After being involved in a car accident, your first focus is on getting the medical care you need. After that, though, you may start realizing that the insurance companies are not offering you the reimbursement you expected, or that others are trying to tell you things that aren’t true or come with pressure to comply. When you become concerned about how you’re being treated after a motor vehicle accident, it’s time to consult a lawyer about a possible case. But that often leads to the question: how much money will I get if I win?
Trying to value a car accident settlement is tricky at best, as there are many different factors that play a role. Here are some of the key factors that affect the value of a motor vehicle accident settlement:
1. Seriousness of the Injury
This is one of the most important factors in a case. In order to understand your medical bills, your health insurance company’s liabilities, and your car insurance company’s liabilities, a lawyer will need to detail what kind of injury you sustain. Soft-tissue injuries that require physical therapy or rehabilitation are worth different amounts than serious injuries that cause life-long damage. The extent of your injuries and recovery time will be taken into detailed consideration when your case is reviewed.
2. Severity of the Crash/Conduct of the At-Fault Party
This is rather obvious: everyone will understand your high medical bills if the accident was especially violent or large. On the other hand, juries may not believe that your high medical bills were caused by a low-impact, slow-speed accident. Additionally, there may be factors such as intoxication, reckless driving, or other illegality of at-fault party that could increase the value of the case before a jury.
3. Personality of the Client
Yes, this means you. Juries are more likely to agree to award you money if you’re seen as a good neighbor, a responsible citizen, and someone who is polite and calm. If you come across as unlikeable or rude, or if juries think you’re exaggerating or bending the truth, then juries may not agree to award you compensation.
4. Where the Case Is Filed
The location of the trial is most often the home county of the defendant or the location where the accident took place. This means your case may be held where the other driver lives and the jury pool will come from that driver’s county. Juries of different social and economic status behave differently, so the make-up of the county could make a difference in how the jury will decide in your case.
5. Amount of Liability Insurance
If the other driver you’re suing doesn’t have a lot of liability insurance and also doesn’t have personal assets, you won’t get a lot of money from him – even if you deserve and need it. So even though your case may be worth $1 million, if the defendant only has a $50,000 insurance premium and doesn’t own a house or make a large income, then you’ll never see $1 million. And you can’t just sue the driver personally, as there still won’t be assets to retrieve. That is why it is critical for you to make sure you have sufficient underinsurance coverage (UIM) (learn more about types of insurance coverage, including UIM, in our recent blog on Understanding Car Insurance).
While these five factors will all affect the value of your car accident claim, one of the most important factors is the quality of your lawyer. A good personal injury lawyer will be able to advise you on what to expect in your case. The lawyer will also know how to fight for you when describing accidents and injuries. So contact a trusted, experienced lawyer, like those at Hodge & Langley, to feel confident that you’re being taken care of and aggressively fought for after a car accident.