How Much Is a Car Accident Claim Worth?
When a motor vehicle operator drives carelessly and recklessly and a car accident occurs, serious injuries like soft tissue injuries (including muscular sprains and strains), fractures, and traumatic head and brain injuries can result. When accident victims suffer one or more of these serious injuries in a car accident, they may have to seek emergency medical care at a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility.
After receiving this initial treatment, they might need to have a procedure done, attend physical therapy sessions, or follow up with a specialist to obtain additional treatment. Car accidents can also cause injured accident victims to miss time away from their work and incur significant amounts of pain and suffering from their injuries.
Not all car accident claims are the same, and some are far more serious than others. People suffer different kinds of injuries in car accidents and incur various types of damages, all of which can have an impact on the ultimate value of their case.
Moreover, the result that one person receives in a car accident case may not be the same as the result another person receives in a different car accident case. For example, the types of injuries that the accident victims suffered in the two cases might be different, or the cases might have been pending in different jurisdictions (states) or venues (counties).
If you or a person you love sustained an injury in a car accident, you need knowledgeable legal representation in your corner representing you as soon as possible. Accident victims have a deadline in which to file a claim or lawsuit for damages. Therefore, if the accident victim fails to take prompt legal action, they could unknowingly waive the right to recover monetary compensation in the form of damages.
An experienced car accident attorney in your area could help you determine if you are eligible to file a claim for personal injuries arising from your accident.
A knowledgeable lawyer may also give you a ballpark range of the ultimate value of your car accident case. Finally, your lawyer will do everything possible to serve your legal interests, advocate on your behalf, and pursue the greatest amount of monetary compensation available in your case.
The Limits of Applicable Insurance Coverage Available
One of the most important factors that determine the ultimate value of a car accident case is the amount of insurance coverage that is in play. When it comes to car accident cases, most jurisdictions throughout the country are fault-based jurisdictions, meaning that if you suffer injuries in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver and their insurance company. Insurance policies typically have coverage limits.
For example, if the policy limits of coverage are 50/100/25, this means that in a car accident, the most compensation that an individual can recover is $50,000, with no more than $100,000 to be awarded in the aggregate if more than one person is injured. Finally, the most an individual could recover in property damage under this example would be $25,000.
Although almost all jurisdictions throughout the country require motor vehicle operators to carry insurance, in some instances, drivers carry only minimal levels of insurance coverage. When that occurs, an accident victim might sustain injuries of such severity that their medical bills and other damages exceed the maximum limits of available insurance coverage. In that case, the accident victim could turn to their own insurance company for additional coverage, typically done by way of an underinsured motorist claim.
In contrast, if the at-fault driver is not carrying any insurance coverage at all, the accident victim might file a totally uninsured motorist claim with their own motor vehicle insurance company. Therefore, in many instances, the ultimate value of a car accident case is limited by the available limits of insurance coverage, either from the at-fault driver or the accident victim’s own motor vehicle insurance policy.
The Nature and Extent of the Injuries That You Suffered in Your Accident
In addition to the limits of applicable insurance coverage that are available to the accident victim, the nature and extent of the injuries that the accident victim suffers will impact the ultimate value of their case. For starters, the type of injury that the accident victim sustains and the amount of medical treatment they receive can impact the case’s value. Generally speaking, fractures or traumatic head injuries are more compensable than soft tissue injuries, cuts, scrapes, or abrasions that are less severe.
Moreover, the amount and cost of medical treatment that the accident victim receives following the accident will likely impact the value of the case. In most instances, the higher the cost of the medical treatment and the higher the medical bills, the more compensation that the accident victim may recover in their case. For example, an accident victim who has to undergo one or more surgical procedures because of injuries sustained in an accident will likely be eligible to recover more damages than someone who just went to the emergency room and a couple of medical appointments.
Finally, accident victims who suffer permanent injuries are likely to recover more compensation in a car accident case than accident victims who do not. A permanent injury will be with the accident victim for the remainder of their life. To establish that a particular injury is permanent, a healthcare provider must state, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the injury is permanent and resulted from the car accident. Permanent injuries include some types of traumatic head and brain injuries, paralysis injuries, and long-term or chronic pain and suffering that result from an injury. Other permanent injuries include scars that may cause the accident victim to experience humiliation or embarrassment for the remainder of their life.
