When we see patients in our car accident clinic, one of the main concerns they have is their ability to pay for their care.
Fortunately, we can tell them that if someone else's negligence caused their accident, their care would be covered in a personal injury settlement.
But their next question is what they can expect from a car accident settlement.
That question is a little more complicated to answer because it depends on several factors. There is no "average" settlement.
If you're in our office because you were injured in a car accident, an experienced car accident attorney can help you determine your case's value based on the specific details of your accident and the expenses you incurred.
In the article below, we will discuss the factors that will influence your car accident settlement value and how our Nashville Car Accident Chiropractor can help.
Table of Contents
- What's Included In An Accident Settlement?
- Insurance Coverage
- Proving Liability
- Current and Future Medical Expenses
- Your Ability To Work
- Out Of Pocket Expenses
- The Impact on Your Life
- Calculating Expenses
- How Can Advanced Injury Care Help?
What's Included in an Accident Settlement?
We should first discuss what's included in your accident settlement.
If you're ever injured in an accident, and the other driver is at-fault, you are entitled to receive compensation for the damages you've suffered.
These damages are separated into two main categories, economic damages, and non-economic damages.
Economic damages can easily have a dollar amount assigned to them. They are things that literally took money out of your pocket, like medical bills and repairs to your vehicle.
Non-economic damages can't easily have a dollar amount to them. They include things like emotional suffering, disability, disfigurement, loss of the ability to work.
Non-economic losses can be overwhelming and catastrophic.
The main factor that will influence your car accident claim is insurance coverage.
The value of a personal injury claim will depend on the insurance policies each driver has in place.
Drivers are always required to have some type of insurance before they can get behind the wheel.
The value of your claim will depend on the max value their insurance policy will cover.
If your accident caused more damage than what will be covered by their insurance, you might have to take your claim to court.
Your accident lawyer will be prepared to do so.
If the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance, or they are underinsured.
If that's the case, you may have uninsured/under-insured motorists covered on your policy that will kick in.
Before you can be awarded a settlement, you have to prove liability.
If you can't prove the other driver was negligent, or they prove you are negligent, you will be on the hook for your expenses.
Your medical benefits insurance may cover some of your expenses regardless of fault.
But your attorney's ability to negotiate and win a personal injury settlement on your behalf depends on the ability to prove that the other driver caused the accident that resulted in your injuries.
Proving negligence in your accident settlement depends on establishing that the at-fault party owed you the duty of care to safely and lawfully operate his or her motor vehicle.
Then you have to prove that the at-fault party breached this duty of care by driving under the influence, driving distracted, etc.
Finally, you have to prove that the breach caused you to incur damages, such as vehicle damage, medical expenses, and missed work.
If the other driver can prove that you were at least partly at-fault for the accident, it will decrease your settlement amount.
For example, if the other driver rear-ended you, but they can prove that you had defective brake lights or didn't use a signal light, they will be able to assign fault to you.
Current and Future Medical Expenses
Another factor that has to be kept in mind is that you need your current medical expenses covered and your future medical expenses.
More often than not, the other driver's insurance carrier will offer you a quick, small settlement before the full extent of your injuries have come to light.
If you accept this settlement, you may be doing more harm than good.
Accepting a settlement so soon after the accident without knowing the full extent of your injuries could put you on the hook for covering all future medical expenses.
Once you accept a settlement, you can't go back and try to win more money to cover medical bills you weren't aware of when you accepted the settlement.
This has caused many people to lose out on thousands of dollars that they needed for ongoing medical care due to their injuries.
Your accident attorney will consult with your medical doctors who understand your injuries to estimate the cost of any future medical treatments you might need to make a full recovery.
Some medical expenses you can include in your claim could be the cost of your ambulance ride, emergency room services, surgery, hospitalization, medications prescribed to you, diagnostic testing, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and any follow-up treatments.
You should never refuse medical attention after your accident, even if you don't feel like you're injured.
The most important reason to seek medical care is for your safety because many accident injuries have delayed symptoms.
And the longer you go without obtaining medical treatment, the easier it will be for an insurance company to deny your claim.
