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​Is It Worth Suing an Uninsured Driver?

Did you know that New Hampshire is the only state in the country that does not require residents to have car insurance or even prove they can cover liability in an automobile accident? Alaska also exempts some residents from car insurance when they live in areas not connected by land to the state highway system or roads with an average daily traffic volume greater than 499 vehicles. Automobile insurance is mandatory in every other state in the nation, yet many drivers continue to operate their vehicles without any coverage.

Following an automobile accident with an uninsured driver, many people wonder what options they will have when the other driver is at fault and the accident caused either serious injuries or immense property damage. Anybody involved in a crash with an uninsured driver should quickly retain a car accident lawyer who will know the most effective ways to recover financial compensation in challenging cases.​

Contact a Lawyer for Accidents With Uninsured Drivers

If you were involved in a car accident caused by another driver who did not have car insurance, you always want to secure legal representation as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer can make all the difference in your ability to recover anything, so you need to act quickly to find legal help.

Even when you had uninsured motorist coverage as part of your insurance plan, you will still want legal assistance if your insurance company refuses to fully compensate you for your losses. You should either call an attorney or contact them online to schedule what should be a free consultation to discuss your case and get a better idea of what options you might have.​

Options Following Accidents With Uninsured Drivers

In most cases, uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy will be your best avenue for recovering any compensation relating to your accident caused by an uninsured driver. People should always understand that uninsured motorist coverage is not the same as underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured coverage applies to accidents caused by drivers who did not have any automobile insurance coverage at the time of the crash. The underinsured will only pay you when another driver’s liability limits are too low to cover the total costs of all the damages involved.

Time Constraints

Most automobile insurance companies offer uninsured motorist coverage, but they may limit the time you have to file an uninsured motorist claim. This limit may be as low as only 30 days in some cases.

PIP Insurance?

Another possible insurance avenue for you can be personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which many “no-fault” automobile insurance states require drivers to carry. PIP insurance will cover the costs of injuries and disabilities in an accident without regard to fault and be the primary payment method for medical care and income replacement, even before you pursue an uninsured motorist claim.

Many PIP insurance policies require people to seek medical attention for an injury right away to preserve their rights. Even if you don’t have a PIP policy, you might have other insurance coverage.

For example, your health insurance policy can cover a portion of the cost of caring for accident-related injuries, although this coverage may not apply until you have exhausted your PIP coverage. Long-term disability insurance can also pay for long-term care and replace part of your income should your car accident injuries leave you disabled.

Was It Work Related?

Another option might be workers’ compensation insurance, which might apply if you sustained injuries in a car accident while you were working. This, of course, assumes your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance.

When filing a lawsuit against an uninsured driver, such legal actions are usually not recommended when the driver is uninsured simply because they can not afford insurance. In such cases, the drivers will not pay and may even file for bankruptcy to avoid liability.

On the other hand, if a driver lost insurance because their policy lapsed and they have significant resources, a lawsuit can recover compensation. This is another big reason you need to work with a skilled lawyer—they can determine whether the lawsuit is worth your time.

Is the Other Driver the Only Way to Recoup Losses?

You should also be aware that third parties can be liable in your case, depending on the circumstances. For example, a case involving an uninsured, intoxicated driver can lead to the liability of a bar or restaurant that served them.

If the uninsured driver caused a crash because of a defect with their vehicle, then an automobile manufacturer or parts manufacturer can also be held liable. In some cases, government agencies may bear responsibility for failure to warn drivers about hazardous conditions.

You also need to know that your insurance company can decide to subrogate your claim, which means the insurer will sue the other driver rather than leave it to you. Even if the other driver claims they do not have the money to pay any judgment you receive in a lawsuit, you can still have two different options.

First, you can file for a lien on the uninsured driver’s property, which will mean their assets become frozen and cannot be sold or spent, so you must be paid out should they sell the property. In other cases, you can also get the uninsured driver to agree to a payment plan when the uninsured driver cannot pay a judgment immediately, so they will instead pay you a smaller amount every week or month.​

Problems With Insurance Companies

Even if you have uninsured motorist coverage, your own insurance company may begin working against you because insurers always try to avoid spending in any way. As already mentioned, the first thing an insurance company will look at will be the timing of your filing of a claim, and claims filed too late will be ignored.

Your own insurance company may make you an unsatisfactory settlement offer. In these cases, you may head into arbitration, a process where your lawyer presents your case to either a single arbitrator or an arbitration panel.

Arbitrators effectively act like judges. They hear evidence, and binding arbitration will mean that you must stick with the given outcome.

In addition to the problem of an insurance company undervaluing your claim, you can also face the possibility of your claim receiving a denial without any objective justification. Some insurers may not thoroughly investigate your crash, while others may misinterpret policy provisions.

In general, you should receive compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Ambulance fees
  • Costs of hospital stays
  • Costs of surgical procedures
  • Emergency room treatment costs
  • Medication costs
  • Nursing services.
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anxiety
  • Emotional distress

Filing a claim with your own insurance company should not affect your premiums. An attorney will know when an insurer acts in bad faith and can help you fight for appropriate compensation.

Most personal injury lawyers will not charge you any money to handle your case because they take cases on a contingency fee basis. This means they only receive payment when they get you an award first. Under these agreements, victims do not pay anything upfront and do not pay anything at all until the case resolves.​

Resources & Statistics for Accidents with Uninsured Drivers

Accidents can happen in any state – whether you are a resident or only visiting. Below are some interesting resources, statistics, and facts about uninsured motorists in different states.

One in Eight Drivers Uninsured – Insurance Research Council (IRC)This press release shows that one in eight drivers in a recent year drove without insurance, and the national uninsured motorist rate was 12.6 percent.

While national uninsured motorist rates increased only 1.2 percent over the last five years, the states with the most significant increases included:

  • Washington (6.9 percent)
  • Rhode Island (6.8 percent)
  • Mississippi (6.4 percent)

The states with the most significant decreases in auto insurance coverage include:

  • Michigan (10.1 percent)
  • Delaware (2.9 percent)

The five highest uninsured rates in the country were:

  • Mississippi (29.4 percent)
  • Michigan (25.5 percent)
  • Tennessee (23.7 percent)
  • New Mexico (21.8 percent)
  • Washington (21.7 percent)

The five lowest were:

  • New Jersey (3.1 percent)
  • Massachusetts (3.5 percent)
  • New York (4.1 percent)
  • Maine (4.9 percent)
  • Wyoming (5.8 percent)

In any state, you never know when other drivers have insurance or not, and an uninsured driver crashing into you can cause many complications.

Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance by State – Kelley Blue Book (KBB) – View a complete list of state-by-state penalties for driving without insurance, including fines, imprisonment, registration suspension, and license suspension.

States in which drivers have license plates confiscated or turned in for driving without insurance include:

  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii (after multiple offenses)
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia (if the driver has not paid the uninsured motor vehicle fee)

States that impound uninsured vehicles include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii (after multiple offenses)
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon.

States that add points to driving records for driving without insurance include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii (after multiple offenses)
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon

States requiring drivers to get SR-22 forms for driving without insurance include:

  • Florida
  • Georgia (after multiple offenses)
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada (if insurance has lapsed for 91 days or longer)
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas (after multiple offenses)
  • Vermont
  • Virginia (if a driver did not pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee)
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming.

Facts + Statistics: Uninsured motorists | Insurance Information Institute (III)– On this page, you can learn more about the estimated percentage of uninsured motorists for the past few decades, as well as the estimated rate of uninsured motorists by state.

You can also find automobile financial responsibility limits by state, with Alaska and Massachusetts both having the highest requirements of coverage, including up to $100,000 for all persons injured in an accident, subject to a limit of $50,000 for one individual, and $25,000 coverage for property damage.

Meanwhile, Florida had the lowest requirements of coverage, up to $20,000 for all persons injured in an accident, subject to a limit of $10,000 for one individual, and California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania all had the lowest coverage for property damage with only $5,000.

Seek Help From a Car Accident Attorney Who Handles Claims With Uninsured Drivers

Dave Abels Lawyer
Auto Accident lawyer, Dave Abels

Did you recently suffer serious injuries or incur significant damage to your vehicle in an automobile accident caused by an insured motorist? You always need to act quickly and seek out the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

When you have an attorney on your side, you will dramatically increase your chances of recovering compensation for your losses and holding the negligent party accountable.

Call a car accident lawyer today or contact them online to take advantage of a free consultation. Doing so allows you to fully explain everything that happened and get complete insights into what the car accident attorney can do for you.

Too many people think the situation is hopeless when another driver has no insurance. They might also assume they can handle an uninsured motorist claim alone. These are both mistaken beliefs.

The best course of action is always to consult a legal professional. Leave it to your car accident lawyer to determine your best options for compensation.

 

​What Is a Good Settlement Offer for a Car Accident?

Months after your accident, you may receive a settlement offer after you filed a claim with the insurance company or a lawsuit in court. What you do at this juncture is critical. You always face the choice of accepting or rejecting the offer.

First, you must understand whether the insurance company has made you a good offer. While the answer comes down to dollars and cents, there are far more nuances and shades of gray in your considerations.

Before you accept an offer, you should consider them from all angles because signing a settlement agreement ends your legal rights to any further compensation for your injuries.

A Settlement Offer Just Begins Negotiations

​What Is a Good Settlement Offer for a Car AccidentAny explanation of car accident settlements needs to lay out, in crystal clear terms, the difference between a settlement offer and a reasonable settlement. In fact, lousy settlement offers do exist, and they will set you back financially far more than you can realize right now.

Hire a car accident lawyer to do the work to carefully analyze both the settlement offer itself and the effects on your future. An experienced car accident lawyer will do that for you and put you in a stronger legal position than if you were trying to do this independently.

First, you should understand precisely what a settlement offer is. Presumably, when you receive a settlement, you have already shown that the other driver was negligent. When someone else has been careless and acted unreasonably, they now have a legal obligation to pay for all the damages caused by their negligence.

The Car Insurance Company Is a Self-Interested Intermediary

The driver does not have this money, and the law has likely required them to purchase auto insurance. This is where the insurance company enters the scene. Because they have an insurance contract with the driver, they must cover the damages up to the policy limit.

A settlement offer is an agreement between you and the insurance company (representing the other driver) to trade your legal right to compensation for an actual check. However, the insurance company has its own interests in the situation that it will fight to protect.

Accordingly, your settlement offer should reflect your reality and the money you legally deserve for your injuries. To identify a reasonable settlement, you must know the legal theory behind settlements.

