How Much Is a Car Accident Claim Worth?
April 4, 2022 | Car Accidents
The destruction that a car accident leaves can be overwhelming. Accident victims often wonder if they will ever recover physically or financially after an accident. While it can take some time to recover physically, financial compensation may be available through a car accident claim.
The at-fault party should be held responsible for any losses incurred by the victim. There are different types of compensation available to accident victims. Still, you will need to call a car accident lawyer to ensure your protection when you file a claim and get the compensation you deserve.
Adding up compensation after a car accident requires complex calculations. You need to consider various factors in determining how much your claim is worth. There is not a one size fits all solution to car accident compensation as every case is unique. The primary factor in obtaining compensation will be dependent on the severity of your injuries and the damages you sustained from the accident. There are two categories of damages, including economic and non-economic, discussed below.
Economic damages are the many documented, actual costs that a victim incurs in a car accident, such as:
- Medical expenses: Some cases may result in minor injuries and medical treatment. Others will require extensive and ongoing care. When there are catastrophic injuries, this can result in the victim needing to undergo surgery and other invasive treatments. You will need a lawyer to include past and future medical expenses in a car accident claim.
- Property damage: When you are involved in a car accident, the vehicle you are in will likely sustain damage. There may also be personal belongings inside the car that are damaged. You will need to replace your belongings and have your vehicle fixed. There may be times when the car is totaled, resulting in you needing to entirely purchase a brand new vehicle. You should include this necessity when you file a car accident claim.
- Rental car costs: While you await your vehicle to be inspected, valued, and repaired, you still need to get around. While some insurance companies will cover the costs of rental cars, others will leave victims to pay out of pocket for these expenses. Keep all receipts associated with these expenses to ensure you get reimbursement through your car accident claim.
- Loss of income and wages: Car accidents can require individuals to undergo extensive medical care, requiring them to miss days from work. You may need to be out of work for an extended period. You should always document all of this time off and report the work you missed to your lawyer so they can include these lost wages in the damages you suffered.
- Loss of earning capacity: Some accidents will result in the victim not returning to their previous role or employment. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may not return to your pre-injury earning potential, as you might rely on disability or take a lower-paying, less intensive job. A lawyer will need to employ vocational experts to determine how much earning potential you have lost due to this accident. These experts will consider several factors when determining how much wage loss you will suffer.
These damages are often easy to prove since documents, bills, and invoices outline exactly how much each item costs. Some economic damages may need to be estimated, and therefore your case may become slightly more complex.
What are non-economic damages?
The second category of possible car accident damages is non-economic damages. These will include items that are not tangible and are not so easy to calculate. Typically these damages will need to be evaluated and investigated thoroughly to find an appropriate dollar amount.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Loss of consortium: For married couples, when one party is involved in a car accident, this can prohibit their ability to show affection and consortium (sexual activity). These damages do not go to compensate the injured party but instead are an award for their spouse. One caveat is that the injured party will need to obtain compensation for their injuries before the uninsured spouse can claim loss of companionship or consortium.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: After a car accident, you may never return to your normal activities. This will result in you losing enjoyment in your overall life. A lawyer can calculate and seek damages for this loss. This can be difficult to calculate during a car accident claim, but it can be essential to your case.
- Disfigurement or disability: You may be entitled to obtain these damages if your injury is ongoing. This compensation is in addition to any economic damages awarded for the primary injury. It can be challenging to cope with the loss of a limb or another impairment, which is why these damages are available. When you sustain an impairment, the factors that come into play are the nature of your restrictions, their severity, the chance of recovery, and how it affects your overall life.
- Pain and suffering: These damages are a general term for any mental or physical distress resulting from a car accident. Calculating this damage can require complex evaluations of factors like the type and severity of the injury. It will also involve future pain, anguish, and mental disorders like anxiety, stress, and PTSD.
You will need to call a lawyer to ensure the insurance company addresses these subjective damages claims appropriately. Keep in mind that some states do not allow victims to seek all of these damages, and you will need to discuss your options with a lawyer.
What are punitive damages?
One type of damage that is not applicable in many cases is punitive damages. These are available to victims involved in a car accident where the negligent party was egregious, intentional, or highly reckless in their actions, causing an accident. These damages do not necessarily have a monetary figure but are in place to punish the negligent party. You will need to call a lawyer to determine whether your case is eligible for punitive damage.
