Auto accidents can be confusing and traumatic experiences. As soon as the dust settles after a car accident, your next worry should be seeking compensatory damages from the at-fault party. If you have sustained injuries in a car accident due to another driver's negligence, you could wonder how much you could obtain in your injury claim settlement.
While you can use general settlements to calculate the average settlement value, you cannot calculate or predict the monetary value of the damages you will receive after a car accident. The settlement value of your claim will depend on a variety of factors.
A reliable and seasoned attorney can help file a compensation claim against the at-fault party's insurer and fight on your behalf to obtain maximum compensatory damages. The sooner you speak with an auto accident attorney, the higher your chances of obtaining adequate compensation for your current and possible future losses.
What is an Auto Accident Settlement Claim?
A settlement in an auto accident case is a legal agreement between you and the insurance provider of the party responsible for your injuries to settle your compensation claim outside of court. Most insurance companies will agree to settle a claim instead of challenging it at trial.
Aside from being expensive, a compensation lawsuit against the at-fault party could take several years to settle. That is why most car accident claims resolve injury claims through settlement. For the best possible outcome, you would want to know the worth of your settlement claim before you begin the negotiation process with the insurance adjusters of the at-fault party's insurer.
Read on to understand the auto accident settlement formulas your attorney could use to obtain maximum compensatory damages for your losses.
Potential Damages You Could Recover on Your Settlement Claim
Ideally, the settlement value you will receive from the at-fault party's insurer should be adequate to cover all the damages and losses resulting from the accident that led to your injuries. That is why it is critical to understand what damages you will potentially recover before calculating your claim's monetary value.
Explained below are the main types of compensatory damages you could recover when everything goes in your favor:
Also commonly known as pecuniary damages, economic damages are the financial losses you will likely incur after an auto accident or collision. Pecuniary damages are calculable, and your attorney can calculate the potential amount you will receive for your losses resulting from the accident by reviewing documents and records.
You will receive economic damages to cover the following types of losses if your compensation claim against the at-fault party's insurer works in your favor:
Past and Possible Future Medical Costs
All the medical and therapy expenses you have incurred or will likely incur in the future due to the impact of injuries you sustained in an auto accident are compensable in an injury claim settlement. Your medical treatment and medication receipts could help prove you have medical expenses and the amount.
Another economic loss you could experience in a car accident is property damage. If the accident caused damage to your car or any other tangible item, the financial compensation you will receive on your claim should cover these losses.
If it is impossible to work for two months because of the severe injuries sustained in the accident, leading to a loss of income, the economic damages you will receive should cover this loss.
Lost Earning Ability or Capacity
A severe injury like losing a body limb can negatively affect your ability to work and earn income to pay your bills and care for your family. For instance, losing a hand in a car accident could significantly affect your ability to work if you are a driver or machine operator.
Also commonly known as general damages, non-economic damages are the non-monetary losses you will likely experience due to the injuries resulting from an auto accident. Since they are subjective, putting a monetary figure on them could be challenging, but a seasoned attorney can help you calculate the fair amount you should receive for these losses. Below are examples of these losses:
- Loss of companion or consortium.
- Suffering and pain.
- Disfigurement, scarring or any permanent physical disability.
- Loss of your ability to have fun or enjoy life.
- Mental anguish.
- Emotional distress.
Depending on the facts of your case, they could also award you punitive damages to punish the at-fault party and deter other people with similar habits. To qualify for punitive damages, your attorney must prove that the at-fault party's behavior or conduct was malicious, extremely reckless, or intentional.
Common Formulas Used to Calculate Auto Accident Settlement Claim Worth
Generally, there is no precise method or formula for calculating the monetary worth of a settlement claim after an auto accident. After suffering injuries in an auto accident, some claimants (injured people) use settlement calculators to calculate estimates of their potential compensatory damages.
Unfortunately, you cannot depend on this calculator for accurate estimates of your claim's worth because every case is unique. Also, there are several factors in your case that the calculator will not consider when generating estimates of your potential damages on your auto accident settlement claim.
