Several factors figure into the equation when estimating the monetary value of a victim’s car accident lawsuit. The facts of the case, the extent of the injuries involved, the level of recovery necessary, and the degree of negligence of each party all combine to affect the amount of money a claimant will receive.
What Damages Can Be Claimed?
In personal injury lawsuits, the amount of damages a victim can recover falls into either an economic category or a non-economic category. Each category is explained below.
Economic damages equate to the amount of compensation a victim is entitled to receive as the result of monetary loss suffered due to the accident. This can include:
- Medical Expenses – To determine the amount of damages for medical expenses, every bill for each medical service or a medical item is collected. A sample listing of bills might include the emergency room, primary care doctor, all specialists, CT scans, prescription drugs, X-ray technicians, medical supplies and equipment, physical therapy, hospitalizations, etc.
- Future Medical Costs – By using expert witnesses, an attorney can present the need for future medical treatment.
- Loss of Income – Compensation can be claimed for income that was lost due to the accident. This would include wages lost from being hospitalized, from keeping doctor appointments, from surgeries, and even times that the victim had to leave work early due to pain and discomfort.
- Long-term Disability – Should the victim be unable to return to work at all after the accident, compensation may be claimed for loss of livelihood. A vocational expert can be used to attest to this fact.
- Property Damage – The expense for repairing or replacing your vehicle and its contents falls into this category of economic damages.
Quite the opposite of economic damages, there will be no invoices to accumulate for non-economic damages resulting from a crash. However, this does not hinder the ability to determine a fair monetary amount. It will be based upon the economic damages and upon other factors of your case. Non-economic damages may include:
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoying life
- Loss of consortium (deprived of intimate relationship with a spouse)
Does Being At-Fault Affect the Amount Recovered?
States use either a comparative negligence method or a contributory negligence method for setting damages. Georgia uses the comparative method, meaning a victim (plaintiff) will still be able to recover some damages even if he or she was partly to blame for the accident.
Here’s how it works. The court (jury or judge) will usually determine a percentage amount of blame for each party in the lawsuit. The monetary damage amount awarded to the plaintiff is then adjusted to deduct the percentage amount of his or her negligence. For example, if the plaintiff is said to be 20 percent negligent, and the damage award is $100,000, the plaintiff will get $80,000. However, if the court rules that the plaintiff is over 50 percent negligent in causing the accident, the victim will not be allowed to recover anything.
Other Factors Affecting a Claim’s Value
Any number of factors can come into play and raise or lower the compensation amount that an accident victim will receive. Some of these factors are:
The Injuries – If an individual requires nearly two years to recover after an auto accident, the settlement amount awarded to this person will most likely be more than the amount given to a person who only required three months to recover.
Wages and Recovery Time – If a victim’s yearly salary is $40,000, and two months are required to recover from an accident, this person’s compensation award might be lower than an individual who makes $200,000 yearly and requires one month to recover.
Additionally, the amount of time required to recover can affect non-economic damages as well. Spending a full year recovering from accident injuries means a year of enduring a lot of pain and suffering, and thus deserves a larger settlement.
Driver’s Behavior – If the other driver left the accident scene or was inebriated, he or she may be required to pay more to the victim. Also, a history of DUIs or multiple accidents on the record could impact the amount of compensation.
Words at the Accident Scene – It can be detrimental for drivers involved in an accident to say how sorry they are or that they are feeling okay. Insurance adjusters tend to use this as an admission of guilt for causing the accident and to also claim there were no injuries suffered in the crash.
Car Insurance Companies and Settlements
Insurance companies may not have your best interests in mind. Car accident lawsuits tend to involve a series of interactions with insurance adjusters long before a lawsuit takes place. Insurance companies may have attorneys on retainer ready to fight back against claims, therefore, an individual that is harmed in an accident should consult a car accident lawyer to negotiate with the insurance companies to achieve fair compensation from both insurance companies and other liable parties.
Although insurance companies want to resolve a car accident claim quickly through settlement, the amount they offer may not be what you deserve. An insurance company’s goal is to pay a claimant as little as possible. As soon as the release is signed, the case is closed. Therefore, it is important to make sure that a person does not agree to any car accident settlements until the full scope and extent of losses is understood and the insurance company comes to the negotiating table with an offer that amounts to fair compensation for those losses.
Get Legal Help With Your Claim
Do not take a chance of losing the maximum amount of compensation you deserve after suffering through the after-effects of an auto accident caused by another person’s negligence. Contact The Eichholz Law Firm at 855-551-1019, so we can help you start your financial recovery today.