Putting yourself in a position to receive a settlement offer is just the first part of the personal injury process. What matters every bit as much is the size of the settlement check. There is such a thing as a bad settlement - it happens all the time in car accident cases, especially when people do not have a lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, you may not distinguish a good settlement from a bad one. You may just accept what is offered to you because you think you have no choice.
One of the first questions people ask an attorney during their free initial consultation is how much they can expect from a car accident settlement. Rightfully, money is on their mind. After all, there is a reason why you are seeking the advice of a lawyer. You believe that you have a case for financial compensation.
An attorney may not give you an answer on the spot. In fact, you do not want an attorney who will give you an exact answer without knowing the facts of your case. Your lawyer should take the time to get to know you and understand your own specific situation before they give you a more exact answer.
When dealing with the aftermath of a car accident, it is important to know how to calculate your potential settlement check. Gathering as much information as possible at the outset of the legal process will allow you to work more effectively with your car accident lawyer and maximize your compensation. A skilled lawyer can assist you in identifying all potential sources of compensation, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Don't hesitate to seek legal counsel to ensure that you receive the full compensation you deserve.
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You Should Aim for the Best Possible Settlement
You should come into the process with a general expectation instead of anticipating that you will receive a certain dollar amount. Your expectation should be that you will receive the highest possible settlement for the damages that you have suffered. However, many things need to happen first to get to that point. You must do a lot of heavy lifting before you can get a check from the insurance company.
Getting a check is not a win in itself. In fact, you can receive a settlement check and still end up a loser in the process. If the insurance company pays you less than you deserve, they will have successfully put one over on you. They try to save money at your expense every single time. The insurance company knows what they should pay you for your claim. Their goal is to pay you less than that. Anything that they can save from your settlement is more money that they make in profit.
The Insurance Company Is Known for Taking Advantage of Claimants
If you are wondering how an insurance company consistently gets away with that in many of their settlements, it is because people let them. Most people who try to handle their claims on their own because they think they are saving money are doing the insurance company a big favor.
Suddenly, claims worth $100,000 or more settle for $50,000, and the claimant is happy because they think they got a lot of money.
In reality, the insurer shortchanged the claimant, and they will only learn it when it is too late. A person happy to get what they think is a large check grows unhappy when they find themselves stuck with $50,000 in bills.
There is really no one set answer to the question of how much you can expect in a car accident settlement. Everything depends on you and your specific situation. You have suffered your own damages in a car accident. Your injuries can be the same physical injury that someone else has suffered, but they can affect you differently.
If you made more money or had a very active life before the accident, you should receive payment when you lose these abilities. It is the driver’s bad luck for injuring someone who may be in a position to receive more money due to greater losses.
Your Damages Consist of Individual Elements
You can think of your car accident settlement in terms of the elements of damages to which you are entitled. The general theme is that the responsible driver must make you whole. Paying your damages is more than just making up for the money your injuries cost you out of your pocket. The responsible party must compensate you for everything that you have endured since the accident and will continue to go through.
The individual elements of your car accident damages are related to each other. For example, the insurance company may calculate your non-economic damages based on the severity of your injury and the amount of your economic damages. They may apply a multiplier to your economic damages based on what they think your case should be worth. It will be much less than you actually deserve when you consider your own specific injuries and their effects.
Another concept you need to know is that you are entitled to receive payment for both your past and future damages. Although it may not be easy to estimate your future damages when you file a claim, it is exactly what you must do to receive payment. An experienced attorney can work with experts to forecast your damages when you have suffered a severe injury.
How Your Economic Damages Work in a Personal Injury Case?
You should expect compensation for your past and future direct economic damages. This category pays you back for the money you had to spend because of your injuries and money you might have earned but did not. Lost income is an important part of economic damages. This category is not as straightforward as you think.
There are many issues that the insurance company can raise about your lost income:
- They may claim that you really should be back to work.
- They may claim that you can do some type of work besides your chosen profession.
- The insurance company may discount what you might have earned in the future (including promotions, commissions, bonuses, and raises)
Economic damages also include your past and future medical bills. Here, you need to be very careful. Your health insurance company will expect to seek back pay for the money they have already spent on your care. Then, they will likely not pay for your future medical care.