You Have a Legal Right to Full Payment for Your Damages

In a car accident (or any other type of personal injury case), the rule is simple; if you have lost something in a car accident, you have a legal right to compensation for it. These are the legal rights you hear lawyers talking about after a car accident.

Accident victims lose things in many ways after a car accident. They lose money, and they can lose their pre-accident quality of life. The responsible driver must pay for all of these because they caused the damages through their carelessness or recklessness. That is the essence of the law of negligence.

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Do Not Get Excited When You Get a Settlement Offer

Some car accident victims will celebrate when they receive a letter from the insurance company offering them money. However, this celebration is often premature because the settlement offer may be in their interests and not yours. You may have received one of the many lousy settlement offers that the insurance company makes.

They do this intentionally, both to catch you unaware of the actual value of your case and to wear down your resolve. In their thinking, if they make you wait longer for your money, you may more willingly take a bad offer. Then, they can clear the claim from their books and move on to underpaying the next claimant.

What Every Settlement Offer Needs to Pay You

A good settlement offer will fairly compensate you for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages represent the actual monetary costs of your car accident injuries. Accident victims must pay money out of their pocket after their injuries. They may have copays for medical care and a deductible on their health insurance.

This money can add up quickly. Even what seems like small copays can be a lot of money when you cannot work on account of your injuries. Just because your health insurance company has paid now for your medical care does not mean that they will keep covering your care. If there is a car insurance company in the picture and a settlement agreement, the health insurance company will have the right to be reimbursed for what they have paid.

In addition, you are also legally entitled to property damage to your car from the accident. Here, take care, especially in the age of soaring used car prices. An insurance company may try to undervalue the damage to your car. If your vehicle was totaled, your property damage might be far more than you think. The insurance company may declare your vehicle as totaled when it can be repaired or vice versa, whichever is in their financial interests.

How Settlements Should Treat Lost Income

Finally, economic damages also include lost wages. A good settlement offer will fully pay you for what you have lost by being unable to work because of your injuries. This offer will pay you for both past and future lost wages.

A fair settlement offer will also account for a reduction in your earning capacity. For example, your car accident injuries may have derailed your career, either temporarily or permanently. Missing a significant amount of time from work may have cost you a promotion that would have paid you more. The responsible driver must pay for that too.

Even though they are seemingly easier to value, economic damages still present challenges in settlement negotiations. Insurance companies will still try to get away with undervaluing your claim, especially when paying for your future damages. If there is a shortcut that they can take to shade your reality, they will not hesitate.

Non-Economic Damages Are Difficult to Value

As challenging as economic damages are, non-economic damages are even more difficult. By definition, these are subjective. Their purpose is to compensate for how the car accident has affected you. Any good settlement offer will take stock of what your life was like since the accident and pay you fully for both the experience you suffered through and what you have lost in your life since the accident.

The most significant part of non-economic damages is pain and suffering. The term’s meaning is the physical discomfort and emotional distress that resulted from the accident. Pain and suffering compensate you for the ordeal of everyday life after your car accident, both now and in the future.

What Your Pain and Suffering Damages Include

Physical injuries seldom come without anything else attached. Practically all physical injuries will involve physical discomfort. In addition, psychological aspects may accompany them, because injuries affect your mental well-being.

Accordingly, pain and suffering damages will include:

  • Physical pain
  • Anxiety
  • Discomfort
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Embarrassment
  • Disfigurement

Car accidents can also leave you with emotional trauma from the experience of the accident. Being struck and injured at the scene of an accident can cause psychological scars that never heal. These are also part of your non-economic damages.

A good settlement offer reflects your own post-accident experience. The insurance company wants to take you out of the picture. They have their formulas to standardize things and turn subjective into objective. However, you are not just any person. You have had your own unique experience after the accident and have the right to pursue compensation.

Settlement Offers Will Not Include Punitive Damages

Some people think that a reasonable settlement offer also includes punitive damages.

However, there are two reasons why you will likely not receive punitive damages in a car accident settlement:

  • Punitive damages are extremely rare in personal injury cases (and even more so in car accidents)
  • Only juries will award punitive damages, and an insurance company will not pay them as part of a settlement

They Must Pay You for Your Damages

No two car accident victims are the same. Each case is unique and different people have different circumstances. Accident victims may need different treatments for their injuries, and they certainly have their own jobs. For instance, a highly-paid corporate executive can expect more in lost wages than someone who earns less. Someone may be more predisposed to depression and anxiety and maybe more affected emotionally by their injuries.

The defendant (and their insurance company) must pay for the damages they caused. In any personal injury case, the rule of thumb is that “you take your victim as you find them.” Therefore, the driver must pay for the damage they did to you. If you enjoyed hobbies before your car accident that you can no longer do, a reasonable settlement offer will pay you for that as a loss of enjoyment of life.

A good settlement offer pays for the damages you suffered personally. It does not apply any set formula but reflects your situation and experiences. You are not the same person as someone else, and your case is unique.

Knowing a Good Settlement Offer From a Bad One Takes Expertise

The question for many people is how you know what a reasonable settlement offer is. It is not a case of knowing one when you see it. Instead, learn how much you deserve and compare the offer to your value.

A car accident lawyer will compute the value of your case before they go to the insurance company or file a lawsuit. This way, you know whether you received a reasonable settlement offer.

If you are still early in the settlement process, the chances are that any settlement offer you receive is not a good one. The insurance company wants to make you a lowball settlement offer to lengthen the claim process and see if you will accept it. They lose nothing by making a low settlement offer to save money.

You risk settling for far too little if an attorney did not evaluate your car accident claim. For example, you may not know what you can receive compensation for under the umbrella of pain and suffering.

Usually, You Should Not Take the First Settlement Offer

Never run to accept a settlement offer just because the insurance company offered it to you. The insurance company offering you money does not mean that taking it is the right thing to do.

Often, the insurance company banks on the fact that a settlement offer will seem appealing to someone who is struggling for income. Once you accept a settlement offer, you have signed away your rights to compensation.

Only accept a settlement offer that makes sense for you. That is what makes it a reasonable settlement offer. If the insurance company does not make this offer, you can file a lawsuit and have a jury decide your case. A jury does not have the same financial considerations as an insurance company, which gives you leverage in settlement negotiations.

You always have the right to say no to a low settlement offer, which is what you should do. There is a reason why we refer to it as an offer – because acceptance and a signed settlement agreement are entirely up to you.

Should I Take the First Offer of a Car Accident Settlement?

One of the first questions people ask after suffering an injury in a car accident is whether they can get a settlement for their damages. Financial compensation requires proving that someone else was responsible for your car accident. It is only after that money comes into play.

The Insurance Company Is Using the Settlement Process to Save Money

Should I Take the First Offer of a Car Accident SettlementAfter a car accident, you must do what is suitable for you and your family. Your financial interests are at stake. On the other side of the table is the insurance company with its economic interests. Car accident settlements are a zero-sum game between you and the insurance company. Any dollar in your pocket is one out of theirs.

Insurance companies have shareholders and owners who want their investment to succeed. Therefore, there is pressure on the insurance company to save money, and they will try to do it at your expense.

Getting the right amount of money after your car accident is an entirely different story. Even when liability is very apparent right off the bat, it is still a fight to get the check you deserve. In some cases, the insurance company is more than happy to settle a case when they pay you pennies on the dollar for your injuries.

The settlement process can be long and drawn out. Your focus is on getting the insurance company to the point where they are fairly compensating you for your damages. Note that the settlement process is about eventually reaching the point of fair compensation because it does not happen at first.

The insurance company is viewing the settlement process as a negotiation. Just like any negotiator, they will try to leave themselves some room to increase their offer in the future.

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The Insurance Company Will Begin Low and Gradually Raise its Offer

The insurance company is not like any other negotiator. They start with a natural advantage over you. Car accident companies have been dealing with claims for practically as long as cars have existed. They have had decades to fine-tune how they deal with and handle claims that they receive.

Any car insurance company will have legions of adjusters equipped with the latest software. Their programs can quickly determine how much your claim is worth based on what they see across the country and company. An insurance company will start the settlement negotiation with full knowledge of this number and try to settle the case for far less than that.

The Insurance Company Makes Money By Paying as Little as Possible

The insurance company’s motivation is to keep as much of its premiums as possible. Large insurance companies take in billions of dollars in premiums each year. They will invest the money in the stock market and other assets, and it earns returns until they need to pay out the money.

Settlement checks come from a fund that they maintain. Any money they do not pay out gets to stay invested, reinvested in the company, or given to shareholders as a dividend. For an insurance company, they want to hold onto its money. From their perspective, they prefer to have it in their pocket than put it into yours.

The insurance company will always make a low initial settlement offer. The more your claim is worth, the lower the initial settlement offer. Higher dollar value claims give the insurance company even more wiggle room for their negotiating tactics. If your claim is a valuable one, they may offer you what seems at first to be a lot of money. However, when you get into the nuts and bolts of the offer, you will realize how low the offer is.

In any car accident settlement, the law obligates the defendant to pay you for the damages they have caused you. Their contract requires that the insurance company defends them from any lawsuit. The duty to defend brings the insurance company into the picture. The insurance company is the entity that has the money because the average person who causes you injuries in a car accident does not have the liquid assets necessary to pay for your injuries.

What a Car Accident Settlement Must Include

Your car accident settlement should pay you for everything you lost in the accident. Not only have you suffered actual economic losses, but you have also sustained other damages that have robbed you of the quality of your life. The defendant must pay you for everything.

Car accident damages should include:

  • Medical bills – All medical costs associated with your car accident injuries in both the past and the future
  • Lost wages – Any money that you can have made by working that you cannot earn, including a reduction in the amount of time that you can work or your earnings capacity
  • Pain and suffering – This subjective damage measure compensates for what you endured after the accident, including physical pain and depression.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life – Your life may not be the same as before the car accident took hobbies and other things that you enjoyed beforehand.
  • Emotional trauma – The experience of the car accident may have caused you lasting psychological damage
  • Wrongful death – If your family member lost their life in a car accident, your family may seek compensation for your damages.

The Insurance Company Will Always Underestimate Damages in the First Offer

In this list of damages, there are many ways that the insurance company can undervalue your damages, and you can be sure that they will. After all, they are a for-profit entity in business to make money for its shareholders. They are not in business to put money into your pocket. To them, you are an entry onto the expense side of their balance sheet that gets in the way of the profit side of their ledger.