Pre-existing injuries could also cause a delay in winning your claim.
You should discuss any pre-existing conditions in the same area of your body as your accident injury with your attorney so they can prepare for that argument.
Your Ability to Work
Aside from medical bills, another component of a car accident settlement or a lawsuit is how much work you are forced to miss because of the accident.
This includes the time you have to miss due to future medical appointments.
The courts and insurance companies will consider the severity of your injury and your potential for permanent disability.
If you can't return to your job, or if you're able to return to work, but you can't return to the same position you had before, you have to take into account how that could hurt your earning capacity.
These potential losses should be discussed with your accident attorney and your doctors, and other medical experts while establishing a value for your case.
Fortunately, lost wages are easy to prove if you receive a regular paycheck for the work you do.
If you're self-employed or your income is commission-based, it will involve a little more legal work, but income is still easily shown through a tax return from the previous year.
Calendars showing missed work appointments missed business opportunities, and other such documentation will also help.
Recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident is expensive, to say the least.
There are various expenses you can claim during settlement negotiations, including:
- Rental car costs until your car is repaired or replaced
- Transportation costs to and from medical appointments
- Modifications to your home to provide accessibility if you use a wheelchair due to your injuries
- The cost of prosthetic limbs
- The cost of hiring someone to perform household chores that you are no longer able to perform
If you want to claim these expenses, you have to retain copies of all of your bills and demonstrate the need for these expenses based on the details of your accident and injuries.
The Impact on Your Life
We said earlier that people injured in accidents could claim non-economic damages in lawsuits if they have adequate insurance coverage or even limited coverage in some cases.
These damages affect your overall emotional well being, the relationships you have with others, and your ability to enjoy the hobbies and activities that you enjoyed before your accident.
Again, it's hard to put a dollar amount on these expenses, even though they often cause the most damage.
Non-economic damages are:
- Pain and suffering
- Embarrassment and humiliation
- Loss of the ability to enjoy the pleasures of life
In a personal injury lawsuit, the judge or jury will typically determine how much to award plaintiffs for non-economic damages.
They decide based on how old they were at the time of the injuries, the severity of the injuries, and the impact of the injuries.
These damages and the likelihood of winning a large sum of money if the case goes to court are powerful bargaining tools for your attorney when it comes to negotiating a settlement in your case.
So how do you throw all of this together and calculate the expenses for your personal injury case?
First, you calculate your economic damages by adding your medical bills for medical costs, expected medical expenses, and property damage.
Then, you add in existing wages lost from missing work and the expected future lost wages.
These figures will depend on how much you make, how long you missed work, and how much longer you expect to miss work.
Now you review and calculate these damages based on several factors determined by your accident attorney.
These calculations can be extremely complex, and vary from state to state and county to county.
Let's look at an example.
Let's say that you broke your right leg in a car accident caused by another driver.
Your medical bills are $10,000 in total.
When the insurance adjuster looks at your economic costs, they see a minimal number of events.
In their eyes, there's just an ambulance to the hospital, treatment for your leg, prescription medicines for pain, and a day or two lost from work.
To you, though, the accident was much more traumatic.
But the insurance company will compare it to other accidents they've handled.
In their eyes, given the severity of some injuries in other car accidents, the pain and suffering that you faced were comparatively minimal.
The insurance company will treat you as a case number, not as someone suffering after a car accident.
They will offer you the smallest amount they can and hope you'll accept it, signing away your rights.
This is why you need an experienced car accident attorney that will treat you with the respect and compassion you deserve during your difficult time.
How Can Advanced Injury Care Clinic Help?
You may be wondering how an accident injury clinic can help with your injury claim.
First, they will not only give you the medical treatment needed after your accident, but they will keep detailed records that your insurance company and personal injury lawyer will need while evaluating your case.
Second, they can refer you to a qualified accident attorney in your area to help you recover the damages you need to recover from your auto accident.
The entire process after a car accident can seem daunting.
That's why you should visit Advanced Injury Care so they can give you the medical treatment you deserve and refer you to an attorney who can help you with your financial recovery.
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