A serious car accident can leave you badly injured and in financial distress. You will understandably want to put the entire thing behind you as soon as you can – and insurance companies know as much. You should not be surprised if the insurer of the liable driver who hit you comes forth in the weeks following your crash with a settlement offer. But beware: the offer might not be fair.
To know if a settlement after a car accident is fair, see if it considers your past, current, and future damages like medical costs and lost wages, as well as the pain and suffering you have been through.
What to Know Before Settling Your Claim
Before you settle your claim, there are a few things you must know, starting with your claim’s estimated value. The total value of your claim will be based on your lost wages, medical bills, and property replacement costs. It has to factor in what you have experienced already and what you likely will incur in the future due to your injuries. Plus, a solid car accident claim will consider your emotional trauma, pain, and suffering caused by the accident. Figuring out that total value is usually much easier with an attorney’s help.
You also need to know that the responding insurance company will very likely try to trick you into accepting a lowball amount, which is a settlement amount intentionally calculated to be much less than what you actually need and deserve. The insurer might tell you that you have one chance to accept the settlement or you will get nothing. Or you could be told that you do not have legal grounds to file a claim. Remember that they are the opposition and are not looking out for your best interests, even if they are your own insurance company!
What is the Average Car Accident Settlement?
Calculating the average car accident settlement is not only difficult, but it is also mostly futile. Every car accident claim is different from the next due to all of the unique details that go into each one, such as driver injuries and wages as well as insurance policy limits. Someone could get into practically the same exact crash as you just one day after your car accident and get a much larger or smaller settlement in the end.
Whether or not you work with a personal injury attorney can also have a big impact on the value of your settlement. Insurance companies tend to take cases more seriously when they have to go through a lawyer to speak with a claimant. They know that they could end up threatened by litigation – which never looks good for their company – if they do not try to act reasonably and give a better settlement offer.
How Much Should I Ask For?
Knowing that the insurance company might try to trick you into a lowball settlement and that calculating an average settlement amount is complicated, how large of a settlement should you ask for? Again, you need to consider your future damages, not just what you need to be paid based on past costs and lost wages. You also need to think about noneconomic damages for your pain and suffering. Noneconomic damages are usually equal to the total economic damages – lost wages, medical bills, etc. – multiplied by at least a factor of 2.
Asking for a better settlement without the guidance of an attorney is risky, though. If you accidentally lowball your own settlement, then the insurance company could jump at the chance to end your claim quickly and for less than what they were afraid they might have to pay you. If you ask for too much, then the insurer might cancel communications and threaten you with litigation. To find that right balance, you should choose to work with a car accident attorney at the start of your claim and up until it concludes.