What Is a Car Accident Settlement?
A car accident settlement is an agreement between the driver who caused the accident and the victim. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will usually pay compensation. In return, the victim agrees not to file a lawsuit against the driver. Some settlements also have confidentiality requirements, particularly in cases involving gross negligence.
How Does a Car Accident Settlement Differ From a Verdict?
Some people use the word “settlement” to describe any compensation recovered for a car accident. However, settlements refer to private agreements between the insurance company and injured parties. Insurance companies often turn to this route to keep details confidential and avoid lengthy trials.
On the other hand, a verdict is a decision made by a judge or jury after hearing evidence at a trial. It is the money injured persons receive when insurance companies refuse to offer a fair settlement, so the case goes to court. When this happens, you are in greater need of an experienced attorney to build a strong case and represent you. In some cases, the judge might include punitive damages in the verdict. This form of damages aims to punish the at-fault driver for particularly careless or dangerous behavior. For example, if the driver operated the vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, text messaging at the time of the accident, or has a history of reckless driving.
Should I Accept a Settlement From the Insurance Company?
Most people feel pressured to accept a settlement because it’s a sure thing. If you go to trial, there’s always the risk that the jury might not rule in your favor. In that case, you wouldn’t receive any compensation for your injuries or damage to your vehicle. Sometimes, you receive payment but lose a percentage of it to comparative negligence claims.
Even so, it’s important to note that insurance companies will likely lowball their first settlement offer. They do this in the hopes that you’re desperate enough to take it. However, you should always consult with an attorney before accepting any settlement offer. Only an experienced personal injury attorney can review the details and determine fair compensation. He or she can also negotiate for a higher settlement.
A good car accident lawyer will fight to get you the best possible compensation. He or she can also help prove that the other driver was at fault if necessary. Some law offices have also built strong connections with medical practitioners, so they can connect you with top-tier resources to aid in your recovery.
What Kind of Damages Does Compensation Cover?
When your attorney negotiates compensation, the monetary claim falls into multiple categories. The most severe cases might cover all categories, while some might only fit into one or two.
These are the most obvious expenses related to an accident. They cover any ambulance rides, hospital stays, surgeries, medication and rehabilitative therapy required due to the accident. Those costs could also count if you have to see a mental health professional to deal with anxiety or depression caused by the accident.
This covers the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle. You’ll receive the car’s depreciated value minus any deductible you’re responsible for if it’s totaled. This money can also cover damage to personal items or even real estate if the accident happened on your property.
Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
If you miss work because of your injuries, you can receive compensation for those lost wages. If your injuries are severe enough that you can’t return to the same job or have to work fewer hours, you could also receive compensation for the earnings you lost due to the accident.
Pain & Suffering
This broader category accounts for both physical pain and emotional anguish. It might include long-term effects of injuries suffered or psychological trauma that makes it hard to live a normal life.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium claims ensure that the victim’s spouse can receive compensation for the emotional impact of the accident. These include things like the loss of intimacy, physical affection and companionship.
Sometimes courts hear wrongful death cases separately from personal injury claims but not always. In wrongful death cases, eligible family members seek compensation to secure the future financial stability of dependents, such as elderly parents, stay-at-home moms or young children.
What Are Some Factors Determining the Amount of Compensation?
Your personal injury attorney aims to get you the highest compensation value possible. At the very least, this should cover the economic injuries you suffered. However, some injuries go far beyond this. While money cannot compensate for a lost family member or lifelong disability, it provides resources to move forward.
These are some of the factors the insurance company, judge or jury will take into consideration when determining how much to award:
- The severity of your injuries and how long it takes for you to recover
- Whether your injuries are permanent and result in disabilities
- The amount in medical bills related to the accident
- How much work you miss because of the accident and what that costs you
- Whether your ability to work was affected in the long term
- The emotional impact of the accident on you and your loved ones
Why Do You Need a Good Personal Injury Attorney?
If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. This professional can help you understand the process and try to ensure you get a positive outcome. Attorneys also have the knowledge and experience to handle complex cases. Here are some of the reasons you should hire one as soon as possible:
- The other driver’s insurance company is not on your side.
- The other driver might not have insurance at all.
- You might receive a lowball settlement.
- You might not receive any compensation if you don’t have an attorney.
- Personal injury laws are complex and you should focus on healing.
- The insurance company will hire a team of attorneys to fight against paying you.
What Should You Look For in a Good Attorney?
When you’re looking for a personal injury attorney, the most important thing is that they have experience with cases like yours. If they don’t, they might not have the best ability to get you the compensation you deserve. You should also make sure that the lawyer is licensed in your state and that they have a good reputation.
Consider these additional questions:
- How much experience does the lawyer have?
- Is the lawyer licensed in your state?
- Does the lawyer focus on personal injury cases?
- Can the lawyer provide references?
- What is the lawyer’s success rate?
- How much money has the lawyer recovered so far?
Are you ready to work with attorneys with a strong track record of recovering high settlements and verdicts for car crash victims? We have recovered $240 million so far across all our personal injury cases. Contact us now at Judd Shaw Injury Law to get help.