If you have been involved in a car accident, you are legally entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages, either from your insurer or the other motorist’s insurance provider.
All car accident cases are different, so there is no fixed answer to how much compensation you are likely to receive.
Perhaps the crash was your fault and you carry collision coverage. If so, your insurer will pay a fixed sum to fix your vehicle. If the cost of repairs exceeds the value of your car, the insurance company may deem your car totaled, offering an amount based on its current market value.
Alternatively, another motorist’s negligence may have caused the accident. In this case, their insurer should be liable to compensate you for your losses, damages, and any pain and suffering.
This guide will highlight the variables impacting the overall value of a car accident injury claim.
What do I need to know about obtaining a car accident settlement?
While establishing average settlements is challenging due to the unique circumstances of each case, here are some rough guidelines:
- Minor injuries: Soft tissue damage and whiplash typically result in settlements from $10,000 to $25,000.
- Long-lasting injuries: If you suffer injuries in a car accident that require physical therapy or surgery, settlements typically range from $50,000 to around $75,000.
- Spinal injuries: If you sustain spinal injuries stopping short of paralysis, most settlements will be in the range of $75,000 to $100,000.
- Brain injuries: If your car accident injuries lead to loss of brain function, cognitive impairment, or require brain surgery, expect a settlement from $100,000 to around $250,000.
- Paralysis and severe brain injuries: For debilitating injuries like these, settlements range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
Regrettably, most insurance policies have underpinning limits. Even if the other driver is insured, you may not receive the full amount of compensation due if the policy limits preclude this. You would need to sue the other motorist directly to recoup the remaining portion of a due settlement.
Factors that influence the value of your car accident settlement
The overall value of your car accident settlement is liable to depend on a variety of factors, including:
- Who are what was harmed in the accident
- Whether you sustained physical injuries
- If you experienced any additional pain and suffering after the accident
You could receive a settlement that includes only the cost of the damage to your vehicle, or you could receive a higher settlement due to non-economic damages like long-lasting injuries or lost wages due to accident-related injuries.
How can I calculate the settlement value for my car accident case?
Pain and suffering is an umbrella term for emotional distress triggered by car accident injuries. Examples of pain and suffering include:
- Disabilities and physical limitations
- Physical pain (both fleeting and long-lasting)
- Psychological disorders (insomnia, depression, anxiety)
There are several methods for calculating pain and suffering. The simplest method involves totaling the following special damages:
- Medical expenses
- Physical therapy bills
- Vehicle damage
- Lost wages
To accurately calculate pain and suffering, you must first establish under which category your pain and suffering falls: current pain and suffering or both current and future pain and suffering. The first example accounts for pain and suffering experienced until the conclusion of medical treatment required. The second example accounts for pain and suffering extending into the foreseeable future. The value of a claim including both current and future pain and suffering will be understandably higher, compensating you for correspondingly more severe injuries.
Insurance claims adjusters typically use a multiplier method to calculate pain and suffering. Using this method, the seriousness of your case is rated from 1 to 5. The value of your special damages is then multiplied by this number.
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Should I call a lawyer after being involved in a car wreck?
If you are reluctant to retain a car accident lawyer, consider this. You will pay nothing unless you win your case, and you will have a stronger chance of receiving a superior settlement than if you tried dealing with an insurance company yourself.
An experienced attorney will help you gather all the documentation and evidence you need to present the strongest claim for compensation. Trying to do this alone can result in missing key information or failing to negotiate strongly with the insurer, both weakening the value of any final settlement.
While calculating economic damages like car repairs or medical bills might be straightforward, the same does not apply to the non-economic damages outlined above. An adept attorney will help you negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement for your pain and suffering.
Bear in mind that the insurance company will attempt to offer you the least acceptable amount for any settlement. Insurers are for-profit businesses, and this is how they make most of those profits. Insurance claims adjusters might imply that you had unnecessary medical treatments, or they may suggest you were able to work.
To maximize the value of any potential claim, you will need to do more than simply submit a claim to an insurance company. An attorney representing your case will help ensure negotiations run as smoothly as possible.
You do not always need to file a lawsuit to obtain a settlement for injuries suffered in a car accident. It is highly likely your attorney can come to a pre-trial arrangement with the insurer, but it is less likely you will achieve this outcome without a lawyer representing your case.