PGJyIC8+PHNwYW4gZGF0YS1zdW1vbWUtbGlzdGJ1aWxkZXItZW1iZWQtaWQ9IjJlMjg1ZTQ3MmJjZWYxOTQ4M2IzNjUwY2E3OWYyZTFmOTg4ZWQxNzkyMGU5MmUzZjFmZjk1ZjRmMzYyODg4MTIiPjwvc3Bhbj4 Car Accident Settlements: Everything You Need to Know Car accidents are stressful. Even when you\u2019re not at fault, the aftermath of a collision on the road can be trying. Whether you\u2019ve suffered serious injuries, damage to your vehicle, or psychological trauma, it\u2019s easy to feel overwhelmed. Often, there needs to be a discussion about a car accident settlement. After collecting the contact information of the other driver and seeking medical attention, it can be difficult to know where to turn for justice and the compensation you deserve. A car accident settlement offer letter may help clarify your situation. Even with money on the table it can be difficult to know if you\u2019re being treated justly. Many times, insurance adjusters will lowball accident victims, offering them far less than what they deserve. These companies know that many car wreck victims are unfamiliar with the negotiation process that comes after a wreck. Learn more about the calculation of car accident payouts. You should also know how you can improve your chances of getting financial compensation and increase the payout for your injuries, vehicle damage, and lost wages. While conversations with claims adjusters may seem difficult, it\u2019s important not to back down on what you feel you\u2019re owed. They say knowledge is power, and that\u2019s especially true when your health, safety, and finances are on the line. It may be tempting to take the first offer that an insurance company sends your way. Do so, and you\u2019ll likely never be able to pursue a personal injury claim for the damages you suffered ever again. By understanding the process of settling a personal injury lawsuit, you\u2019ll prevent this kind of mistake and ensure your damages are covered. Whether you take on the insurance company with an injury attorney or by yourself, it pays to know what you\u2019re up against. Here is our guide to car accident lawsuit settlements. We aim to help you: \tdetermine your damages \tcollect evidence in your favor \tacknowledge any contributory negligence \tunderstand the ways in which insurance companies frequently negotiate down personal injury settlements. Keep reading for a thorough analysis of the process and for guidance on when and how to find an experienced attorney. What is a typical car accident settlement timeline? Most car accident cases never go to trial and resolve through the car accident settlement process. Only a small percentage of car accident cases go to court for trial. This is because most car accident claims resolve with a settlement. How long the case will take to settle depends on many things, including these factors:\u00a0 \tWhether you hire a lawyer: Auto insurance companies prefer that accident victims handle the case themselves. They will usually offer a low-ball settlement right after they get the claim. The insurance company wants to settle it fast and for as little money as possible.\u00a0 Hiring an attorney will cause the negotiations to go longer but you are almost guaranteed more money.\u00a0\u00a0 \t\u00a0The facts of the case: If fault for the accident is clear, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will want to settle fast. But if there is any dispute about fault, you can expect negotiations to take much longer. There will need to be a complete investigation of the crash, and this could take months.\u00a0\u00a0 \tExtent of your injuries: If you have suffered major injuries it could take much longer to settle the case. The insurance company will want to see detailed documentation of your injuries and treatments before they give you a settlement offer.\u00a0\u00a0 \tThe ability of the court to schedule a hearing and trial: If you go to court, the court\u2019s calendar will affect the timing of your settlement. If the court backs up with cases, hearing and trial dates can get pushed back by months. These types of delays can lead to one party getting tired of waiting and a settlement may be offered or taken.\u00a0\u00a0 Much of the timing involved in settling a car accident claim comes down to you. If you need money for medical bills, lost wages, etc., you may decide to take less money with a quick settlement. There are cases where the at-fault insurance company can make a low-ball offer in a matter of days or a week or two. But you should be cautious about taking a low offer if you have more than minor injuries. Once you have signed the release waiver with a settlement, you cannot seek more money later.\u00a0 If you have more serious injuries, you should consider delaying the settlement. You could have injuries that affect you for months or years, and you may need more medical treatment. Contact a personal injury attorney, who will know whether it is advisable to take a lower settlement or try to get the max compensation.\u00a0 The Legal Partner You Need Some accident victims opt to represent themselves throughout the settlement process; many prefer to find an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent them. Car accident attorneys are knowledgeable about the claims process and can help guide you . Many personal injury attorneys offer free consultation appointments to discuss your legal options. \u00a0If you\u2019re considering hiring an attorney, it\u2019s worth setting up a few consultations. With the help of Lawsuit Info Center\u2019s guide to local lawyers in your area, you can chart your path to an ideal verdict. While it\u2019s impossible to predict the outcome of a case, consultations can provide clues about what lies ahead. Chatting with experienced professionals can help give you much-needed insight into your claim.\u00a0 Should I Accept the Car Accident Settlement Offer? A car accident can throw your life into chaos. It can be tempting to take the first offer the insurance company gives you and get back to your life. But before you accept a car accident settlement offer, consider the following:\u00a0 First, know that you can reject any settlement offer from the insurance company and still get compensation. Insurance companies like to tell you that their settlement offer is non-negotiable. An attorney can tell you that the first offer is the beginning of the negotiation process. Insurance companies want you to accept a settlement before hiring an attorney.\u00a0 In most cases, you are wise to reject the first accident settlement offer. The company knows if the case goes to trial, they will likely pay more, so use that to your advantage.\u00a0 Second, all car accident settlement agreements are final and binding. Every agreement has a release of liability. This means that the insurance company is not responsible for paying any more than the settlement agreement. You cannot come back a month later and ask for more money and you cannot sue.\u00a0 That is true even if you discover later that your injuries are far worse than you thought. You should not consider settling until you completely recover from the car accident.\u00a0 Third, your injuries could be worse than they first appear. You might think that you only have a sore neck the day after the accident. But a week later, the pain has gotten worse. It could turn out you have a ruptured disc in your neck. Because you took the quick settlement, you are stuck with the extra expenses..\u00a0 Before you accept a settlement, you should know how your injuries will affect your future. You also need to understand what level of ongoing care you will need because of the accident. Do not accept a settlement offer before you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), which only your doctor can determine.