When a car accident happens, the victim can have both a property damage claim and a bodily injury claim. The at-fault party, or their insurance company, is responsible for paying the damages related to the resulting property damage and physical injuries.
Depending on the type and extent of the injuries and property damages, the resulting costs can be quite a burden for the injured party. If an accident wasn’t their fault, they shouldn’t have to bear this burden, which is where personal injury claims, such as those resulting from motor vehicle collisions, come in. Reach out to a car accident lawyer.
Do You Have a Car Accident Claim?
Not all car accidents result in injury claims worth pursuing.
Injured parties who have a case usually find that the following circumstances, known as the elements of negligence, apply to their accident:
- Duty of care: Another driver owed them a duty of care, for example, to stop at a stop sign or to drive the speed limit
- Breach of duty: For whatever reason, the other driver breached that duty and was negligent
- Injuries: The breach of duty resulted in injuries; for example— because they did not stop at the stop sign, they hit your car in a T-bone accident
- Damages: Your injuries resulted in damages
If your accident involves all these elements, you likely have a car accident claim worth pursuing. Meet with an attorney after any accident and let them tell you if you have a valid claim.
Claim Options After a Car Accident
In no-fault insurance states, both parties to a car crash first use their insurance policies for compensation. However, in all other states, known as third-party fault states, the injured individual has a right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver or the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
The compensation they seek covers repairing or replacing damaged property, medical expenses, and other related damages directly from the accident.
After a motor vehicle accident that caused property damage or bodily injuries due to another person’s negligence, you may:
- File a claim with your insurance company (first party claim)
- File a claim with the at-fault person’s insurance carrier (third party claim)
- File a lawsuit against the at-fault person
Deciding how you want to handle your insurance claim can be confusing. But, by consulting with an experienced car accident attorney, you can make an informed decision based on the specifics of your situation and your goals for your claim.
What Factors Affect Injury Compensation?
Generally, injured parties receive more compensation for their damages if they hire an experienced car accident lawyer.
Other factors that can impact how much a victim can receive for their claim include:
- The type and severity of their injuries
- The pain and suffering they experience
- The value of their property damages
- Their medical bills and expenses
- The policy limits of any applicable insurance policies
- The strength of the evidence supporting your claim
- If more than one party was at fault for the accident
- The jurisdiction where the lawsuit will take place
Car accident claims are typically worth a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on all these factors.
How Do You Calculate Settlement Values?
How much compensation injury victims should receive depends on their economic and non-economic damages. They should receive compensation for economic damages, such as lost income and medical bills, at their face value.
However, it can be much harder to determine a value for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. Often, attorneys will use a multiplier method with the value of the economic damages to help determine how much the claimant should receive for them.
Typically, this multiplier is between one and five. Higher multipliers represent more severe or catastrophic injuries. For example, someone who suffered a soft tissue strain might have a multiplier of two. In contrast, someone with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or paralyzing spinal cord injury (SCI) might have a multiplier of four or five.
While this may sound pretty simple in theory, most insurance companies will fight to devalue your claim. They want to pay you as little as possible, even nothing if they can, for your injuries and damages. Without a seasoned car accident attorney on your side, you will likely fall for their tactics and not receive full value for your damages.
How You Can Maximize Your Car Accident Claim Compensation
Injured parties can take many actions to help maximize their settlement. First, they should seek medical care as soon as possible. They want to get all injuries documented on the medical record. Then, they need to hire a reputable car accident attorney. Cooperating with their attorney and getting them any necessary information when they ask for it will help maximize and expedite your claim.
Other actions you can take to help maximize your personal injury settlement include:
- Following your doctor’s medical advice
- Collecting and preserving evidence—such as taking pictures of your injuriesKeeping records, bills, and receipts to submit to your attorney
- Not speaking to the insurance adjuster without your attorney present
- Not accepting a settlement without first speaking to an attorney
Car Accident Claim Settlements
When a car accident occurs and gives rise to a claim, it can end in one of two ways.
Those injured or who sustained property damage in the accident and the insurance company can:
- Agree on a settlement without using the legal system
- Take the claim to civil court
Anyone filing a car accident insurance claim should first obtain representation from a well-versed car accident attorney, whether they want to pursue a settlement or go to court.
Based on their knowledge and previous experience, lawyers know what your case should be worth. Without their input, you might settle your case for much less than you deserve. Your attorney can negotiate a settlement with the insurance company and their attorneys that is fair for you. If not, they can pursue your claim through litigation in civil court.
