Jacob’s Guide to Getting the Most Out of a Car Accident Settlement

Getting the maximum value out of your car accident settlement requires seeking medical treatment. After an accident, insurance companies look at when and how many times you went to the doctor and specialists such as orthopedists or neurologists. Your medical expenses allow your personal injury lawyer to explain how much the insurance company needs to pay. Doctor’s visits help improve your medical outcome, the value of your case, and what you get paid.

Victims injured in car accidents may receive settlements from a couple thousand to millions of dollars, depending on the severity of injuries and the impact on their lives.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average payout for bodily injury claims in 2020 was just over $20,000.1

In addition to medical bills and related costs, insurance companies will look at:

  • Lost wages and other income
  • Permanent physical disability/disfigurement
  • Pain and physical suffering
  • Emotional damages
  • Vehicle/property repair costs

Know How a Car Accident Settlement Works

Medical bills and records are vital for maximizing compensation. Your attorney will help create a spreadsheet of total billed charges. They know exactly how much specific injuries are worth and what the common payouts are in your area. They’ll also help you document lost wages as well as preserve evidence, such as that from data recorders in vehicles, and fight for a fair settlement value that you may otherwise not know about. Insurers often lowball their offers and never pay as much as they set aside for your claim.

Calculating Car Accident Compensation

A simple formula is to add out-of-pocket medical bills, any medical liens, lost wages, and pain and suffering together. The total value is then reduced by your percentage of fault. That means if you were 50% at fault, then the sum is reduced by half. However, there’s no reduction if you were not at fault for the accident.

Personal injury damages may be calculated using these methods:

  • Multiplier Method: To determine the accident’s true pain and suffering cost, your lawyer will calculate the sum of special damages and then apply a multiplier. This figure is usually between one and five, depending on the severity of your injuries, recovery time, and other aggravating circumstances. It will likely be low for a fender bender or if your questionable behavior or negligence led to the accident, but can be above five if, for example, the at-fault driver was intoxicated.
  • Damage Formula: The at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster calculates the sum of medical expenses. They then multiply the amount of these special damages by one-and-a-half to three for minor injuries and by five or more in more severe cases. The total usually becomes the starting point for negotiations for pain and suffering, emotional, and permanent disability damages. But that’s just a starting point; additional details can change the settlement amount as the case proceeds.
  • Per Diem Method: The per diem, or daily rate, method is used by some personal injury attorneys and insurance companies. It’s used to determine a monetary amount to receive per unit of time (each day or week) that you suffer from injuries related to a car accident caused by an at-fault driver.

Factors that Impact Your Settlement

As we’ve said, every aspect of your claim will be considered in maximizing your car accident settlement. Since every accident and injury has a unique set of circumstances, there’s no specific settlement amount you can expect to receive. Your attorney will look at a number of factors influencing the value of your claim, including:

  • Your Insurance Policy: Maximum limits for injury or death to one or more people and damage to other vehicles are important considerations. Other insurance-related factors include whether the at-fault driver was insured or had enough coverage, or you were uninsured or underinsured. However, not all insurance factors are negative. If there’s more than one liable party, you could recover compensation from more than one policy, and you could get more if covered for medical expenses.
  • Liability: To maximize your settlement, your attorney needs to prove liability. With most personal injury claims, negligence is the primary consideration, rather than willful acts. It must be proven the at-fault party owed you a duty of care (to operate their vehicle safely), they breached that duty, and this breach was the direct cause of the accident that injured you. If you were partially at fault for the accident, such as having followed another car too closely, stopped short, or had a defective taillight, the settlement amount can be decreased.
  • Medical Expenses: Refusing medical treatment at the scene, delaying care, or having pre-existing injuries can negatively impact your settlement. Knowing the full extent of your injuries helps understand how much treatment you’ll require in the future and what costs will need to be covered. Expenses you can claim include ambulance transport, emergency care, surgery, hospitalization, diagnostic testing, follow-up care, and physical therapy.
  • Missed Work: The impact of injuries on your earning capacity will be considered. Insurance companies will look at whether you missed work due to being hurt, attending medical appointments, or possibly facing permanent disability. If you can return to work but in a different capacity that reduces your wages or salary, that will be considered as well. Lost wages are easier to calculate if you earn a regular paycheck. But even if you’re self-employed or earn commissions, your tax returns will show your income.
  • Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Medical care and missed work are not the only car accident-related expenses that impact your settlement. Your attorney can also include in your claim the cost of renting a car, getting to and from medical appointments, making modifications to your home, or hiring someone to help with household chores. Copies of bills related to these expenses are needed to claim them.

Contact The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani

Getting the most out of a car accident settlement is a challenging process. But to get the amount you deserve, our Los Angeles personal injury attorney will consider all the variables above. We can evaluate the accident’s full impact on your life and deal with insurance companies that refuse to offer a fair settlement. Years of experience let us strengthen your case and negotiate a higher payout. The process can take time, but we’ll fight for your rights every step of the way.

If you’ve been in a car accident, call Jacob at 888-952-2952 for a free consultation.

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