\u00a0 Fourth, the total cost of your car accident is more than your out-of-pocket expenses. Many settlement offers only include money for repairs, immediate lost wages, and medical costs not covered by your health insurance. They rarely cover the full cost of your accident. There are many other things you could need compensation for:\u00a0 \tVehicle repairs \tHired services for duties in the house you cannot perform, such as shopping, cooking, cleaning up the yard, caring for children, etc.\u00a0 \tMedical costs in the future \tLost earnings in the future \tMental health treatment for serious accident trauma \tPain and suffering \tLoss of enjoyment of life Before you consider a settlement offer it is important that you understand the value of everything that accident compensation should cover. Learn About the Car Accident Lawsuit Process If you sustain an injury in a car accident, you may be thinking about filing a car accident lawsuit. It is possible that the courtroom is where the case ends up. That said, plaintiffs should know going in that most car accident injury claims result in a settlement before trial. Also, many car accident insurance claims resolve via settlement before a lawsuit is filed. Yet, there are cases where going to court is necessary, and there are advantages in doing so. There are various factors to consider before actually going through with a lawsuit. Settling Before a Car Accident Lawsuit Many injured parties will settle their claim before filing suit. Here is why you might want to consider this: \tYou get paid faster \tYou avoid paying attorney fees \tAvoid going to court; lawsuits may require several hearings \tYou avoid relying on an unpredictable jury for compensation \tGoing to court is not a guarantee of more money (or any money) in your pocket The question you need to ask is this: Is it worth the risk of going to trial and getting nothing? It depends on what type of settlement offer you have in hand. If the insurance company is low-balling you or offers nothing, you may have no choice but to file a lawsuit.\u00a0 Going to Court It is usually best to try to settle your car accident claim out of court. But settlement may not be in the cards in\u00a0 your case. Here are the typical steps in the lawsuit process: \tYour attorney files your car accident lawsuit in court by drafting a legal complaint and sending it to the court. You also have to serve the other driver using a police officer, sheriff or process server. The other driver has 20 days usually to answer. \tYou next take part in the \u2018discovery\u2019 process. You will ask for information from the other driver and he will ask for information from you. Information is obtained by exchanging written documentation. Or, you can request that your attorney depose the other driver. \tTrial is the final stage of the car accident lawsuit process. During the trial, the judge or jury will hear all the evidence from both sides and render a decision. The time it takes to prepare and represent you at trial can accumulate very expensive legal fees. It is important that you be sure that it is worth going to trial to resolve your case. Remember you can settle the case at any point during the lawsuit process. The other side may decide to up their settlement offer once they see you are willing to go to trial. The mere threat of a lawsuit going forward could be all you need to get the settlement you want. \u00a0Did I Receive An Average Car Accident Settlement? After a car accident, you may decide to file a car accident claim or lawsuit against the other driver. Many people suffer injuries that leave them with medical bills and lost work time. But after you have gotten your settlement, you might wonder if you received an average or fair amount of compensation. How do you know?\u00a0 The first thing to realize is the value of the claim is dependent on many factors. The average car accident settlement depends on things such as: how severe your injuries are, how long you need medical treatments and rehabilitation, required surgeries, physical damage to your vehicle, medical bills, lost earnings, and more.\u00a0\u00a0 How Car Accident Claims Are Valued There is no one-size-fits-all way that insurance companies value car accident claims and injuries. A common tool insurance adjusters use is a multiplier. The adjuster will multiply your special damages by a certain number. Generally, special damages are your financial losses from the accident, such as hospital bills, doctor bills, lost wages, and costs to repair your car. Many insurance companies will add up your special damages and then multiply it by a number from 1 to 5. The basis is how severe your pain and suffering is.\u00a0 For example, assume the total of your medical costs and lost earnings from your accident is $10,000. If the insurance company multiplies your special damages by 2 then your claim is worth $20,000. If you had worse injuries and pain and suffering and the adjuster used a 4, your claim would be worth $40,000. How The Multiplier Is Determined On average, insurance companies will multiply your special damages by 2 or 3 to determine your settlement. How the insurance company determines your multiplier will be what determines if you got a fair car accident settlement. For many car accidents, injuries are minor to moderate and take minimal time to recover from. Those types of accidents are ones where a 2 or 3 multiplier may be appropriate. Car accidents with more severe injuries warrant a 4 or 5 multiplier.\u00a0 But there is no simple answer for which multiplier the insurance company will use in a specific case. It depends on many things. Generally, lower medical bills and lost wages indicates that a 1-3 multiplier. If your medical costs are only a few hundred dollars, this suggests that your injuries resolved in one or two medical visits. If you only had one medical treatment, the insurance company might conclude that your pain and suffering was minor.\u00a0 Yet, if your medical expenses were $50,000, the insurance company knows you were likely in the hospital and\/or had many medical treatments. A hospital stay generally indicates more pain and suffering. In this case, a 4 or 5 multiplier might be applicable.\u00a0 It is no surprise that auto insurance companies try to pay out as little claims as they can. Negotiating with the auto insurance company can be challenging. That is what your personal injury attorney is for. How Much Should I Settle for After a Car Accident? If you want to get as much money as possible out of your car accident settlement, most car accident lawyers recommend the following: Maintain Accurate Records If you were in a collision it is important to keep accurate records of the accident. You need to collect police reports. Also important are your medical treatment documents and witness statements. The other driver\u2019s auto insurance company will try to collect information to use against you. This would leave you at a major disadvantage if you failed to keep correct documentation. When you hire your lawyer, she will finish this key investigation for you. Your lawyer will gather and present all necessary records when you go to settlement. Take Pictures It is always wise to take photographs of the scene of the accident and your injuries. If you can, take pictures of where the cars ended up after the crash, as well as the damages to both cars at the scene. Good photographs are an excellent piece of evidence that your lawyer can use. If the case goes to trial, having good photographs will act as a strong visual for the jury. Don\u2019t Accept the First Settlement Offer\u00a0 Insurance adjusters use various methods to get you to agree to a smaller settlement. The adjuster could even attempt to get you to admit the accident was your fault when it was not. The job of the adjuster is to get you to agree to a small settlement before an attorney