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Understanding Damages: How Much Should You Expect from a Car Accident Settlement

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Managing the aftermath of a car accident may be challenging, especially if substantial costs are associated with the crash, such as lost wages, medical expenses, and vehicle repairs. 

The silver lining is that you can file a car accident claim to receive compensation for the damages if the crash results from another driver’s wrongful actions. In such cases, the settlement amount depends on several factors, such as the severity of the injuries you sustain and their impact on your life.

We will examine the intricacies of calculating damages in a car accident case and offer guidance on how much compensation you should anticipate when filing against the at-fault party. Gaining more knowledge about the factors that affect settlement amounts can help you address the situation with confidence and ensure that you receive just compensation for your losses.

When Can I File a Car Accident Claim for Compensation?

You may submit a claim for a car accident if another driver hits you and you suffer injuries or other damages due to the collision. This claim aims to recover compensation for the damages incurred if they resulted from a crash caused by another individual. In such cases, the insurance company should cover damages expenses like medical bills, auto repair costs, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses. 

Understanding that you can only file a car accident claim in certain situations is essential. Specifically, you must have been injured in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence and have enough proof to support your claim.

Typically, the negligence of a driver in a car accident can be illustrated by the following factors:

  • The driver had a duty to ensure the safety of all individuals involved.
  • They neglected to fulfill this duty.
  • This negligence contributed to the occurrence of the accident.
  • As a consequence of the accident, injuries and other types of damage were sustained.

Conversely, if you are found to be at fault for the collision, you typically do not have the right to pursue a case seeking compensation for damages. However, some jurisdictions in several states, such as California, allow involved parties to file a personal injury claim regardless of their fault in an accident. This is why it is crucial to determine the jurisdiction in your area and other intricacies of personal injury when filing a claim.

How Much Should a Car Accident Settlement Cost?

Since all accidents are different, car accident settlements may vary. However, generally, you can determine the cost of your car accident settlement by understanding the severity of your injuries and other damages, the impact of the crash on your life, and how much you contributed to the collision.

Severity of Your Injuries and Damages

The severity of your injuries and other losses is a significant factor in determining how much compensation you will receive after an auto crash. The settlement amount depends on how severe your injuries are, how long it takes you to heal, and how much damage you sustained.

For example, a pedestrian who had his leg amputated due to a crash will likely get a higher settlement amount compared to a driver who incurred lacerations and sprain from a collision. This is because the pedestrian will have a series of rehabilitation, treatments, and other medical needs associated with his injury. On the other hand, the driver will only need a few medical treatments to recover. 

Similarly, the degree of property damage to your car and any additional personal property may also impact the settlement amount. For instance, a wrecked vehicle will cost more than a car with minor scratches. Overall, all these damages will be considered when calculating the settlement amount. 

Impact of the Crash on Your Life

The impact of the collision on your life is a vital factor when determining compensation for auto accidents. This covers the accident’s short- and long-term effects on different facets of your life. 

From the example above, the pedestrian who had an amputated leg wasn’t able to report and would probably need to find a job that wouldn’t require strenuous work. In such an instance, the settlement sum should reflect his loss of income and earning potential. 

Since the injury drastically changed his lifestyle, he also suffered emotional distress, loss of life enjoyment, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the collision. These effects should also be taken into account when computing the overall settlement amount.

This is why it is essential to understand the full impact of the crash on you to ensure that you receive fair and adequate compensation for your damages.

Liability Dispute

In some jurisdictions, you can file a claim for an accident even if you partially contributed to its occurrence under comparative negligence (read more). However, depending on how much you contributed to the crash, you will likely receive a reduced settlement amount.

For instance, a drunk driver hits you in California. Unfortunately, you glanced at your cellphone to check a text message, failing to avoid the impaired driving going the wrong way. If the court finds you 30% liable for the collision, you may receive 70% restitution. 

Moreover, other states will only allow you to pursue a car accident case if the other individual is at least 50 or 51% at fault. 

With all the factors mentioned, the question is, “Do I need a lawyer for a car accident settlement?” The simple answer is yes, according to Jacoby and Meyers. This is because they have the expertise and knowledge to go around the complicated matters mentioned above to determine the overall losses. For instance, how will you quantify loss of life enjoyment? A car accident lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of computing the total damages and negotiate for a fair settlement. 

What Are the Damages that I Can Include In My Settlement?

You can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for various damages resulting from the incident. You can typically pursue the following types of damages to maximize your payout:

  • Economic damages encompass measurable financial losses, such as medical expenses, vehicle repair costs, loss of income, burial expenses (if applicable), and other related costs.
  • On the other hand, non-economic damages refer to the emotional or psychological impacts of the car accident, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, PTSD (see MayoClinic), loss of companionship, emotional support, and protection, among others.
  • Punitive damages are a financial penalty imposed on the defendant for their reckless behavior that contributed to the car accident.

While these damages are claimable, quantifying non-monetary losses accurately can be challenging. A car accident attorney will thoroughly evaluate all potential areas for coverage when determining compensation and negotiating the highest possible settlement amount.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me Negotiate a Car Accident Settlement

Car accidents can result in minor to catastrophic injuries. In some cases, it can even lead to wrongful death. If you sustain significant injuries from the collision, how can you compute all the damages and negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company?

Hiring a car accident lawyer can significantly improve your chances of achieving a favorable outcome in settlement negotiations and obtaining fair compensation for your injuries and losses. They will gather evidence, prove liability, compute the total damages, and fight for your case vigorously so that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Last Updated: May 27, 2024

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