Be aware that if you agree to a settlement, you will have to sign an agreement stating that when you receive the compensation, you will not sue for the same accident in the future. This is an agreement with prejudice and protects the insurance company from being sued even though they agreed to settle the case with you.
Settlements are often the preferred method of handling car accident claims as they typically:
- Resolve the claim sooner
- Are less expensive than going to court
- Give all involved parties more control over the claim’s resolution—instead of risking the outcome to a judge or jury at trial
- Prevent victims and witnesses from the stress of a trial and possibly testifying
- Don’t create a public record like a court case does
Factors that Determine if a Settlement Is Possible
There are several factors that both parties must consider to determine if it is in their best interest to settle a car accident claim and what amount they are willing to settle for.
These factors include:
- The severity of injuries: More severe injuries will garner a higher settlement. Usually, soft tissue injuries like bruising or sprains settle for less than injuries such as broken bones, damage to the spinal cord, or injuries that cause brain trauma, disfigurement, loss of mobility, or the permanent loss of a body part.
- Disruptions: Injuries that inhibit the victim from performing day-to-day activities or performing their employment duties will usually be more likely to settle outside of court as these injuries are generally easier to prove.
- Liability: If it is quite apparent that the at-fault party is liable for the victim’s injuries, a settlement is more likely. If the at-fault party’s attorney knows their degree of liability, they will be more motivated to avoid going to court. It’s less risky for them to negotiate a settlement with you than leave the case to a judge or jury.
- Publicity: If a case has the potential to give a person or a company negative attention in the news or on social media, the possibility of a settlement grows. The bad press is too costly for the defendant to risk not settling.
- Litigation expenses: The costs of a lawsuit can quickly add up for both sides. If a case is already questionable for the defense, they are usually more likely to settle to help reduce the entire price tag of litigation.
What if an Uninsured Driver Hits You?
Although not legally required in most states, many drivers elect uninsured motorist coverage on their auto insurance policies. This type of coverage applies if a driver hits you and does not have insurance.
If you have this coverage, you can file a claim with your own insurance company. Your insurance company will pay for your damages up to the limits of your policy, and they will likely pursue monetary recovery from the at-fault party who didn’t have insurance. You can also take the same step if you are the victim of a hit-and-run driver, although your insurance company won’t recover money from them unless it locates the driver.
Suppose you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage in place at the time of your accident. In that case, car accident lawyers can help you explore your options for pursuing financial recovery from the uninsured driver who caused your accident. Depending on the property damage and medical expenses the other driver caused, pursuing a legal claim against them for recovery might be worthwhile.
What if You Can’t Afford a Car Accident Attorney?
Many different types of legal services require money upfront to even meet with an attorney. This can be quite intimidating if you have little money to spare or were recently in an accident and are struggling to pay your everyday expenses and medical bills. Too many times, this prevents car accident victims from seeking the legal representation they need after an injury.
Without an attorney, it’s likely they won’t get what they deserve for their injuries. However, the good news is that most car accident attorneys provide free, no-obligation consultations to injury victims. Not only that, but if the injured individual decides to hire them, it’s common for the attorney to take clients on a contingency fee basis.
This fee arrangement means:
- You owe no money up front to retain your attorney.
- You will pay your attorney a predetermined percentage of the proceeds of your settlement or court award once you receive it.
- If your attorney cannot obtain compensation for your damages, you owe them nothing.
- You have nothing to lose by meeting with an attorney to discuss your claim.
Those with car accident attorneys often receive substantially larger settlements than those who don’t have legal representation. Car insurance companies don’t like it when lawyers represent their claimants. By attempting to settle your car accident claim without legal representation, you risk losing the money you deserve for your damages. You also miss out on all the benefits an attorney can provide you.
How Long Does a Car Accident Case Take?
Unfortunately, nobody can tell you how long your car accident case might take. When you meet with an experienced car accident lawyer, they can estimate how long it might take to recover damages for you. It can take longer in more complicated cases.
An attorney can give you an idea of a possible timeline, given your circumstances. While you will want a settlement as soon as possible, waiting and negotiating with the insurance company will often result in the higher amount you deserve.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today
After a car accident, you might wonder how much compensation you can obtain through your car accident claim. Unfortunately, no concrete answer or formula can determine how much you can receive for your claim. Find out through a consultation with a local skilled car accident attorney. They can review your accident and injuries and provide you with an estimate for your case. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.