The quicker the insurance company makes an offer, the more likely it is a trap for you. Without an attorney, there is a high risk that you will fall into that trap.

Unrepresented claimants are far more likely to be taken for a ride by the insurance company.

There are two critical pieces of knowledge that they are lacking:

  • The actual value of their claim
  • The fact that you actually can negotiate with the insurance company

Not only can you negotiate with an insurance company, but it is what they are expecting from every claim. To them, it is a great day when someone takes an initial offer without negotiating because it means that they have boosted their bottom line.

An Attorney Will Negotiate with the Insurance Company on Your Behalf

When you hire an experienced car accident lawyer, they will know what to do when you get a settlement offer. Your car accident lawyer evens the playing field because they also know what your claim is worth. Before you file the claim with the insurance company, your lawyer has also calculated the value of your claim and has come up with a better starting point for negotiations.

Once the insurance company makes the initial offer, your lawyer will evaluate it and advise whether to accept it. Most likely, the initial settlement offer will not come close to paying your expenses. Accordingly, they will advise you to reject the settlement offer. Let your lawyer protect you against negotiation traps. If insurance companies are motivated to settle the case quickly, there is likely a reason for it.

What to Do When the First Settlement Offer Is Low

Once you learn how low the settlement offer is, you have two options:

  • Continue to negotiate with the insurance company
  • File a lawsuit in court seeking damages

In some cases, the settlement offer comes after you have already filed a lawsuit. Nothing prevents the parties from negotiating while the case moves forward in court. In fact, this is what happens in most car accident lawsuits.

Most claimants will continue to negotiate with the insurance company because they will eventually get closer to the right amount of damages through continued negotiation. At this point, your lawyer will come back to the insurance company with a demand letter that states your position and the money you need.

The demand letter is your counteroffer. Likely, this is one of many counteroffers that you will be making. Little by little, you will hopefully get closer to reaching a final settlement agreement with the insurance company.

The Initial Offer Is Just the Beginning of the Process

When you reject the insurance company’s initial offer, it automatically takes it off the table. However, this should not be a cause for alarm. The initial settlement offer is merely just a baseline for beginning negotiations instead of a serious attempt to compensate you for your injuries.

If push comes to shove, the insurance company will gladly settle your claim for this amount. You should see the initial settlement offer as a placeholder for future negotiations instead of a serious attempt to settle your claim.

You can expect multiple rounds of proposals and counter-proposals sent back and forth between you and the insurance company. Insurance companies almost always settle claims this way. If they are not, there is a greater chance that you are leaving money on the table. The more valuable your claim, the longer you can expect negotiations to take.

At some point, the two parties may find a way to settle the claim. Neither you nor the insurance company want to go to court. For you, it adds time to your case. The insurance company needs to pay litigation expenses to a defense firm because they do not have lawyers working for them on a contingency basis like you. Paying lawyers raises the insurance company’s cost of doing business, and that is very much something they prefer to avoid if possible.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Helps Your Case

From reading this, you should see the value that an experienced car accident lawyer adds to your case. Without one, you will be an easy mark for the insurance company.

On your own, you may not have a genuine concept of what money means in your case. You may see a settlement offer for $100,000 and think it is a lot of money. However, when that is just the amount of your past and future medical expenses, it leaves nothing left for you. If you accept that, you will end up in a bad place financially because you only get one chance to settle a car accident claim.

Your lawyer knows the rules of the road for dealing with an insurance company. They do this every day. You may never have dealt with an insurance claim before and not know how it works. An attorney is familiar with insurance company tricks, and their job is to protect you from them.

Negotiating with the insurance company requires certain degrees of fearlessness and a steady hand. When you have injuries and face financial difficulties, you cannot clearly think without emotion and fear.

While you can represent yourself to the insurance company, it is not a good idea. Settlement negotiations are all about money and how to get as much of it as possible. You need another set of eyes that has seen this all before.

Your own eyes may not see the situation clearly, without knowing what your case is worth. In the end, hiring a lawyer increases your chances of getting top dollar for your accident injuries. Your attorney will also spare you from the stress and difficulty of dealing with the insurance company.

​What Do Car Accident Lawyers Do?

If you drive on a highway or watch television ads, you have likely seen more than your share of advertisements for car accident lawyers who promise to fight for you when you get injured. They all promise to work for you to get financial compensation for your car accident injuries. However, many people do not understand what these lawyers do and how they add value to your case.

This misunderstanding becomes apparent in the number of people who try to handle a car accident case on their own. Here is what a car accident lawyer does and how they help your case.

Your car accident attorney begins to work for you at the initial consultation. Each attorney will speak with you entirely for free to learn the facts of your case and help you get started. No matter what, you should always talk to an attorney. It costs you nothing, and you will gain valuable knowledge about the car accident legal process. In addition, you will get to know your potential attorney and decide whether you want to work with them for your case.

Your Lawyer Will Explain Your Legal Options

​What Do Car Accident Lawyers DoThe first thing that a car accident lawyer does is explain your legal options to you. Every car accident victim has legal rights, and you are no different. In the beginning, you come to an attorney with your story and the facts. You are hoping to get a check for your injuries. With every car accident, you have several ways to get from point A to point B.

Your attorney will explain how to go from an accident to a settlement check. They will learn more about your case and assess your chances of success based on their discovered facts. Attorneys may handle cases differently, so your attorney’s experience will come into play.

In many cases, your initial peace of mind comes from knowing your options. Your lawyer lays out the roadmap for your case and how you can obtain compensation for your injuries. Always remember at this point to ask questions if you are unsure about any step in the process.

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An Attorney Investigates the Facts of Your Car Crash

To get a check for your injuries, you must prove that someone else was to blame for them. You must explain exactly what happened in the car accident and why the other driver did not do what we expect of a reasonable driver under the circumstances.

On your own, this is a difficult thing to do. Your car accident likely happened out of nowhere. Usually, a driver strikes an unsuspecting driver’s car with their own. You may have your side of the story and see some of what happened beforehand. However, the other driver may also have a different version of events that may not even reflect reality.

In any accident case, you must prove what happened to cause the crash. The average person may not be familiar enough with car accidents to know how to do this. If your claim comes down to your word versus the other driver’s, you may be unable to get a check because you have not proven negligence.

Your capacity to investigate your accident at the scene is limited. If you are filing an insurance claim for injuries, you may have been unable to interview witnesses at the scene or take your own pictures. Once all parties have cleared the accident scene, you can lose valuable evidence that you can use to prove your case.

After you hire an attorney, they will immediately investigate your crash and gather the proof that you need to show that someone else should pay for your injuries. An experienced lawyer knows how to quickly assemble the available evidence before it disappears. The longer you wait to call a lawyer, the greater the chance that you will lose critical proof. A lawyer will begin with the police report and interview witnesses, and possibly even work with car accident reconstruction experts.

The lawyer will help you determine the correct defendant against whom to file a claim. In most cases, this is the other driver. However, there is a chance that additional defendants, such as a company, contributed to your election. Then, your claim can lead to an even more extensive settlement check because there is more insurance coverage.

Once your lawyer assembles the evidence, they will present your side of the story to the insurance company in your claim. They will use the evidence to demonstrate how and why someone else was negligent. If they are successful, you will proceed to the next step of the process, which is negotiating financial compensation.

A Lawyer Will Estimate and Place a Value on Your Claim

Perhaps the most critical information in a car accident claim is how much money your case is worth. It is one thing to get a settlement check. It is another thing to get the right amount of money in your case. Settling a case for too little works against you because you have signed away your rights to any additional money.

There are many moving parts to a car accident case. Your check should reflect how your car accident injuries have affected you. While there is a formula for car accident damages, there is no one-size-fits-all number for your case.

It is incorrect to say that a broken leg is worth $50,000 because it can be worth different things to different people. A broken leg can be far more damaging to someone who works on their feet every day or someone who ran every day before their car accident. You will base your damages on your situation.

The insurance company knows how much your claim is worth because they have sophisticated software and company-wide knowledge. They are hoping that you do not have the same knowledge.

An attorney will analyze your damages before they file any claim on your behalf. They will learn your story to know how your car accident injuries have impacted you. The lawyer will review all aspects of your life to come up with a complete estimate of your injuries as your starting point.

Not knowing the exact value of your settlement leaves you vulnerable to the insurance company. For instance, you may not know how courts value pain and suffering in a car accident case. An attorney does, and they will push back when the insurance company is not offering you enough.

You Need Someone Experienced to Negotiate Compensation

The most challenging aspect of every car accident case is dealing with the insurance company. They are a self-interested party that views you as an expense. They do not care about you or your family and what you may be experiencing. An insurance company has the same goal with every car accident case—to minimize its financial burden.

Insurance companies have power, but they are not all-powerful. They do not get to set the terms of your case or any settlement agreement. They represent the other driver because their insurance contract gives them a duty to defend. In the end, the legal rights are yours.

However, if you approach an insurance company without a lawyer, their built-in advantages will give them power over you. They will have far more information and the knowledge that you may be unable to do anything about it when they try to use their usual tricks against you.

In any negotiation, knowledge is power. When you hire an attorney, you get their knowledge, which they will put to work for you. They will explain what is happening and what the insurance company is trying to do.

Most people do not know that they can negotiate with an insurance company, let alone know how to do it. There is a skill in dealing with these large companies that a lawyer has. The more valuable the claim, the harder the insurance company will work to underpay it. Economizing on your claim means higher profits for the insurance company.

An attorney will evaluate any settlement offer that you receive. They will compare it to the actual value of your case and give you advice on whether to accept it. If the settlement offer is low, they will present your counteroffer to the insurance company.

A lawyer will repeat these steps each time you receive a new settlement offer. An attorney’s knowledge and ability to say no to an inadequate offer can lead to new and higher offers.

A Lawyer Will Handle Communications with Insurance Companies

How you talk to an insurance company can dictate whether you receive financial compensation and how much you can get. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can jeopardize your ability to get a check or reduce your settlement size. Dealing with an insurance company is an adversarial process because they are certainly not your friend.

You can understand why the insurance company wants to talk to you. They can catch you saying the wrong thing. They are looking for statements or evidence that they can use against you. The insurance company knows the questions to ask and how to frame them to trap you.

Your lawyer speaks to the insurance company on your behalf and keeps them off your back. An attorney is your protector, preventing the usual insurance company ambush that snares far too many claimants. When you engage a lawyer, you can simply tell the insurance company to talk to them. The insurance company will need to go through your lawyer to speak to you, and any lawyer will advise you never to speak to them in the first place.

