Car Accident Settlement Value Factors
How much is my car accident case worth? Everyone is eager to find out the answer to this question. There is information available about “multipliers” and the like (e.g. multiply your medical expenses by three and that is how much your case is worth). But the answer is simple: each client and case is unique, and the value of a personal injury claim is determined on a case-by-case basis. As a result, there is no single metric used in determining the value of your personal injury claim settlement.
List of Factors In Determining the Value of Your Personal Injury Case
Here is a list of factors that insurance companies, judges, and juries consider when determining the value of the case:
Did you Sustain Severe Injuries or Soft Tissue Injuries?
- Broken bones, fractures, death, permanent disfigurement, permanent scarring, surgery, and traumatic brain injury are examples of severe injuries. Anyone can understand how these types of severe or catastrophic injuries will alter someone’s life by requiring extensive medical treatment, missing weeks of work, or requiring long-term rehabilitation. The value of the case will be higher for these types of injuries as compared with a case involving soft tissue injuries.
- Whiplash, sprains, and strains, contusions, pinched nerves are examples of soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries are common in minor car accidents. Typically, individuals with these injuries might experience soreness in their neck or back, leading them to seek treatment from a chiropractor or physical therapist.
Your medical records will be one of the most important documents in determining the value of your claim, if not the most important document.
Is it Clear Who Was at Fault?
If there is a disagreement about which driver is at fault, the value of your case will suffer. Maryland is harsh because you cannot recover compensation if you are even one percent negligent due to Maryland’s Contributory Negligence law. If, on the other hand, the fault is clear (for example, you were rear-ended), the value of your case may be higher as there is no dispute about liability.
How Much Insurance Coverage Is Available to Compensate You for Your Injuries?
The unfortunate reality is that, for the most part, your recovery will be limited to the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage. For example, if you incurred $50,000 in medical expenses but the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage limits are only $30,000, you are limited to a $30,000 recovery unless you can find other available insurance. The other available insurance you do have is your own uninsured motorist coverage. Maryland state law requires that every driver has a minimum of $30,000 uninsured motorist coverage.
In this case, however, let’s assume the at-fault driver has $250,000 in insurance coverage. You can now recover up to $250,000 in damages.
Photographs From the Accident Scene
You’ve probably heard the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The same can be said for your personal injury claim. Photographs of your injuries and the property damage to the vehicles involved in the accident will have a significant impact on the value of your claim.
Is the Defendant a Corporation or an Individual?
When you’re in a car accident, who’s at fault can significantly impact the amount of money you might receive in a settlement. This is especially true if a corporation or commercial entity is involved.
Here’s why: Corporations or commercial entities usually have more financial resources at their disposal compared to individuals. This means they typically carry larger insurance policy limits. So, if a company is involved in the accident, it could potentially mean a higher settlement amount.
On top of that, in cases involving a business, you might be able to seek compensation from both the driver and the company itself. This could provide more sources for compensation.
In some situations, a company can also be held responsible for its employee’s actions. This could lead to larger settlements. Additionally, depending on where the accident happened, stricter rules about a corporation’s responsibility might apply. This could affect who’s considered at fault and how much the settlement might be.
How Much of Your Life Has Been Altered as a Result of the Accident?
How your injury affected your ability to perform your job and work-related responsibilities, whether your home life was seriously impacted, and whether you require long-term rehabilitation are just a few of the many factors to consider when calculating your claim’s damages.
When it comes to a car accident case, the compensation awarded to the person who suffered losses is intended to make up for what they’ve lost. This compensation, known as legal damages, falls into two main categories: actual damages and general damages.
Actual damages are designed to cover the direct financial losses from the crash. This could include medical expenses resulting from injuries or the cost to repair or replace items that got damaged in the accident, such as a car or electronics. Actual damages can also compensate for wages or income lost due to injuries from the accident.
On the other hand, general damages cover the things you can’t easily put a price tag on. These might include pain and suffering endured because of the accident. Pain and suffering refer to the physical discomfort and emotional distress experienced by the injured victim. If a spouse died from injuries in the accident, the surviving partner might also seek general damages for their loss.
Calculating the amount for general damages, like pain and suffering, can be complex since they don’t tie directly to specific costs. The court decides how to calculate these based on the specifics of the case.
Remember, the rules about damages can differ depending on where you are. Therefore, it’s important to consult with a legal professional who specializes in personal injury law. They can provide accurate information that’s relevant to your situation.
How Medical Treatment Can Impact Your Settlement
Ask any attorney about the steps you must take following a car accident, and all of them will tell you to consult a doctor. So, why is seeing a doctor so important?
Beyond treating your injuries, your doctor can also provide a valuable service. The service in question is documenting your injuries.
When you come in for treatment, the doctor will note your complaints and confirm if you sustained any injuries. They will also note every step involved in your treatment. Your doctor can also assess the severity of your injuries and gauge their impact on your quality of life.
The medical professional will then compile those essential pieces of information in your medical record. They will indicate that you took your accident-related injuries seriously from the start.
More importantly, they prove you have sustained significant financial losses from the accident.
In addition, seeking medical treatment will allow you to do more than request damages for the medical expenses you have already paid. If you require ongoing treatment to treat a broken arm or a brain injury, the defendant must also cover that. Your detailed medical records will show the true scope of the defendant’s financial obligations.
Uninsured Drivers in Maryland
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 14.1% of Maryland motorists are uninsured. The potential ramifications of that fact are enormous. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you may have trouble covering your medical expenses and repair bills. Suing the uninsured motorist may not lead to anything because they likely cannot cover your losses.
Thankfully, you can still lean on uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance kicks in if the party who caused your auto accident lacks insurance or has insufficient coverage. Your underinsured motorist coverage will bridge the gap between the other driver’s payout and your financial losses. Meanwhile, uninsured motorist coverage allows you to recoup compensation if the other driver has no coverage whatsoever.
The state of Maryland also requires all motorists to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. At a minimum, your policy should provide for $30,000 in bodily injury liability per person and $60,000 total per accident. Your plan should also offer property damage coverage. It should provide at least $15,000 in property damage coverage per accident.
Those are only the required minimums for your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy. You can purchase a plan with higher limits if you want better coverage.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Car Accident Case
Many people ask – How long does it take to settle my personal injury claim? In general, the length of time it takes to settle your personal injury claim is determined by the severity of your injuries. The length of time for injured persons who suffer severe injuries will be significantly longer than the length of time for injured persons who suffer soft-tissue injuries.
Time Period for Settling the Car Accident Claim
In general, people who initiate personal injury claims after suffering severe injuries will likely wait 1.5 – 3 years for settlement, and they will nearly always have to file a lawsuit in court for their personal injury claim.
In general, those who submit personal injury claims and suffer soft-tissue injuries will likely wait 3-6 months for settlement or up to 1 year if the case is going to trial.
Regardless of the severity of your injuries, having an experienced personal injury lawyer file a case in court on your behalf will always expedite your claim.
Call for a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Accident
Don’t go it alone. If you want to ensure that your claim is maximized to give you the best possible result, you need an experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyer. Let Leppler Injury Law fight for the compensation you deserve. Call John at (443) 955-1989 for a free consultation and case review.