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Economic Issues

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A motor vehicle crash creates a significant financial burden.

This is in addition to the physical and emotional toll.

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Common Expenses

Some common expenses, beyond those of repairing or replacing the car include:

  • Hospital and acute care costs
  • Care for chronic injuries
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Expenses to settle an estate
  • Family counseling.

Working with Car Insurance Agencies

Automobile Issues

Negotiate the best settlement for the repair or replacement of your car. Check out the NADA Guides and Kelly’s Blue Book websites for current information on a car's worth.

Know that the initial offer made by the insurance company is just that, an initial offer. The insurance company may expect you to negotiate. This often occurs if you have reason to believe that the value of your vehicle is greater than what the insurance company offers.

Another place to obtain evidence of a car’s value is the local Sunday paper classified ads.


  1. Appoint someone to keep track of your medical charges. Also ask them to interact with your insurance companies. This could be yourself, your spouse or a trusted person.
  2. This person should keep records of everything. It is a good idea to buy an accordion file to organize the information. Record mileage to doctor visits, parking fees, prescription receipts, hospital and physician charges. Keep track of what has been paid and what has not.
  3. Ask questions about how your coverage works. For instance, do you need to seek coverage from your medical insurance first, with your car insurance covering the remaining charges? In this case, all medical bills should go to your medical insurance first.

    For example, if you have medical charges that your medical insurance will not cover, you may have to provide proof of this to your car insurer. You may need to submit these bills to your medical insurance to obtain a written rejection, which you can then forward to the car insurance company.

    Some states have no-fault insurance. You submit your medical expenses to your own insurance company or to a different one. It depends on the priorities listed in the No-Fault Act. Certain other expenses may also apply. These could include lost wages, attendant care, household replacement costs and mileage.
  4. Submit the appropriate forms and documentation for expenses every few months. If you let things go too long it will be harder to keep track of what was paid.
  5. Don't get discouraged if bills continue to come to you instead of the insurance companies. You will likely have to dedicate some time to contacting billers and giving them the appropriate billing information. Don't give up if one call doesn't get the response you desire!
  6. Keep a record of the names of people you speak to, the dates and times in case you need to call again or file a complaint.
  7. In some cases you may need the help of an attorney to obtain full coverage.

Uninsured Motorists

If an uninsured driver injures you, consider this. You may be able to seek payment from your own insurance carrier. You need to have optional uninsured car coverage. This is important coverage to have.

In this case, there are filing and time requirements. You should check your insurance policy. You should also contact an attorney immediately. This will help you determine if you can make this type of claim.

Under-insured car coverage is another type of optional insurance that may apply. This happens when the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to fully compensate you.

If you are the uninsured motorist, consider this. You may be able to sue the other driver’s insurance carrier for your medical expenses. This is provided that you were not at fault.

Many states do not allow claims from drivers who own the car and are not insured at the time of the crash. You will need an attorney in this case.

Insurance Company Links

Working with Medical Insurance Agencies

  1. Keep records!
  2. Ask questions!!!!
  3. If the physician isn't right get a new one.
  4. Ask your health insurance agency for information about specialists for your condition.

Funeral Home Charges

According to the AARP, the average funeral charge was 5,160 in 2001 (without any extras). Burial charges and extras like obituary notices can add thousands of dollars to this figure.

Under Federal law, funeral homes must provide a price list of available options. Options may include funeral home director services, transport of the body, embalming and dressing, use of facilities for visitations and ceremonies, and a casket. You do not have to buy the casket from the facility. Most cemeteries require a grave liner or vault for burial.

If the deceased was a veteran, the Veterans Administration provides a small allowance for burial costs. Call 800-555-1212 or visit the VA website for details.

States with no-fault insurance may require that the no-fault insurance carrier pay towards funeral expenses.

Federal Trade Commission Information on Funeral Costs

Probate and Other Economic Issues in Settling an Estate

Visit the AARP website for Probate: Distributing Your Property and Final Details: A Checklist.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

Lawyers for Civil Charges

If you were not at fault in the crash, you may decide to file civil charges to seek compensation for your injuries. If you should choose to do this you will want to choose a lawyer relatively quickly after the crash.

Some tips on selecting an attorney are available from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Most of time, attorneys will work for "free" and take part of any settlement or award as their fee (usually somewhere around 30%).

If you were at fault and the other party files a civil suit against you, your car insurance company may provide an attorney to represent you.

Lawyers for Criminal Charges

The legal system will determine whether criminal charges are filed as a result of the crash. If you were not at fault in the crash, you may not need a lawyer.

The State will provide a lawyer to pursue the criminal charges. You will not have a direct say in this, but most offices have a special office or person who will help you understand what charges are being brought and other events that occur during the process.

If you are subject to criminal charges, your car insurance may provide an attorney or you might have to seek one on your own. MADD provides a description of the judicial process.

Tips for Selecting Legal Representation

  1. Look for someone who will personally study and pursue your case, rather than appoint a more junior partner.
  2. Contact local organizations for referrals. Local MADD chapters are an example.
  3. Choose someone with experience in cases similar to yours. An attorney who has successfully represented clients in your area is also important.
  4. You should enter into a contract with your attorney that clearly spells out their services and fees.
  5. Talk to more than one attorney. Interview several attorneys to decide whom you feel will best serve your interests. That is the best way to find the attorney that’s “right for you