Phases of a car accident claim
Knowing which damages you may be entitled to means nothing if you are unsure what to expect from a car accident claim.
Your car accident claim may go through several phases before settling.
1. Call A lawyer: The first phase of a car accident will be to call a lawyer. You will need to explain how your accident occurred and what steps you have taken thus far. Your lawyer will ask a series of questions during an initial consultation to determine your best legal route.
2. Accident documentation: The primary way to prove a car accident claim is by providing adequate documentation. Car accident victims will need to have an accurate account of how the accident occurred, medical appointments and treatments, and the following:
- The official police report
- The at-fault driver’s contact information
- Contact information for any witnesses
- Medical records
- Receipts for out of pocket expenses
- Pictures of the damage to your vehicle
- Photographs of your injuries and those of your passengers
3. Investigation: Once you speak to a lawyer, they will begin to investigate the claim independently. This will be critical to proving your case and obtaining compensation. During an investigation, a lawyer will do the following:
- Review the police report
- Obtain and review medical records
- Consult with medical experts
- Determine your economic damages
- Develop a plan of action considering all of the facts of your case
4. Negotiations: Once they establish a solid foundation for your case, your car accident lawyer will begin negotiations with the at-fault insurance company. We will work to obtain a fair settlement. The initial offer from the insurance company may be lower than what your case is worth. A lawyer will continue to negotiate until you receive a favorable settlement offer. However, if you cannot reach a fair settlement, your case will move into litigation.
5. Trial (if applicable): If the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement and is unwilling to negotiate terms, your lawyer should file a lawsuit and prepare to go to trial on your behalf. Remember that simply filing a lawsuit does not mean you will go to trial. During the litigation process, there are several steps where you can still settle your claim.
Always call a lawyer right away after an accident, as each state has statutes of limitation for different personal injury claims. If you miss a deadline, the court might never hear your case. You will need to discuss possible deadlines relevant to your case with a lawyer.
What factors affect car accident settlement amounts?
Several factors will affect the amount of your possible settlement. It is important to remember that since each car accident claim has different damages, settlement amounts will vary from case to case. The same accident’s settlement can also differ from party to party, as each individual may have sustained different damages.
The first factor that will need to be addressed in a car accident claim is the financial losses you suffered from the accident. In general, monetary compensation for a car accident should be equal to the losses you suffered.
The second factor to consider is the seriousness of your injuries. This will play a crucial role in car accident claims, as most losses and damages will result from the injuries you sustain. This includes physical as well as emotional damages.
Depending on your state, there are specific laws governing car accident claims. Some states will even have caps on the amount of compensation an injured party can obtain from a settlement. You will also need to consider how liability works in your state. Liability laws are complex and vary.
Lastly, your lawyer will consider car insurance policies and limits in a settlement offer. There are policy limits that insurance companies have to limit how much compensation can go to those involved in car accidents. There is also the issue of who has coverage under the policy for all parties involved. A lawyer will go through an insurance policy whenever they begin investigating your claim.
There may be other factors that are specific to your case that your lawyer will consider when determining how much your case is worth. There is no generic answer to this question, and you will need to call a lawyer to discuss your options and determine which compensation you may be entitled to recover in your claim.
Why should you call a lawyer?
After a car accident, you should call a lawyer for several reasons. You will want to protect your rights after an accident. You may be unaware that you are taking steps to destroy any chance of your claim being successful. A car accident lawyer will guide you on the proper steps to take to ensure your claim does not end in denial. We will be with you for every step of the process and ensure you know what is happening with your case throughout each step.
A car accident lawyer will also have access to resources that car accident victims may not have. An established legal team can work with medical experts and others to show the court how your accident has affected your day-to-day life. As we previously mentioned, we will negotiate with all relevant parties on your behalf. This is a critical step in car accident claims and one that you should never handle by yourself after suffering an injury. Let a personal injury lawyer investigate your case and start the claims process.
Call a lawyer today for a consultation after your car accident. The sooner you seek legal representation, the sooner you can begin the claims process. You don’t want to wait too long to file, as you can miss the statute of limitations, having the case dismissed.