gets involved in your case. Once you have an attorney, the adjuster will not be able to bully you into taking a low settlement offer. Do What the Doctor Says If you sustained injuries in a car accident it is important to continue to see your doctor until treatments are complete. If you do not follow your doctor\u2019s orders, you could lose a lot of money in your settlement. The insurance company will check for any gap in your treatments and will argue that you were not hurt because you did not follow the doctor\u2019s order. The insurance company may decline to pay for medical bills that accumulated after the gap in treatment. Ultimately, some of your medical expenses may be not covered. Keep Good Records You should keep a good record of how your injuries are affecting your life. If your case goes to trial, it may be hard to remember how you were feeling at any particular time. With a journal, you can make a clear picture to the jury about how much your injuries changed your life for the worse. When trying to get pain and suffering compensation, it is helpful to have a detailed record of the activities you could not take part in because of your injuries. File the Case Quickly Every state has a statute of limitations for when you can file a personal injury claim. This can range from one to four years from the date of the accident. But the sooner you file the better. Some of the strength of your claim could be from the testimony of witnesses. The sooner that you get the case filed with the evidence fresh, the more likely you can get a good settlement. You also should give your attorney plenty of time to build your case. Get A Good Personal Injury Attorney After an auto accident resulting in injuries, it is important to immediately get in touch with a good personal injury attorney. Also, never speak to the other personal auto insurance company until you have an attorney. If you say the wrong thing to the adjuster, you could end up losing much of the compensation you deserve. A skilled attorney will handle the complex negotiations with insurance adjusters, ensuring that you receive proper compensation. If you do not yet have an attorney, use our website to help you find a good personal injury attorney in your state. How to Pick the Right Lawyer after a Car Accident Selecting the right attorney to handle your claim is an important part of the car accident lawsuit process. Hiring the best lawyer for your particular case can ensure a successful outcome. While the process can be straightforward, there are many things to consider. Here are a few guidelines to help you determine if a certain attorney is right for your situation:\u00a0 Select the Right Kind of Attorney Those who have not faced legal challenges in the past may not realize that there is more than one type of lawyer. There is a wide variety of legal professionals who can help with things ranging from medical malpractice to entertainment law. It\u2019s important to work with a lawyer who specializes in your particular area of need. A consultation with a divorce lawyer won\u2019t get you very far in your whiplash settlement. If you\u2019re not sure which kind of attorney you need, do some searching online. A few simple keywords can often lead you in the right direction. Web search results can often point you to the kind of lawyer you need. This kind of narrowing of the field of choices can ensure you\u2019re on track to find the attorney that\u2019s right for your case. Do Your Research Once you\u2019ve determined which kind of attorney you\u2019ll need, you can decide on a professional who is a good match. Family and friends may give recommendations about attorneys they have used. Assembling a list of names can help guide your research. Lawsuit Info Center also offers help in connecting people with the attorney that\u2019s right. We can help those who have suffered injuries in car accidents connect with lawyers in their area. By calling our phone number and discussing your case, you\u2019ll receive professional advice about the type of lawyer that\u2019s right for you. Our unbiased opinions can give you the guidance you need. Take Advantage of Consultations Many attorneys offer free consultation appointments for prospective clients. These appointments serve as introductory meetings to explain your case and get insight. They also give you an opportunity to interview the attorney and get a feel for their experience. During a consultation, don\u2019t be shy to ask about their past cases and their outcomes. How an attorney replies can give you a good idea of their success rate. Consultation appointments can determine how comfortable you feel with a particular lawyer. Trust between a client and their attorney is paramount. If any of the answers to your questions make you feel uncomfortable or if you don\u2019t trust their opinion, look elsewhere for representation. Only when you feel comfortable with a lawyer should you make the choice to hire them. Consider the Merits of Your Case Once you\u2019ve found an attorney you like, ask about how they plan to handle your case. Is the person likely to settle out of court, or do they feel comfortable pursuing a trial in front of a judge and jury? Consider their communication style. Some attorneys handle everything on your behalf and notify you of important updates. But you may prefer regular updates of the progress of your case. Discuss these things with your potential attorney before you decide to hire them. It\u2019s also important to ask about the anticipated outcome of your case. Lawyers who promise large sums of money for a car accident, for example, could be cause for concern. Because every case is different, it\u2019s difficult to anticipate the exact outcome of a specific situation. Attorneys should give ballpark figures instead of precise settlement amounts. When someone assures you a specific dollar amount, consider it a red flag. Discuss Payment Options Most car accident attorneys work on contingency. This means that no money is due until the case closes. At this point the attorney gets paid a percentage (typically 33%) of the final car accident settlement. This kind of fee structure is helpful for those short on cash. Still, it\u2019s important to ask about the percentage of payment they expect for their services. Failure to do so could result in unfortunate and costly mistakes. Some lawyers charge more than others. Lawyers base their fees on their experience, education and success rate. A high fee doesn\u2019t necessarily indicate a better chance of success. It\u2019s important to weigh your options before opting for one attorney over another. Most Common Mistakes During a Car Accident Settlement People respond to traumatic events in a variety of ways. Some people compartmentalize and handle decision-making in a logical way. Others go into survival mode. When your adrenaline is pumping, it can be difficult to make smart choices. Even after a traumatic car accident, victims can feel paralyzed by their options. This leads to errors in the car accident settlement process. The days and weeks following a crash can be overwhelming for even the most cool-headed of people. If you\u2019re hoping to avoid many of these common post-accident mistakes, follow this guide. Skipping a Medical Exam When you\u2019re involved in a crash, it\u2019s tempting to do anything in your power to put it behind you. After all, accidents are stressful. If you don't notice an injury immediately after a collision, you may consider skipping out on a medical exam. If you\u2019ve declined medical care, you could be making a big mistake. The human body responds to trauma in curious ways. Many accident victims don\u2019t realize they have suffered an injury until after they\u2019ve left the scene of the crash. In some cases, it may take weeks for the body to show