After a car accident, one of the most pressing questions you have is how much you can expect from your car accident settlement.
Your insurance or the insurance coverage for the other driver is responsible for compensation for damages or injury. If you have coverage on your own vehicle or you were at fault for the crash, then the insurance company pays a certain amount to fix your car. If the cost to fix your damages is more than the vehicle is worth, then the insurance company may also consider that your car is totaled and instead give you a lump sum amount based on how much your car is worth.
Determining Fault for the Accident
There are different ways to determine who caused the accident and who is at fault. Law enforcement comes and surveys the scene, talks to everyone involved, and looks at the trajectory of the vehicles. The officers will complete a police report and this report is used as evidence if you bring the case with an insurance or personal injury claim. The more you have to show that the other driver was at fault then the more likely you will have a fair settlement. Keep in mind that getting a settlement doesn’t necessarily mean a court trial. It’s rare for a personal injury case to go to trial. The early phases of the case will typically provide sufficient evidence of who is at fault. The defendant will typically realize there is no point in an argument and the jury will not be likely to side with the defense.
What Is Included in a Settlement?
There are two main categories of damages that can be included in a settlement. These are non-economic and economic damages. Economic damages are anything that takes money out of your own pocket, including paying for medical treatment, emergency room bills, or time off of work for recuperation and treatment. Non-economic damages are for the emotional side of the injuries and accident, including pain and emotional suffering, disfigurement, and disability. Non-economic losses can be catastrophic and overwhelming.
Calculating the Amount of the Settlement
Settlements for car accidents are not one size fits all. Just because there is one certain injury doesn’t mean there will be one certain amount for everyone. There are many different factors to consider. It’s a different experience for every accident. Even if two people have the same injury after a car accident, the injuries can differ in physical impairments, hospital stay length, time off needed for recovery, the ability to do their job after injury, types of rehab therapy needed, permanent scarring or disability, and different emotional impacts. Everybody is going to react differently to an injury and the settlement amount isn’t going to just be based on medical costs. It can depend on other factors as well, such as your salary, whether you are able to go back to work, expert testimony on your future medical expenses, and any pain and suffering you have endured or could endure in the future. Another factor is how the injury affects your daily life currently and in the future. Some injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, may affect your ability to move again, and this can affect your ability to have a job and participate in other life activities. Victims of these injuries may need medical care for the rest of their life. Settlements can also be dependent on how well your attorney is at negotiating. Your car accident lawyers at Strong Law keep negotiating until there is an offer received and do not just settle right away. Since the amount of a settlement is also determined by looking at the resolutions and averages of other settlements for similar accidents, it’s important that your attorney properly negotiate.
Calculating economic damages is easier. This is done by adding together property damage, medical costs, and expected medical costs. Your wages for work and expected lost wages for the future are added to this total.
Calculating non-economic damages is a little bit tricky and these calculations can be complex. Even though you may be suffering from an extreme level of pain, the insurance company is going to downplay it. Adjusters calculate pain and suffering using the multiplier method. They take special damages and multiply it by one to five depending on how serious your case is. A case that involves whiplash may have a multiplier between one and three, while a case with broken bones may have a multiplier of three to five. Severe injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury, may even have a multiplier that is higher than five.
Factors That Can Affect the Settlement
There are plenty of different factors that can affect your settlement. Insurance companies will look at where the accident happened and who was involved. It’s not fair, but insurance companies do sometimes base value on the demographics of the parties and the location of the accident. This is why it’s so important to get an attorney involved as soon as you can after an accident so that he or she is able to guide you through the process and show you how to maximize your settlement and recovery.
It’s also necessary to seek medical treatment as soon as you can after an accident. You should be checked out thoroughly and you don’t need to have any visible wounds or bleeding to be severely hurt. Some injuries, such as concussions or punctured lungs, don’t actually show any noticeable symptoms. Many people don’t realize the ache or pain they feel after an accident is actually a serious injury. Not only is seeing a doctor after an accident necessary for your health, but you then won’t also be in a position to be seen by the insurance company as not severely injured. Insurance companies are going to do anything in order to invalidate your pain and dismiss the case. If you get a prompt diagnosis and treatment of your injuries, this is going to be important to making sure you get what you are entitled to.