People often ignore minor car accidents and move on with their lives. They do not know that even a minor accident can cause untraceable, yet serious harm to your body. Therefore, it is extremely necessary that you get the right minor car accident settlement amounts right after the accident, by filing the case with a trustworthy lawyer. A reliable auto accident law firm will help you calculate and file for the right settlement claim that you deserve.
Most professional legal firms have experience in dealing with multiple car accident settlement stories in their business. This experience gives them the leverage to calculate the right amount that you deserve after the accident.
Initial Steps of Calculating the Settlement Amount Correctly
You need to stay extremely cautious and vigilant while carrying out the first few steps of the settlement process. Hiring a professional auto accident lawyer will help you prevent the pitfalls along the journey of filing for a settlement case and make the best use of your evidence against the party at fault.
The following steps will help you calculate the rough estimate of the minor car accident settlement amounts effectively.
Assess How Badly Were You Physically Hurt
Head Injury: A head injury can cause a severe concussion even in the case of a minor accident. It may leave you completely unconscious or stunned for several minutes after the accident. A head injury with a visible scar can help you get a considerable amount of settlement as a claim. However, the injuries that have no visible scars require a complete medical checkup.
It is always a good idea to go and get a full body checkup done at a doctor’s place in case you feel dizzy after an accident. In the worst-case scenario, you may be facing a condition of internal bleeding or hemorrhage.
Neck Injury: Neck injuries are almost as dangerous as head injuries. These injuries are more common in cases of side or rear-impact. In case of a sudden jerk, the neck of an individual suffers the most damage especially if there is no headrest or airbag to protect the head. The neck injuries can easily cause pain throughout the spinal cord and vertebral column of the individual.
These injuries can also cause internal bleeding permanent long-lasting damage just like head injuries.
Back Injury: Neck injuries are commonly associated with back injuries. The whiplash-type back injury can cause degenerative spinal disorders, disc herniation, spinal stenosis, etc. In the worst-case scenarios, it can leave the person completely paralyzed due to direct damage to the spinal cord.
The back-injury claim settlements can easily help you get a lucrative amount in case of severe cases. You should not leave any minor lower back pain case untreated since it may easily translate to a serious medical condition in the future.
Cost of Physiotherapy Treatments: Most minor car accidents that involve the head, neck, and/or back injuries require physiotherapy sessions to help the victim make a full recovery. These physiotherapy sessions can easily cost you several hundred dollars per session. Therefore, you must file a claim for these sessions. You also need to consider the loss of earnings in the settlement clause in case you cannot go to work for a few weeks after the minor accident.
A professional physiotherapist can give you a rough estimate of the number of sessions that you will require to make a full recovery (if possible), and the total cost too.
Other Minor Damages: Minor car accidents often cause damage to several other body parts. The arms and legs of the person are at high risk during such accidents. You should not overlook any minor damage to your body after the accident. Even in case of minor scratches or bleeding, it is a good idea to show the condition to a certified doctor for complete assessment.
You can file a settlement claim for these minor damages too as part of the final claim. The chances of getting a higher settlement amount are better if you are hurt in multiple places during the accident.
Note: Keep a record of all your medical expenses and invoices to ensure that you can file them in the correct order during the settlement.
Obtaining Settlement Claims for Unquantifiable Amounts – Pain and Suffering Claims
The pain and suffering claims settlement amount is often a big portion of the overall settlement amount in a minor accident case. Novice litigators might completely forget taken this settlement amount into consideration.
- Cost of Emotional Trauma
The emotional trauma caused due to a sudden accident, even though it was a minor one, can haunt a person for an entire lifetime. This trauma depends on multiple factors including the emotional makeup of the person, loss occurred due to the accident and the abruptness of the impact. There is no fixed way of converting the emotional trauma into a financially quantifiable statement, however, a professional lawyer might use different ways to do so.
The best lawyers know how to leverage the situation at hand, get the right reports from certified psychotherapists, and file for a settlement claim that gives a payout for the emotional trauma caused due to the accident.
- Cost of Psychotherapy Treatment
A few abrupt accidents can damage the emotional makeup of an individual beyond repair. Under such situations, the person needs to avail regular psychotherapy to lead a completely normal life. This treatment can easily cost up to several thousand dollars a week. Filing it under the total claim settlement cost is a must for the victim of the accident.
Note: Get the treatment and psychoanalysis of your mental state performed by a certified psychotherapist or counselor.
Assess the Damages to Your Vehicle
The second biggest component of your claim settlement amount comes from the assessment of damages done to your vehicle. If your car is completely totaled in the accident, you can get a higher settlement claim amount.