signs of common accident injuries like whiplash. Not seeking medical attention could result in difficulty connecting your injury to your accident. For this reason, it\u2019s important to get checked out after a crash even if you don\u2019t think you're hurt. The better you document your injuries, prognosis, and treatment, the more likely you\u2019ll receive compensation. Early examinations can also help mitigate the impact the injury has on your overall health. Forgetting to Collect Evidence It can be difficult to remember the steps necessary to handle a collision. Failure to collect vital evidence can limit the damages you may collect. Of course, medical attention should take priority over evidence collection. After clearance by the paramedics, though, it\u2019s important to take action. You will need the contact and insurance information of the other driver involved. Also, be sure to collect official report details from the police officer on scene. Snap a few photos of the damage, your injuries, and the intersection where the incident occurred. If witnesses observed the crash, write down their names and contact information, too. By gathering initial evidence, you have a head start for your lawyer\u2019s investigation. Trusting the Insurance Company It\u2019s tempting to take the insurance company\u2019s word when they say they\u2019ll take care of everything. After all, you pay monthly premiums for this exact situation, right? While it\u2019s easy to sit back and trust that the insurance company has your best interests at heart, it\u2019s a mistake to do so. Insurers work to turn a profit. They\u2019ll do everything they can to get out of paying accident victims what they\u2019re owed. While it\u2019s important to be polite when working with a claims adjuster, it\u2019s also important to be your own advocate. Talk to a car accident lawyer about what your claim is worth. Don\u2019t be afraid to reject lowball offers from the insurance company. Even if they try to make their offer out to be significant, it\u2019s worth doing your research.\u00a0 Settling Quickly Often, accident victims are more concerned with when they will receive their settlement, rather than how much it will be. Car wrecks can be expensive, after all. You may be facing expensive repair and hospital bills. You may question how you\u2019ll ever be able to afford the unexpected upfront costs associated with the wreck. It\u2019s difficult to resist taking the first settlement offered. An insurance company will rarely offer their best settlement up front. Even if you\u2019re in a tough financial spot, focus on the big picture of negotiation. If you\u2019re serious about getting a fair offer, patience is key. Take time to build your case, and you\u2019re more likely to see a settlement that\u2019s fair. No matter the circumstances surrounding your accident, it\u2019s worth talking to an attorney about your legal options. It can be difficult for crash victims to know the value of their case, which is why we offer a free car accident settlement calculator on our website. Whether you opt to represent yourself or hire a lawyer, the resources available from Lawsuit Info Center can prepare you to face the insurance company. How are car accident payouts calculated? You can learn more about the common types of injuries and what they pay out on average here.\u00a0 There is no exact formula for calculating the average car accident payout. If you only sustained damage to your car, policy limits are the basis of reimbursement. Just as no two car accidents are the same,\u00a0 no two car accident payouts are the same. A careful examination of the facts of your case and the insurance carrier\u2019s rules determine the amount of your car accident payout. Pain and suffering compensation is only awarded when you have been physically injured. An examination by a doctor immediately after an accident is critical, even if you don\u2019t think that you're injured. Often, injuries are not immediately clear and can take days to years to become noticeable. It\u2019s a good idea to allow a doctor to determine if you have suffered any internal or unnoticable injuries. For example, some car accident injuries, such as whiplash, may not become evident until a few days after the crash. If you wait too long to seek medical care, you might lose compensation for the car accident injury. If you want to get a rough estimate of how much to expect from a car accident settlement, a good rule of thumb is to: \tAdd up your expenses for medical bills, car repairs, and lost wages. \tMultiply that sum by three. So, for example, let\u2019s say you suffered injuries in a car accident and paid $4,000 in doctor\u2019s bills. You also missed one week of work, which made you lose $2,000 in income. Your average car accident settlement would be approximately $18,000, because your total damages of $6,000 multiplied by three equals $18,000. Based on this estimate, your car accident payout is likely to fall somewhere between $14,000 and $28,000, depending on the exact circumstances. Keep in mind, car accident payouts are generally higher for more severe or permanent injuries. You\u2019ll also get paid more if the other driver was driving under the influence or was grossly negligent in operating their vehicle. When filing an injury claim with the other driver\u2019s insurance, you\u2019re limited by their policy maximum. For example, if you suffered $30,000 in damages, but the other driver\u2019s insurance limit is $20,000, you might need to sue the individual separately to reclaim the additional $10,000. Or, you might be able to file a claim with your insurance if you have under-insured motorist coverage to recover the additional damages. Who pays my auto accident settlement? If you have collision coverage and the crash was your fault, your insurance company will pay a certain amount to fix your car. If the cost to repair the damages is more than the value of your vehicle, the insurance company may consider your car totaled and give you a lump sum based on how much it\u2019s worth. Moreover, if another driver\u2019s negligence caused the wreck, his or her insurance company should compensate you. The sum that the company offers may be much lower than you expect. It\u2019s easy to get reimbursed for funds that you\u2019ve paid out. It\u2019s challenging to put a fair price on pain and suffering. What kind of payout should I expect from a car accident? A variety of factors go into deciding the average payout for a car accident. A judge or jury who hears your case will take into account: \tThe types of injuries \tTreatment plan \tLength of therapy \tLoss of income \tSeverity of the wreck \tOther factors In most cases, a payout is only offered when the medical treatment is complete. Permanent injuries will influence the amount of compensation that you receive. If you\u2019re working with an insurance company after a car wreck, let them know if you\u2019re still going through medical treatment. What should I expect after a head on collision? A head-on crash is one of the worst car accidents there is.