Car accidents are a prevalent cause of injuries, suffering, and even death. However, when you are in a car accident, you generally have the opportunity to pursue a car accident settlement and seek compensation from the person or persons who caused the car accident and your suffering. Once you decide to do so, the big question is how much you should ask for in a car accident settlement, which can be tricky to determine.
If you want to ask for the right amount in a car accident settlement, you should seek guidance from a car accident lawyer. A car accident lawyer can help you walk through the various damages you have suffered and calculate the cash value of your losses to set an appropriate amount. Many car accident victims get hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in settlements from those who have caused their suffering.
How Much Is a Typical Car Accident Settlement?
Car accidents are one of America’s top ten leading causes of injury. While each accident comes with different costs, the overall costs of motor vehicle accidents for drivers or injured passengers average around $10 million. As you can imagine, dealing with such heavy costs is incredibly difficult, especially when you are already facing the struggle of recovering from severe injuries.
Generally, when you know that someone else’s negligence caused the car accident you were in, start by speaking with a car accident lawyer. A lawyer can determine how much you need to ask for in a car accident settlement. Look for car accident lawyers who have helped clients recover millions of dollars that established track record demonstrates a lawyer’s proficiency with cases like yours.
While you will have some idea of how difficult life has been for you after the accident, you will not likely know exactly how much money that is worth. Lawyers with a good understanding of car accident settlements, because of their experience with victims like you, will be able to set an appropriate settlement amount to pursue.
So, while car accident settlements vary considerably, your best bet for setting the right amount on your claim is connecting with an experienced car accident lawyer. With their help, you can gather evidence, file a complaint, and negotiate to earn the settlement amount you deserve after your accident. Only then will you be able to recover and get back on track with your life.
The Damages You Can Earn After a Car Accident
When you are in a car accident, you can almost certainly expect to lose a lot of money. You will have medical bills to pay, a car to fix, and probably time you will need to take off of work during your recovery. You should also know you can claim most of those losses as damages and ask for compensation from the at-fault driver.
The damages you can earn fall into two categories:
- Economic (medical expenses, car damage, etc.)
- Non-economic (pain, suffering, etc.)
When you connect with your lawyer to discuss your claim, they will discuss several more specific types of damages that you can include in your complaint.
- Medical expenses cover emergency room visits, surgeries, operations, medication prescriptions, medical equipment, and ongoing therapy.
- Property damage expenses to repair your car and other damaged property, such as a cell phone.
- Loss of income from the time you took off for your recovery.
- Loss of earning capacity/future wages if you are unable to return to the same job or working capacity because of your injuries.
- Pain and suffering in general.
- Emotional trauma and distress.
- Loss of life enjoyment.
- Scarring, disfigurement, and humiliation.
- Loss of consortium with loved ones.
As you can see, a lot goes into determining how many and what type of damages you can claim. The wide range of potential damages does mean that you can set a pretty high cash value on your losses, but you will not know how much you can set without help from an attorney.
If you are unsure where to start, you should speak with a car accident lawyer who will know what damages you are eligible to ask for and will help ensure you do not miss a thing.
How Lawyers Determine the Amount to Ask for in a Settlement
When you first go to a lawyer, they will discuss the specifics of your claim with you and start gathering evidence. Based on the evidence they gather, they will determine a range of settlement amounts for you to work within. They guide you throughout the case and offer advice on the lowest settlement amount you should accept, and the highest amount they think is possible. Then, they will help you negotiate a settlement that will usually fall between those two extremes.
Your lawyer will need to collect evidence to set a settlement amount and send a complaint to the at-fault party in your accident.
The evidence they may need may include:
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Receipts for property damage repairs
- Documentation of lost work and wages
- The police report, if one was filed at the time of the accident
- Any photographic or video evidence from the accident
- Eyewitness testimonies
- Statements from your family and friends about how your injuries have impacted your life
- Testimony from medical experts about how your injuries will impact your future
With your help, lawyers gather evidence as soon as you retain their services to help you pursue a claim. Once they gather the available evidence, they will have a pretty good idea of how big of a settlement they can earn. You should speak with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident so they can be sure to get all the available evidence and set an appropriate amount to fight for.
