Five Factors That Can Influence How Much to Expect from a Car Accident Settlement
If you have been hurt in a car accident, you have the right to seek financial compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and other damages. But there is a broad range of factors that will help to determine how much you can expect to receive from a car accident settlement.
Each traffic collision is unique. Because of this, there is no standard value for car accident claims. The amount that you can expect will depend on certain insurance-related questions, the issue of legal liability, and other factors. Determining the value of a traffic collision claim can be very complex. It usually requires some legal experience.
Today, we will discuss some of the most relevant factors that go into determining the value of a car accident settlement. The best way to know how much to expect in your case, however, is to consult with an experienced legal professional.
Factor #1: Fault and Liability for the Crash
If another person is solely responsible for causing your collision, you will probably be entitled to recover all of the costs of your damages.
But if you share in the responsibility for the accident, your financial recovery will likely be reduced.
Georgia tort law relies on a modified comparative fault rule with a 50% bar to recover to determine legal liability in car accident cases. This means that if a person is determined to be more than 49% liable for a collision, they cannot seek compensation for their damages.
If a person is less than 50% responsible for the crash, they may still be able to file a claim for the associated costs of their damages. However, their recovery would be reduced by the amount of liability they bore for causing the accident.
For example, suppose you are found to be 30% responsible for your crash and you sustained damages of $100,000. In this situation, you could still seek a settlement, but you would only be eligible to recover $70,000 (or 70%) of the damages.
Factor#2: The Type and Severity of Your Injuries
The types of injuries suffered in a car accident can vary widely from one situation to the next. The nature and severity of your injuries will influence the amount that you can hope to recover.
Typically, more severe injuries result in larger settlement or verdict amounts. If you have suffered from a traumatic brain injury, you are likely to receive more than if you broke your arm and recovered quickly.
Do not let this stop you from seeking financial recovery for a less severe injury. If you have been hurt because of someone else’s careless driving, you deserve compensation. Speaking with a qualified attorney can give you the best chance to recover everything that you are owed.
Factor #3: Did You Seek a Prompt Medical Evaluation?
If you have been hurt in a car accident, you should seek a medical examination as soon as you can. Even if you believe you are fine, it is best to let a medical professional make that determination.
Tightfisted insurance providers will use any means at their disposal to minimize your recovery and undermine your claim. If you do not secure medical care after an accident, the insurance company may claim that your car accident was not the cause of your injuries.
When visiting with your healthcare provider, tell them about any symptoms you are experiencing. If you suspect that you may have any type of injury from your accident, make a note of it with your doctor after the crash.
Factor #4: Your Statements About the Car Accident
The things that you say in the wake of a traffic collision can have an enormous impact on your ability to secure financial compensation. This is especially true when you are speaking with the other driver(s) at the scene of the accident. It is also true when you are speaking on the phone with an insurance adjuster.
When you speak with an insurance adjuster about your accident, here are some general guidelines that you should follow:
- Never say anything that might imply that you bear responsibility for the event.
- Never politely say that you are “fine,” “okay,” or “good.” These may seem like social niceties, but insurance companies can (and will) use these statements against you.
- Never agree to provide a recorded or written statement detailing your version of events.
Speaking with an accomplished car accident attorney is the best course of action after an accident. Insurance adjusters are highly experienced at soliciting comments that can be used to decrease your settlement amount.
Insurance adjusters do not have your best interests in mind. You should secure legal representation before having any kind of meaningful communication with an insurance provider.
In some cases, claimants experience unfair treatment from an insurance company. This can also form the basis of a bad faith insurance lawsuit.
Factor #5: Did You Sustain Permanent Damage from the Collision?
Usually, the value of a claim increases if the injured person has sustained permanent damages or impairments.
These can include:
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Amputations and/or loss of limb
- Permanent disability due to a traumatic brain injury
Injuries with permanent consequences typically result in higher settlement amounts because the costs of ongoing treatments and accommodations may be massive. A victim may require in-home care or assistance because of their injury. Similarly, serious injuries can impact long-term earning potential for victims, as well.
Finally, the emotional pain and suffering from a long-term disability is a cost for which the victim should be compensated.
Seeking Legal Representation in Your Car Accident Case
One of the biggest influences on the value of a car accident settlement is whether the claimant has legal representation or not. Insurance providers are aware of the reputations of various lawyers and firms. These companies know that a legal professional is often willing to elevate a claim to the courtroom, if necessary.
Hiring a personal injury attorney is likely to make the insurance provider take your settlement claim more seriously. Additionally, an experienced lawyer can protect you against the most manipulative tactics used by insurance companies.