Car accidents are unfortunate yet common occurrences. Injuries that result from car accidents, even relatively minor ones, can significantly disrupt your routine and ability to handle your daily responsibilities.
On top of the physical pain you may face after a collision, expenses incurred due to the accident can take a toll on your finances. If you find yourself with injuries from a car accident, you may wonder what you can expect to receive from an insurance settlement.
The answer is more complex than you might expect, and the amount you can expect to receive will depend on the severity of the accident and other circumstances that led to the crash. Speaking with an experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer who can explain all the factors that can affect the compensation you receive is the best way to get an accurate estimate of your potential settlement.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
After a car crash, you might not know what to do or not to do. The following are some critical things to remember.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Immediate medical treatment after a car accident is of utmost importance for several reasons.
First, some injuries, like internal or whiplash trauma, may not show immediate symptoms but can worsen over time if untreated. Seeking medical attention ensures that medical professionals identify and address potential injuries early. Prompt medical care prioritizes your health and well-being, as early intervention can prevent complications and aid in faster recovery.
Second, medical records created shortly after the accident can be crucial evidence in any legal or insurance claims. These records link your injuries directly to the accident, strengthening your case.
Lastly, insurance companies may question your claim if you delay seeking medical treatment. Immediate attention demonstrates the seriousness of your injuries, reducing skepticism and streamlining the claims process.
Remember, your health comes first. Seeking medical care right after a car accident is not just a legal and practical consideration but a crucial step in safeguarding your well-being.
Factors That Determine a Car Accident Settlement
There is no set formula to calculate the compensation you might get following a car accident. The compensation you may recover will depend on who was at fault for the accident and the extent of your damages.
Here are some of the factors that can affect the value of your car accident settlement:
Liability: One of the most critical factors determining settlement amounts for car accident claims is liability, or who is responsible for the accident. Insurance companies determine the amount of compensation according to each party's percentage of fault. In some cases, proving liability is straightforward and you can blame a single driver, but in other cases, multiple drivers may share partial liability for the accident. This can affect how much you get from each insurance company settlement.
The severity and extent of injuries: A significant factor affecting how much you should expect from your car accident settlement is the seriousness and extent of injuries sustained. Generally, you may receive a higher settlement award if you suffer more severe injuries. Car accident injuries that are life-changing tend to justify a higher payout because they often result in higher medical expenses, lost income, pain, and suffering. Getting medical care as soon as possible will not only ensure that you get the treatment you need but will also provide documentation of your injuries, which you need to negotiate a settlement.
Medical expenses, including the cost of future treatment: Medical costs are one of the primary elements of damage included in your settlement and cover everything from your ambulance service to the hospital to ongoing treatment for permanent injuries. The settlement award will often increase in cases involving extensive treatment and higher medical bills. Keep track of all accident-related medical bills and other pertinent receipts or documentation. If you suffered a life-altering injury that resulted in a disability, you can receive compensation for future medical treatment, including diagnostic tests, surgeries, and physical therapy.
Available insurance coverage: The insurance coverage available to the at-fault driver may impact and limit the compensation you can expect to recover from a car accident settlement. If an uninsured driver causes your accident, they may not have the resources to pay a judgment against them. If the driver who caused the accident is insured, their insurance policy will limit the amount you can recover in a settlement.
You do not have to accept the insurance company's offer to settle your claim and should not let an insurance provider force you into accepting an agreement that isn't fair. Before signing a settlement agreement, seek the advice of a trusted legal advocate for more information.
What Can You Seek in a Car Accident Settlement?
The compensation you can recover from a car accident settlement will depend almost entirely on the unique circumstances of your case. While the settlement amount should cover all accident-related damages, this isn't always the case. Understanding what you deserve can help you recover full and fair compensation.
The two types of damages you can recover include:
These damages are quantifiable financial losses that are easily calculated by reviewing records, documents, bills, and receipts.
Economic damages can include:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Lost income.
- Costs related to repairing damaged property.
- Other out-of-pocket accident-related costs.
Medical expenses: This includes the cost of medical treatment related to the accident, hospital bills, emergency room costs, costs of surgery, medical equipment, and any ongoing care or physical therapy.
Lost income: This can include income you should have earned while you were out of work, as well as any potential future earnings. If your injuries prevent you from working at the same capacity as before, you can recover damages for lost earning capacity.
Calculating a car accident victim's lost earning capacity can quickly become complex and requires looking at your age, life expectancy, and future career. Proving that bodily injuries prevented you from working may require you to submit medical documentation and testify about how your injuries have affected your ability to earn a living.
Property damage: This includes the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle if it's totaled beyond repair and any other property damaged in the accident.
Unlike economic damages, these subjective losses are harder to place a monetary value on. Non-economic damages may include compensation for emotional distress, pain, suffering, permanent disabilities, permanent impairments, or disfigurement.
Pain and suffering: When you're in a car accident, your emotional pain can equal your physical pain. You may recover compensation for the emotional anguish caused by your injuries if you experienced a lowered quality of life, anxiety, or depression. Negotiating a fair amount of compensation for non-economic damages requires a skilled attorney to present the necessary evidence.
Loss of consortium and companionship: The devastating effects of an accident don't just take a toll on the person who has suffered an injury but also on the family members of those involved. Some injuries can cause the victim of an accident to suffer from depression and make it so they no longer enjoy the company of loved ones.
If an injury damages your familial relationships or affects your sexual relationship, you may seek compensation for the loss of consortium.
The insurance company will always try to minimize the amount they have to pay out, and one of the ways they do this is by underestimating the severity of your injuries and how long they might last. The insurer will downplay the lasting effects of an injury on your life.
If you've suffered minor injuries and expect to make a full recovery within a few weeks, they may argue that your pain and suffering are minimal. Having an experienced car accident on your side as you go up against the insurance company can make all the difference in the amount of compensation you ultimately receive.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Because there aren't any direct bills or receipts that can help prove these types of intangible losses, non-economic damages can be more challenging to calculate than economic losses. Attorneys and insurance companies use two different accepted methods to determine the value of pain and suffering.
A common method used to calculate non-economic damages is the multiplier method. The multiplier method is a tool to calculate and determine fair compensation for your pain and suffering. Using this method; your attorney will multiply the sum of your economic damages by a set number ranging from one to five.
The multiplier stems from the severity of your injury, with one being for less severe injuries and five being the most severe. The multiplier method can result in sufficient pain and suffering compensation, but only if the insurance company uses the proper multiplier. Your attorney can identify the right multiplier in your case and provide evidence to support it to the insurer.
Per Diem Method
Another method that can assign a dollar value to the everyday pain and suffering you've endured due to an accident-related injury is the per diem method. This method often applies to lesser injuries and involves assigning a daily dollar amount to your pain and suffering. Then, you multiply the daily amount by the number of days you suffered.
Recovering compensation for non-economic damages can become complicated quickly, and the insurance company will likely do whatever it takes to dispute the value of your claim. An experienced car accident attorney can help you recover the total value of losses you deserve so you can focus on rebuilding your life.
Maximize the Value of Your Case: Get Help From a Car Accident Lawyer Today!
Dealing with insurance companies after a car accident is an inevitable task you should never face alone. Insurance companies care foremost about profits, which means they strive to minimize costs and settlements with most claims.
The initial offers from an insurer will probably not cover your losses, but do not feel discouraged. A skilled attorney can present further evidence to support your claim calculations and obtain a fair settlement.
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you maximize your settlement after a car accident by guiding you through the process and negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf. Schedule a consultation with an experienced St. Louis personal injury attorney today to learn more about your legal rights and options.