Following a car accident – of which was not your fault – the goal is to cover your losses and financial burdens. Car accident settlements involve many moving parts. The best move you can make in the process is hiring a car accident injury lawyer.
Your attorney will do the heavy lifting in negotiating with insurance companies and navigating the legal process. The role you play involves helping your lawyer account for every single penny associated with the damages you suffered. The more information you can provide, the better position you will be in to earn fair compensation.
In this post, we want to discuss five of the biggest factors that come into play in a personal injury case following a car accident.
1. The Severity of Your Injuries or Losses
The severity of your injury is the biggest factor influencing the value of your car accident settlement. Generally, the more severe your injury, the higher hospital bills and treatment costs you’ll need to recoup in the settlement.
Small settlements involving minor injuries like cuts and bruises may only be a few thousand dollars. On the other hand, major injuries to the brain and spinal cord could be in the millions – depending on the circumstances.
When it comes to injuries, you’ll need to factor in both the economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages have tangible values, including (but not limited to):
- Medical bills
- Ongoing treatment
- Lost wages
- Property damages
Non-economic damages have value, but unlike economic damages, there is no clear price tag. These damages include (but are not limited to):
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Decreased quality of life
Your ability to recoup these damages relies on the car accident injury lawyer you hire. They will help you add up and place value on everything you faced due to the accident.
2. The Amount of Evidence Presented
Evidence is everything in a car accident case. The primary goal with evidence is to attribute liability to the at-fault party and hold them accountable for all the damages suffered. The more evidence you provide, the stronger your case will be.
Your opportunities to gather evidence start immediately after the car accident. Before you leave the scene, you’ll want to capture:
- Pictures of the damage to your vehicle
- Pictures of the road conditions
- Pictures of the at-fault party’s vehicle/license plate
- Picture of any injuries you suffered
- A copy of the police report
- The medical team’s assessment of your injuries
- Contact information of eyewitnesses
- Contact information of the at-fault party
Afterward, you and your car accident injury attorney will likely pursue other evidence – like footage from traffic cameras, eyewitness statements, and medical records. Evidence should create no shadow of doubt in holding the at-fault party accountable. Strong evidence will accomplish this and place liability for all damages suffered.
3. Your Involvement in the Accident
Insurance companies and the other party’s defense attorney have one goal: place as much blame on you as possible to minimize their liability. They will examine every detail of the accident to shift the blame.
For instance, say the at-fault party ran a red light while texting and hit your vehicle – and you suffered a neck injury. The at-fault party’s insurance company may try to argue that you were not wearing your seat belt properly. They will claim that you suffered an injury because of this, rather than their client failing to pay attention to the road.
In these situations, they will try to attribute partial fault to you. In the state of Illinois, shared fault accidents come down to percentages. Let’s say the accident came down to driver A being 80 percent at fault and driver B being 20 percent. Now, if driver B had $30,000 in medical damages, the settlement would be reduced by that 20 percent. This would mean the settlement may only be worth $24,000.
Attributing fault is the most important reason to hire a skilled car accident injury attorney. They will coordinate with accident specialists and negotiate with insurance companies to place fault on the other party – and earn the maximum compensation.
4. The Other Driver’s Insurance Coverage
In most states, drivers are required by law to carry auto insurance. In the event of an accident, the at-fault party’s insurance will (ideally) pay for your damages.
But what happens if the other driver does not have insurance?
Regardless of the other driver’s insurance coverage, the same process is followed after an accident. Unfortunately, you may not be able to get any compensation from an uninsured driver – even if you take them to trial. The at-fault driver will likely face criminal charges for failing to have insurance coverage, but this does nothing for you.
If you have “uninsured” or “underinsured” motorist coverage as part of your own plan, you may be able to recoup damages. Following the accident, call your insurance company to learn what they can provide you.
5. Your Road to Recovery
To echo a previous point, damages for a car accident case need to account for all future needs, including (but not limited to):
- Future medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life.
These figures will vary based on the severity of the accident. Some injuries may have life-long effects – like traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. Moreover, if these injuries impact your ability to perform your job, you can recoup the wages lost (both for now and in the future).
Your life may be forever changed following a car accident. If the accident was not your fault, you deserve to be fairly compensated for everything. Your car accident attorney will help you place a value on your damages – and fight to recoup your losses.
Car accidents can happen in the blink of an eye – and change everything. You deserve to be fairly compensated if the accident was caused by another party. Now, the factors listed above only scratch the surface of everything that goes into a car accident personal injury claim.
Hopefully, you’ve never experienced a car accident before. It’s important to keep in mind that insurance companies have no problem resorting to shady tactics that place blame on victims.
This is why it’s so important to hire a car accident injury attorney. They know how to counter these tactics and earn fair settlements.
Even if you believe your case is strong, ALWAYS consult a professional attorney to help manage your claim. These attorneys work on a contingency fee agreement – meaning they make their money after the case is won. In other words, anyone can afford to hire a good attorney. Do yourself a favor and partner with a lawyer who keeps your best interests in mind.
Samuel R. Carl is the co-founder of Midwest Injury Lawyers, a full-service personal injury law firm that specializes in serious accidents involving car accidents, bike accidents, nursing home abuse, medical negligence. With over 10 years of experience in the personal injury law field, Sam spent years protecting the rights of injured victims and their families, securing millions of dollars for his clients through jury verdicts and settlements.