If you've ever been in a car accident due to someone else's negligence, you likely had 1,000 questions that ran through your head all at the same time.
"What happened?" "Was this my fault?" "Am I okay?" "Are they okay?"
Those questions are likely the first few questions that run through your head as soon as the accident happens.
When things start to slow down, you start to wonder how everything is going to be paid for. And then, you wonder how much your car accident is worth.
When you make a claim for injuries, vehicle damage, and other losses after a car accident, putting a dollar amount on everything can be very difficult.
There's not a scientific equation to work out an exact dollar amount.
Two accidents that were very similar in nature could each payout very different amounts.
There are, however, a few key variables that car insurance companies and lawyers focus on in order to assess the value of a car accident case.
In the article below, we will take a look at everything that goes into a typical valuation.
- Coverage Policy and Limits
- Vehicle Damage
- Medical Bills
- Lost Income
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Consortium
- Your Conduct
- Contact a Lawyer
The type of car insurance the at-fault driver has, if they even have insurance, and the policy limits associated with their coverage has a significant impact on your claim.
The amount of compensation you can expect to see in your accident claim is dependent upon the at-fault driver's insurance.
The policy serves as a de facto cap on your settlement.
It's also a major factor in the rare instance when a car accident lawsuit makes it to trial.
Even if you are awarded damages by the jury that exceed the at-fault driver's car insurance policy limits, you'll have to hope that the driver can satisfy the judgment.
Let's say the at-fault driver has a policy limit of $50,000.
That means you can only recover a maximum of $50,000 from their insurance company, even if you can prove that your injuries and damages are worth more than that.
In order to be awarded the difference, you would have to sue the at-fault driver or make a claim against your underinsured motorist coverage assuming you have it.
Whether you agree with it or not, it's standard practice for an insurance company to assess vehicle damage and factor that in when determining injury claim value.
If your car is mangled, they are more likely to believe that your serious injuries are due to the car accident.
If your car barely shows any damage at all, the insurer will likely argue that the car accident couldn't have caused your injuries.
Any medical bills you receive for the treatment f your car accident injuries will be included in your damages.
The total amount of your medical expenses will factor heavily into the calculation of other types of damages that can't be easily quantified.
Pain and suffering is an excellent example of the damage that is hard to assign a dollar amount to.
We'll talk more about pain and suffering next.
If you lose any income due to the car accident it will be taken into account when determining the value of your case.
You can also be compensated if you stand to lose income in the future due to a loss of earning capacity.
Pain and suffering includes compensation for any physical pain and discomfort that is due to the accident, your injuries, and your medical treatment.
Pain and suffering also includes the mental and psychological effects you experience, such as anxiety, fear, loss of sleep, and even PTSD.
It's not easy to assign a dollar amount to pain and suffering damages.
However, they make up the biggest category of damages in a car accident case, especially one where injuries were severe, and medical treatment was extensive.
There's no formula to assess a car accident injury claim value, but it is standard practice for insurance companies to use a multiplier when calculating pain and suffering damages.
The multiplier is usually a number between 1.5 and 5.
1.5 would be for minor injuries, and a 5 would be for permanent disability.
That figure is then multiplied by the injured person's total medical bills incurred, to arrive at a number for pain and suffering damages.
Loss of consortium is when a spouse is injured in an accident, and his or her partner loses the spouse's physical companionship and support.
The impact on the relationship between spouses is what determines the appropriate amount of compensation.
Loss of consortium damages are awarded directly to the spouse, not the injured plaintiff, and they are only awarded if the injured plaintiff is successful in their claim.
Your injuries may affect your ability to enjoy the day-to-day pleasures of life or limit you from participating in the hobbies and interests you enjoyed before the accident.
If that's the case, you may be awarded compensation for "loss of enjoyment" damages.
The final consideration that is used to figure out how much your case is worth is your own conduct.
If the accident was partly your fault, you can expect a significantly reduced settlement amount.
A jury may also find in favor of the defendant or reduce any potential award by your proportionate fault if you're found to be somewhat liable for the accident.
This will be dependent on what your state's laws say about the issue of shared fault, also known as comparative negligence or contributory negligence laws.
Determining the value of a personal injury claim due to a car accident is more of an art than a science.
Several factors come into play, and it can be challenging to put a dollar value on each factor.
The best thing you can do is hire an experienced attorney that can guide you through the entire process and make sure you get every dollar you deserve.
It is their mission to be sure every car accident victim gets what they deserve, and they are ready to help you.