​How Much Should You Ask for in a Car Accident Settlement?

​How Much Should You Ask for in a Car Accident Settlement?

After being in a car accident, the next concern after you have tended to your injuries is how much the car accident will cost you. Your car can be totaled entirely, and now you have to figure out how you will pay for a new vehicle. Your injuries can be so severe that you now have to think about possibilities you never considered, like retiring permanently from your position and undergoing medical treatment for years.

These are just some of the factors that you will have to take into account when seeking compensation for your car accident. You do not want to risk seeking anything less than the total compensation necessary to cover your losses. Unfortunately, many car accident victims underestimate how much they should ask for in a car accident settlement.

This is one of many reasons why you should immediately consult with a car accident lawyer in your area. They will know how to calculate your damages in light of your situation and seek maximum compensation for you.

Car accident damages

Whether you walked away from your car accident with little injuries or were seriously hurt, one fact remains the same: the road to recovery will be costly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that car crashes cost the nation $871 billion yearly. Some of the usual damages a car accident victim endures include medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, and lost income.

Medical expenses due to car accidents

Your car accident can easily cost you thousands of dollars. You may need to pay for medical bills, ambulance rides, doctor visits, pain medications, rehabilitation services, and even medical devices. The nature of your injuries will determine how costly your medical bills will become, which is terrifying.

Suppose you suffered severe injuries like a spinal cord injury or an amputation. In that case, those are long-term medical expenses you will be responsible for paying for the remainder of your life. Such costs can easily reach millions of dollars.

Lost wages

Another damage you can suffer following a car accident is wages you will miss. Your injuries will influence the time you will have to take off from work, which can range from a few days to months to years. Unfortunately, the average worker cannot afford to miss a few days from work, let alone a few weeks. Taking that significant amount of time off from work will certainly affect your finances.

Your injuries can also affect your ability to work in general. If the injuries that you endured were catastrophic, you might have to consider either looking for an occupation that can adapt to your injury or retiring from working altogether. Having to rely on disability or lesser wages due to your injuries will impact your financial situation for the rest of your life.

You can seek compensation for the income you lost or even the vacation or paid sick leave you had to take. If you cannot earn what you did before your injury, you can seek compensation for future lost earning ability. These are complex calculations, and they often require help from economic experts. You need a lawyer with such resources to ensure you request enough compensation for your lost wages.

Pain and suffering

Another severe damage from a car accident includes the mental and physical pain that a car accident victim experiences. The nature of your injuries may require you to undergo several medical examinations like surgeries that can potentially cause you additional pain. Some injuries cause chronic pain for years to come.

Even more traumatizing than the physical trauma is the mental trauma you suffer. Many car accident victims suffer from mental disorders like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder weeks and even years after a car accident. Additional therapy services may be necessary for you to overcome your mental trauma.

You can also suffer additional intangible losses related to pain and suffering, which can include:

  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Permanent disabilities or impairments
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

These are challenging to calculate. You need a lawyer who knows how to determine how much you deserve for your intangible damages.

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Calculating damages

You must generally file a claim against the other driver when seeking compensation for your car accident. While you must prove liability for your accident, another critical element of your claim involves the damages you plan to retrieve from the other driver. With most car accidents, the other driver's insurance policy will be responsible for covering the total amount of your damages.

When listing the number of damages for your claim, you want to ensure that you are not short-changing yourself and, even worse, allowing the insurance company to short-change you. Always have a lawyer evaluate your claim to ensure that you receive the most compensation possible in your situation.

How lawyers evaluate your claim?

You may be cautious about hiring a lawyer to handle your car accident claim. However, the right attorney can increase your chances of seeking and receiving full compensation for your losses.

Lawyers are skilled in calculating your claim’s tangible and intangible damages. For example, there are some damages like your medical expenses that you can measure with a dollar amount. Then there are damages like pain and suffering that are a little more difficult to assess. A lawyer knows what type of factors to use that can help estimate your pain and suffering damages.

Severity of injuries

The severity of your injuries is the primary factor in the compensation you deserve. In car accident claims, you deserve more compensation when your injuries from an accident are more severe, though even relatively minor injuries can demand significant compensation. The compensation you want to request should be enough to cover what you will pay for medical services and your significant loss of income.

