A serious car accident can leave you in mental shock, physical agony, and a lot of financial pressure. Car accidents, especially when they are caused by a third party, can easily escalate into complicated legal scenarios. Under such situations, you need the help of an expert legal team to get through the complications of the case. You need the advice of a professional legal counsel to assess the number of claims that you get through a legal case.
How much to expect from a car accident settlement – 11 critical factors
If you are wondering how much to expect from a car accident settlement, this guide will give you a brief overview of the legal complications. The car accident injury settlement amounts depend on various critical factors like:
- Amount of Medical Bills
- Insurance Cover
- Amount of Property Damages
- Amount of Damages to the Car
- Lost Earnings
- Future Lost Income
- Estimated Future Medical Expenses
- Special Economic Damages
- Unquantifiable Economic Damages
- Legal Charges
- Conditions of the Accident
1. Amounts in the Form of Medical Bills
The car accidents that involve physical injury can easily get more complicated than the ones that involve car accidents in a parked vehicle scenario. For example, someone bumps into your car from the back end while you are driving it, you might suffer severe physical injuries depending on the intensity of the impact. On the other hand, someone might bump into your car while it is parked, thereby putting you in a less dangerous scenario. In the latter, your physical well-being is not at risk, while in the former it is.
Under situations where your physical well-being is at risk, you can claim a higher amount in the settlement. You can show your medical expenses incurred during the treatment procedure in the courtroom environment. The proof submitted as medical bills will strengthen your case further and help you get a higher settlement amount.
Studies show that the average cost of settlement can cost anywhere between 14,000 to 28,000 USD for the defendant. The cost of the settlement is taken up by the insurance company of the defendant or the defendant him/herself depending on the conditions of the accident.
2. Insurance Cover
After the accident, your driving record is flawed to a certain extent, even if it is not your fault. You will most likely need to approach the insurance agency for the repairs of the vehicle. This will put a dent in your pocket since most insurance agencies do not provide a full cover for the repairs. Also, your overall insurance history will receive a mark and the next annual insurance payment may cost slightly higher.
Under such scenarios, the prosecutor may claim the cost of renewing the insurance scheme for the car as well.
3. Amount of Damages to the Car
The cost of repair for the vehicle is one of the biggest financial troubles that you will deal with after the accident. Depending on the make of your car and the amount of damage that it suffered, the repairs may easily cost several thousand dollars. If a critical component of the car is damaged beyond repair, the cost of replacement will easily set you back a huge amount.
Under certain accidental scenarios, the car is damaged beyond repair and considered totaled by the insurance agency. In such conditions, you might need to purchase a new car altogether since the cost of repair would easily exceed the cost of a new car. The insurance company should help you purchase a new vehicle. However, most insurance agencies do not pay the full cost of the car. Instead, the pay only a certain percentage depending on the rate of depreciation of the vehicle. Under such situations, you can claim the cost of purchasing the car or the repairs in the settlement.
4. Lost Earnings
If you are bedridden in a severe accident, you won’t be able to attend the office for quite some time. Under such circumstances, your term insurance plan will kick into action and give the necessary amount as loss of pay. You can either choose to avail your insurance benefits or file the complete medical expenses and loss of pay under the settlement claim. Depending on your monthly income and the number of days that you cannot work normally, you can file for a loss of pay settlement.
The lost earnings component of the settlement claim depends heavily on your monthly income capacity. Salaried individuals can usually claim a higher settlement amount under such circumstances if the companies that they work for do not support a loss of pay structure in their salary model.
A professional car accident lawyer can negotiate the terms of settlement on your behalf professionally. The expert lawyers are usually familiar with the various technicalities of the settlement scenarios to deal with them effectively. They know how to get the money out of the insurance company of the defendant or the defendant him/herself.
The insurance company of the defendant will try and pay you the lowest amount of the settlement possible. Naïve people often think that the first offer made by the insurance company is significant and enough. However, smart people hire car accident lawyers who can negotiate on their behalf to raise the settlement costs higher. In most cases, the professional car accident lawyers can raise the cost of settlement in favor of the persecutor exponentially.
5. Amount of Property Damages
The damage to third-party properties can also affect the overall settlement claims amount. If any third-party property suffers damage during the accident, the person at fault is responsible for bearing all the repair costs. Apart from the damages to the car of the prosecutor, the person at fault needs to bear the cost of repairs to the nearby property such as fences, sidewalks, benches, etc. damaged during the event.
The cost of damage to the properties of the third-parties is handled by the person at fault. He/she will pay either to the state or the person whose property is affected due to the accident.
