When you make a personal injury claim after an accident, the insurance company will want to see evidence of your injuries through pictures, medical documents and the like. Similarly, you can support your claim by showing how much damage was done to your car in the accident - typically, the more damage to your car, the easier it is to convince and insurance company to pay you fully for your medical bills.
Why? Because it's easy for an insurance adjuster to look at a wrecked car and think, "Wow, if their car was totaled in the accident, they must have suffered some pretty serious injuries too." It gives them a reason to believe you, which is good - insurance adjusters are always looking for reasons NOT to believe you. By default, they have to assume everyone is lying about the accident and their injuries until they prove otherwise.
However, you should know that NO damage is actually needed to win a personal injury claim. Though having auto damage will certainly back up your injuries, I've handled cases where my client's car had virtually no damage, but the accident left them with serious injuries. The two don't always go hand in hand.
How to Support Your Accident Case with Vehicle Damage
The idea is that you want to convince the insurance adjuster that your injuries are serious, and that they were caused from the accident. If you aren't able to prove these two things, you're going to have trouble getting the insurance company to offer you a fair settlement.
The first thing you should do is take pictures of your damaged car. Ideally, you can snap pictures at the scene of the accident (showing how the accident happened, whose fault it was, the time of day and weather conditions, where the cars hit, and so on).
If you couldn't get pictures at the scene of the accident, take pictures after the fact (even if your car has been moved away from the scene).
Similarly, you can obtain a copy of your police report. The responding officer will usually assign fault to one of the drivers in his or her report, and that will be very useful to you as you're making your claim. If the officer notes that the other driver was at fault for the wreck, it will be clear who caused the damage to your car and in turn, your injuries.
How Much Damage is Enough to Help Your Case?
Remember, you don't need damage to your vehicle to file a personal injury claim after an accident. However, damage to your car can help support your case.
Typically, the more visible the damage is and the more it cost in repairs, the more it will help you. If your car has already been repaired, take a look at how much the repairs cost you - $300? $500? $2,000? If your car hasn't been repaired, I encourage you to take it to get an estimate.
While there's no hard line, I typically think that if a car needs over $1,000 in property damage, that's a very good support for a personal injury claim.
What If There's No Damage to Your Car But You're Still Hurt?
For some reason, insurance adjusters seem to be under the impression that if your car wasn't damaged in an accident, then you couldn't have been hurt by that accident. Simply put, that's nonsense. It's not uncommon for "minor" accidents to result in serious injuries. Rear-end accidents are a common example of this. Often, I see accident victims who come to my office after they were rear-ended and, though their car shows only minor damage to the bumper, they have serious back and neck injuries that can even require surgery.
If the insurance company is giving you a hard time about your injuries because there's no damage to your car, it's time to consult an injury attorney. An attorney can help guide you based on your personal situation. The initial consultation should be free.
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