Receiving a settlement check in a car accident case is not automatically a victory in itself. A settlement check could actually be a loss for you when you have signed away your legal right for less than they are worth.
It is essential that you have legal help from the outset of your case to know how much you should seek when you file a car accident claim or lawsuit. It is up to you to know this information. Our Charleston car accident lawyers can help. Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney, can fight for you to receive every dollar that you can get.
Legal Principles that Apply to Car Accident Cases
Your car accident settlement is intended to reflect your own injuries and how you have suffered. There are overarching factors that apply to each settlement, but they are applied to your own case.
The general rule of thumb is as follows; the responsible party is obligated to pay you for your full damages if you can prove that they were to blame for the accident.
Your damages break down into the following categories:
- Economic damages that reflect the actual financial costs of your injuries
- Non-economic damages compensate you for the intangible injuries that are very tangible to your post-accident experience.
Elements of Your Car Accident Settlement
The two general categories of damages each have their own subelements. One of the major aspects of economic damages is medical costs. You are entitled to be paid for medical costs that are related to treating your injury, whether they are in the past or future.
The same principle applies to lost wages. The responsible party must pay you for all the money that you could have earned from your job but did not. The amount of lost wages that they must pay depends on you and what you were earning before the accident. If you have a higher-paying job, that would be the bad luck of the driver who injured you because they must pay your wages.
Non-economic damages are also dependent on the severity of your injuries and how you have responded to them. Again, the legal rule of thumb is that you take your victim as you find them. If you had a preexisting condition that was aggravated, or you were particularly impacted by an accident, the defendant must still pay you based on how you were hurt.
How Pain and Suffering Is Calculated
Insurance companies calculate pain and suffering in one of two ways:
- They will choose a multiplier to apply to your medical costs based on the severity of your injury. If you have suffered a fracture, the multiplier could be closer to one. If you have suffered a severe injury, such as to your spinal cord, or your brain, the multiplier could be four or five.
- If the injury is something that is not permanent, the insurance company may assign a per diem value to pay you for every that you were suffering from the injury
The main problem is that the insurance company is trying to substitute some type of formula for your actual experience. In your case, it would almost always end with you getting less money than you deserve unless you are able to stand up for yourself. That is exactly what a car accident attorney would do.
Settlements in Wrongful Death Cases
If a loved one died in a car accident, your settlement would depend on different factors. You would be entitled to money based on what your own family lost. Even though it was your loved one who died in the crash, you can view your own family as the personal injury victim in a wrongful death case.
Your Own Degree of Fault Can Reduce or Eliminate Your Compensation
The other driver’s insurance company has every incentive to blame you for the accident, either completely or partially.
South Carolina uses the rule of modified comparative negligence in car accident settlements. The general principle is that the other driver’s insurance company has some obligation to pay you, so long as you bear less than half of the blame for the crash. If you are 51% responsible for the accident, you would not be eligible for any compensation.
Even if you were less than half to blame for the accident, your compensation would still be reduced by the percentage of the blame that you bear for the crash.
How to Maximize Your Car Accident Settlement
We cannot stress this strongly enough — the number-one thing that you can do to put yourself in a better legal position to get more money from a car accident settlement is to hire an experienced car accident lawyer.
One of the first things that your lawyer would do is review your case to estimate the value of your damages. Knowing what you deserve allows you to reject any settlement offers that do not fully compensate you for your injuries.
Then, you can maximize your settlement by doing the following:
- Documenting how you have suffered from the injury, both physically and financially
- Rejecting any offer that does not fully compensate you for your injuries
- Being patient and letting your lawyer work on your behalf when they pressure the insurance company to pay you more.
Car Accident Settlement Value FAQs
How does a lawyer fight for me to get the most possible money?
Your lawyer can use litigation (or the threat of it) to pressure the insurance company into raising their settlement offer. The lawyer will advise you to reject offers that do not fully pay you what you deserve.
How much of my car accident settlement do I get to keep?
Medical providers and health insurance companies will get to execute a lien to compensate them for money that they have already advanced for your care. Then, your attorney would receive money because they are being paid on a contingency basis. You are able to keep the rest of the settlement.
How do I know how much my claim is worth?
It is very difficult for an individual claimant to know how much they deserve in damages. Settlements rely on complicated legal formulas, and the insurance company is going to do everything that they can to throw sand in the gears. An experienced car accident lawyer would know how to come up with a number that you can seek in litigation.
Our Charleston Car Accident Lawyer Will Fight for Your Maximum Possible Settlement
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, the team at Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney is the fighter that you need in your corner. Our track record gives insurance companies every reason to fear us, and you will benefit from that. Your first move is to get legal help. You can schedule a time to speak to a lawyer when you send us a message online or call us today at 843-636-8739.