6. Estimated Future Medical Expenses
Sometimes you cannot figure out the complete list of medical expenses beforehand. Several hospitals and clinics need to assess your physical condition for a longer period. They carry out regular health check-ups for a couple of months after the accident. Such check-ups can easily put a dent in your savings. Luckily, you can get a rough estimate of all the future medical expenses that you will deal with from the hospital and file it as the cost of the settlement.
A few people can pay the entire cost of future medical expenses upfront whereas other people pay it in installments after the hospital creates the final bill for the treatment. The settlement costs can include the cost of medicines, hospitalization, nursing, as well as all the other medical treatment related costs beforehand.
7. Special Economic Damages
All the financial costs of the treatment or repair fall under the special economic damages bracket. You can file an exceptional cost under this section while claiming a settlement cost from the person at fault.
A good car accident lawyer can help you raise the overall amount for settlement to a high extent if you can document the various details of the accident in the right order. Having a dashcam or video footage of the accident helps them strengthen your case further. If the severity of the accident is caught on tape, the persecutor’s lawyer can easily convince the jury to charge an extravagant amount for settlement by looping the unquantifiable economic damages into the overall cost.
8. Unquantifiable Economic Damages
Some costs of the accident are unquantifiable. For example, a person might need to see a therapist or a psychiatrist to deal with post-traumatic stress or other mental medical conditions. Some big accidents have the potential to leave a person mentally disturbed and scarred for a lifetime. Under such serious conditions, the person can file for a settlement cost under the unquantifiable economic damages.
A good legal team will also help you raise your overall settlement cost by a significant amount by urging the just to quantify the psychological damages that you undergo after the accident. A reliable team of lawyers can help you increase the overall cost of settlement in your favor by quantifying various underlying factors of the accidental scenario.
Usually, the person claiming a higher settlement cost for the unquantifiable damages needs to show the receipts of the counseling sessions that he/she has with a certified psychiatrist. This helps the court conduct a fair trial so that the prosecutor does not misuse his/her power.
9. Legal Charges
It is always a good idea to hire a professional legal team to deal with the technical nuances of the car accident settlement claim. The best lawyers can help the persecutor get the best deal by filing the case under multiple scenarios on this list. Similarly, good defense lawyers will ensure that the defendant does not overpay for any damages incurred during the accident.
In most cases, the legal charges of the persecutor come as a small percentage of the total settlement cost. However, in other cases, the persecutor may ask the defendant to pay the entire legal fees for him/her.
10. Future Lost Income
The defendant must take care of all the imminent loss of earning capacity and loss of pay costs for the persecutor. However, that is just one component of pay for a salaried individual. If the persecutor cannot continue his/her job normally for a significant period after the accident, the defendant is responsible for bearing the cost of future lost income too.
For example, if the persecutor cannot go to the office and resume work in the normal capacity for 3 months after the accident, the defendant must pay the 3-month salary of the persecutor as part of the settlement costs. This is beneficial for the persecutors who need immediate financial assistance and cannot tolerate a loss of pay for the 3-month period.
Most top-tier corporate structures have a term insurance plan for their employees that ensures that the company does not pay the employee for no work. Therefore, the company can save its money. In such cases, the persecutor gets the financial benefits from two different ends. First one from the company’s term insurance plan and the second one from the defendant’s settlement costs.
11. Conditions of the Accident
The overall conditions of the accident play a major role in deciding how much will the defendant end up paying as part of the settlement cost. For example, if the defendant was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the accident, the penalties that he/she will face will be extremely severe. On the other hand, if the defendant did commit an honest mistake while driving due to a blind turn or a misplaced turn sign, the insurance company of the defendant will pay the settlement costs.
The latter condition comes into the picture if the defendant has opted for a third-party legal insurance cover with the car. Such situations ensure that the defendant does not face any conditions that involve heavy financial sabotage by the persecutor.
These factors are just the tip of the iceberg. Several other minor factors can control the overall decision of the jury and the final settlement costs. The court system is designed to ensure that the prosecutor does not misuse his/her power to persecute in the wrong way. Usually, the defendants also need to hire their own lawyers to lower the final settlement claim in their favor.
A few defendants do not take the case to trial in case the lawyers mutually agree on a final settlement outside the courtroom. Under such circumstances, the lawyers themselves can generate the necessary documentation that guarantees that the persecutor gets his/her rightful pay. Now you don’t need to wonder how much to expect from a car accident settlement. Instead of taking an educated guess, you should hire a team of lawyers who can fight your case professionally.