If you are injured in a car accident caused by another driver, that driver is liable for your injuries and damages. However, obtaining compensation from the insurance company for the driver is not always a straightforward process. Even though the insurance company may accept liability, there could be a dispute about how much your car accident claim is worth.
Several factors impact the amount you can expect to receive for a car accident settlement. Nine of those factors are:
1. The Type and Severity of Your Injuries
Generally, severe car accident injuries increase the value of a car accident settlement. The cost of treatment, the chance of permanent impairment, and anticipated pain increase with the severity of an injury.
Having detailed medical records and statements from medical experts greatly helps with settlement negotiations. They establish the extent of injuries and the level of your pain and suffering, which improve your chance of receiving maximum compensation for physical injuries.
2. Your Statements and Actions
Beginning with what you say immediately after an accident, your actions impact the outcome of your case. What you say to the police officers, doctors, insurance claims adjusters, and online can affect your claim. An insurance company could use a simple statement about running late the morning of the accident to allege you were partially at fault for the case of the crash.
It is generally best to avoid talking to an insurance company until you consult with a car accident lawyer.
3. Financial Losses and Expenses
The total of your financial losses and expenses has a direct impact on your car accident settlement. In most cases, you receive reimbursement for all reasonable expenses and costs associated with the accident and your injuries when another driver is 100 percent at fault.
Financial losses include medical expenses, loss of income, travel expenses, help with daily activities, medications, and medical equipment. If you receive payment for medical expenses that are unpaid or were paid by health insurance, those funds generally must be paid to the providers or the insurance companies that paid the medical bills.
4. Strong Evidence of Fault
You must prove that the other driver caused the accident to recover compensation for your damages. If fault is disputed, it can impact the value of your car accident claim. Instead of full value, your settlement may be lower to reflect the lack of evidence to prove fault.
Also, if your case goes to trial, the percentage of fault a jury assigns to you for causing the accident reduces the amount of your compensation. Therefore, you may not receive the full value of your claim if you contributed to the cause of the car accident.
5. Preexisting Conditions
The insurance company may try to use preexisting conditions or prior accidents to argue that the accident did not entirely cause your injuries. Preexisting conditions and injuries do not necessarily lower the value of your claim, but it could impact settlement negotiations with an insurance company.
6. Prompt Medical Care
For your health and to preserve your right to full compensation for injuries, it is important to seek prompt medical care. Delays in medical care are used by insurance companies to argue that the accident did not cause your injuries.
Also, failing to follow your doctor’s treatment plan could hurt your claim. The insurance company may argue that your failure to seek treatment or follow a treatment plan is the reason your injuries are severe.
7. Insurance Coverage
Even though your car accident claim may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, if the other driver carries minimum car insurance coverage, the amount you might receive for a settlement may be much lower than the claim’s value. You can file a lawsuit against the driver to obtain a personal judgment against the driver, but the judgment may not be worth anything if the driver does not have the resources to pay the judgment.
You may be able to obtain additional compensation for a car accident from your insurance provider if you carry underinsured motorist coverage.
8. Post-Accident Lifestyle
Engaging in normal daily activities that are inconsistent with the injuries you claim can hurt your settlement negotiations. Insurance claims adjusters search online posts and social media accounts for evidence that you are not injured. Some companies may hire private investigators to search for evidence that you are not injured.
You should follow your doctor’s orders and limit daily activities according to the severity of your injuries. It can also be wise to avoid using social media until your car accident claim settles.
9. Hiring an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Hiring an attorney can also impact your car accident settlement. Insurance companies track the success record of personal injury lawyers. They know which lawyers routinely settle claims and which law firms are willing to go to court to protect a client’s best interest.
When you hire an experienced trial attorney, it lets the insurance company know that you are serious about pursuing a claim. Hiring an attorney also means that you understand your legal rights and the real value of your claim. The insurance company may be more willing to offer a fair settlement for your car accident claim when an attorney is involved in the negotiations.