A knowledgeable car accident attorney near you can help you determine the impact that your injuries will have on the potential settlement or verdict value of your case.
Whether the Accident Victim Lost Income Because of Their Injuries
Another factor that can impact the ultimate value of a car accident case is whether the accident victim lost income because of injuries stemming from the accident. Some car accident victims suffer such severe injuries that they cannot work for a long time. A healthcare provider may determine that they cannot work at all or that they have to switch to light-duty work for a while. When an individual misses time away from work, they could lose a significant amount of income. In a case arising from a car accident, the accident victim could then file a claim for lost wages.
Likewise, some car accident victims suffer injuries of such severity that they cannot go back to the same job or occupation due to their injuries. They might need to undergo re-training, or they may have to switch careers altogether because their injuries prevent them from working. In that instance, the accident victim could pursue a claim for loss of earning capacity that may increase the damages they are eligible to recover in the car accident case.
The Force of the Impact and Extent of the Property Damage
The force of the impact and extent of the property damage sustained in a car accident often help to determine the ultimate value of the case. When an accident victim is involved in a forceful collision, their body can violently twist, turn, and move around inside the vehicle at the point of impact. Airbag deployment can also cause the accident victim to suffer a serious injury. The force of the impact might also cause the accident victim to strike something inside the vehicle, like the window, front console, headrest, or steering wheel, suffering an intense injury in the process.
Moreover, car accident cases where there is visible and significant property damage are often more compensable than cases where there is minor damage to the vehicles involved. Although it is not always accurate, insurance companies and juries tend to believe that the more extensive the property damage in a motor vehicle accident case, the more significant the injuries that the accident victim suffers. Therefore, having good property damage photos often helps to increase the value of a car accident case.
Venue Where the Car Accident Case Is Pending
The venue where a car accident case is pending can also have an impact on its ultimate settlement or verdict value. For example, in some counties within a state, jurors tend to be more favorable to car accident plaintiffs than in other venues in the same state. Insurance companies are often aware of these “plaintiff-friendly” venues, and if a case is pending in one of these venues, the insurance companies adjust their settlement offers upward. Conversely, if the case is pending in a venue where jurors tend to look down upon car accident plaintiffs, insurance companies may adjust their offers downward.
Similarly, some jurisdictions have caps on various types of damages. For example, in some jurisdictions, a jury is only allowed to award a certain amount of compensation for pain and suffering. If one of these caps is in place for a particular jurisdiction, it can affect the ultimate value of a car accident claim that is pending there.
A knowledgeable car accident attorney in your jurisdiction can help you determine the best possible venue in which to file your car accident claim or lawsuit. Your lawyer will advocate on your behalf throughout the entire car accident case and work to help you pursue the most amount of compensation available to you.
Steps You Can Take to Maximize the Ultimate Value of Your Car Accident Case
In some respects, the ultimate value of a car accident case rests with factors that are beyond your control, such as the jurisdiction or venue where the case is filed. However, there are some steps that you can take to maximize the ultimate value of your car accident claim.
First of all, you can refrain from providing a recorded statement to an adjuster for the at-fault insurance company. Insurance companies often ask for these statements just to see if they can catch the accident victim off guard. In fact, insurance companies only request these statements when there is likely to be some dispute as to liability or damages in the case.
If the insurance company for the at-fault driver requests that you provide such a statement, you should refuse to do so without having a lawyer present with you. Contrary to what insurance company adjusters often tell people, these statements are not required when requested by the at-fault driver’s insurer.
Another action that you can take to increase the potential value of your car accident claim is to seek medical treatment as early as you possibly can. Delaying medical treatment only allows the at-fault driver’s insurance company to argue that you did not sustain serious injury in the accident or that you did not take your medical treatment seriously.
In addition, you should receive continuous treatment for your injuries until the treatment facility formally discharges you. That way, the insurance company cannot argue that there are gaps in your medical treatment. Similarly, do not over-treat for your injuries.
Finally, you should retain an experienced car accident lawyer near you as soon as you possibly can after your accident. Your lawyer can begin investigating the circumstances of your accident right away and begin the claims-filing process. In addition, your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf well in advance of the statute of limitations deadline for your jurisdiction.
A lawyer will then help you pursue the compensation you deserve for all of your injuries and other damages. Do not wait to protect your rights as a car accident victim.