How Much Will I Get in a Car Accident?
If you have been involved in a car accident caused by someone else, you will naturally want to know how much you may be able to recover in damages, particularly if you sustain serious injury. The following are factors that will influence the damages that you may recover.
Do You Have a Lawyer Representing You?
If you have sustained serious injuries, the insurance company for the other driver will be extremely reluctant to pay fair compensation if you are not represented by legal counsel. Their view is simple – what is the likelihood that you will be able to competently represent yourself at trial if you have no legal experience? Will you retain experts? Will you know how to introduce evidence and elicit testimony from witnesses?
Insurance companies will still use their lawyers even if an accident victim tries to represent himself or herself. They know that in situations involving a self–represented accident victim who is not a lawyer, the accident victim will be held to the same standards as a lawyer with respect to presenting a case. In virtually every instance, the insurance company will only offer nuisance value to such person, as they know there is virtually no chance that the person will take their case to court without a lawyer.
As a result, if you have been significantly injured, the best move to make in seeking full compensation is to retain an experienced accident lawyer who can vigorously pursue your case.
How Badly Were You Injured, and What Were Your Medical Bills?
A second factor impacting consideration in a car accident case is the extent to which the driver and any passengers were injured. Often, in severe car accidents, injuries can include broken bones, whiplash, head trauma, lacerations, and other injuries, including injuries that may be sustained when an airbag is triggered.
While not conclusive, attorneys for defendants in vehicle crashes will often look to the medical and other expenses that were incurred and seek to limit their liability to three times such expenses. The thought behind this calculation is that one third of the payment would reimburse the injured victim (or the victims’ insurance company) for the actual out-of-pocket medical and other expenses, one third would go to the lawyer for the injured victim, and the other third would go to the injury victim as compensation for pain and suffering.
This calculation, however, can be wholly inadequate in many situations.
Pain and suffering can be extreme with many injuries. Scarring – particularly facial scarring – may significantly affect a person for the remainder of their life, and thus deserves higher compensation.
As a lawyer for car accident in other injury victims, my role is to seek full compensation for clients. This means presenting the full scope of damages to a jury so that they may understand the full impact of a person’s injuries on their life, and so that they can then determine appropriate compensation for an injured person.
What is the Financial Situation of the Defendant(s)?
Each car accident injury will be different. In a majority of the cases, those responsible for causing the accident will be other individuals. In some cases, the driver responsible may be working for a company at the time, or the driver may be employed by the government (such as a mail carrier). The compensation that may be available to an injury victim will thus depend upon the financial resources of the defendant.
In the case of an individual driver causing an accident, situations may range from an individual with no positive net worth who was driving without insurance to a high net worth individual with significant insurance coverage. While accident victims that are similarly injured should be entitled to the same compensation, sadly this is not how the system works. If an accident victim is injured by an individual driver without insurance and with no tangible assets, the recovery from the liable driver may be little or nothing.
If the responsible driver causes the accident while driving for their employer, the employer likely will be responsible for the accident. This is beneficial to injury victims, as companies with vehicles and employees who drive during the course of their work tend to have more insurance than individuals typically carry.
How Many Defendants Are Involved?
In some accident cases, there may be more than one defendant involved. For instance, those responsible for a crash may include another driver, a bar that overserved the driver if the driver is drunk, a construction company that may have not appropriately installed traffic control devices in a construction zone, the business owner of a company that employed the driver responsible for the crash, or even a municipality if the traffic signals malfunctioned or if a road was unreasonably dangerous.
When multiple defendants are involved, this increases the potential insurance and assets that may be available for a recovery. In a traffic accident, therefore, we will want to conduct a careful investigation when significant injuries have been incurred to determine all of those responsible. When such determination has been made, we will initiate a lawsuit against all those who we believe are accountable for the full compensation due to our clients.
What Monetary Damages (other than Medical Expenses) Were Incurred?
In a vehicle injury crash, often the vehicle in which the injured driver was using will be totaled. If this is the case, the liable driver will be responsible for the fair market value of such vehicle at the time the accident took place.
In addition to medical expenses and pain and suffering, often an accident victim will suffer other monetary damages. The driver may miss time from work. They may also need therapy, or even need to make changes to their household to account for their injuries.
All of these and other damages directly associated with the accident are usually recoverable. When making a demand for damages, our firm will want to work with you to determine the full scope of your damages so that we can seek for you every last penny to which you are entitled.