How much should I settle a car accident case for? An attorney can advise you how much to settle for in a car accident case. There is no way to answer this question without details of your damages, which is usually the most important consideration when analyzing a car accident settlement.
Generally, the more severe the injuries are, the more compensation you can recover in a car accident settlement. Severe injuries may cause extensive damages, and the objective is to match the settlement amount with the value of your accident-related damages. Reach out to a car accident lawyer.
What Determines the Value of a Car Accident Settlement?
In the simplest terms, a car accident settlement should equal the value of the victim’s damages. This might seem straightforward, as you likely have a stack of medical bills ready to present to insurance companies. However, your damages are much more than your existing medical bills. Your lawyer will also consider your lost income, noneconomic losses (such as pain and suffering), and future estimated losses.
Many factors can affect the value of a car accident settlement, and you should never accept anything until an attorney reviews the value of your claim. Below are some factors a car accident lawyer will examine.
The Type of Injuries the Car Accident Victim Suffers
Car accidents produce a wide range of injuries, from relatively minor to fatal. If someone suffers a spinal cord injury causing paralysis, a larger settlement is generally more appropriate than someone with only cuts and bruises. That said, every accident-related injury requires your attention and may be worth hiring a lawyer for.
Some common injuries that we see in car accident cases include:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injury
- Internal injuries
When motor vehicles collide, accident victims’ bodies can sustain an unnatural impact, motion, and trauma. Many injuries can result from such crashes. You should get thorough medical treatment for all of your accident-related injuries, and a law firm can help you determine the cost of your injuries.
The Severity of Injuries
The National Safety Council (NSC) explains that the severity of accident-related injuries typically increases the cost of those injuries. While these figures may not capture the entire cost of your accident, the NSC notes that a fatal accident costs $1.75 million on average. In contrast, an accident with “possible” injuries costs $23,900 on average.
Never assume that the injuries you’ve suffered are minor.
When a car accident victim underestimates their injuries or simply tries to tough out injury symptoms, risks include:
- That serious injuries will go undiagnosed, potentially leading to catastrophic health problems
- That you will wait too long to get medical attention, giving liable parties grounds to claim that your injuries are unrelated to your car accident
- That you will not start a proper treatment course, as a doctor is most qualified to diagnose and recommend treatment for accident-related injuries
Certain injuries can worsen and even become permanently disabling if you fail to get proper treatment. A lawyer can help you get the necessary treatment and keep detailed records of injuries and medical services.
The Degree of Property Damage Caused by Your Car Accident
Property damage, including damage to a vehicle, is common among car accident victims.
In addition to the repair or replacement of your vehicle, you may also need to repair or replace the following property and more:
- Damaged sunglasses, jewelry, watches, and other personal accessories
- Your phone, in-vehicle entertainment system, and other electronics
- Any other items damaged because of your car accident
Damage to your vehicle may also require you to rent a car, rely on ridesharing services, or find another mode of transportation. A lawyer should work to have liable parties reimburse you for temporary transportation.
The Nature and Degree of Psychological and Emotional Injuries
Psychological and emotional injuries, also known as mental suffering, are another common loss in car accident cases. If these losses are severe, it may increase the value of a car accident victim’s settlement.
Car accident victims can suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental struggles.
Other types of mental suffering may include:
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain
- Lost quality of life
- Sleep problems
In car accident cases where someone has tragically passed away, grief and loss of companionship are only some types of pain and suffering an attorney may consider relevant to your claim.
Valuing a Car Accident Settlement Is Not Easy, and a Lawyer Can Help
Some damages from a car accident may have an obvious cost. For example, the costs of repairing your damaged vehicle may be on a single invoice.
However, determining the total value of your car accident case may be difficult.
Some challenges to calculating the proper value of your settlement include:
- Non-economic damages (like pain and suffering), which do not have a clearly calculable value
- Ongoing injuries, which may require your attorney to project the future cost of medical care
- The share of fault for the car accident, which may affect the amount of compensation you are entitled to
The complete picture of damages from a car accident is often complex, and an attorney can help estimate your damages based on experience. Your attorney will review all the facts of your case and consider the best approach for calculating non-economic damages, as well as gather all the necessary paperwork to calculate your economic damages.
How Can a Lawyer Calculate Your Car Accident Damages?
While you can try and calculate damages from your car accident, you’ll discover several challenges in doing so.
Car accident victims should choose to hire a lawyer to calculate damages (and handle other duties) because:
- Car accident victims often face physical and psychological limitations: If you have suffered injuries and endured psychological trauma, you may not be up to the demands of an insurance claim or lawsuit. Your injuries may prevent you from thinking clearly or having your normal cognitive abilities, which may cause an inaccurate calculation of damages.
- Experience helps to accurately estimate damages: Attorney who regularly handle injury claims have experience with estimating the reasonable value ranges of injury cases. Having an understanding of how cases are valued by insurance companies and local juries helps attorneys maximize the value of your case.