Further, the more serious your injuries, the greater your intangible losses will be. Many insurance companies use multiplier methods to calculate non-economic damages like pain and suffering. The more serious your injuries, the more your attorney can fight for the highest possible multiplier.

Car accident settlements

Two ways your car accident claim can end are a verdict or a settlement. Because insurance companies often want to avoid taking your claim to trial, they usually offer a settlement directly to a victim. Through a car accident settlement, you and the insurance company have a chance to negotiate a certain amount of compensation for your injuries. Accepting a settlement ends your claim, and you can receive your money and move forward.

However, you should never accept a settlement without legal advice. Once you accept a car accident settlement, you forfeit the right to pursue additional legal action against the other driver or insurance company. If you accept too little, you will be responsible for covering the rest of your losses.

Advantages of settlements

One of the advantages of a car accident settlement is that you receive your compensation in a faster amount of time. If your car accident claim proceeds to trial, it can take months and even years to receive the compensation you need from your claim. Faster is not always better, however, if the insurance company is lowballing your offer.

Another advantage of a car accident settlement is knowing the compensation you will receive. When your claim proceeds to trial, a jury or judge determines your compensation. Even if the judge or the jury sympathizes with you, it does not mean your trial will end in the successful outcome you want. You should take your case to trial in some situations, but decide this with your car accident attorney.

What is a demand letter?

Fortunately, you do not have to accept the first settlement offer that the insurance company throws at you. If you feel that the insurance company is undermining your compensation, your lawyer can write a demand letter to the insurance company.

A demand letter is a way for you to lay out all the facts and evidence of your accident and inform the insurance company of the compensation you want. In the demand letter, your attorney can include a detailed explanation of your injuries and the amount of compensation that you request to settle your claim.

The negotiation process

Once you submit your demand letter, the insurance company will have a chance to review it and respond to it. You and the insurance company will have a chance to negotiate the terms of the demand and come to an agreement. You always want your car accident attorney to handle these negotiations, as they regularly deal with insurance adjusters and know their negotiation tactics.

If you and the insurance company agree, you can collect compensation from them once you sign the settlement agreement. If there is no agreement, your claim will proceed to litigation. Your case can still settle mid-litigation, or it might proceed to trial.

Consulting a car accident lawyer can always help your case

You may think you do not need a lawyer to assist with the settlement process. However, that is not the case. You will make many mistakes that can keep you from collecting the settlement you deserve.

You can miscalculate the compensation you require for your injuries, or the insurance companies can trick you into admitting information they can use against you. The adjuster might convince you that a lowball settlement is fair. With a skilled lawyer on your side, you can avoid these mistakes and be confident that you received the best settlement for your claim.

Once you hire your lawyer, they will do what is in your best interest regarding your car accident claim. Your lawyer will not advise you to accept a settlement offer if it is too low to cover your damages. An experienced lawyer is familiar with the average settlement offer of a car accident with similar circumstances and will warn you when an insurance company is lowballing you.

Proving liability in a car accident case

One of the most significant factors determining whether the insurance company will negotiate with you is how efficiently you can prove the other driver’s liability. If the evidence you provide can prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your car accident, the insurance companies are more open to negotiating and settling with you.

A skilled lawyer can collect the best evidence that the other driver’s negligence was responsible for your accident. Lawyers can access copies of evidence that you may be unable to retrieve, like statements from an accident reconstruction expert. This can improve the negotiations between you and the insurer.

What to expect from your accident settlement

The compensation you can receive depends on the severity of your injuries and the damages you have suffered from your accident. For car accident victims who have suffered physical injuries, settlements are wide-ranging. Some car accident victims only need thousands of dollars to cover medical bills, while others receive millions for catastrophic injuries. If the victim died from a car accident, the settlement amount should reflect the value of their lost life, which is challenging to predict.

A fair car accident settlement must cover the full scope of your damages, including physical injuries, property damage, pain and suffering, and all medical expenses. See our recent settlements and how we get results for our clients.

Contact a lawyer about your car accident case today

Richard Reinartz - Attorney for Car Accident Claims in New Jersey area
Richard Reinartz, Car Accident Attorney in New Jersey

Before you consider negotiating a settlement offer with an insurance company, exercise all legal options to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. It will be in your best interest to have a personal injury lawyer on your side when seeking a car accident settlement. The longer you wait to discuss your case, the greater risk of missing the statute of limitations to file a claim. Contact us today to receive your consultation.