\u00a0 If you sustain injuries in a head-on crash, you will need compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Head-on crash cases are usually easier to prove than other car crashes. This is because there is often a lot of physical evidence available. Attorneys can look at braking times, skid marks, black box data, and more to prove who caused the accident. With these accidents, it is usually not difficult to show the jury what happened and why. For this reason, most head-on accident cases settle before trial. Head-On Crash Accident Settlements But what are head-on crashes worth at the settlement table? Research indicates the median award in head-on crashes is approximately $30,000. But this is misleading. Many frontal crash cases settle without a trial, and many of the cases reported involve back strains. Such accidents are usually minor parking lot incidents with little damage. But there are many other examples of major head-on crashes that involve severe injury. These injuries are usually worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. In some of the worst head-on crash cases, the only reason the case did not settle for more was that the insurance coverage ran out. Below are some sample head-on crash settlements that have been published online: \t2014: $96,500 -\u00a0A 21-year-old male filed a personal injury lawsuit after suffering severe injuries in a head-on crash where the other driver crossed the median. The plaintiff suffered a major ankle fracture and had to have two screws implanted. He was left with a permanent limp and could no longer work as a waiter. He claimed $34,100 in medical costs and $12,600 in lost earnings. The jury also awarded him $50,000 for pain and suffering. \t2012: $950,000 -\u00a0A driver was hit head-on by another vehicle that crossed the median. He suffered humorous, hip, and thoracic spine fractures. The gentleman had to have several surgeries to repair the humerus fracture and a right hip replacement. He had permanent scarring on his arms and legs. He received $600,000 for medical bills, $300,000 for future medical costs, $25,000 in lost earnings, and $25,000 in future earnings. \t2013: $20,000 - A nursing assistant was injured when she was involved in a head-on crash. She suffered soft tissue injuries in the cervical and lumbar areas that required physical therapy. The total claim was $9,600 in medical bills and $2,040 in lost earnings. She was awarded $20,000 for medical bills and lost earnings and $8,200 in pain and suffering. \u00a0The above examples are to give you an idea of what similar cases might be worth. You should talk to an experienced head on accident injury attorney to learn more.\u00a0 What Is Pain and Suffering?\u00a0 In a car accident lawsuit, pain and suffering is the emotional distress and mental anguish that you have after the accident. Pain and suffering may result from:\u00a0 \tPhysical pain and discomfort, whether it is permanent or temporary.\u00a0 \tAnxiety, memory loss, depression, insomnia, or other mental health issues \tPhysical limitations, such as inability to hug your children or play with them.\u00a0 \tLoss of consortium with your loved ones How Pain and Suffering Is Calculated in a Car Accident Settlement There are two ways that pain and suffering compensation can be determined..\u00a0 The first is the per diem method. This method assigns a dollar value for a single day (based on your daily wages), then multiplies it by the days affected by the injury. This method is rarely used by insurance companies to calculate pain and suffering..\u00a0 The other way to determine pain and suffering is the multiplier method. This is most often used by insurance companies to calculate pain and suffering. This calculation adds up your economic damages and then multiplies them by a number from 1 to 5.\u00a0 The tricky part with the multiplier method is figuring out whether your pain and suffering is worth a 1 or 5. You cannot tell the insurance adjuster that your pain and suffering is worth a 5. You have to provide documentation that justifies the multiplier you are claiming.\u00a0 The only time you can claim a 4 or 5 for your pain and suffering is if the injury leaves you critically or permanently injured. For example, if the car accident caused spinal fractures that caused you permanent pain, you may be entitled to the maximum amount of pain and suffering compensation (5). But, if your injury involves only a temporary sprain, you can only use a 1 or 2 as the multiplier.\u00a0 When negotiating a settlement, most insurance adjusters will add a small amount on top of your economic damages to cover your pain and suffering. You should talk to your personal injury attorney to determine if the settlement is fair.\u00a0 You can expect more compensation for pain and suffering if you experience permanent disability and\/or inability to work. What is the Average Settlement Amount for Pain and Suffering? This is a difficult question, and one that doesn\u2019t have a universal answer. While you can attempt to use a settlement calculator, they are often not comprehensive enough to provide an accurate answer. As always, it\u2019s best to talk to a professional. Yet, we can talk a little about how to calculate the value of pain and suffering. The answers to the following questions may help you determine an amount.\u00a0 What kind of injury did you sustain? A good lawyer will use the average number from the type of injury to help calculate pain and suffering. What was your economic loss? How long were you out of work? Did you have to quit? What are your noneconomic damages? Noneconomic damages include the following.\u00a0\u00a0 \tEmotional distress (lost enjoyment of life, distress over a disability, humiliation, psychological trauma, PTSD) \tLoss of consortium (love and affection, care, companionship, spousal intimacy) \tPhysical pain and suffering (slipped disk, necked pain, pulled muscles, to name a few). How much of the fault was yours? Sometimes this number is 0%, and sometimes it is not. In a few states, being even partially at fault will entirely negate your claim, so it\u2019s important to know. The average amount from a pain and suffering case is between $15,000 - $35,000 when settled out of court. Generally, pain and suffering claims involve minor injuries so the settlement amounts are not as high when involving serious injuries. If serious injuries accompany a pain and suffering case, payouts can be much higher.. The severity of an injury will almost always be the largest factor in determining a settlement\u2019s value. Talking to someone experienced will give you the best range you can expect in a pain and suffering claim.\u00a0 Do I Need a Lawyer for My Pain and Suffering Case? It is not necessary for you to have a lawyer to go to court or send a demand letter for a settlement. However, there are cases in which pain and suffering would not pay out without proper legal representation. A woman\u2019s daughter had an accident in a rental car that resulted in pain and suffering as well as broken bones. Her daughter needed to have surgery to repair her arm. While the insurance company did cover the economic losses, they did not pay for pain and suffering. Try as she might, the woman was unable to get help from the rental car\u2019s claim company. They refused to answer her inquiries until she involved a professional lawyer. This was not because her daughter did not deserve a pain and suffering settlement. Rather, sometimes an insurance company can get away with inaction without proper legal pressure. In the end, a very seasoned adjuster had taken on this case and the claim settled for over $150,000. This would not have happened without legal representation. Nearly 100% of the $150,000 was for pain and suffering; less than $100 was for out of pocket medical bills. Without legal representation, the total payout for this claim would have been $43. Negotiating a Car Accident Settlement Car accidents are scary. Even if you end up with few to no injuries, the loss of control over your personal safety can be rattling. This is especially true when you\u2019ve suffered serious damage to your vehicle, your health, or your personal property. After you\u2019ve been in a wreck caused by a negligent driver, it can feel like your fate is out of your hands. That sense of frustration continues as you navigate the requests of the insurance company. While we like to think of insurers as working for us, the truth is far less affirming. Insurance companies are out to make money for their shareholders. They\u2019re