Whenever you have been hit in a car accident by one car, or found yourself in a three car pile up after a massive crash, you are eligible to get money from the crash and sue the person who caused it. However, even when you hire the best lawyers in your state, there’s still the question of how much your auto injury settlement is going to be worth.
There are several factors that can change the amount of money you get from your car accident settlement, so the answer to how much you can get from a car accident settlement is pretty vague. Instead of giving you a number for your settlement that may or may not be applicable to your situation, we should instead focus on the things that change and influence your settlement amount.
First, let’s see how a settlement and the associated court case comes to be.
What Can I Sue For After A Car Accident?
What you can sue for after the accident is over depends on what happened after the damage has been done, but it usually falls into one of two categories. First, you can sue for personal injury if you are hurt. It doesn’t matter if you broke your arm, suffered a concussion, or received just a few bumps and bruises.
If you are hurt by another driver’s negligence, then you can sue that driver for your medical costs. Lawyers will prove negligence and then will get you the money you need. However, what if you are not hurt by the accident? Can you file a personal injury claim if there is no damage to your car?
First, thank the stars that you are not hurt at all, but you can still sue from property damage if the car was totaled. You can also sue for the emotional distress of being in the accident as well. A property damage claim can help you get your compensation, and in most cases property damage doesn’t turn into a massive court case.
You just file a claim with the defendant's insurance company, and then they will pay for your damages. Most of the time, a property damage case is quickly solved, with the one exception being if the motorist doesn’t have insurance.
Property Damage and What You Can Get
The cost of compensation can help you repair your vehicle, replace your vehicle, and can cover the cost of a rental car or public transportation. The settlement that you get from property damage is often smaller than a personal injury settlement, simply because it costs much less to repair a car than it does to pay medical bills.
If you are not hurt in a car accident, you will get the money you need to repair or replace your damaged car. These cases are typically done without going to a trial and are done between the two insurance companies, and you will recieve your money once the process is done.
Factors That Affect Car Accident Settlement Amounts
If you are injured in a car accident and want to seek settlement from the negligent driver, then there are several factors that can affect the car accident. One of the biggest wildcards for car accident settlements include the insurance that each driver has. Most states require that drivers have minimum insurance for certain scenarios.
For example, the state of Pennsylvania requires you to have minimum policies of $15,000 for the injury or death of one person, $30,000 for the injury or death of more than one person, 5,000 for damage to vehicles. Other state’s insurance minimums will vary, and it’s one of the main things that can change the amount you get in your settlement.
If the at-fault driver does not have enough money to pay for your injuries, or is uninsured, then it can get you more money. If you are under or uninsured and caused the accident, then you will need to pay more because of this. That’s why you always need to have insurance every single time you hit the road.
Additionally, you need to prove negligence and liability for your car accident. Negligence is proven by showing that every single driver has a duty of care to follow the rules of the road. Whenever you can prove that the negligent driver didn’t follow that duty, then that is negligence.
For example, if a car goes 50 mph in a 30 mph zone, and hits your car, you can prove that the at-fault driver was negligent. They knew the rules of the road, willingly didn’t follow them, and then didn’t care about anyone else on the road who was following the rules. They are negligent, and they are blamed for the damage.
Comparative Fault Law
Some states also have a comparative fault law, where both sides can be considered at fault and the percentage of your negligence is what shows what you pay. For example, a scenario where comparative fault law comes into play could be this:
You are driving and another car is following too closely. Your car gets rear ended and you get into an accident, however, whenever the accident is examined it’s found that you do not have a functional taillight. The defective tail light meant that the driver couldn’t see that you were about to stop until it was too late.
This means that both parties were at fault for the accident, and the courts decide who is the most at fault. If you find that you are more than 50% at fault, even at 51% then you cannot seek personal injury compensation from the accident. If the other driver is found to be at fault for the accident, then the court case can continue.
Additionally, you need to look at your medical expenses. If you have suffered brain damage, broken bones, or need surgery due to the car accident, you might need to focus on getting larger forms of compensation.
