Driving recklessly often comes at a cost. Although there are circumstances in which you might be compensated, there is very little good that ever comes from being involved in a car accident.
Financially speaking, a car accident can put significant pressure on your wallet, especially when you happen to also be the party at fault.
Here are seven different costs that can make a car accident a very expensive incident.
1. Medical costs
There are all types of injuries that can come from car accidents-head trauma, whiplash, broken bones, herniated discs, and lacerations, to name a few. Many of these require immediate medical attention.
Even if you feel fine after a serious accident and seem to have made it through the incident relatively unscathed, it's typically recommended that you at least visit the hospital to get checked out.
At a minimum, you might pay for an ambulance ride and a hospital fee-putting you out a few hundred dollars. But serious injuries typically call for extended hospital stays, costly procedures, and expensive personal healthcare. This kind of medical attention could ultimately cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
Of course, a medical insurance or auto insurance policy might help put a dent in these expenses; but if you're currently without insurance or are on a plan with a high deductible, you may be paying a significant amount of money from your own pocket.
2. Long-term treatment
After a bad collision, short-term injuries might actually end up being the least of your worries. It's not unusual for those who are involved in car accidents to develop conditions that need long-term treatment.
These conditions might be physical or mental-from spinal and structural injuries that require years of rehabilitation to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that require ongoing therapy and treatment.
In any case, there are significant financial implications that come with any kind of long-term treatment. You may be able to receive compensation for a condition such as PTSD, for example; but if you don't file a lawsuit or have insurance coverage, you're looking at years of costly medical bills.
3. Legal costs
If you have sustained injuries or have incurred significant medical expenses, you may want to hire a lawyer to assist you with your claim or lawsuit.
Attorney fees differ from law firm to law firm. Depending on the case, a lawyer may defer immediate payment and instead charge a contingency fee-a percentage of your compensation once the case has been won. A contingency fee on a personal injury case is typically between 33% and 40% of the amount that is compensated.
Another attorney might charge you an hourly rate, which will make you responsible for legal costs right away. In either case, legal help is hardly cheap. Attorney fees can quickly add up, putting significant financial pressure on you-especially if you don't win your case and are still responsible for legal fees.
In addition to medical bills and legal expenses, those who are at fault in accidents may incur hefty fines. The majority of car accidents are the result of at least one party failing to properly follow traffic laws.
Depending on your infraction and the state in which you live, a ticket could cost you as little as $20 or as much as $1,000. The average speeding ticket in the United States is $150.
What's more, serious violations or multiple tickets may result in a suspended license. In this case, working to get your license reinstated is yet another added cost you might need to worry about.
5. Higher insurance premiums
Auto insurance companies take a variety of factors into account when building out a risk profile and determining your monthly insurance premium. Of course, these factors include age, gender, credit history, annual mileage, your car's make and model, and others.
But the factor that often has the biggest impact on your premium is your driving record. The reality is that a recent blemish on your driving record has the ability to make or break your rates.
Whenever you are the party at fault in an accident, you should anticipate at least a modest increase in your monthly premium. After an accident, car insurance rates go up by 48% or around $348 on average.
It's worth noting that accidents typically remain on your driving record for a period of three to five years, and subsequently, may affect your insurance rates for that entire duration.
6. Personal property repairs and replacements
At minimum, all drivers are required to carry liability coverage, which helps pay for another driver's medical expenses or damage to their car after an accident. If a driver doesn't have auto insurance, the other driver's uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage may help cover costs.
If you're the driver at fault and your auto insurance policy only includes liability coverage, on the other hand, there is a chance that you won't receive any kind of compensation-neither for the medical costs nor for the damage to your vehicle.
Of course, car repairs might range from anywhere between a few hundred dollars and thousands of dollars. If your car is totaled in a wreck-and as a result, cannot be repaired-you'll need to purchase another car on your own dime.
In any case, you're likely to be faced with at least an out-of-pocket deductible when you're the party at fault in an accident. This may cost anywhere between $250 and $2,500. The average car insurance deductible is $500.
7. Work and career impact
Serious injuries may impact your ability to work for a certain period. While your employer may be accommodating for some time, it's unlikely that they will be able to keep compensating you for the long run.
Particularly if you sustain injuries that affect your ability to work or perform your current job, your employer may need to adjust your role or you may need to reconsider a different career path.
If you've made significant progress in your current field and are forced to start from square one in a different field, this type of change is likely to be a financial setback for you.