looking to deny claims whenever they can. When they can\u2019t, they offer the smallest settlements possible. For many accident victims their experience with the insurance company can be maddening. It leads many people to wonder: can I negotiate my car accident settlement? Accident victims can negotiate the terms of their car accident settlement. Though easier with an attorney representing you, the process is possible independently. Keep reading to learn more about the best strategy to use to get the compensation you deserve. How the Negotiation Process Works When you inform the insurance company of your accident, the adjuster may make arguments against your claim. They may point out reasons why the incident wasn\u2019t as devastating as you claim. In some cases, they\u2019ll look for any reason possible to deny coverage. Often, they\u2019ll offer an initial settlement amount that feels too low for your needs. You can counter or take time to think about the offer. Accident victims frequently turn to an experienced car crash lawyer for guidance. An attorney can help you create a demand letter outlining your needs. In such a letter, you can list out your expenses associated with the wreck and how best to make you whole again. Medical costs, car repairs, lost wages, and even the pain and suffering you endured can be assigned a dollar amount. Demand letters provide a helpful starting point for negotiations. Writing a Demand Letter \u00a0When creating your demand letter, have a lump sum in mind for understanding what your claim is worth. From there, consider how low you are willing to go in negotiations. Having a floor and a ceiling for negotiations is important \u2013 a good car accident lawyer can help you understand this strategy. This range is for you to keep in mind when negotiations begin in earnest. Keep your bottom line in mind when the insurance company pressures you to settle. You are under no obligation to share this information with the claims adjuster. Instead, make sure your demand letter reflects the truth about your incident. Be clear in your demands and present evidence to back up your claims. Medical bills, reports from the doctor, pay stubs reflecting the work you missed and other documents can help bolster your claim. The more support you have in your demand letter, the better your odds of getting the settlement you deserve. Resisting Low Offers After the insurance company receives your demand letter, they\u2019ll likely offer you a small settlement. While it\u2019s tempting to put the whole thing behind you, taking the first offer is typically a bad idea. The initial offer should be the base from which you negotiate upwards. If they offer you a reasonable amount, make a counteroffer that is a little lower than the figure you requested in your demand letter. This signifies to the claims adjuster that you\u2019re willing to compromise. A little more effort when bargaining should get you to a number you feel good about. Another strategy to consider when low offers are in play? Ask the claims adjuster to justify their low-ball offer. Ask for specific reasons why the number is so low when compared to the costs you\u2019ve incurred. Make note of their explanation and write a short letter responding to their argument. Depending on the strength of their logic, you may want to lower your demand amount. Wait until after the claims adjuster has received your letter to lower that amount. Ask for a response to your letter and see if anything has changed in their mind. Get it in Writing\u00a0\u00a0 As negotiations continue, emphasize the emotional weight of your argument.. No dollar amount can be assigned to the emotional impact the crash has had on you . The weight of sharingan upsetting accident scene photo or a story of the impact the accident had on your child can sway even the most experienced of claims adjuster. Don\u2019t stray from the facts, but don\u2019t be afraid to appeal to the human nature of the person on the end of the line, either. Once you get to a number you feel good about, be sure to get the agreement in writing. Outline the settlement you\u2019ve agreed upon in a short letter to the adjuster. Include details about how much you\u2019ve settled on, what the money covers, and the date you expect to receive compensation. How are Car Accident Settlement Amounts Determined? If you find yourself injured after a car accident, it is natural to ask what the value of your car accident settlement might be. Many assume that the auto insurance industry has devised a standard formula to determine the value of a personal injury claim. This is not so.\u00a0 There are statistics compiled by auto insurance companies that suggest an average value for certain types of car accident claims. But it is rare for a particular claim to fit the exact profile of an average claim. The value of your claim depends upon many factors. Below is more information about some of the larger variables and how they can affect your auto accident claim. Special Damages A common way that auto insurance adjusters determine the value of an injury claim is to multiply your special damages by a certain number. Special damages are your financial losses from the accident. They include medical bills, lost earnings, out of pocket expenses, etc.\u00a0\u00a0 Using a Multiplier A multiplier gets a rough estimate of what your total claim could be worth, including your pain and suffering. In many auto accident claims, the adjuster may use a multiplier of 2 or 3 to come up with an estimated value. For example, let\u2019s say that the total of your medical bills and lost earnings from your car accident is $5,000. If the auto insurance adjuster multiplied the sum by 2, then the claim would be worth $10,000. But if your pain and suffering is worse, they might multiply the $5,000 by 3, so you would get $15,000.\u00a0 You may wonder why the auto insurance company is multiplying your special damages by 2 or 3. They are trying to guess what the jury might award you if the auto accident case goes to trial.\u00a0 A multiplier of 2 or 3 is often used for a moderate or average amount of pain and suffering in a car accident case. If you suffered minor injuries, the multiplier might only be 1 or 1.5. Only people who have suffered long term or even permanent injuries would induce a multiplier of 4 or 5. You also would see the higher multiplier if you have much more in medical bills, such as $50,000 or more. This would indicate a serious level of personal injury that could take years to recover from and might result in a disability.\u00a0 Keep in mind that once the auto insurance company arbitration process comes up with a value for your claim, that does not mean you must accept it. You can continue to negotiate with the insurance company. You may decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person who injured you. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to raise your payout.\u00a0 Does Totaling my Car Mean Insurers Will Pay More for My Settlement? It is likely that your settlement will be higher if your accident resulted in a totalled car. Since totalled cars and soft tissue injuries or whiplash often go hand in hand, a higher settlement amount is common.\u00a0 Sometimes, a totaled car can be strong evidence of economic injury. This is especially true if the car was used for commuting or for work. Damage to a car can increase the amount of a settlement\u00a0 all on its own with the right lawyer. How Are Damages Paid After a Car Accident? When someone hits your car, your first thought likely is \u201cWhat just happened?\u201d Your second thought then becomes \u201cAm I okay?\u201d Regardless, your third thought might be \u201cWho\u2019s going to pay for this?