An Attorney May Take Your Case to Court if Necessary

Any negotiation is about sticks and carrots. In a car accident settlement negotiation, if the insurance company is being unreasonable, your best option may be to go to court. Lawsuits raise the cost of business for an insurance company. They need to hire lawyers of their own and pay them, and they may not always want to incur this cost.

You and your lawyer must follow an entire litigation process if your case goes to court. You must observe critical deadlines and make filings in your case. Although you are allowed to represent yourself in court, it is not advisable. An insurance company has defense firms that they work with that do nothing but defend these cases. In a court case, it is not just about telling your story; it is about proving it to a jury. The burden of proof is on you in any case. You do not get any extra consideration from a judge or jury if you represent yourself.

If a case goes to court, a car accident attorney will:

  • Draft the complaint that states both the facts and the reasons why you are entitled to compensation
  • Defend your case when the insurance company tries to get it dismissed from court
  • Defend you when you are answering questions at a deposition and take the deposition from the other driver
  • Present your evidence in court in front of a jury

Trial practice requires an experienced lawyer. Not every lawyer knows how to speak to juries and prove your case in court. Litigation attorneys are a different cut than other lawyers.

Hopefully, you better understand what an attorney does when they promise to stand up for you. You must follow a legal process to obtain total compensation for your car accident injuries.

If you try to deal with the insurance company by yourself to save money, you will cost yourself dearly. Not only will you get far less money, but you may not even get money at all. Hiring an attorney is a financial investment that can pay off through higher car accident compensation. Conversely, trying to handle your own case introduces far more risks than it is worth.

Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Car Accident?

Is Getting A Car Accident Lawyer Worth It?

One of the first decisions that a car accident victim must make after the crash is whether they intend to pursue financial compensation. After that, they will consider hiring a lawyer for their case. If there is even a possibility that someone else is to blame for your accident, you should try to get money for your injuries.

If you do try, you need an experienced car accident lawyer as you go through the legal process. Otherwise, you will take a complicated process upon yourself at a tough time in your life.

Why Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Is a Must

Car Accident Laws Some people try to handle car accident claims without legal representation, and they might not even realize how much money they are leaving on the table. Some car accident victims think they are saving money by not paying legal fees, but this is usually not the case.

You can hire a car accident attorney without paying hourly fees by entering into a contingency fee agreement. Although the fee structure promotes helping accident victims hire lawyers, lawyers will receive part of your settlement or jury award as payment for their efforts. Still, after legal fees, your settlement will likely be more than if you tried to handle the claim without legal representation.

If you wonder whether getting a lawyer is worth it, you should consider what may happen if you do not have an attorney.

Here are some of the risks that you may face:

  • The insurance company will trick you into saying something that may harm your ability to get financial compensation
  • The insurance company may deny your claim because you have not put forth sufficient proof (or the insurance company thinks they can push you around)
  • You can settle your claim for a fraction of its value because you never knew the amount of money that you really deserve
  • You can end up with nothing when the facts and the law were on your side

What Car Accident Attorneys Do Once You Hire Them

A car accident lawyer performs many roles for you once you hire them.

Their early roles for you are:

  • They are investigators who will gather proof that can help show who was responsible for the accident and determine the cause of the crash. You may not have the knowledge or physical health to perform these functions right after a car accident.
  • They are a counselor who is there to answer your questions and explain the legal process that you will deal with to get compensation.
  • They are your protector who will keep the insurance company at bay when they try to pressure you into giving a statement or quickly settling your case for next to nothing.
  • They are your guide who will help you get organized for dealing with the claims process.

A Car Accident Attorney Will Handle Your Claim

As your case progresses, your lawyer will continue to perform several vital roles. Car accident claims involve details and plenty of them. It will be difficult for you to keep paperwork, processes, and deadlines straight. You already have your hands full dealing with your physical injuries. While your case is about far more than details, having help with them is invaluable.

Preparing your claim or lawsuit is one of the essential steps in your case. If your claim is not well-presented and it does not put forward the necessary evidence, there is a chance that the insurance company or court will deny it.

In addition, you also need to know how much to seek in your case. Too many claimants have fallen into the trap of not knowing what they can get and taking far less. An insurance claim attorney will ensure that you have a thorough and well-organized claim or complaint that puts your best foot forward.

Your Lawyer Puts You on Equal Footing With the Insurance Company

Perhaps the most crucial reason to have an attorney is that it levels the playing field between you and the insurance company.

Individuals usually do not get the best of things when dealing with companies that exploit any differences in power between you and them. However, an insurance company does not have authority over your legal rights because those belong to you. Their power comes from the fact that they control the process. When you have an aggressive and experienced advocate, you are on an equal footing with the insurance company.

Imagine, for a second, having to do all of this on your own. The legal process can be complex and involved. The insurance company has mastered detailed and intricate rules over the decades. You may be in the dark about what to do to maximize your financial recovery, and you may not even know the basics of filing a claim or getting your voice heard. It is challenging to handle your legal process, especially when you have never been through it before.

Even though you are the one with the legal rights, you need to be protected because others may try to compromise your rights. At the end of the day, money matters the most to an insurance company. They are willing to step over you and on you to keep as much of it as they can for themselves. They receive premiums from their drivers, and they do not want to pay claims.

When Money Is on the Line, You Need Help

In the end, many car accident claimants and plaintiffs make the right decision to hire an attorney. According to the Insurance Research Council, the number of bodily injury claimants represented by an attorney is slowly rising. The number of represented claimants hovers around 50 percent.

The larger your claim, the more you need an attorney. Even a large payment to you is not enough when you legally deserve money. Thus, if you wonder what a reasonable settlement in a car accident case is, it pays you for your damages. $100,000 can be a great settlement, and $1 million can be a lousy settlement because everything depends on what you legally deserve. An attorney can help maximize your compensation by properly valuing your claim and keeping after the insurance company until it makes an appropriate and fair payment.

It Is Always Worthwhile to Talk to a Lawyer

Always explore your legal options after a car accident. Even if you are unsure whether the other driver was at fault for the accident, it is always worth conversing with an attorney to see whether you may be eligible for financial compensation. Even if you think that you may have been at fault, you may be only partially to blame, or you can be misreading the situation.

A consultation with an experienced car accident attorney does not cost you anything, and there is no obligation attached to it. The worst thing that happens is that several lawyers tell you that they do not think you have a strong case and cannot help you. If that does occur, you have lost nothing.

On the other hand, you can find out that you may be entitled to money for your injuries that you previously did not expect. This informational process is the exact reason why lawyers offer free consultations. You are only risking a small portion of your time with practically everything to gain.

An Attorney Needs to Investigate Your Crash Quickly

Once you sign a representation agreement that forms an attorney-client relationship with a lawyer, they can begin to investigate your car accident. The results of the investigation and the contents of any police report can give you a strong case if you choose to file a legal claim (although you usually cannot enter the police report as evidence in court).

If you learn that you have a potential claim for financial compensation in connection with your car accident, you owe it to yourself and your family to move forward with the claim or lawsuit. In other words, if someone caused your car accident injuries, you absolutely should pursue the money that you deserve.

Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Costs You Nothing Upfront

If you have a potential compensation claim and an attorney will take your case, the legal process is always worth it. It does not cost you anything. Your lawyer will work for you on a contingency basis. They do not ask you to pay them a large amount of money upfront to take your case.

In fact, they usually do not ask you for any money upfront, and they do not send you bills while the case is pending. If you do not win your case, your lawyer will not bill you for their case. If you gain nothing, you don’t lose anything either.

On the other hand, doing nothing when someone may potentially owe you money is the same thing as throwing away money. If you can prove that someone else was to blame for your accident, you have a legal right to financial compensation. Therefore, you should do everything in your power to pursue it. Letting things slide means that you can be leaving money on the table.

The Insurance Company Places Obstacles in Your Path

The legal process is understandably challenging. You may deal with a difficult insurance company or need to go into court, but it beats the alternative. If you do nothing, you are forfeiting the legally deserved money. You might end up in a legal battle, but that is what is sometimes necessary to get financial compensation.

You have two potential pathways to financial compensation after a car accident. The first is going through the insurance claims process. Your auto insurer and the company that insures the other driver will determine who was liable for the crash. If the other driver was responsible, you then begin negotiating financial compensation. This claims process is just the beginning of a long and arduous process for many injured claimants.

Getting Enough Money for Your Claim Is a Challenge

Negotiating compensation with the insurance company is never easy. If you settle your case too quickly, the chances are that they have managed to put one over on you and pay you less than the full amount of your damages. However, that is precisely what many people do, especially when they do not have an attorney. They accept the settlement offer like a decree, taking the check and signing the release.

You have the right to say no to the insurance company’s settlement offer. You can make your counteroffer and continue negotiations to get more money from them. Eventually, you may agree to a settlement that more fairly pays you for your car accident injuries.

Filing a Lawsuit Is Always an Option

Dave Abels Lawyer
Dave Abels, Car Accident Injury Lawyer

If the insurance company denies your claim or will not pay you enough money, you can and should file a lawsuit in court. You do not even need to go through the claims process in the first place, although many car accident victims start here first. You always have the legal right to go directly to court.

A jury will hold the responsible driver accountable if their insurance company does not settle the claim first. In some cases, that is where you have to go to have your legal rights respected and enforced. If the insurance company does not handle business the way it should, you should let them off the hook.

Again, even filing a lawsuit will not cost you any money upfront. You may need to pay a higher percentage of your jury award to an attorney, but a trial is a must when the insurance company denies your claim or when the settlement offer is paltry and the company will not raise it. Then, suing the insurance company is the only way to get the money that should be coming to you.

However, to credibly file a lawsuit in court, you should have an experienced personal injury attorney who knows what to do in the courtroom.

​How Much Should I Ask for Pain and Suffering From a Car Accident?

How Much to Claim for Pain & Suffering?

If you can prove that a car accident is someone else’s fault, you are legally entitled to the total damages necessary to pay you back for your losses. When you are in physical or emotional pain after an accident, you have lost something, and the responsible driver needs to pay you back for your ordeal the same as they will need to pay for the damage they caused to your car.

The key is to have a car accident lawyer calculate your pain and suffering damages. Auto insurance companies of liable drivers often minimize pain and suffering compensation as a tactic to keep settlements low. An adjuster will tell you that you can only get a certain amount for non-economic losses when, in reality, you deserve much more.