Calculating your settlement claim's worth requires adding up all the costs detailed on all your relevant receipts and bills. For special damages, your attorney will consider the effect the injuries resulting from the accident have on your lifestyle and life to determine the fair amount of compensation you should receive for these losses.
Explained below are two common formulas your attorney will use to calculate your potential settlement amount for general damages:
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method helps determine the compensation you could receive on your claim, depending on the severity of your injuries. Using this formula, the insurance adjuster of the at-fault party's insurance company and your attorney will do the following:
- Total up all your pecuniary damages resulting from the accident, including medical expenses and lost wages.
- Multiply the number by a certain figure that typically falls between 1.5 and 5 to generate an estimated monetary value of the non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
- Add your medical expenses, lost income, lost future income, and estimated damages to arrive at an overall monetary estimate of your claim's worth.
If you sustained severe or permanent injuries in an auto accident, you would receive the highest multiplier to obtain substantial compensation for your losses. Conversely, if your injuries were minor, meaning they had little financial impact on your life, you will receive the lowest multiplier.
Deciding on an appropriate multiplier for your case is a point of contention between you and the insurance adjuster. You will argue for a higher multiplier, like 4 or 5, but the insurance adjuster will argue to push it to the lowest multiplier for minimum compensation.
Per Diem Formula
Another formula that the insurance adjusters and your attorney could use to estimate general damages in an injury case is the per diem formula. In this formula, you will receive compensation for each day of the recuperation period under the per diem system.
Your attorney will determine the number of days that you were unable to work or perform your usual activities. Then he/she will multiply the total by your daily rate to determine the amount you should receive for general damages. Your daily rate will depend on the daily income you would receive if you did not suffer the injuries and other factors like the living costs in your area.
To stand a chance of obtaining fair and substantial compensation for your losses resulting from an auto accident, you should speak with an auto accident attorney. A seasoned attorney will help you determine the appropriate formula to calculate the damages in your case for the best possible outcome.
Will the Auto Insurer of the At-Fault Party Pay the Estimated Amount?
Just because the insurance adjuster of the at-fault party insurer and your attorney can calculate the estimated amount you should receive as compensatory damages does not mean you will receive the estimated amount. Insurance providers are profit-making companies willing to protect their revenue and payout the minimum settlement award possible to people with injury claims.
The insurance adjusters will likely give you a lower settlement offer that is inadequate to cover even half of your losses. Then, they will justify the lower settlement offer with a multiplier that does not represent the auto accident's impact on your life and lifestyle.
Ensuring that the at-fault party's insurance provider provides adequate compensation for your losses requires legal intervention from a skilled attorney.
Factors that Could Lower Your Potential Settlement Value
As previously mentioned, every case is unique, and numerous factors could impact the potential worth of your settlement. Without an attorney, the insurance adjusters you will deal with could make you settle for minimum compensation because they only worry about the welfare of their employers and not you, regardless of the severity of your injuries.
Navigating the confusing process of seeking compensation from the at-fault party's insurance company can be overwhelming, especially once you realize some factors could lower your settlement value, including:
If there is evidence that you were partially at fault in the auto accident that led to your injuries, the other party's insurance provider could reduce your potential settlement offer. According to comparative negligence theory, your potential settlement value will decrease based on your degree of fault or negligence in the incident.
If your potential settlement value is $50,000 and the at-fault party insurer has evidence to prove you were 45% at-fault for speeding, your settlement value would reduce by 45%. That means you will receive $22,500 as a settlement for your losses resulting from the auto accident.
Lack of Evidence
To receive a substantial settlement for your losses resulting from the accident, your attorney must provide clear evidence to support the claim. Some of the evidence that could work in your favor to support your settlement claim includes:
- Receipt of medical bills.
- Receipt of vehicle repair costs.
- Photos and videos of your injuries after the accident.
- Pictures of the vehicle that led to your injuries.
- Surveillance videotapes.
If you lack sufficient evidence to support your settlement claim, the at-fault party's insurer could reduce your potential settlement amount. A qualified attorney can help you collect and compile the necessary evidence to strengthen your claim and obtain the maximum settlement possible.