\u201d Unfortunately, you can expect to sustain some sort of damages in any car accident. At the very least, your car is likely damaged. At worst, you may have received injuries that could result in any or all of the following: \t\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Ambulance bills \t\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Hospital bills \t\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Prescription drug bills \t\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Physical therapy bills \t\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Rehabilitation bills \t\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Nursing home or assisted living bills \t\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0In-home care bills All these and more represent your damages arising out of your car crash. If you\u2019ve ever wondered how car accident settlements pay out, the surprising answer is: It depends. While you may assume that the person who caused the accident pays, his or her insurance company will likely be the one signing the check. Insurance Company Tactics Insurance companies like to collect premiums and don\u2019t like to pay claims. Consequently, a representative from the other driver\u2019s insurance company will offer you a \u201cquick and easy\u201d settlement. Your best interests dictate that you decline this settlement offer. This represents the least amount of money the insurance company thinks it can pay you. When you accept a settlement, you sign a release absolving the insurance company from further liability. It also eliminates the possibility of you bringing a lawsuit against its policyholder. Your better course of action is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. You always have the legal right to sue the driver whose negligence caused the accident. You never have any obligation to accept an insurance company\u2019s settlement offer. Your attorney will have experience in negotiating with insurance companies. The attorney can get you a better settlement than you could get for yourself. Also, the attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf against the other driver and pursue your damage claims in court. Policy Limits and Personal Liability \u00a0Keep in mind that no insurance company will pay any amount above the limits of the policyholder\u2019s policy. Should you win a court judgment more than this amount, the policyholder becomes liable for the balance. Collecting that judgment may well be easier said than done.\u00a0 Judgment Collection Few people have the assets available to pay a large money judgment, especially all at once. Some people may think that if they ignore you long enough, you\u2019ll go away. Depending on which state you live in, you may be able to incentivize the person to pay your judgment by notifying the Department of Motor Vehicles. This causes the person\u2019s driver\u2019s license to become suspended until he or she pays you in full. The Types of Damages in a Car Accident Lawsuit No one plans for a car crash, but that doesn\u2019t mean it won\u2019t happen. The severity of the accident may range from no damage to a serious wreck. It is the latter that usually leads to a mountain of bills, pain and long-term recovery. A car accident claim falls under personal injury tort. Compensation under this type of legal matter is a financial award called damages. These are compensatory in nature because they make up for what a plaintiff lost because of the crash.\u00a0 Take a closer look at some of the most common types of compensation in a car accident case. Medical Care Getting injured as a result of someone else\u2019s carelessness can spell financial disaster. Depending on the extent of the injuries, medical bills may pile up. If long-term medical care and treatment are necessary, who pays? In the case of a lawsuit, there is a fair chance that the court will award damages for medical bills. Ongoing medical care may also be part of a compensatory damages award. Lost Wages Being out of work for any length of time can send even diligent households into a tailspin. Savings may run out after a prolonged work absence and bills resulting from the incident. Getting reimbursed for missed income is common in car accident claims. Physical limitations caused by the injury may also force a change of jobs or a premature exit of the workforce . Consequently, a court may consider awarding damages for the loss of future earnings. Pain and Suffering \u00a0The plaintiff, or victim in the accident, most likely experienced a significant level of pain due to the injuries. Pain and suffering are subjective and not easily proven. Some injuries are serious enough that it is a reasonable assumption that there was a significant amount of mental anguish and physical pain. Doctors can testify on the level of pain and suffering associated with similar injuries to help make the case.\u00a0 Loss of Consortium One unique type of compensation in a car accident case is the loss of consortium claim. This claim requests compensation for the losses associated with a personal relationship such as:\u00a0 \t Affection \t Intimacy \t Companionship \t Future endeavors For example, if a spinal cord injury rendered the plaintiff paralyzed, this will have significant effects on a relationship. The spouse or partner may file a loss of consortium for the impact this medical issue has on them. This type of compensation request can only be in addition to other damages. An attorney can best supply further guidance on the types of compensation in a car accident case. There are services that provide attorneys with leads to help them reach out to victims. Can I Get Compensation for My Child Being Injured in a Car Accident? Most parents dread the thought of their children injured in a car accident. You can get car accident claim compensation for your child's injuries after a crash, as with any other passenger.\u00a0 The first thing to understand in such accidents is that a person under 18 cannot legally file a claim. A person known legally as a \u201cnext friend\u201d can file a claim on the child\u2019s behalf. The parent is usually the \u201cnext friend\u201d who files the legal claim. There are no requirements for a legal proceeding to occur to state the person named a next friend.\u00a0 When it comes to filing a personal injury lawsuit, most states have a statute of limitations of two or three years from the date of injury. But many states' statute of limitations does not begin until the child turns 18. Thus, a person injured in a car accident as a minor generally has until age 20 or 21 to file a lawsuit.\u00a0 When a child is injured in a car accident, they can be entitled to the following damages:\u00a0 \tMedical bills \tOngoing medical care \tTherapy and rehabilitation services \tLoss of ability to earn a living in the future \tPain and suffering \tLoss of enjoyment of life The parents may get compensation for the financial losses they incurred, such as the child\u2019s ongoing medical costs. Depending on the case, car accident victims and their family may get punitive damages. These damages are only for very serious accidents. Punitive damages aim to punish defendants.\u00a0 A car accident claim involving an injured child usually needs approval by the court. In Virginia, for example, a circuit court judge typically will approve the child injury settlement.\u00a0 During a hearing, the judge will determine if the accident settlement for the child is fair. To decide this matter, the court could appoint a guardian ad litem to aid in the process. To help make the decision, the judge may ask questions to stakeholders in the case, such as the parents of the child:\u00a0 \tExtent of injuries to the child \tCurrent health status \tEducation status \tDisabilities that were caused by the accident \tMedical needs and rehabilitation needed in the future Once the court approves the settlement, the next friend will sign off on it. The child is bound by the settlement decision.