The best way to know how much to ask for pain and suffering from car accident injuries is to consult with a car accident lawyer right away – and before you start the claim process.

How Do You Calculate Your Damages When Injured in a Car Accident?

How Can You Put a Value on Pain and Suffering - Abels and AnnesCalculating your damages fall into two categories.

They are:

  • Economic damages measure money you actually lost, whether lost wages, property damage, or medical bills.
  • Non-economic damages pay for intangible damages, but they are very tangible to you. These can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Even economic damages may be difficult to agree on with the insurance company because they will have their own story of how much you have lost. The problem is even more evident when dealing with damages based on your own experience.

Should you trust the insurance company to accurately measure your pain & suffering? NO, The insurance company will spin you a different story about pain and suffering when they make you a settlement offer. They will claim that they are as objective as possible in assessing your claim and assigning a value to your pain and suffering damages.

The Multiplier Method of Calculating Pain and Suffering Damages

There are several methods that they may use to calculate your damages. The most common method that they use is the multiplier method. They will start with your medical bills and costs associated with your injuries (both past and future). The insurance company will then form its impression of the severity of your injuries. Depending on how serious they think you are injured, they will assign a multiplier to your medical bills. That becomes the amount that they offer you in pain and suffering.

Even though insurance companies have been doing business like this for years, this approach has numerous problems. The first, and most obvious problem, is that the multiplier that the insurance company chooses will always be too low. This tactic is another way that the insurance company tries to hide behind objectivity to underpay you. They may claim your injuries are not extremely serious and that you are not going through a harrowing experience.

How the Insurance Company Calculates the Multiplier

The insurance adjuster making the offer does not care that you may be in severe physical pain, nor do they care that you are going through extreme anxiety and cannot sleep at night. Your life is of no concern to them. They are simply trying to dispose of your claim and clear it off their books, paying the least possible money.

There are numerous factors that the insurance company can consider in determining what multiplier to use.

They include:

  • The types of doctors that you saw for your injury
  • The amount of time between your injury and when you reached a full medical recovery

If you have suffered a severe injury, the chances are that the multiplier will be on the higher end of the scale.

Just because the insurance company has assigned a specific multiplier to your claim for your pain and suffering damages does not mean that they get the final word. If the multiplier is detached from reality and does not accurately capture your damages, you can counter with a different number. You can either propose your own multiplier or an additional pain and suffering amount.

How Does Insurance Calculate Pain & Suffering?

The insurance company calculates pain and suffering with the per diem method, which measures what you endure in a day from your accident injuries. The insurance company comes up with a number to estimate your pain and suffering. Then, it will multiply that figure by the number of days that they estimate that you will be living with your injuries.

There are several ways that the per diem method may shortchange you and not pay you what you deserve:

  • The per diem figure can be low and not accurately capture your authentic experience.
  • The insurance company may underestimate the time in the future that you will be living with your injuries. They may aggressively assume that you will move toward healing when your injuries can be permanent or more long-lasting than the insurance company claims.

The per diem method is better suited for injuries that will heal at some point, such as broken bones. If the insurance company is trying to use the per diem method for permanent injuries, you should push back and question the basis of their position.

You Can Receive Future Pain and Suffering Damages

You can not only demand pain and suffering damages for what you have gone through in the past, but you can also receive future damages for what you will suffer. Personal injury damages compensate you for everything that you lose after the accident. You are in the position of having to predict the future and what you will experience.

While this seems complicated, a well-documented medical diagnosis will help prove what you will experience in the future. If your accident injuries are permanent or will remain with you for an extended period, you may endure considerable difficulties. Your doctor should detail what you may bear in the future due to your injuries.

Your medical records will be the key to your pain and suffering damages. The insurance company will look first at them because they are an objective statement of your condition made by an experienced professional healthcare provider. Insurers and a jury are more likely to accept your account when your doctor’s opinion backs it up.

How Do I Prove Your Pain and Suffering?

In addition to medical records, the following evidence can evidence your pain and suffering:

  • Medical bills
  • Prescription records
  • Mental health treatment notes
  • Photographs of your injuries

Documentation can help prove your damages, so it is critical to stay organized. Maintain all of your receipts and records in one place, so your attorney can use them as necessary.

Your Pain and Suffering Damages Depend on Your Experience

Regarding how much you should ask for, the amount of your pain and suffering damages should pay you for what you (and not anyone else) have experienced. It all depends on you and your ordeal. Two people can suffer the same injury and have different pain and suffering, no matter what the insurance company says by using a multiplier.

In any personal injury case, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate your damages. If you cannot prove it, you cannot get compensation for it. Insurance companies certainly will not give you any benefit of the doubt because it means that they need to write a check. A jury will also need proof before they can order a specific award. After proving that you are entitled to money, you must demonstrate how much money you deserve.

The Insurance Company Will Likely Dispute How Much You Deserve

Pain and suffering damages can be difficult to value because they are subjective. However, nobody will take your word for it without some testimony or proof that backs up your claim. If you want people to hear your story, you need a story to tell in the first place with evidence to support it.

To have the most robust possible case to receive the most possible pain and suffering damages, you should take steps to document your case. The key to your case is your own story. If the insurance company does not listen to your story, a jury might.

Document Your Own Experience to Tell Your Story

Keep a journal after the accident that details what you went through because of your injuries. The journal might show both the physical and emotional harm you continuously suffer. If you have a particularly rough day, note it in detail. Keeping a log will show your damages better than a multiplier that does not factor in anything about you and your ordeal.

Another way to prove your pain and suffering damages is through treatment records from a mental health professional. If you are suffering from anxiety or depression after your accident, you should seek care. Mental health care may help you, and it will also give you documentation to prove your damages.

Your family and friends can also testify about what they have seen since the accident. This testimony can be important if your case goes to court and a jury wants and needs evidence to make an award.

What Injuries May Merit the Highest Pain and Suffering Damages

Certain types of injuries will lead to more pain and suffering compensation. Permanent injuries will have the highest pain and suffering payment.

Here are some injuries that can cause permanent pain and suffering:

Even injuries that heal eventually allow you to receive compensation for your pain and suffering. For example, if you suffer a broken leg, it will cause discomfort until it heals (assuming that it does). While the pain and suffering award will not be as much, you will still be entitled to some money.

How an Attorney Will Help Your Case

Gary Annes Lawyer
Gary Annes, Car Accident Lawyer

An experienced attorney will help you develop a number to seek as part of your damages. Your lawyer regularly works with personal injury victims and knows how to value your claim. They will review your medical records and your accounts of your experience since the accident and combine them with their knowledge and understanding of what a claim of your type is worth. On your own, you will not know how much to ask for and that the insurance company is trying to underpay you.

You can be almost sure that pain and suffering will be one area where the insurance company will try to take advantage of you. The more subjective the area, the more room for different interpretations. If the insurance company has any ability to cut back on a settlement offer, they will take it wherever they can. Insurance companies know what your pain and suffering are when they see the evidence. You must present that evidence and then not let them off the hook when they try to underpay you.

The insurance company’s settlement offer will break out your compensation into individual elements, so you will know how much they are trying to pay you for your pain and suffering. If the insurance company is not offering you what you legally deserve, you can say no and come back with a counteroffer of your own. The chances are that they can raise their offer from the initial one that they made.

If you find yourself tempted to accept the insurance company’s initial offer, know that they likely have more room to raise it. Your lawyer will spearhead the negotiations with the insurance company, advising when and if their offer finally comes close to paying you what you deserve. If the insurance company does not write the check that you are legally entitled to receive, your lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf, seeking the total amount of compensation.

How Much Money Do You Get From a Car Accident Settlement?

How Much Will My Car Accident Settlement Payout?

Money is one of the first things on people’s minds after a car accident. First, you think about your health and treating your injuries. At the same time, you also need to begin work on your legal process, so you can receive money when someone else was at fault for the accident. If you want to know how much money you can get for your car accident settlement, you need to understand your case and what you have personally lost from your accident. Read on to learn more about the claim process from our experienced car accident lawyers.

Your Settlement Reflects Your Situation

Your damages are unique to you. As far as you are concerned, there is no such thing as an average car accident settlement. When you are determining damages, your attorney will look closely at your situation in placing a value on your car accident claim.

Even though you may have suffered similar injuries, your life is not the same as another car accident victim. For example, serious car accident injuries will impact a 25-year-old differently than a 65-year-old. A 25-year-old may lose out on more income and enjoyment of life, but a car accident can have more of a permanent effect on someone older.

You Must Prove Your Damages

In any personal injury case, the burden of proof is on you to show your damages. If you cannot prove that you have suffered a specific loss, you will not get money for it. The same principle holds whether you are trying to settle a claim or persuade a jury to order an award. Before you file a claim, your lawyer will analyze your damages and develop a number that they think you deserve. This number becomes the starting point for your car accident claim.

Once you prove that someone else was to blame for the accident, you are legally entitled to receive damages. The responsible driver has a legal obligation to pay you for all the harm they caused you.

If their insurance coverage is not enough to pay for the damages, you can go to your own insurance company and file a claim under your underinsured motorist coverage. If that is still not enough, the responsible driver will be liable to pay you from their own assets, although collecting a personal injury judgment may be difficult in practice.

The Different Types of Personal Injury Damages

Car accident damages include a wide range of harms.

Described broadly, there are two overall categories of car accident damages:

  • Economic Damages
  • Non-economic damages

Economic damages will cover all types of tangible financial loss. The first significant aspect of economic damages is the medical bills burying you after your accident. The defendant must reimburse you and the insurance company for bills that have been paid and compensate you for what you expect to pay in the future. Speaking with an attorney about your case can answer any questions you may have about how damages are calculated.

Recovering Money for Lost Wages

Lost wages are another prominent element of your economic damages. Money that you should be earning at work but are not because of your injuries is an economic loss to you and comes out of your pocket.

You can receive compensation for:

  • The time you missed from work to attend doctor’s appointments and rehabilitation
  • Wages you did not earn because of time missed recuperating from injuries.
  • Your future wages when you cannot work again or for an extended period
  • Any reduction in your earning capacity because you cannot do the same type of work that you used to in the past, or your injuries have cost you a promotion or pay increase that you were in line to receive before your accident.

Finally, economic damages also include the value of your property damage. You have the legal right to compensation for the damage to your car. If your vehicle was totaled, you should receive compensation for the value of your vehicle (insurance companies often try to find a way to undervalue your car if it needs replacing.