How a Car Accident Settlement Claim Works
The process of getting a car accident settlement is a long one; there is a pretty standard schedule that most settlement claims follow. Your goal is to settle out of court since this process is much cheaper, easier, and quicker. However, if you cannot settle out of court, you can go to court with help from a lawyer who will guide you through the process and present a compelling case to the judge and jury.
Here is a good outline you can likely expect to follow when pursuing a car accident settlement.
- Meet with your lawyer. The first step in any claim is speaking with a lawyer and signing the paperwork retaining their services to help you through the process.
- Gather evidence. Once you and your lawyer have decided to work together, they will need your medical bills and records, receipts, documentation of lost work, the police report, and other evidence related to the accident and your subsequent injuries and losses.
- Send a complaint. Your lawyer will put together a compelling complaint listing your various losses and ask the at-fault driver (i.e. the defendant) to provide an appropriate settlement amount to cover the losses.
- Receive a response. The defendant will respond to your complaint letter with a denial of all charges or an admittance of guilt with an initial settlement offer.
- Collect further evidence. Your lawyer will work on gathering more evidence in the form of documents from the defendant’s lawyer, interrogatories (written questionnaires for parties), and depositions (verbal statements taken of the parties by the opposing lawyers).
- Negotiate. Your job will primarily be to review settlement offers as they come to you and decide whether you want to accept them or continue to negotiate for higher, better offers.
- Go to court. If you and the defendant cannot reach a settlement that you both agree on, you will have to take the matter to court, where your lawyer will present your case before a judge and jury for a verdict.
- Receive a verdict. The judge or jury who hears your case will determine the responsibility of each party and set an amount of damages you can claim.
- Take your check. Once the case has been decided, your lawyer will help you get the settlement check, pay off outstanding debts, and take the rest of the money home to help you recover and get your life back on track.
The settlement process can be long and challenging. If you are eager to get it over with as quickly as possible, your best bet is to speak with a lawyer and work with them to negotiate a settlement from the defendant without a trip to court.
How to Negotiate for a Higher Amount
If you negotiate with the defendant, you will have to ask them for a higher amount than they make on their initial offer. Most defendants work with an insurance company to pay the damages they owe. Insurance companies generally start with lowball offers because they want to make money, not lose it and they can only make money by taking in more from their clients’ premiums than they spend on settlements.
However, you likely deserve far more than the insurance company will initially offer. It is helpful to speak with a lawyer to determine exactly how much more you deserve since it can be hard to know when you have never been through a car accident settlement process before. But once you have determined how much you deserve, it is time to negotiate.
In general, your lawyer will help you. The insurance company and/or the lawyer for the defendant will send settlement offers to your attorney’s office. Then, your lawyer will reach out to you and discuss the amount offered. They will advise you on whether or not you should accept the amount and how much more you might be able to negotiate for based on what they have gleaned from working with the defendant’s insurance company and lawyer.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to accept the offer will be up to you. Typically there is some back and forth before a final settlement offer is reached.
As you can see, coming to a settlement can present many challenges. However, with help from your lawyer, you can be confident that you are asking for the appropriate settlement amount and can keep fighting until you get what you deserve.
Finding a Car Accident Lawyer
After a car accident, take the next step and seek a settlement from the defendant by speaking with a car accident lawyer.
You want to find a lawyer with three things to help your claim go more smoothly:
- Expertise. Seek a lawyer who works with car accident victims and knows the relevant laws backward and forward.
- Experience. Find a lawyer who has worked with many car accident victims and has a correct view of what type of settlement you can and should fight for.
- Empathy. Look for a lawyer who truly cares about you and wants to help you earn as much money as possible from your settlement to help you get back on your feet.
If you can find a lawyer with these three qualities, you are well on your way to pursuing a successful and lucrative car accident settlement. After suffering as the victim of a car accident that was not your fault, take immediate steps to reach out to a lawyer for an initial consultation and help to get your life back on track.