\u00a0 After approval of the settlement, the court has latitude on disbursement of the funds. Depending on the case, minors may receive all the settlement funds when they turn 18. In other cases, settlements are set up to pay a certain amount of damages per year for a certain period. After approval of this sort of payout, the court places the funds in a trust. Funds distribute per the settlement structure, beginning after the child turns 18.\u00a0 What Are Compensatory Damages From a Car Accident? If you become involved in a car wreck, you may well suffer injuries, some of which could be catastrophic. When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you are seeking compensatory damages. If successful in your suit, the judge or jury will award you these damages. This is an attempt to reimburse you for your expenses and make you as whole as possible. Keep in mind that compensatory damages from a car accident come in two types, general and special. General Compensatory Damages General compensatory damages are non-economic in nature and can cover such things as the following: \t The pain and suffering you experienced or will experience in the future as a result of the accident \t The mental and emotional anguish and distress you suffered or will suffer \t Any disfigurement you suffered \t Your loss of consortium with your spouse, children, parents, and\/or other family members \t The loss of your enjoyment of life \t The loss of any opportunities you had to forego Special Compensatory Damages Conversely, special compensatory damages represent economic damages that you have already sustained or will sustain in the future: \t Your ambulance and medical bills related to the car crash, both now and in the future \t Any hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation facility expenses you have already incurred or will incur in the future \t Physical or occupational therapy expenses you have already incurred or will incur in the future \t Household expenses you have incurred as a result of your injuries or will incur in the future for such things as medical equipment, in-home care, etc. \t Earnings you have already lost and will lose in the future from being injured and unable to work \t Any costs associated with plans you had to alter or trips you had to cancel as a result of your car crash injuries \t Your property damage, such as the damage to your vehicle \t Your legal fees associated with bringing and pursuing your personal injury lawsuit, including attorneys\u2019 fees, court costs, transportation costs, etc. Compensatory Damage Caps and Reductions Depending on the state in which you live, you may be limited by statute as to the amount of compensatory damages you can receive. Your damage award may likewise be diminished if you live in a contributory negligence state where the jury can attribute a percentage of fault to each driver involved in the accident and reduce your damage award accordingly. For instance, should the jury determine that you were 25% responsible for the accident while the person you are suing was 75% responsible, it can reduce any compensatory damage award that it would otherwise have given you by 25%. Punitive Damages \u00a0In addition to compensatory damages, you may be entitled to punitive damages. These are damages over and above your compensatory damages. The judge or jury awards you in situations where the at-fault driver acted in a particularly egregious manner. Punitive damages often result from driving drunk or where the driver otherwise showed a reckless disregard for your life. Can I Get Punitive Damages for a Car Accident? Plaintiffs who file a personal injury lawsuit usually have suffered a measurable loss. In some instances, the medical bills and wage loss is significant enough to justify compensatory damages. These financial awards serve to help the plaintiff recover tangible money losses. But, a plaintiff may move for further monetary awards that are more subjective. These damages include pain, suffering, and other emotional losses due to the injuries. The court may even award damages above and beyond what the plaintiff requested. Let\u2019s explore how the courts may award punitive damages from car accidents with significant injuries. Common Damages Awarded in a Car Accident Claim A plaintiff files a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver and the relevant insurance company. In this tort action, the plaintiff alleges the defendant exhibited a measure of negligence in the way he or she operated the vehicle. These are all examples of negligent driving: \tRunning a stop sign or red light \tExcessive speed \tDangerous lane shifting \tDistracted driving \tDriving under the influence Since the at-fault driver's behavior was contrary to safe driving practices and led to an accident, he or she is negligent. Once established, the plaintiff needs to show how the accident affected his or her life. Compensatory damages are awarded when the plaintiff proves that the injuries led to losses. General damages get awarded when the plaintiff can show a measure of the suffering caused by the injury. These are the common damages courts award. Basic Information About Punitive Damages The basis for punitive damages from a car accident are a much different standard. In personal injury tort, the court hears the evidence and determines the damages the plaintiff receives. Punitive damages are unique in that this award is not meant to compensate the driver for losses. Instead, punitive damages punish the defendant and discourage others\u00a0 from acting similarly. \u00a0A personal injury lawsuit goes through the civil court system and cannot result in jail time. The court\u2019s recourse when it deems the defendant\u2019s behavior negligent is to hand down a punitive damages award. The sum of this award typically does not exceed four times the amount of compensatory damages.\u00a0 Required Findings for a Punitive Award When the judge orders punitive damages, it means to dissuade the defendant and anyone else from ever acting similarly negligent. There are a few key factors the court may use to determine if the defendant\u2019s actions warrant a punitive award: \t\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0The intent behind the act that led to the crash \t\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0The level of disregard for the safety of the public \t\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0The severity of the injuries the plaintiff suffered The judge may also seek legal precedence in awarding punitive damages. If similar cases resulted in an extraordinary award, the court might follow suit. Punitive damages from a car accident are not the most common type of award, but they do occur.\u00a0 Find an Auto Accident Attorney Our website is a veritable treasure trove of resources for those who have been in car accidents. Start by plugging in a few facts about your collision into our car accident settlement calculator. It\u2019s a great starting point for those curious about how much their case might be worth. Should you decide to work with a lawyer, we\u2019ve got you covered there, too. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can connect with quality attorneys in your area. Prefer to chat on the phone? Call 877-810-4067 to talk to our helpful team. No matter the circumstances surrounding your crash, Lawsuit Info Center has the resources you need to make the best of a bad situation. Final Words on Car Accident Settlements The best way to find out how much you may receive in a settlement for a car accident injury is to reach out to an attorney. Speak with a qualified car accident attorney in your area for a free and personalized review of your case.