If you do not properly estimate your medical bills, you can have your entire settlement check consumed by them and have nothing left over. You might not even receive enough to cover all your future treatment, which you might have to pay from your pocket. You should not have to cover your expenses when someone else caused your injuries.
Many People Underestimate Their Non-Economic Damages
Many people do not fully appreciate non-economic damages and how much you should receive for them. This is exactly that lack of knowledge the insurance company tries to exploit in settlement negotiations.
Non-economic damages can consist of:
- Pain and suffering for both the physical discomfort and the depression and anxiety that you have and will endure
- The loss of enjoyment of the life that you had before the accident
- Emotional distress from the accident (most often, this is PTSD)
- Embarrassment and humiliation
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
Pain and suffering is one particular area where the insurance company tries to take advantage of you. They are banking on the fact that you may not understand what the term means or how much you deserve in damages. They will tell you about objective formulas that they think should determine your damages. What they are really doing is trying to turn you into an average claimant when you are anything but.
You Deserve Damages Regardless of Your Pre-Accident Physical Condition
The rule in a car accident case is that you take your victim as you find them. If you are more susceptible to depression after a car accident injury, you should be compensated fully for that. The insurance company cannot take you out of the equation. They may pay you based on the unique damages that you have suffered. An experienced attorney knows how to value your pain and suffering damages, and they will fight for you to get everything that you deserve.
An Attorney Can Help You Get the Most Possible Money
No matter what you expect from a settlement, one thing always holds true; you are better off financially when you hire an experienced car accident lawyer to handle your case.
When it is you against the insurance company, it will be no match. The problem is that it is an adversarial process, regardless of what the insurance company tells you. The more money you get, the more comes out of their accounts. That is the last outcome that they want. Even if they pretend that they are your friend, their interests are not the same as yours. They have the infrastructure and the experience to get the better of you in any legal process.
You need to remember the insurance company’s exact role in a settlement negotiation. They take the place of their policyholder because the policy agreement requires the insurance company to defend the driver. When you are suing a driver in a lawsuit, it is you versus them. Therefore, it is also you versus the insurance company. You can never trust an insurance company to be fair. While they owe you everything you have suffered in damages, they act like they owe you nothing.
Therefore, you should not expect anything in the settlement process other than a fight. Anything that you get in the settlement process, you must fight for vigorously. The insurance company may be more than happy to make you a low settlement offer, but they will get far tougher when the dollar figures get higher. They may use every tactic in the book to delay your payment or get you to take less. This point is when you need to stiffen your resolve, as difficult as it may be to wait for the money that you sorely need after a car accident.
Your Car Accident Lawyer Will Fight for You
You should also expect that your car accident lawyer will fight for you to get everything you deserve in a settlement check. Your lawyer will know how much you should seek in negotiations, and they will make it their mission to get you that money. Whether your lawyer keeps negotiating or takes the case to court, they will be by your side from start to finish. You also need a lawyer who is not afraid to litigate if necessary. Sometimes, court is the only language that the insurance company understands.
You should always hire an attorney as soon as possible after the car accident. When you do not have a lawyer, you are a target for the insurance company. They know you are vulnerable and will do everything they can to take advantage of you when you are the most defenseless. The insurance company thinks nothing of tricking or pressuring a vulnerable and injured accident victim. For them, it is all in a day’s work. Their real bosses are their shareholders, who expect them to deliver higher earnings quarter after quarter.
You have no risk when you hire a personal injury attorney for your car accident case. While an attorney’s services are not free, you only assume the obligation to pay them after you have won your case. Here, winning means receiving a settlement or an award from a jury.
If you do not win, you do not owe your attorney any money for their services. In addition, your lawyer will not ask you for any money upfront. They will not send you bills for their time while your case is pending. If your lawyer receives fees, they will receive money from the proceeds of your settlement or jury award.
Consulting with a personal injury law firm in Chicago and having them evaluate your legal options costs nothing, and you have no obligation to move forward with the attorney. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from hiring the right legal representation.