After getting into a major motor vehicle collision, money may be the last thing on your mind. You may have to worry about the stress of getting your vehicle repaired, which could mean driving a rental car for weeks. In some cases, the damage may be so severe that you have to buy a new car, which is a stressful experience all on its own.

If you suffered injuries in the crash, you will probably be more focused on your physical recovery and the reduction of your pain than you will be on the cost related to your treatment and care. Even if you do feel worried about money, you may not have much of an idea about how to seek compensation or even what amount of money would be appropriate given the circumstances.

There are steps that you can take that will help you put a reasonable price on the impact the accident has had on you.

Keep all of your bills, and look at how your life changed

The first step toward estimating the cost of a crash will be to look at the direct expenses you have already incurred. These will include the cost of towing your vehicle, repairing your vehicle, buying a new vehicle, going to the hospital and filling prescriptions. If you have injuries that require surgery or physical therapy, you may have an estimate for the expenses that you will incur in the future related to the crash. That can help you project what impact the crash will continue to have on you in the future.

You should also look at expenses that don’t necessarily produce a bill, like the days of work you have missed. Those costs can also add up quickly to result in thousands of dollars of financial impact. Finally, look at other changes you have had to make because of the accident, such as hiring someone to mow your lawn because you can’t do it with a shoulder injury. Those expenses could last for years or indefinitely depending on the nature of your injury.

What if the costs exceed the available insurance coverage?

If the other driver doesn’t have a very good insurance policy, your costs could be multiple times what the insurance company will reimburse you for. If you have an underinsured driver rider, your insurance company may close some of the gap between what costs you have dealt with and what the other driver’s insurance will pay.

You have to act in a timely manner. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Arizona is only two years from the date of the crash. If that still isn’t adequate or if you don’t have such a rider on your policy, it may be necessary to consider the civil lawsuit to recoup your losses.