Pre Existing Injuries
If you had preexisting injuries that worsened or were exacerbated due to the impact of the auto accident, the at-fault party's insurance provider could reduce your potential settlement amount. A skilled attorney can review your medical records and find the best solution to increase your chances of obtaining a substantial settlement, even if you had preexisting injuries before the accident.
Inadequate or Fewer Damages
If the losses resulting from the accident are insufficient to warrant a substantial settlement offer, the at-fault party's insurer could give you the minimum settlement offer. Generally, the more losses you have incurred or will incur due to the accident's impact, the higher the settlement you will receive.
Insurance Policy Limits
The insurance policy of the at-fault party could limit your potential settlement amount. If your settlement amount exceeds the at-fault party's liability insurance coverage, you will not obtain the maximum value of your claim. That is true, especially if the liable party does not have money or assets to settle your losses beyond the insurance policy limit.
Having an aggressive attorney as your voice during negotiations with the insurance adjusters of the at-fault party's insurance provider could increase your chances of obtaining a substantial settlement for your losses.
When the defendant or at-fault party is unwilling to accept liability for the accident, it could lower your potential settlement offer. Dealing with uncooperative people can be challenging, especially if you are still recuperating from the injuries sustained in the accident.
You need an understanding and aggressive attorney to handle every part of the settlement claim process for the best possible outcome.
Statute of Limitations
Like other injury cases, there is a deadline for filing your claim against the at-fault party. If you wait too long to submit your settlement claim, your settlement offer could be reduced, or you could be ineligible for damages.
Tips that Can Help You Obtain Maximum Settlement on Your Claim
The impact of an auto accident or collision can be severe and long-lasting. If you sustained injuries in an auto or car accident due to another person's negligence, the steps you take afterward could significantly affect the monetary worth of your settlement claim. Here are some tips that can increase your chances of obtaining a fair and substantial settlement amount after an auto accident:
- Familiarize yourself with the do's and don'ts after a car accident to avoid making a mistake that could weaken your compensation claim.
- Report the auto accident to the law enforcement authority as soon as possible and obtain a full police report of the accident scene.
- Inform your insurer about the accident as required on your policy.
- Seek medical attention from a licensed medical practitioner even if you do not have any visible physical injuries.
- Document the accident scene and collect enough evidence to help strengthen your claim, including eyewitness statements.
- Keep a record of all your expenditure after the accident, including your medical costs, therapy bills, records of your lost income, and vehicle repair receipts.
- Seek the services of a skilled attorney as soon as possible to help you prepare your settlement claim as you recuperate.
How to Find a Dependable Auto Accident Attorney for Your Case
You cannot undermine the importance of hiring an attorney if you have sustained an injury in a car accident. A reliable attorney can advise you of your legal rights, help you calculate the potential settlement amount you could receive on your claim, and be your voice during the negotiations with at-fault party insurance adjusters for the best possible outcome.
If the at-fault party's insurance provider makes a low settlement offer, your attorney can file a lawsuit to seek maximum compensatory damages for your losses at trial. While there are several attorneys for the job, not every attorney can help you obtain the best possible outcome on your claim. Here are some tips to help you find a reliable auto accident attorney for your case:
- Seek referrals from your friends, colleagues, or an attorney.
- Consider your prospective attorney's reputation.
- Consider your prospective attorney's qualifications and experience.
- Consider your prospective attorney's availability and accessibility.
Find an Auto Accident Attorney Near Me
Calculating how much you could receive on your settlement claim can be confusing, but you do not have to navigate this complicated process alone. A reputable and seasoned attorney can help you understand the formulas commonly used to calculate the potential settlement value of an injury claim and negotiate on your behalf to secure the best possible outcome.
At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we are well-versed in the settlement process and how insurance adjusters handle injury claims. If you have sustained injuries in an auto accident, we can help you recover fair compensation for all your losses, including lost income. We invite you to call us at 424-231-2013 for a cost-free case evaluation by our profound auto accident attorneys.