A Brief History
In 2015, personal injury cases represented the most common type of lawsuits filed in United States federal district courts, representing 25.5 percent of cases filed. The process of understanding and negotiating personal injury settlements is not easy. Read this guide to understanding the car accident settlement process.
We spend so much time in our cars every day that it is easy to forget the inherent risk involved with getting on the road. As much as we like to think it would not happen to us, accidents do occur quite frequently. In fact, it’s more than likely that we might all experience an accident sometime during our lifetimes.
With that in mind, it’s important for all drivers to understand the car accident settlement process. If you or your property has been damaged as a result of another driver’s negligence, you might have the right to compensation under the law.
How does a car accident settlement work, and what do you need to know in order to get your life back on track? Read on and we’ll walk you through the key points.
Defining and Determining Damages
There’s a lot of accidents that occur every year, but they are of varying severity. Some may be as simple as a minor fender bender. Others could be quite severe and put someone in the hospital for weeks.
The more severe an accident is, the more compensation the victim driver deserves. Simply put, the damages can become quite when someone is hurt so badly that their life becomes fully interrupted.
The settlement process intends to make a person ‘whole’ again, which means covering the various types of costs they’ve incurred as a result of the accident. A person who is the victim of a bad car accident has various different kinds of ‘damages’ that they can recover during the settlement process.
Property damage to one’s vehicle is one source of damages a person could settle for. Any type of repairs to a person’s vehicle can be easily quantified and requested in a settlement case.
Medical bills are just as easily quantified. An injured car accident victim should keep a careful record of their expenses. These can be paid back following their accident during the settlement process. That includes the costs of doctor visits, medications, surgeries and any and all kinds of treatments.
It also includes areas many people forget to mention, such as ambulance visits, x-rays, and clutches and slings.
During the settlement process, a person can also be compensated for lost wages. Work that was lost due to the accident can be quantified easily based on a person’s salaries and the days of work lost. The services a person requires during this time, like childcare, can also be a part of the damages awarded.
There are also damages that can be awarded for things that are less easily quantifiable. The most popular of these is pain and suffering. If a person was ‘made whole’ again after a lawsuit, they would be in the same position as they started but they would’ve gone through much pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering damages are intended to compensate for this hardship. There are no objective ways to measure this kind of general damage. In many cases, people add up their hard costs and then multiply by a factor of one to five to get general costs.
Realistically, most claimants end up with only one or two times their general costs, though severe injuries often are worthy of higher general compensation.
Factors That Determine Settlement Amounts
It can take a lot of work and back-and-forth to land on proper valuation for a car accident settlement. There are several factors that contribute to the proper settlement amount.
Liability is probably the biggest factor in a settlement case. The burden is on the victim to prove that the other party is at fault for the accident and therefore for the injuries sustained. In some states, the idea of shared blame can have a big impact on the compensation a person can receive.
If a victim was somewhat responsible for a victim, the idea of comparative negligence might be in play. A person might find their compensation diluted by the percentage of fault they have in the case.
If you have questionable medical costs, they might also fall under scrutiny in a settlement. A person only has a right to reasonable medical costs, meaning extraneous testing and unreasonable requests might not get covered.
Sometimes, if there are multiple victims in one accident, the compensation required might exceed what an insurance company has available to pay up. In this case, the company might ask the court to decide how best to distribute the allotted funds.
Sometimes the age of the victim or the defendant might contribute to how the settlement plays out. You can read more about that kind of situation in this article.
Why You Need An Attorney
Winning a settlement case can be difficult. Getting the true compensation you deserve can be even harder. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers who are experts in negotiating down settlement amounts.
If you are not an expert in car accident law, it’s easy to fall prey to the tactics used by these lawyers. It can be essential to hire proper legal representation to ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve.
The Car Accident Settlement Process
Understanding personal injury settlements can be difficult. If you have been injured in an automobile accident due to someone else’s negligence, it’s important that you understand the car accident settlement process. This way, you can get the compensation that you rightfully deserve and move on with your life.
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For more information, please see…
Alonso, Andres F. and F Herbert L. Waichman. Personal Injury Law for DUMMIES. PWA, 2009.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by User:Analogue Kid of a Chevrolet Malibu involved in a rollover crash, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.