Engine Damage: Most minor car accidents do not include damage to the engine of the vehicle. However, a few direct impacts along the front fenders of the vehicle can damage the engine beyond repair. A frontal collision or a side impact pose a much higher threat to the engine of the vehicle compared to an impact from the rear-end.
In case of damages to the engine, a technician will assess the number and cost of replacement parts he/she needs to get the vehicle up and running again. The cost of repairing the engine is significantly higher than the cost of repairing cosmetic damage to the vehicle.
Paint and Cosmetic Damages: Most minor accidents cause damage to the cosmetic appeal of the vehicle. The repairing procedure for cosmetic damages is straightforward and does not exceed a few thousand dollars. However, the total cost of repair also depends on the cost and brand of the vehicle. Repairing the cosmetic damages to the carbon fiber chassis of a Bugatti will cost more repairing the paint job on a Volkswagen Polo.
Transmission Damage: Side impacts can also impact the transmission of the vehicle severely. In the worst-case scenarios, your vehicle’s axle might need replacement.
Other Damages: Other damages that are common with a minor car accident include damages to the side view mirrors, glass, door, side rails, wheels, etc. In case of a sideways collision, the windows of the car will most likely suffer damage depending on the intensity of the impact.
Note: Get your vehicle assessed for damage at a reputable and preferably the official service center of the car manufacturer. Retain all the bills from the process for filing purposes.
What to Do After You Know How Much They Owe You
Now that you have a rough estimate of the financial damages that the accident caused, you can fight for a claim. The defendant or the insurance company of the defendant’s vehicle is responsible for paying you. Here are the steps that you need to follow to get the best settlement deal.
Step 1: Collect All the Evidence You Can
Collect all the evidence that you can at your end. If you are conscious and unharmed during the minor car accident, collect the images of the damage to your vehicle. Also, collect the statements of the witnesses at the scene of the accident. If possible, get the video footage of the accident from a CCTV camera or a traffic cam located nearby.
It is important that you record all the events leading up to the accident very clearly to present it at the court. If you contradict your statements on the stand (in case the case goes to trial), the jury will lose faith in you. Under such situations, you face an extremely high risk of losing the case or ending up with a subpar settlement amount.
Step 2: Find a Reliable Legal Firm to Represent Your Case
Find a reliable auto accident legal firm to represent your case at the court. Professional auto accident lawyers have the experience of dealing with multiple car accident settlement stories in the past. They know how to negotiate on your behalf to help you get an excellent payout. The legal firms can also help you with the evidence collection process and leverage their contacts to get you the medical treatment.
The legal firm will also help you file all the necessary documents for the settlement claim in an organized fashion. Many novice lawyers or people fighting their own case at trial fail to file the documents or evidence correctly thereby losing out on the opportunity of getting a bigger claim amount.
Step 3: Assess the Scope of Damages
Assess the overall scope of damages with the legal support and try to put a number on it. Find the cost of medical treatment, vehicle repair, loss of future earning capacity, etc. You also need to put a number on the pain and suffering settlement claim to convince the jury for a higher payout. Without the necessary legal help, you will likely put a too high or too low number on your pain and suffering claim settlement amount. In both these cases, you will end up in a loss.
Step 4: Fight for the Case at a Trial
Once you have all the documents and pieces of evidence lined up, it is time to fight the case at trial. If the third-party knows that it was at fault completely, it will try and settle the case outside the court. In such situations, the defense lawyers and insurance companies will offer you a settlement amount before you even take the case to trial.
Step 5: Assess the Offer and Make a Counter
If the defense makes an offer before the trial, you need to assess the offer very carefully with your legal team and make a counteroffer. It is highly likely that the defense puts a very small price tag on your pain and suffering settlement claim. The defense will try and get the best deal for the insurance company so that it does not end up paying a lot of money.
Conclusion – Deciding on the Final Minor Car Accident Settlement Amounts
The biggest mistake that the novice litigators make is that they except the first settlement amount without filing for a counteroffer. This puts them at a significant loss because insurance companies and defense lawyers usually offer the lowest possible settlement amounts in the beginning. Even if it is a minor car accident, you may be entitled to a huge settlement claim depending on the assessment of the damages and the negotiation powers of your litigator.
Therefore, you must hire a professional auto accident lawyer who can negotiate the terms and conditions of the settlement amount in your favor. Get your facts straight, do not lie on the stand, and leave the rest up to a professional auto accident lawyer. If you do this, chances are high that you walk away with an extremely generous minor car accident settlement amount by the end of the trial.