Non-Economic Damages Depend on Your Experience

The non-economic damages part of your claim can be challenging to value. By definition, these damages are all subjective. They pay you for what you have gone through and what you will go through due to your injuries. You are relating what your experience has been to receive compensation for it. If you do not have more evidence that backs up your claims of non-economic damages, you may be expecting an insurance company to pay you based on your word.

Of course, the insurance company will come up with every reason in the book to argue against why you deserve less money. In reality, they are not interested in your story and how you have suffered. To them, you are a number and not a person. Believing your story might result in them needing to pay you more.

You have every right to be paid fully for your individual experience. Your pain and suffering damages can be completely different from those of another car accident victim. By definition, pain and suffering will be unique to you.

How Insurance Companies Value Pain and Suffering Claims

Insurance companies try to use two different methods to come up with a shorthand for your pain and suffering damages:

  • A technique that multiplies your medical bills by a number.
  • A per diem method that assigns you certain damages for each day that you are dealing with your injuries

The multiplier method is better to use when you have suffered injuries that can be long-lasting and permanent. However, any objective formula that overlooks your own personalized experience may result in paying you less than you deserve.

Your pain and suffering damages often depend on how well your lawyer can tell your own story, whether to the insurance company or the jury. The amount of your pain and suffering payment depends partly on how hard you fight when the insurance company does everything it can to underpay you.

Other Non-Economic Damages That You Can Recover

Other elements of your car accident damages are also subjective and depend on your personal experience.

Here are some other things that you can receive compensation for as part of non-economic damages:

  • Inconvenience
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

By way of example, if you lived an active life before your car accident and now have hobbies that you can no longer enjoy because of your injuries, that is a loss to you for which you deserve compensation. Your spouse can also receive damages if your injuries have taken away some of your relationship’s physical or emotional aspects.

An insurance company can try to place any value on these damages, especially one that saves them money and takes away something that you are due. You must present them with a credible argument when they try to place their spin on your damages. If not, you should prepare to explain to a jury why you deserve the damages that you claim. A car accident lawyer can do that for you.

Your Settlement Will Not Include Punitive Damages

One thing that will not increase the amount of your car accident settlement is punitive damages against the responsible driver. First, punitive damages are extremely rare in any car accident case, reserved for the most serious of misconduct. Second, an insurance company will not pay punitive damages as part of a settlement.

Only a jury can order punitive damages. If you were in an accident involving drunk or reckless driving, you might want to consider the impact of punitive damages when deciding whether to settle your case.

You Can Negotiate for More Money

In many respects, you have some control over how much you can get from a car accident settlement. In settlement negotiations, you strike a balance between getting your money in a reasonable amount of time and fighting for the most possible money.

One reason different people may get different amounts of money is that some fight harder than others. Some people may prioritize getting money more quickly, although that often comes at a cost to you.

Remember that nothing says that you have to accept a settlement offer. You will eventually negotiate a settlement with the insurance company in most cases. However, there are times when they are dragging their feet for too long, or they will not offer you the money that you deserve.

You Do Not Have to Accept a Low Settlement Offer

If the settlement offer is too low, you are not obligated to sign on the dotted line and say thank you. The insurance company expects you will to negotiate. There is a time-honored dance between a claimant and an insurance company. They initially make a very low offer to test you and try to wear you down. Your lawyer reviews the offer and lets you know if it falls short and how much more you might get.

You can reject the insurance company’s offer if it does not pay you enough money. You are free to come back with a counter-demand. Then, the insurance company may raise their offer slightly. Do not be surprised if this goes on for several rounds over many months. There may come a time when you have to decide whether to keep negotiating or file a lawsuit.

Even Personal Injury Lawsuits Can Result in a Settlement

You may still negotiate a settlement even when you have filed a lawsuit. Few car accident lawsuits go to trial. Filing a lawsuit may get leverage over the insurance company because it understands that going to court costs them money.

If your case has merit, they also do not want to face a jury because it can cost them more money than a settlement. They may even be in legal trouble if a case goes to trial that should not because they have a legal duty to defend their policyholder in a lawsuit if they do not settle the claim.

You Always Benefit from Hiring a Lawyer

Dave Abels Lawyer
Dave Abels, Personal Injury Lawyer

The amount you will get in a settlement when you have a lawyer handling your case is usually far more than what you receive if you manage your case.

Insurance companies offer you far less when you are on your own because they are betting that you do not know what you are doing. Study after study shows that people who hire attorneys end up with more money, even after their lawyer receives their share of the settlement, and the numbers are not even close.

You should not have concerns about getting money, but you should think about maximizing your settlement. A settlement does not do you much good if it is for less than your damages. If you accept an inadequate settlement, you are signing away your legal rights for much less than they are worth. When you sign a settlement agreement, it releases the insurance company from liability in connection with your claim forever.

You cannot come back for more money in the future if your settlement proves to be inadequate. An experienced attorney can do the heavy lifting and handle all the details of your claim. They will take on the back-and-forth with the insurance company, pushing them to raise their settlement offer until it reaches a number that is more acceptable to you.

A car accident lawyer knows that there is no one-size-fits-all settlement amount for injury victims. Sufficient settlements have a wide range – $20,000 might cover one victim’s losses, while someone with catastrophic injuries will need millions. Insurance companies often standardize settlement offers without regard for your situation and specific losses.

Having a lawyer means they will represent you and fight for the amount you need for your losses, which can greatly differ from what someone else might need.

Start protecting your rights by having a car accident attorney handle your settlement.

Additional Resources:

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost for a Car Accident?

Can I Afford a Car Accident Attorney?

Yes most car accident attorneys work off contingency fees. Your health is what you think about the most after a car accident. Your physical well-being is disturbed without any warning, and you might never be the same again. Thus, you are worried about your physical recovery and whether it is possible.

Several consequences come from your physical injuries. One of the immediate impacts is on your finances. Money is going out of your account because of the avalanche of medical bills that you may be paying. Even if the insurance company covers its share, you still have copayments. Then, money may not be going into your account because your injuries can keep you from working. The combination of the two makes the aftermath of a car accident challenging for many families.

Do Not Let Money Get in the Way of Getting Legal Help

chicago car accident lawyerWith this in mind, some people think they cannot hire a lawyer because they do not have the money. They imagine car accident lawyer who asks for a retainer fee upfront and then charges them by the hour. Unfortunately, some people do not dig deeper and let this keep them from getting legal help after car accidents. However, the personal injury legal system does not work this way.

If personal injury lawyers require a significant investment upfront, they will be out of reach for most people who have suffered injuries in a car accident. The average American does not have a large cushion in their bank account, let alone enough money to pay for a lawyer when they may not be earning money.

The legal system understands that injured car accident victims are not sitting on large amounts of cash. However, everyone should have the ability to hire an experienced  car accident attorney to represent them as they seek financial compensation for their injuries.

The Personal Injury System Wants You to Get Legal Help

Nonetheless, the public policy of the personal injury law system is to help people afford legal help in their time of need. People with and without financial means both get injured in car accidents. Both should receive the same treatment and financial recovery when someone else is to blame for their car accident injuries.

From a lawyer’s perspective, they might price themselves out of existence if they required people to invest a large sum of money upfront after their accident. They would be selling something that people cannot afford, and they won’t earn a living themselves.

Insurance Companies Have Lawyers. So Should You

The law makes accommodations that help people get legal representation. Otherwise, the insurance companies will be staffed up with defense lawyers, while claimants will be powerless to stop them from their usual tricks. Injured accident victims need someone to stand up and fight for them to receive everything that they legally deserve after an accident.

How Does the Contingency System Work?

Car accident lawyers work for you on a contingency basis —you must win your case before you need to pay the lawyer.

Winning can mean one of two things:

  • You successfully settled your insurance claim and received a check from the insurance company or the responsible driver
  • You took your case to a jury trial and won a verdict in court

The Representation Agreement Lays Out Everything

Personal injury lawyers will sign a representation agreement with you that begins your attorney-client relationship and makes them your lawyer. It is a binding contract that both of you must follow. The representation agreement details all the terms of your arrangements with the lawyer, both financial and otherwise.

One of the significant aspects of representation by an attorney is the cost of the lawyer’s representation and how they get paid. The contingency fee agreement must state everything. Once you sign the agreement, neither you nor your lawyer can change it easily. Therefore, the representation agreement should be extensive. Everything needs to be in writing. There is no such thing as an oral agreement between a client and a lawyer.

Terms of the Representation Agreement

The first thing that a representation agreement will address in terms of fees is how much the lawyer receives if you win your case. A lawyer gets a percentage of what you recover.

Your contingency agreement may specify two different rates:

  • The percentage that an attorney receives if you successfully settle your claim
  • The lawyer’s percentage if your case goes to trial. This is usually a slightly higher rate because the lawyer must invest far more time and takes on additional risk.

These rates remain the same regardless of whether your case takes months or years. If your case results in a years-long trial with court hearings and appeals, the lawyer will still receive the same percentage of money. The same thing is true if your case settles after a short period, even though that is highly unlikely given the tricks that insurance companies use to put up barriers.

Treatment of Litigation Expenses in a Representation Agreement

Other litigation expenses appear in the representation agreement, such as fees for expert witnesses. Lawyers may handle these types of costs in varying ways. In many cases, the cost for the expert witness will come out of the accident victim’s settlement or jury award. However, remember that you are getting value from the expert witness’ testimony.

A persuasive and compelling expert witness can do the following:

  • An accident reconstruction expert can help you prove liability in a close case
  • A medical or vocational expert can increase your damages by testifying about the effects of your injuries.

There may be other fees that can come out of a personal injury settlement or award. Unless explicitly addressed in the representation agreement, an attorney can charge you for nothing and deduct nothing from your payment.

You Will Not Get Bills During Your Case

You may be wondering what happens while your case is pending. The lawyer will not send you bills while your case is pending. In fact, they may not even send you an invoice at all. Hourly fees do not apply to your case. The contingency fee usually pays for everything.

If you do not win your case, you do not need to worry about getting a hefty legal bill for your attorney’s time. Your lawyer is taking risks of their own to represent you. They do not get paid if you do not win your case.

It does not matter how much time they have spent and invested in your case. Your lawyer must diligently represent you and devote as much time as necessary to help your case. However, they are doing it without any guarantee of payment for them. If you come away without money for some reason, the lawyer will end up empty-handed too.

Lawyers Want to Know that You Have a Strong Case

Lawyers will be selective in the cases that they take. Since they also have risks, they may not accept your case if they do not think that it will succeed. Otherwise, they will be spending time on your claim that they can use in other cases that can make money for them.

