You’ve seen the ads on TV showing people claiming to have been awarded a million dollars or more in a car accident settlement, but is this realistic? What can you expect to recover when you are injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault? Learn about the factors that help determine the amount of your award here.
Factors to Consider When Calculating Damages
Whether you are filing a claim with your own insurance company or the insurer for the at-fault driver, the adjuster will likely use some kind of formula to calculate the value of your claim. You may file the claim and receive a settlement offer within a few days. But how do you know if it’s a fair offer? If you work with a car accident attorney, he will determine what your claim is worth and will negotiate with the insurance adjuster to get you what you deserve. To a fair amount, consider the following expenses:
- Property damage. Payment for damages to your car is based on the cost of repairs or the replacement value of the vehicle if it is totaled. Most insurance policies do not offer “replacement value” of the vehicle, meaning you will likely not get enough to buy a new car to replace a vehicle that is a total loss.
- Medical bills. Claims for bodily injury are handled separately from property damage claims. This is generally the bulk of the value of your settlement, so it is very important to consider all costs associated with your medical treatment for injuries, including emergency services, scans and tests, doctor visits, crutches or wheelchair rentals, physical therapy, and more. When you have suffered catastrophic injuries resulting in brain damage or paralysis, you must also calculate your long-term or life-long care expenses.
- Lost earnings. If you have to miss work because of your injuries, you can be reimbursed for lost wages or sick time you had to take. If your injuries prevent you from continuing to work in the same field and will result in lower future earnings, you can also make a claim for lost future earnings.
- Pain and suffering. Compensation for the pain and suffering you have experienced is considered “non-economic” damages because there is no easy way to attach a price tag to it. Insurance adjusters will use a multiplier of anywhere from 1.5 to 5 to determine these damages, depending on the seriousness of your injuries. The total of your economic damages will be multiplied by this factor to determine your pain and suffering damages. Your attorney will work hard to get you a fair multiplier.
The value of each of these factors will be a point of contention with the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster. His goal is to offer the lowest possible settlement you will accept. This is why it is important to work with an attorney.
Factors That Will Limit Your Recovery
Even after all of these losses are calculated, your settlement will be limited by a couple of other factors. First, even if your claim is legitimately worth a million dollars, if the at-fault driver is only carrying the state-required minimum insurance coverage, your recovery will be limited to $25,000. If you have an attorney, he will look to all possible sources of compensation, including other insurance policies and personal assets of the at-fault driver.
If it was determined that you shared fault for the accident, your settlement will be reduced by that amount. Under comparative fault laws in Indiana, your settlement will be reduced by the percentage of blame assigned to you. For example, if you were assigned 25 percent of the fault, your $25,000 settlement will be reduced by $6,250. Again, an attorney can present evidence to prove that the other driver was 100 percent at fault, thus maximizing your settlement.
Who Can You Call in Indiana?
The experienced car accident legal team at Keller & Keller knows how to maximize your settlement so that you have the best chance at a full physical recovery. Call our team today to discuss the details of your case.