How Can You Claim Bodily Injury from a Car Accident?

You can claim bodily injury from a car accident and recover for the harm you suffered if you can prove negligence. Negligence means that someone else failed to behave reasonably and as a result caused you harm. This harm must be measurable financially — usually in the form of medical costs and estimated future expenses and losses. The statute of limitations will limit how much time you have to file a claim.

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Maurice Davis is a personal injury attorney and the founder of Davis Injury Lawyers, PLLC in Detroit, Michigan. He combines his compassion with his years of legal experience to help people hurt by another party's negligence get the justice they deserve - a mission that drives him, and his team. With a degree in political science from Michigan State University and a J.D. from Florida State Unive...

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Written by Maurice Davis
Personal Injury Attorney Maurice Davis

UPDATED: Feb 21, 2022

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Overview

  • Even in seemingly minor auto accidents you could suffer injuries that can cost and cause extreme suffering over time
  • In order to claim bodily injury damages from an auto accident you’ll need to prove negligence
  • You only have a limited time to file a claim which can vary between states

It is possible to recover compensation for bodily injury from a car accident caused by someone’s negligent action. 

Negligence is a legal term for someone who fails to take the same reasonable, prudent measures as an average person in a similar situation. When negligence causes you bodily injury from a car accident, you could be entitled to financial compensation. 

Claiming bodily injury requires proof that you suffered harm. You must also show that these injuries resulted in damages. 

Keep reading to learn more about how to claim bodily injury from a car accident. If you do think you might have a case, you can use our free search tool to find an experienced car accident lawyer near you. 

What Is Bodily Injury?

Bodily injury refers to any harm done to the body, including but not limited to bone fractures, brain injuries, burns, cuts, bruises, internal bleeding, nerve damage, and the loss of bodily organs or functions. 

10 Most Common Car Accident Injuries

Whether it’s a rear-end collision, rollover, or a head-on collision, injuries from a car crash range from mild to life-threatening. 

These are the ten most common car accident injuries with a brief description.

  1. Whiplash. Strained muscles and ligaments in the neck due to an abrupt blow or violent back-and-forth movement.
  2. Other Neck Injuries. Herniated discs in your upper spine may cause nerve damage and different types of neck pain. 
  3. Back Injuries. Car accidents may cause the discs in your spine to rupture, leading to a painful injury that limits your mobility.  
  4. Bruises. Also called contusions, car accident victims suffer bruises from impact force, airbags, and seat belts.
  5. Traumatic Brain Injuries. Any blow to the head has the potential to disrupt your brain’s normal activity, possibly resulting in physical and cognitive damage. 
  6. Concussions. A concussion is a mild form of a traumatic brain injury and can quickly become life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated.
  7. Broken Bones. Depending on the point of impact, car accident victims may suffer from broken or fractured bones in the arm, leg, hand, or wrist.
  8. Internal Bleeding. When the body’s protective skeleton is compromised, car accident victims can suffer internal bleeding that leads to organ loss or failure. 
  9. Burns. Accident victims can suffer severe burns if the car catches fire after the impact.
  10. Dental Injuries. The force of impact can shatter teeth or the jaw bone, requiring extensive dental reconstruction and repair. 

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How Can You Recover Compensation for Bodily Injuries?

You could recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages related to car crash injuries. The key to a successful car accident claim is securing evidence of liability against the at-fault driver. Being injured is not enough – you must show the insurer (or the court) that these injuries, caused by negligence, created economic and emotional damages.

What Are the Steps in Proving Negligence?

No matter where you live, all states require that you show how the other party is liable for your injuries and therefore financially accountable for damages. 

Step 1 — Establish Duty of Care

Duty of care is the expectation that someone will take reasonable, prudent measures to avoid causing bodily injury to others. When you pull out of your driveway or parking garage, other drivers assume that you will uphold a duty of care. For drivers, this duty of care includes obeying traffic signals, speed limits, and proper yielding of the right of way. 

Step 2 — Establish Negligence

Breach of duty, or negligence, occurs when someone fails to uphold their duty of care. There are dozens of ways that at-fault drivers are negligent, from drunk driving to falling asleep behind the wheel. 

Step 3 — Establish Causation of Injuries

You must show that the driver’s negligence caused bodily injury as a result of negligence. The insurer must see a direct cause-and-effect before considering whether to pay your claim.

Step 4 — Establish Damages

Damages are the financial and emotional losses created by bodily injury. They can be specific, tangible losses, such as a hospital bill. Damages can also be general and intangible, like the emotional trauma of losing a loved one from a car crash.

What Type of Proof Is Needed for Your Claim?

Collecting proof of liability begins at the scene of the car accident. If possible, take pictures and videos of skid marks, debris, final resting places of the cars, and damage to your vehicle. You can also take photos of your injuries. However, there are other forms of medical documentation that you should include with your claim. 

Securing the necessary evidence to show proof of injury and damages can be challenging, especially when you’re injured. You might want to contact a personal injury attorney that handles car accident cases and is familiar with your state’s liability laws and insurance requirements. 

Four Common Types of Proof in a Bodily Injury Claim

An experienced attorney can advise you on many different ways you can prove your claim. Here are some of the most common and valuable types of proof in such case.

Medical Records

Medical records might include information from the emergency department, paramedics, laboratory results, and computerized medical images from X-rays and MRIs. 

Examination Notes

A personal injury attorney can ask your doctor for a detailed explanation of your injuries and prognosis. 

Bills and Invoices

Keep all bills and invoices from hospitals, ambulance services, doctors, pharmacies, and medical equipment suppliers. 

Expert Testimony

Sometimes it is helpful to have an expert explain how your injuries affect your emotions, finances, employment, and relationships. 

How to File a Claim

Depending on whether you live in an at-fault or no-fault state, you’ll file a claim with your insurer or the other driver’s insurance. 

There are a few ways to file your insurance claim for bodily injuries. 

Online Filing  

Some insurance companies allow you to file a claim entirely online using their website or mobile app. While this is a time-saving option, you want to ensure that documents fit the required type and size. For example, the insurance company can reject your claim if you upload a JPEG instead of a PDF. 

Follow up with the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim to make sure that your electronic filing is accepted and processed. 

Paper Filing

You might prefer to file using the post office, FedEx, or another delivery method. Make sure that you keep copies of all documents – don’t give the insurance company the original unless you have at least one scanned or paper copy. 

Track your claim through the carrier or post office and require that someone sign for the package. 

Work with an Attorney

Most personal injury attorneys will file, track, and manage your insurance claim for you. They also negotiate on your behalf since most insurance companies try to settle for as little as possible. Personal injury attorneys are skilled negotiators who can also file a lawsuit should negotiations fall through. 

You have a limited time for legal action, depending on your state’s statute of limitations. If you wait too long and miss this deadline, you could lose out on potential and rightful compensation. 

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Getting Help with Your Case

If you suffered bodily injury from a car crash, you could be entitled to compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can navigate you through the insurance claims process. Most auto accident attorneys offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis. You pay only if they successfully recover damages for you. 

For help with your case, enter your ZIP code into our search tool to find a car accident lawyer near you.

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