People also refer to car accident settlements as judgments. A judgment, or settlement, is the result of a court case in which you appear as either the defendant or the plaintiff.
If you feel that another driver wronged you in a car accident like if it was clearly the other driver’s fault, you should bring action against them. If they feel that you were at fault, you will be the defendant, as they will have brought a lawsuit against you.
In either case, there are significant ways that your life might be different when the ruling comes down. Let’s look at what some of those changes might be.
You Might Have Less Savings
There are many different accident reasons. Some of them might include:
- Distracted driving
- Aggressive driving practices rather than defensive ones
About 9,000 people die in speeding accidents in the US every year. You can add in many more if you take into account distracted driving. It is human error that causes car crashes much more than anything else.
However, regardless of how it happened, if a court case judgment determines that you are in the wrong,
you’re going to have to pay damages. How much that will be depends on many factors, including the damage extent that you caused.
If you had savings or a nest egg, then that’s probably going to be the first place you’ll go for the money. If you had plans for that money, then you’ll need to readjust them.
You Might Need to Dip into Your 401K or IRA
If you don’t have the money to pay for what happened in a traditional savings or checking account, you might have to dip into a retirement account. That would be either:
- A 401k
- An IRA
A 401k is a retirement account where you put in funds from your paychecks, and then your job matches those funds up to a certain point. An IRA is where you open a retirement account yourself and put money into it periodically, where it accumulates interest. The hope is the same for either one: you want that money for when you retire.
Dipping into your 401k or IRA to pay for car crash damages is not ideal since there will be a penalty. Still, if you need ready cash, then you might have no other alternative.
You Might End Up with More Money
On the other hand, maybe it’s you who ends up winning the judgment. If the other person was at fault, and that is the court’s consensus, you might get a significant chunk of money when it’s all said and done.
That will come in handy because you might have to repair your vehicle or pay for medical bills that your insurance neglected to cover. You may also need that money if you can’t work while you’re recovering.
If you sustained a severe injury in the accident, you might have PTSD or general malaise about what happened. The money won’t entirely solve that, but it’s better for you to have it than not to.
You Might Sustain a Permanent Injury
Unfortunately, there are some car accidents where a permanent injury is the result. Apart from dealing with the settlement, you might have broken bones that won’t ever heal to the point where they once were.
If that’s the case, then it’s going to be very upsetting for you. In extreme circumstances, you might even be looking at paralysis or some other injury that impedes your daily activities going forward.
It’s going to take a mighty act of will for you to adjust to what happened. You may need to get counseling or go on antidepressants.
You May Need Physical Therapy
It’s also possible that right after the court case, your next stop will have to be physical therapy. That might be an option if the injuries you sustained are serious, but you can recover from them in time.
If so, it could be a long road back. Make sure that you find a physical therapy facility that has excellent staff reviews. You want people helping you who genuinely care about their jobs.
Car accidents can inflict tremendous harm, so don’t expect to jump right back into your life again. It is probably going to take some time before you are comfortable getting back behind the wheel. It is the rare individual who an accident does not change, especially a violent collision that injured you or another person.