The First Offer
Car insurance companies do not care about providing fair value for your pain and suffering, and instead they want to toss some money at you and make any impending lawsuits go away.
The insurance companies and the attorneys who are bankrolled by them want to pay as little as possible for your car accident. That obviously isn’t fair to you, so you need to know how to handle the negotiations, ideally with a good car accident lawyer at your side.
They give you a small offer and hope that you will pounce on it and then wave your right to future payments. However, that small offer might not be enough to pay for all your medical bills, and you might not even have all the information about your medical bills. Don’t take the first payment, and instead fight for the money you need and deserve.
Medical experts will be able to work with you and your lawyers to ensure that you have all the information about your injuries. If it’s a long term injury, you need to take that into account with the settlements you are getting.
Your Work and Your Life
Finally, you need to take ‘pain and suffering’ into account. These two terms might seem vague, but they are some of the most important things that can impact your car accident settlement amount. If you injure your arm and you work as a baseball player, chances are you won’t be working for quite some time.
Lost wages and the loss of future earnings can affect your automobile insurance settlements, and you need to talk to your lawyer about them. If losing your job because of the injuries from the car accident have stopped you from getting your wages, that’s money that needs to be covered in your settlement.
Pain and suffering, embarrassment, and loss of enjoyment about life are three things that can be turned into money. If you find that your emotional and mental well being is affected by the accident, you can bring that into the courtroom.
How Is Fault Determined in a Car Pile Up?
Not all car accidents are just between two people, and if you want a 3 car rear end collision settlement in a pile up, here’s how negligence is found.
The fault is divided up like a pie among the various vehicles involved in the car accident, with the blame often determined by the insurance investors. A car driver might be considered 70% at fault when their role in the car accident is broken down, while another car might be at 30% fault for their car accident role. The blame for the car accident can be spread around for multiple drivers or squarely pinned on one driver.
It’s very similar to comparative fault law, where the accidents are analyzed and the person at the most fault is the one given the blame. You also need a robust insurance policy, especially if you are in the middle of the accident.
The damage to the vehicles is much more extensive. Different cars can be hit in the same spot, over and over and over, and that causes much more damage than a simple one on one car accident or car crash. More drivers and passengers have bodily injuries as the cars get hit in the car accident, so your insurance will be stretched to the limit.
What Happens When Someone Sues You For A Car Accident?
If you find yourself on the other end of the table, where you either cause the accident or are found at fault for the accident, then here’s what you can do. If you are facing a car accident property damage settlement or personal injury settlement, here’s what you can do. Your car insurance company will defend you.
Every single car insurance company has a clause that gives you a lawyer in the case of a car accident. They have a contractual ‘duty to defend’ you, and as long as you give them notice of your accident as soon as possible, then they will fight for you.
The personal injury attorney will work to prove that you were not at fault for the car accident, and if you are proven at fault, they will work to downplay the costs to your insurance. Now, most cases admittedly do not go to court.
The lawyers and the insurance companies talk the settlements out with negotiation, and nine times out of ten the money changes hands and doesn’t cause any problems. Insurance companies and often the people suing want a settlement that doesn’t cause any courtroom drama.
Whenever the settlements can’t be agreed on by both sides, that’s when things go to court. You will then work with your lawyer and make sure that you are defended from the lawsuit. They will help to downplay your role in the accident, and will help your insurance company pay less money.
How Much Can I Expect From A Car Accident?
One of the best things that you can use to figure out your average car accident settlement, is to have your minimum settlement as about 3 times your medical bills. Still, there isn’t a car accident settlement formula that is official, although you can use a personal injury calculator to get a rough estimate.
The best way to make sure that you have a solid estimate about the settlement that can come from a car accident is to talk to an attorney. They can focus on the various things that are going to affect your car accident settlements. Your car accident settlement will not be the same as someone else's. You will need money for certain things, you might have more severe injuries than another person, or you might find that you are involved in a several car pile up.
Make sure to hire a good car accident attorney, and you will be able to get the money that you need to take care of your medical bills and to improve the quality of your life.