As a Chicago car accident lawyer, I’m often asked what a car accident case is worth and what determines the value.
- Insurance; and
This is not an all-inclusive list, but in my opinion these are the big three.
Liability: Good Facts Win Cases
Liability, meaning who’s at fault? Which driver caused the accident? Is it easy to determine fault, or is liability contested? Liability is very important. You don’t need to be totally free of negligence to pursue a claim, but it’s a lot easier to prosecute a case if it’s clear the defendant caused the accident.
For example, normally a rear-end accident is a much easier case to pursue than a contested “he said, she said” red light case. A drunk driver crossing the centerline is a better case than trying to figure out who had the right away coming out of a four way stop sign. It’s always better to have good facts on your side.
Great Auto Insurance Helps
Quality auto insurance is very important. There are good auto insurance companies, middle of the road, and substandard carriers.
We always hope that the at-fault driver has great auto insurance. They are usually easier to work with, and more likely to negotiate reasonably with your attorney and reach a fair settlement. Also, drivers that have good insurance typically have higher limit policies, and therefore more money to pay on claims.
Policy limits can be important when there are more significant injuries involved. If you’ve just sustained soft tissue injuries, a minimum limit policy is typically okay. But if you have a bigger injury and big medical bills, lost wages, etc., you’re definitely hoping the defendant is well insured.
On the opposite end, substandard insurance companies can be extremely difficult to deal with and often don’t negotiate in good faith. Sometimes it’s to receive any type of settlement offer at all, and you’re much more likely to end up in court. Often motorists buy low end insurance by mistake, not realizing they have made a poor choice.
Substandard policies typically have the minimum amount of coverage required by law. That can be a big issue if you have a case that’s worth a higher value.
The auto insurance you’ve purchased for yourself is also really important. If you protected yourself with a higher limits policy, that can help a lot if the defendant bought cheap, low limits insurance. If you have a bigger policy than the at fault driver, your lawyer will be able to present an underinsured claim on your behalf and collect additional money. In this situation your insurance carrier would step in and pay on the claim if your case is worth more than the defendant’s policy.
The insurance adjuster assigned to your case can also be an issue. Just like insurance companies, some adjusters are good, some are average and some are impossible to deal with.
Many adjusters can be reasonable and responsive, and know how to settle claims. But some adjusters undervalue cases, or misunderstand the applicable law, some don’t return phone calls or ignore your attorney when it’s time to settle. Even the best insurance companies sometimes employ subpar adjusters.
Have You Been Seriously Injured?
The severity of your damages is a key factor in determining the value of the car accident settlement. Damages include, but are not limited to, your injuries, pain and suffering, loss of normal life, medical bills incurred and loss of income.
Unfortunately the more you’re injured, the more your claim could be worth. For example, a soft tissue back injury is not worth as much a herniated disc that requires surgery, a sprained ankle is not worth as much as a broken ankle, headaches are not worth as much as a traumatic brain injury, etc.
In 2016 alone, there were just under 100,000 accidents in Chicago. Sometimes the injuries are serious, sometimes minor, and sometimes people escape with no injury at all.
I sometimes tell clients that it’s better to have a small case because getting seriously injured is a miserable experience. However, if a big injury is sustained, our car accident lawyers will go after the compensation that you deserve.
Contact our accident attorneys if you’ve been hurt
If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, contact Abels & Annes, P.C. for a free consultation. Our attorneys can be reached 24/7, and there’s no fee unless a financial recovery is made on your behalf. Call us at (312) 924-7575.