- Projecting future damages can require expert witnesses: Your lawyer may work with experts to project the future cost of medical treatment, lost income, and other damages. An attorney will cover expert fees. Without a lawyer, you may have to project future damages yourself (a difficult process) or pay out of your pocket for an expert.
There are many potential reasons to hire a lawyer after a car accident. You want to protect your health and reduce stress while dealing with injuries. You also want to let an experienced professional fight for your financial recovery, as they can often obtain a better outcome. These are only some factors that should lead you to hire a lawyer to lead your car accident case.
Aside from Calculating Damages, What Does a Lawyer Do for a Car Accident Victim?
Calculating your damages is just one aspect of your case that a car accident lawyer will handle. An attorney can also help you by:
Identifying Liable Parties
According to reports, drivers are most often responsible for motor vehicle accidents. From speeding to changing lanes dangerously to driving while intoxicated, drivers have the greatest potential to cause an accident—and a lawyer will identify any drivers who should be held accountable for your accident.
Non-drivers can also be liable for car accidents, with potentially liable parties including:
- Motor vehicle manufacturers
- Employers whose employee causes an accident
An attorney will rely on evidence, witness accounts, and other relevant information to determine who is liable for your car accident.
Documenting Your Damages
In addition to calculating your damages, your lawyer will secure documentation that proves your damages exist.
Useful documentation may include:
- A mental health professional’s diagnosis of psychological and emotional injuries
- A doctor’s diagnosis of physical injuries
- Images of injuries
- Medical bills
- Proof that you have missed work (and past pay stubs to prove lost income)
- Invoices for vehicle repairs
- Receipts for temporary transportation
If any other documentation helps prove your damages, your lawyer will collect it.
Completing Case-Related Paperwork and Communications
Nearly every case involves many phone calls, emails, letters, and documents to bring a claim or lawsuit to successful completion. Your attorney will draft and submit your claim or lawsuit, and assist with all other duties necessary to complete your case.
Most reputable firms staff not only lawyers but also paralegals and other employees who will help manage the details of your case. Because you’ll have the support of an entire legal team, a lawyer can usually complete your case more efficiently than you can.
Negotiating a Settlement
Settlements are the most common way that lawyers resolve car accident cases, per the American Bar Association (ABA). Attorneys will typically try to settle a client’s case before going to trial. If liable parties will fully and fairly compensate you, there is no good reason to go to trial.
Completing a Trial (If It Is Necessary)
If you and your lawyer decide that a trial is necessary, your attorney should be experienced with trying cases.
Responsibilities at trial may include:
- Presenting evidence
- Questioning witnesses
- Rebutting the defendant’s case
- Making a comprehensive argument for your financial recovery
Your lawyer will also prepare you for any role you’ll play in the trial process.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Car accident and injury lawyers receive a percentage of their client’s financial recovery. The percentage that a lawyer receives can vary from firm to firm but must be reasonable according to legal ethical rules.
- You won’t have to pay any fees upfront or out of pocket
- The law firm will cover all case-related fees and expenses
- The law firm only receives the fee if your win your case
- Should your case not result in a recovery, then the firm receives absolutely nothing
This contingency fee structure is common in the field of personal injury law, but you should ask a law firm about its fee structure before you hire it.
What Losses From a Car Accident Entitle a Victim to Compensation?
Each car accident victim experiences different damages. Your lawyer will work with you, your doctors, and possibly experts to determine what your damages are.
Potential damages from a car accident include:
- Medical bills: Any medical bills related to your injuries.
- Pain and suffering: Your lawyer can help you understand this type of loss and may hire a mental health professional to diagnose specific emotional and psychological conditions.
- Lost income: Your lawyer will consider the income you’ve already lost and the income you will likely lose in the future.
- Property damage: Vehicular damage may be the most costly type of property damage from your accident.
Car accident victims may not understand the full scope of their losses, especially just following the collision. The cost of treatment, lost earnings, and other damages may only become clear with time. A lawyer will identify and seek fair compensation for all of your accident-related damages.
When Should a Car Accident Victim Hire a Lawyer?
You should not wait to hire a lawyer after a car accident.
It is important to seek legal assistance promptly for various reason, including:
- There are time limitations that restricts your window for filing a lawsuit.
- Certain evidence, including video footage, may not be accessible for long after your accident.
- Insurance companies may try to take advantage of you, which may cause you to accept less than fair value for your case.
By hiring a lawyer, you can better protect your rights, start building your case as soon as possible, and give yourself peace of mind. As soon as a lawyer takes over your claim or lawsuit, you can better focus solely on your recovery.
You can search online for local car accident lawyers and speak with others who have used a lawyer for this reason. Set up free consultations to get a better feel for each firm, as choosing a lawyer is a major decision. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.