How Much Is My Car Accident Claim Worth?
Ask any car accident attorney, and they will probably tell you that one of the most common questions they hear is, “How much is my accident worth?” After an accident, it’s natural to want to know whether you will have enough money to cover the cost of your injuries. It can be scary facing unpaid bills and missed time at work and wondering how you are going to manage to get by. But while this is one of the most common questions we hear, it is also one of the most difficult to answer.
There are a variety of factors to consider after an auto accident. No two cases are the same. In one recent year, 249,241 injuries resulted from motor vehicle accidents in Texas. Each injury involved different injuries and different circumstances. While some lawyers may claim to “know” the value of your case just based on your injuries, an experienced personal injury attorney can only give you an estimate after a comprehensive evaluation of your case. Even then, it’s just that, an estimate.
Common Factors in an Auto Accident Case
While we cannot give you an exact value of your claim, certain factors are commonly included in most personal injury claims. These items are divided into economic damages and non-economic damages. Let’s take a closer look.
Economic damages are those that can be associated with a direct dollar value. This includes:
- Lost wages: If your injuries keep you out of work, it can have a big effect on your livelihood. Lost wages include any time missed as a direct result of the accident and subsequent injuries.
- Future wages: Severe injuries may leave you unable to return to work. When this happens, future wages can help make sure you can cover your expenses.
- Medical bills: Medical bills are often one of the largest costs in a personal injury claim. These will often be reimbursed dollar for dollar. Costs include doctor visits, hospital stays, medications, and other associated medical treatment.
- Medical equipment: Even minor injuries can require the use of medical equipment. This may include a TENS unit, bandaging, or crutches. For more serious accidents, this may include hospital beds, prosthetics, or a wheelchair.
Unlike economic damages, the following damages cannot be easily connected to a monetary value. Many factors will determine the actual value of non-economic damages. Common damages include:
- Pain and suffering: Injuries can cause chronic pain and emotional distress. When this happens, you deserve to be compensated. Pain and suffering may include anxiety, depression, PTSD, or even difficulty sleeping.
- Loss of companionship: An accident can affect your relationships. Paralysis can leave someone unable to provide for their family. A traumatic brain injury can leave a person unable to talk or affect their emotional stability. The loss of companionship can have a severe impact on the injured party and their family.
- Loss of enjoyment: Serious injuries can affect your ability to do the things you once loved. A broken bone can make it painful to play in your weekend softball tournaments. Chronic back pain may make you unable to bear standing in the kitchen while you bake. When an injury interferes with your ability to enjoy your life, a personal injury attorney can help you seek compensation for this loss.
Personal injury claims are complex. To determine the value of your case, you must look at the details surrounding your case. How severe was the accident? Was it preventable? How much damage did it cause? Other considerations include:
- The injuries you sustained: The type of injury you suffer will be one of the biggest factors in your case. Different injuries have different costs and implications. For example, a severe brain injury can cost between $600,000 and nearly $2 million. A broken leg, on the other hand, costs approximately $7,500.
- How long it will take you to recover: The purpose of a personal injury claim is to return you to your pre-accident condition. The more severe your injuries, the harder this is to do. Minor injuries will usually result in smaller settlements. However, if your injury results in permanent disability, the amount of care you need and the effect the injury has on your quality of life will be substantially greater.
- The circumstances surrounding the accident: Some circumstances may increase or decrease the value of your case. Gross negligence on the part of the other driver will often increase the value of your case. If the driver was drunk, under the influence of drugs, or speeding, they may be responsible for punitive damages.
- Who holds liability: In auto accidents, it will usually be one of the drivers that bears responsibility. However, if the driver was on the job or there was a vehicle defect, there may be other parties involved. This may affect the final damages as well as the types of auto policies that come into play. In most cases, a personal injury claim will not pay out beyond the insurance policy limits.
- Your credibility: It’s important to note that it is always our goal to settle personal injury cases quickly and fairly. However, there are circumstances where your case may end up in front of a jury. Knowing this, the insurance company and their lawyers will consider what type of witness you will be. Are you angry? Are you honest? This is why it’s always important to tell the truth at every step of the process. This includes any communication with your doctor, the insurance company, and any written or verbal testimony. Personal injury cases can be emotional and stressful. A personal injury attorney can make sure that the insurance company does not try to manipulate the facts and protect your interests.
There is no easy way to determine how much an auto accident is worth. But your injuries matter. Even “minor” injuries can lead to long term pain.
If you are injured, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. If you have questions regarding a recent accident, a car accident lawyer can provide more information.