The initial consultation is the lawyer interviewing you to see if your case has strength and will put you in line for financial recovery. For example, if you were injured when you rear-ended another car, the lawyer may not want to accept your case because it will be a stretch to get financial compensation.

A Lawyer Would Receive Part of Your Settlement or Award

If you win your case, the lawyer gets paid before you receive your compensation. Your check will first go to the lawyer’s account. Medical providers and your health insurance company have the legal right to receive payment first since they have already advanced money in your case. In addition, a disability insurance company has a right to recoup the money that they paid if you filed a claim.

Then, your lawyer has the legal right to take their part of your payment as detailed in your representation agreement. They will give you an accounting of everything that came out of your money before you receive it. This process does not take very long. You will get your check shortly after it hits your lawyer’s account.

Lawyers Must Charge You Reasonable Fees

Gary Annes Lawyer
Gary Annes, Personal Injury Lawyer

Some clients worry about the contingency fee that a lawyer charges. They do not want to give up too much of their money because they know that they will need it in the future. Rest assured that an attorney cannot charge any percentage that they want.

Lawyers must follow rules of professional responsibility. One of these rules is that the lawyer’s fee must not be unreasonable. They also cannot charge you unjustified expenses. For example, they cannot use their copy machine to charge you exorbitant fees for each page (although they may charge something for services like making copies).

Lawyers take these professional obligations very seriously because they can get in trouble if they break the rules. If you think that a lawyer is charging an excessive fee, you are always free to consult with other lawyers. A free no-obligation consultation is precisely that. You do not owe the lawyer anything to talk about your case.

The Risks You Take When You Try to Handle Your Case

If you plan to save money by not hiring an attorney, you will make a big mistake because:

  • You need to prove liability for your car accident. If you do not prove that someone caused your injuries, you cannot receive any money. Working on your own, you may not gather the necessary evidence and show why someone else should pay.
  • If you do not have a lawyer representing you, there is a far greater chance that you will settle your case for less than it is worth. A lawyer knows the value of your claim, and they will make sure that you know when an insurance company has made you a low settlement offer that you are better off rejecting. Without a lawyer, an insurance company can take advantage of you.
  • Handling your own claim can lead to stress and difficulty when you are already facing enough of them because of your accident
  • The insurance company can try to pressure you directly, tricking you into making admissions that can either cause you to have your claim denied or reduce the value of your claim

Do not let fear of money keep you from hiring an experienced attorney. It will come back to haunt you in more ways than one. An attorney adds quite a bit of value for their money. Without an attorney, you risk not getting anything or signing away your legal right to compensation for pennies on the dollar. There is no risk to you, and you can only benefit when you hire an experienced attorney to fight on your behalf.

If you reach out to a lawyer to schedule a free consultation, you are under no obligation to hire them. However, this is a call that you need to make quickly.

You only have a limited time to start the legal process following a car accident. Now that you know you can afford a car accident attorney, do not delay in finding the right one for your case. Your attorney can do a lot while you focus on your medical treatment and physical recovery.

Never assume the legal process happens automatically, as you must take proactive steps to protect your rights. To do that, consult a car accident lawyer for free today.

How Do I Settle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer?

If you have a car accident claim you need to settle, doing so without an attorney can be extremely challenging, time-consuming, and will make it unlikely you will receive the full compensation you deserve. In reality, it is a really bad idea to try to handle an injury case without the help of a lawyer. In my experience, accident claims almost always go wrong without an attorney protecting your interests.

Compensation for a car accident should cover your:

  • Vehicle repairs
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Future medical expenses
  • Future lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability and disfigurement

If you accept an amount that does not cover all these losses, you leave money on the table. You also might be responsible for future costs of your injuries, which the at-fault party should cover. Too many people who try to settle a claim without a lawyer end up in this dire financial situation with few or no solutions.

When an insurance company knows a claimant has no legal representation, adjusters are ready to make low offers. They use tactics to get unrepresented claimants to accept much less than they deserve, as their focus is on maximizing company profits – not helping you. Everything changes as soon as someone has proper representation, and the insurance adjuster knows they cannot use their usual tricks.

The short answer is that you should never settle a car accident claim without a lawyer. Many people make this mistake, and they feel the negative financial effects for the rest of their lives. Always consult a car accident attorney about your claim as soon as possible. Consultations should always be free with no risk and no obligation, so you have nothing to lose by learning how a lawyer can help you.

How Insurance Settlements Work

When you settle an insurance claim, you accept a specific amount of money. In exchange for the sum of money, you give up your right to any other compensation regarding the injuries and costs from your accident. The at-fault party and their insurance company do not admit to any wrongdoing through a settlement offer, but instead, they are simply offering you money to make your claim go away.

The purpose of a settlement is to prevent you from filing a lawsuit and bringing the insurance company to court. A trial requires greater resources, and insurance companies want to avoid this by settling the claim out of court.

However, insurance companies are in business for profits. Offering every claimant a full settlement decreases those profits. They want to reduce settlement costs to increase profits whenever possible. Insurance adjusters often quickly present you with a (low) settlement offer, hoping you will accept less than you should receive. If you do not have an attorney, chances are you will accept an inadequate settlement.

There are two common types of car accident settlements:

  • Lump-sum – In this form of settlement, you receive a single settlement payment briefly after you and the insurance company reach a settlement agreement.
  • Structured – This type of settlement involves a payment structure, with payments on a set schedule over months or years, with the payments potentially varying in size and frequency depending on the terms of your settlement agreement.

Regardless of what type of settlement you accept, you cannot go back and demand more compensation or have your claim reopened once you finalize a settlement agreement.

Accepting a settlement offer cuts off all obligations from the insurance company to you, and they hope that you take less than you need, as you cannot request more. This saves the insurance company money and increases their profit margins, and may leave you having to pay costs from your car accident out of your pocket, taking away resources from your family and household.

Insurance Companies Offer Quick – and Low Settlements

When you work toward a settlement with the insurance company, you must deal with their full-time teams of claim adjusters and investigators. Claim adjusters are insurance company employees who process and evaluate claims, many of which stem from car accidents. The entire goal of the claim adjuster is to minimize the costs of the insurance company. Their job is not to offer quick and fair payments, but many people fail to realize that adjusters are not on their side.

Claim adjusters work to minimize insurance company expenses by carefully scrutinizing your claim. They try to identify any potential weaknesses or issues regarding liability for your accident or the extent of your losses. They might cite inconsistent medical records, damaging statements by you, or legal technicalities. They will find any reason to reduce or deny your settlement payment.

Some insurance adjusters try to get accident victims to make mistakes that justify lower offers. Never speak with an adjuster at length about your accident or injuries, as you might accidentally say something that hurts your claim. If the adjuster asks how you are feeling, and you say “fine,” you might think nothing of it. However, the adjuster might turn around and assert that since you are “fine,” your injuries must not be that serious.

You were likely just being polite, but even a small, off-hand comment can jeopardize your claim. This is why you want a car accident attorney handling all communications with adjusters.

Common tactics the insurance company employees use to lower your settlement amount include:

  • Recorded statements – When you do not have an attorney, the claim adjuster might pressure you into making a recorded statement. During the recorded statement, the adjuster will try and get you to provide vague, misleading, or inaccurate statements. They will often ask about your injuries and symptoms and the facts surrounding the crash or incident. The purpose is to use this information against you later in the process. To protect your interests and the amount of your settlement, you should speak with a lawyer instead of agreeing to provide any written or recorded statements, as they could create a record against you.
  • Discouraging you from calling a lawyer – The insurance company does not benefit if you call a lawyer, but you do. This is why insurance adjusters often discourage you from reaching out to an attorney. They might explain that lawyers are “too expensive” or that they “can slow down the process.” This is not the truth, as attorneys can often maximize your compensation. This is what adjusters don’t want you to know.
  • Independent medical examinations – The claims adjuster will likely try to schedule an independent medical exam (IME) for you, and when they do, you generally have to attend. While you should receive an objective and independent analysis at these appointments, they are rarely impartial. The doctor is a consultant of the insurance company, and if they want repeat business, they will likely favor the insurance company in their findings by downplaying your injuries. IME reports often reduce settlement values, but a lawyer can ensure you receive a fair result.
  • Blaming you, the victim – The claims adjuster might try to get you to admit to a portion of the fault in the accident. If you apologize or even say, “I only looked away for a second,” they will use this information to reduce or deny your claim. Your attorney knows how to challenge any claims that you were partially liable for the accident.
  • Failing to return calls and communications – The claims adjuster knows that you have injuries and immediate costs you need to cover. Missing phone calls and taking their time to get back to you when processing the claim can lead to greater stress for you. Delays are a tactic to encourage you to accept a lesser payment to resolve the claim as soon as possible.

These negative tactics do not work if you have a car accident lawyer on your side.

What Happens if You Accept an Inadequate Settlement?

When you accept a settlement, that is usually it. You accepted a specific amount of money for your losses, and you cannot seek any additional damages related to the accident or incident that led to your injuries. If the settlement amount was inadequate, then you and your family will likely have to pay for your losses out-of-pocket.

Once you finalize and sign a settlement agreement, it is nearly impossible to obtain more compensation. If your injuries get worse, do not heal as expected, or you do not recognize the full extent of your losses, the at-fault party will no longer be liable.

The purpose of seeking out compensation for your injuries is to be “made whole,” which is a legal concept that means putting you in as close a position as possible to the position you would be in if the accident had not happened. Money cannot change the past, however, and there is no way that financial recovery can fully compensate you for things like permanent disabilities or an inability to pursue your chosen career. This is why non-economic damages often far outweigh economic damages in car accident cases.

In many cases, insurance companies make settlement offers as quickly as possible to get victims to settle for less than they deserve. For example, suppose you were in an accident caused by another person that resulted in $20,000 in medical costs and vehicle repairs. Additionally, the crash caused an injury that prevented you from working for six months.

You deserve coverage for the $20,000 in costs, in addition to the value of your lost earnings and non-economic losses like pain and suffering. The insurance company might quickly offer you a twenty thousand dollar settlement, hoping you would not recognize that it was far below the actual value of your claim.

A Lawyer Will Know What Your Claim is Worth

Determining the value of a car accident claim is a complicated matter that requires experience and specialized knowledge. Fortunately, an experienced car accident lawyer will know how to evaluate your cases and determine how much you can expect to recover. The value of a car accident claim needs to address not only your economic losses like repair bills and medical costs but also your non-economic losses like pain and suffering or lost quality of life.

