Personal Injury Blog

Why Damage to the Vehicles May Matter in an Auto Accident Case for Personal Damages

By: Matthew Tievsky

One of the first questions we ask clients when we take auto accident cases is, "how badly damaged was your automobile?" Of course, in a personal injury case, the extent of the damage to your car isn't what's on trial (except in the unusual case where auto insurance hasn't already paid off the property damage). In fact, we'd prefer to ignore the damage to your vehicle altogether. From our experience, there's very little correlation between the damage to your vehicle and the damage to your body. People get seriously injured in auto accidents even when there is very little damage to the car; and, in some cases, your car may get totaled without your suffering a scratch.Vehicle Damage Personal Injury

Yet there's a popular myth that if your car isn't seriously damaged, you can't possibly be seriously hurt. In Maryland, this conception was unfortunately reinforced by the 2003 case of Mason v. Lynch, which holds that a trial court may admit photographs of the damage to the vehicles (or lack thereof) in a personal injury case. This can be very harmful in a case where there is little damage to the vehicles (although, conversely, it can be helpful if the cars are totaled), because juries tend to think there's a relationship between the two. And, for that reason, insurance companies are often very reluctant to make significant offers to settle cases where the cars are not seriously damaged. Of course, our position is that the best evidence is the medical evidence – what your doctor says your injuries were, not the appearance of your car.

If you have any questions about the value of your auto accident case, you should contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C for a free consultation.