Compensation After an Auto Accident
One of the first questions that someone who has been in an auto accident will ask is: What is included in car accident settlements? Often, they are trying to shape their expectations of what they feel they are due. The short answer is that car accident settlements are intended to put you in the same position as if the car accident never happened to you. In other words, the purpose of the settlement is to make you whole. Here are some of the damages that you can be compensated for in a car accident settlement.
- Pain and Suffering – This will generally be a multiple of the amount you receive for your physical injuries. The worse your accident is, the higher your pain and suffering damages will be.
- Physical Injuries – Whatever your physical injuries are, you are entitled to compensation for them.
- Lost Wages – You can be reimbursed for the time that you have missed from work due to your accident. This applies to both past lost wages and lost wages that you will experience in the future. This is an area of dispute that often causes settlement negotiations to break down.
- Medical Care – Some of your settlement may go to your medical insurance to pay them back for the money they have already spent. Nursing care and future home-type care can be paid for in a settlement.
- Property Damage – Any damage to your car can be covered by the insurance settlement if you have used your own body shop or repair person to fix your car.
It is important to note that punitive damages will not be a part of a settlement no matter what the other driver has done. It is up to a jury to assess punitive damages.
What Factors Affect Your Settlement?
The biggest factor that will increase or decrease a car accident settlement is the strength of the available evidence. When you are able to prove not only that the other driver was negligent, but how negligent they were, the insurance company may make you a better settlement offer. Similarly, if you have strong documentation of your injuries and damages, it may make for a more compelling case. When it comes to winning a car accident lawsuit, you are only compensated based on what you can prove.
How you conduct yourself during this process can also determine the settlement amount that you will receive. This includes the statements that you make and even your lifestyle post-accident. This is one of the areas in which a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you.
The evidence that can help you increase the amount of your settlement, includes the police report and documentation that you sought medical care immediately after the accident. You will need to be able to demonstrate the full extent of your injuries to the insurance company.
When Is a Settlement Paid?
Car accident settlements provide plaintiffs with money much faster than if the case were to go to court. However, receiving your check is not instantaneous as it takes time to finalize the settlement agreement. There may be several rounds of revisions and changes that are necessary to make to the settlement agreement. It will usually take several weeks to go through the process of finalizing the agreement. Then, payment must go through the insurance company’s finance department which can introduce added delays into the process. This is a process that is generally completed within four to six weeks.
Actually settling the case may take considerably longer than expected. Insurance companies do not have the same motivation that you have. While you may want and need your check quickly, getting paid expeditiously may come at a price. This is because the insurance company may make you a lower offer in the hopes of getting you to accept a quick offer. Actually negotiating the settlement agreement can be a protracted process that can take up to two or three years. The more complex your claim is, the longer it will take to settle. It is common for many car accident settlements to be reached right before the case goes to trial.
How Can an Accident Attorney Help
Settlements are not necessarily an easy procedure that can be handled quickly. There are many different factors that go into the settlement that it is difficult to place an exact value on your claim. This is where a car accident attorney is helpful. They can help you maximize the value of your settlement by knowing everything that can be included in it. In addition, they can help you avoid some of the common mistakes that can delay your check.
The Eichholz Law Firm has a long track record of many years helping accident victims get the full amount that they deserve. Call us today to find out how we can help you.