Your attorney can refer you to follow-up medical and occupational experts who can accurately measure the impact of your injuries not only in the immediate moment but into the long term. Compensation for your injuries requires that their related costs first be accurately calculated, then effectively demanded from the insurance company. Your car accident attorney can represent you every step of the way.

Insurance Companies Often Offer Higher Amounts to Attorneys

Insurance companies want to settle cases for as little as possible and are happy to take advantage of victims unfamiliar with the process. Unless you are a lawyer or have significant experience handling personal injury claims, you won’t know how much your claim is worth. Not having that knowledge significantly hurts your position when negotiating a settlement.

However, when you file a claim with an attorney, the insurance company will take you more seriously. As a result, they will generally start with a higher initial settlement offer. When you have an attorney, the insurance company knows that you will collect the best evidence possible in support of your case and won’t accept anything less than you deserve.

You Do Not Have to Accept an Unfair Settlement

Car Accident Lawyer, Dave Abels
Dave Abels, Car Accident Lawyer

If the insurance company refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer, all is not lost. Your car accident attorney can file a lawsuit and take your claim to trial and pursue the best possible outcome in your case.

Obtaining full compensation for your injuries can make the difference between a future of financial stability and one that leaves you footing the bills associated with the accident that the insurance company and at-fault party should have paid.

Importantly, the fact that your attorney files a lawsuit does not necessarily mean that your case is going to trial. In some cases, simply filing a lawsuit is enough to get the insurance company to make a reasonable settlement offer.


Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

Who Is At Fault in a Phoenix T-Bone Car Accident?

T-bone accidents (or side-impact collisions) occur when the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle, with the vehicles in the crash forming the shape of a T.

While the vast majority of T-bone accidents occur at intersections, these collisions may also happen when pulling out of a driveway or parking lot. In other words, this type of accident can occur any time a vehicle crashes into another vehicle from perpendicular traffic.

The force of impact in a T-bone car accident puts all drivers and passengers involved at risk for severe injury and death because one vehicle experiences a frontal collision while the other vehicle experiences a collision from the side.

You need to know who caused your accident so you can hold the at-fault party liable for your injuries. Speak with a car accident attorney in Phoenix to discuss your case, prove the other driver’s fault, and secure financial compensation.

What Are the Common Causes of T-Bone Car Accidents?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 23 percent of vehicle occupants die in car accidents after a side-impact crash. Thus, T-bone car accidents and other side-impact collisions account for more than 5,000 deaths annually.

Causes of T-bone car accidents vary greatly from one collision to another. However, some of the most common causes of these accidents include:

  • Drivers running a red light or failing to stop at a stop sign
  • Drivers failing to yield the right of way at an intersection
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Driving while distracted
  • Failing to indicate one’s intention to turn
  • Exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions
  • Reckless or aggressive driving
  • Driving in adverse weather conditions (fog, rain, snow, etc.)

No matter what caused the T-bone accident, people involved in the collision can suffer severe injuries. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, determining who is responsible for causing the side-impact accident can be challenging. You might want to discuss your case with a Phoenix car accident lawyer to determine liability for the T-bone collision.

Who Is at Fault in T-Bone Car Accidents?

There are different scenarios in which a T-bone car accident may occur.

Below is the breakdown of right-of-way rules and possible determination of fault in different kinds of side-impact collisions:

  • Accidents at a controlled intersection. If the intersection has traffic signals and signs, drivers must obey those signals and signs before entering the intersection. If a driver has a green light, they have the right of way and may enter the intersection first. However, if there were no witnesses, it could be difficult to prove that you had the right of way and the other driver was driving against a red light. According to a survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly a third of all motorists say they ran a red light in the past 30 days.
  • Accidents at an uncontrolled intersection. According to traffic rules, drivers must yield the right of way to vehicles already in the intersection. In other words, the driver who arrived first has the right-of-way. However, if two vehicles reach the uncontrolled intersection at roughly the same time, drivers must yield the right of way to a vehicle on their right.
  • U-turns across traffic. A driver who wants to make a U-turn across traffic must yield to all vehicles in oncoming traffic. Failure to do so may lead to a T-bone accident. In this case, the driver who makes a U-turn is usually at fault.
  • Accidents in parking lots. T-bone accidents in parking lots may happen when a driver leaves a parking space or hits a vehicle in the perpendicular aisle. All drivers must remain vigilant and obey traffic control markings in a parking lot.
  • Accidents that occur when leaving a driveway. Drivers leaving a driveway must yield the right of way to all vehicles that approach them before entering the roadway. A driver should not enter the roadway unless the nearest vehicle is a safe distance away to perform the maneuver.
  • Left-turns across traffic. Many T-bone accidents occur when a driver is making a left turn. At uncontrolled intersections, the driver who makes a left turn is usually at fault for causing the collision with a vehicle from oncoming traffic. The only exception to the general rule is if the turning driver had the right of way because they had a green turn signal and the other driver ran a red light.

Unfortunately, many T-bone car accidents happen because drivers misjudge the speed or distance of other vehicles. The determination of fault in a T-bone collision depends on many factors involved in the accident. That is why you might want to contact a Phoenix car accident attorney to investigate your collision and help you understand who is at fault for causing the T-bone accident.

Can a Motorist Who Has the Right of Way Be at Fault for a T-Bone Car Accident?

The motorist who does not have the right of way will be held responsible for causing a T-bone car accident in the vast majority of cases. However, in some cases, the motorist who had the right of way may also share fault for the crash. Drivers must operate a vehicle safely and remain vigilant at all times, even when they have the right of way.

In some side-impact collisions, the right who had the right of way may be partially at fault for causing the accident.

Common examples of negligence on the part of the motorist who has the right of way include:

  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Driving at night without headlights
  • Crossing multiple lanes of traffic in one movement
  • Driving while distracted
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failing to signal one’s intention to turn or change lanes

If you need assistance with determining fault in your T-bone car accident, contact a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who will thoroughly investigate your case to identify liable parties.

Can a Vehicle Manufacturer Be at Fault for a T-Bone Car Accident?

Some car accidents occur due to vehicle defects. When a T-bone accident occurs because of defective automobile parts, the parties involved in the crash might hold the vehicle manufacturer at fault.

Common vehicle defects that may result in side-impact collisions include steering problems, defective brakes, and faulty accelerators. If brakes are defective, a driver may not stop their vehicle to avoid running a red light. As a result, a T-bone car accident may happen at an intersection.

Often, product liability cases filed against vehicle manufacturers require testimony from accident reconstruction experts to help a judge and juries understand how the accident occurred.

However, accidents involving defective automobile parts may involve several potentially at-fault parties:

  1. The vehicle manufacturer and/or manufacturer of defective vehicle parts;
  2. The driver of the defective vehicle if they failed to properly inspect the vehicle or get routine maintenance; and
  3. The auto mechanic who inspected the vehicle during routine maintenance and failed to notice/fix the problem.

If you suspect that your T-bone accident occurred because of defective vehicle parts, such as faulty brakes, you might want a Phoenix car accident attorney to investigate your crash and help you identify liable parties.

Can Road Engineers Be at Fault for a T-Bone Car Accident?

People who design and build our roads have a demanding challenge: to construct safe roadways after considering hundreds of factors. Some car accidents can result from improper road design, inadequate maintenance, or poor road signs and traffic signals.

These issues can result in devastating collisions, including T-bone car accidents. For example, if a traffic light malfunctions, drivers may have a hard time determining who should have the right of way in their specific situation. If two motorists believe that they have the right of way, an accident is bound to happen.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) estimates that more than half of all road accidents that result in injuries and deaths occur at or near intersections. An improperly designed intersection is a disaster waiting to happen. When drivers can prove that their accident was the result of improper road design or faulty traffic signals, they may hold road engineers or government agencies responsible for the resulting crash.

In particular, roads and intersections may have an improper design when:

  • It has inappropriate or contradictory signage or markings
  • It has too many or inadequate points of conflict, which are locations where paths merge, cross, or diverge
  • It has a confusing layout that makes drivers more likely to make mistakes

Proving that a road had an improper design is not an easy task. Even though other drivers can navigate the roadway or intersection safely does not necessarily mean that it is well-designed. A thorough investigation by an experienced car accident attorney will show whether or not road engineers and/or the government can be at fault for your T-bone collision.

How to Prove Fault in a T-Bone Car Accident?

Proving fault in a T-bone car accident usually requires a comprehensive investigation and/or testimony from accident reconstruction experts, especially if it is not immediately clear who had the right of way.

Often, your ability to prove fault in a T-bone collision-or any other car crash, for that matter – hinges on the strength of your legal case. Your lawyer can help you strengthen your case by gathering all available pieces of evidence that prove the other party’s fault.

Some evidence that may help determine liability for a T-bone car accident includes:

  • A police report that establishes the facts surrounding your T-bone accident
  • Statements provided by witnesses who saw how the accident occurred
  • Photos showing the extent of vehicle damage
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction experts
  • Video footage from surveillance or traffic cameras showing the moment of the collision

Consider contacting a Phoenix car accident attorney to help you prove the other driver’s fault and gather all available pieces of evidence to secure maximum compensation in your case.

What Damages Can You Recover After a T-Bone Car Accident?

Car Accident Lawyer, Dave Abels
Dave Abels, Car Accident Lawyer

Depending on the speed and size of the vehicles in a T-bone car accident, victims may suffer catastrophic and debilitating injuries.

Some of the most common types of injuries associated with side-impact collisions include:

If you get injured in a T-bone car accident, you need to understand your options for compensation. Understandably, the crippling medical bills and the inability to work can cause significant financial hardship, which is why you might want to seek compensation by filing an insurance claim or pursuing a lawsuit.

Your Phoenix car accident lawyer can help you recover:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • The cost of medical care, including rehabilitation, hospitalization, physical therapy, and others
  • Loss of income
  • Diminished or lost earning capacity
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering

Recoverable damages depend on the severity of your injuries, how many days you missed at work, whether or not you expect to return to your job, the impact of your injury on your emotional well-being, and a plethora of other factors.

Calculating fair compensation requires a thorough understanding of the law and a careful assessment of many factors involved in your T-bone accident. That is why you might want to consider contacting a Phoenix car accident attorney to discuss the circumstances of your crash and determine the value of your legal case.

Having the right legal help can mean the difference between future financial struggles and moving forward with a sense of justice and security.


Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575