Disability Insurance (SDI) benefits alone. To give you an idea of what you might receive, the rate for permanent disability is approximately two-thirds of the weekly wage you earned prior to disability.

Lost property

This would include your car itself and any items you had in your car that were damaged or destroyed in the crash. Again, you can turn to insurance for coverage of these losses and damages but recognize that the insurance company will do their best to mitigate their payout by assessing your losses for the lowest amount they can. These amounts may or may not cover the full cost of a new vehicle or other items that you lost.

There may be other tangible expenses associated with your specific car accident, which your lawyer can help you evaluate. Your attorney can also put a number to the future expenses you might face due to your injuries (e.g., additional medical bills and treatments that you have not yet incurred).

Non-economic Damages: Why You Need a Lawyer’s Guidance

These intangible losses may not be as obvious as those for which you have actual bills, but they are no less likely to cost you dearly. Some examples of these include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional anguish
  • Loss of companionship/consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life and activities
  • Distress due to disfigurement

These damages may be difficult to assess, but a number must be attached to them for you to seek compensation. California does not have a specific formula for calculating these losses, but that does not mean you can come up with an arbitrary number and demand it from insurance or the responsible party you sue. This is something a highly skilled car accident lawyer needs to calculate for you, based on:

  • Precedent cases
  • Extent of your suffering
  • Input from experts
  • Strength of the argument that your accident was the fault of someone else
  • Proof the accident was the sole or primary cause of your non-economic damages

Get Fair Compensation For Tangible and Intangible Losses

It is unfair and unreasonable for you to have to pay for the medical care you need to recover from an accident you didn’t cause. It is equally unfair to lose your ability to enjoy life to its fullest. Fortunately, a qualified automobile accident lawyer can help you afford everything you need to recover, now and in the future. Contact Scott J. Corwin, A Professional Law Corporation as soon as you are able to following a crash and leave the fight for just compensation to us.

Contact our office today by calling (310) 683-2300 or filling out the online contact form to discuss the details of your case and learn more about how we can help you. We offer free consultations, so there’s no reason not to reach out to someone from our team right away.