10 Factors That Determine How Much to Expect From a Car Accident Settlement
Brian White | October 25, 2020 | Auto Accidents
Recovering compensation for a car accident can be a frustrating process. Most individuals expect their claims to be paid quickly. However, they do not consider that they need to complete medical treatment before the claim is settled.
They also do not consider the time it takes to investigate the accident and gather evidence proving liability for damages. The most important issue for most people is how much they can receive for their car accident claim.
However, the value of a car accident claim depends on numerous factors. Ten factors that impact how much you can expect to receive for a car accident claim are:
1. The Type Injuries Sustained in the Accident
The type of injuries sustained in the accident can impact the value of a car accident claim. The more severe your injuries, the higher the value of the claim. For instance, a claim involving a complex fracture that requires surgery and weeks of physical therapy is generally worth more than a case involving a broken arm that only requires a cast and time to heal.
Reasons for the increase in value include the additional costs to treat a complex fracture, and the person is likely to miss more time from work. It is also assumed that more severe injuries generally result in an increased level of pain and suffering.
2. The Duration of Your Recovery
How long it takes you to recover from your injuries can also impact the value of your claim. In addition to causing more pain and suffering, a lengthy recovery can mean a higher level of lost income. It can also mean that you require more medical treatment and additional help with household chores.
3. Whether You Sustained Permanent Impairments
When a person sustains a permanent impairment, the value of the claim increases. Catastrophic injuries that result in permanent disabilities include, but are not limited to, spinal cord injuries, amputations, and brain damage.
Cases involving permanent impairment include compensation for future damages. Future damages may include long-term care, ongoing medical treatments, lost wages, and decreased earning capacity. Also, the person may experience a loss in the quality of life because of the disability or permanent impairment.
A substantial increase in the value of pain and suffering damages is expected when the person sustains a disabling condition. Psychological injuries, such as depression, can also be a factor in the increase in the claim’s value.
4. The Amount of Your Financial Damages
Financial damages are generally compensated dollar for dollar. For example, all reasonable and necessary medical bills are included in your financial damages. Your loss of income and other out-of-pocket expenses are included dollar for dollar.
However, the amount of financial damages also impacts the calculation of pain and suffering damages. The most common way to calculate pain and suffering damages is the multiplier method.
The multiplier method uses a figure between 1.5 and 5 to calculate non-economic damages. Your total financial losses are multiplied by the multiplier. The result is the value of your pain and suffering damages.
The multiplier is based on several factors. However, the higher your financial losses, the more money you could receive for pain and suffering damages.
5. Whether You Were Partially At-Fault for the Accident
Texas is an at-fault state for motor vehicle accidents. If a driver causes an accident, that driver is responsible for the damages caused by the accident. However, the state’s comparative negligence laws can reduce that liability.
The compensation paid to victims for car accident damages can be reduced if they are partially to blame for the cause of the accident. The amount of the reduction equals the percentage of fault assigned to the victim for the cause of the crash.
For example, you were talking on the phone when another vehicle hit you in a parking lot. The other driver was not paying attention and backed out in front of you.
However, the defense argues that you were distracted at the time of the accident. If you had not been distracted, you could have avoided the collision. Therefore, you contributed to the cause of the crash.
If the jury accepts this argument, it could assign a percentage of fault to you for the cause of the crash. That percentage reduces your compensation. If the percentage is over 51 percent, you receive no money for your claim.
6. The Amount of Insurance Available
Texas requires drivers to carry minimum insurance coverage. For one person, the minimum liability insurance for bodily injury is $30,000.
Unfortunately, one surgery can cost more than $30,000. If you sustain severe injuries, your damages could total ten or more times that amount. You can sue the driver for damages above the minimum car insurance coverage, but that could be a waste of time.
If the driver does not have the money or assets to pay the judgment, you could have a worthless piece of paper. Underinsured motorist coverage could be the answer. If you have UIM coverage, your insurance provider could be liable for the damages over the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage up to your UIM policy limits.
7. Whether a Government Entity is Involved
Car accidents involving government vehicles or government employees are different from other car accident cases. There are limits to the amount of money you can receive for damages. Because cases involving government entities have special rules and procedures, it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer immediately if your crash involves a government entity.
8. The Amount of Attorneys’ Fees
Most car accident lawyers deduct their attorneys’ fees from the settlement proceeds. Their fee is based on a percentage of the amount they recover for your claim. The fee is a contingency fee, so you do not pay any attorneys’ fees unless the attorney recovers money for your car accident claim.
Therefore, the larger the fee, the less money you receive. However, do not choose an attorney solely based on fees.
Some lawyers charge very low fees, but they do not have a good track record of obtaining high-dollar settlement agreements. They might not have the experience, resources, and skills to handle your claim.
Talk with your lawyer about his fees. Ask him why he charges those fees and how his services justify the fee.
9. Whether You Go to Trial
If you go to trial, you could receive more money than the insurance company offered to settle your claim. You could also receive less money for your damages.
Going to court does not guarantee you will receive more money for your claim. Jurors are unpredictable. You could lose your case.
Your lawyer can help you weigh your options and choose the option that gives you the best chance of receiving maximum compensation for your damages and losses.
10. Your Actions Throughout the Case
Your actions after a car accident can impact how much money you receive for your car accident claim. Things that you could do to harm your case include:
- Failing to seek prompt medical attention
- Waiting too long to consult with a personal injury lawyer
- Talking to the insurance adjuster, providing statements, and signing medical authorizations
- Accepting a settlement offer without talking with a lawyer
- Discussing your case on social media or posting other information on social media
- Failing to follow your doctor’s treatment plan
If another driver caused your car accident, talk with a lawyer now. Consulting with an attorney could increase your chance of receiving a fair settlement for your car accident claim.