How Much Is My Car Accident Claim Worth?
For some car accident victims, whether to file a car accident lawsuit presents a challenging question. One reason for this is that the insurance company for the at-fault party will likely make an early offer in an attempt to minimize how much compensation it must ultimately pay out. Before injured individuals accept any settlement offers, they must understand the actual value of their claims and whether pursuing larger settlements is worth their time. If you’ve been in a car accident, contact a San Antonio auto accident attorney to answer all your legal questions.
Car Accident Claim Variables
Every car accident victim has a story to tell. Some factors that will determine what injured individuals receive as a settlement for their injuries include:
- Medical expenses incurred – This is always challenging to determine, because of the number of variables involved. For example, an adult who suffers a broken femur (the long leg bone) and must undergo an extended stay in the hospital should expect their expenses to average about $86,000, according to Price Point. However, this figure does not include any “extra” expenses, including medications you may need at home, visits to an orthopedic doctor while you are recovering, and a myriad of other medical expenses that you may incur as a result of your injury. A review of the Price Point estimate shows that it only includes hospitalization costs and not necessarily all of the costs associated with an injured individual’s care.
- Time lost from work – One significant aspect of a car accident settlement is the time it takes you to recover from your injuries and how much work you are going to lose during that time. Minor injuries may mean several days lost from work, while a more serious injury may cause you to miss work for weeks, months, or even permanently. During the time you miss from work, you may be losing money from a pension plan because you are not working. Additionally, if you happen to own a small business, you may suffer even more losses.
- Other expenses – You might collect other expenses when you are injured in a car accident. For example, you should consider claiming any damage to your car. If you had a brand-new vehicle at the time of the crash, you will likely receive a larger settlement offer than if your car were five years old with significant mileage. You may also have to make temporary or permanent modifications to your home for you to remain at home during your recovery. You should also include these expenses when calculating the value of your claim. Again, each case is different, so contacting a car accident attorney is your best option.
- Non-economic losses – One of the most overlooked claims in any car accident is the toll an accident may take on you and your family. Accordingly, following an accident, you should claim pain and suffering as well as other non-economic damages, which an experienced car accident attorney can explain to you.
When Insurance Companies Offer Early Settlements
One of the tactics that insurance companies use to ensure that they are paying as little as possible in settlement amounts is to make initial offers soon after accidents. Don’t be fooled, as this is not a good-will gesture. In fact, in many cases, this strategy allows the insurance company to save money.
Keep in mind, insurers make money from premiums coming in, and they lose money when they pay out claims. Therefore, each accident where they are required to reimburse a victim means they are damaging their bottom lines. Hence, it stands to reason that if they can pay a smaller amount, their bottom lines stay healthier.
Unfortunately for victims, this also means that the insurance companies’ initial offers often do not reflect the true value of the victims’ cases. The reason for this is simple. When you accept an early settlement offer, the insurance company will most likely require you to sign a waiver. This waiver allows the insurance company to decline any future claims as they pertain to this particular accident.
This is challenging because, in some instances, your injuries may cause future health issues of which you may not know in the days and weeks following your accident. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible following a car accident.
Protect Your Financial Interests Following a Car Accident
One of the most important things that you can do following a car accident to protect your financial interests is to make sure that you keep track of all expenses and other financial repercussions you face as a result of your injuries.
For example, here are some expenses and financial records that you should keep track of:
- Medical-related expenses – This should include doctor visits, mileage to and from doctor visits, cost of childcare when you have to visit the doctor (if applicable), and any medical appliance costs, such as crutches.
- Wage related losses – Not only should you be keeping track of the money you are losing in wages, but you should also keep track of the amounts you would have placed in a retirement account, your company pension plan, etc, had you not suffered your injuries. These amounts may be recoverable.
- Property expenses and losses – You should also include the cost of repairs to or the replacement of your automobile in your car accident claim. It’s important to note that there is a chance that the insurance premium for your automobile may increase following an accident, even if it was not your fault. Accordingly, you should record the amount of any increase, because it will likely remain the same higher rate for three to five years, and you want to include this cost in your claim.
As you can see, there are several variables that individuals must consider when determining how much their car accident claims are worth. If you are a victim of a car accident that was not your fault, the best way to protect your financial interest is to contact an experienced auto accident attorney and discuss the particulars of your case. Once you contact an attorney, you will have the information necessary to make smart and informed decisions regarding your claim, including whether you should retain an attorney to assist you.