How much money you can get from a car accident settlement depends greatly on the circumstances of your collision, your injuries, and other factors. You will need to determine what a fair and just settlement value might be before you file an insurance claim for the compensation you’re seeking.
Working with a car accident attorney can help you better identify the recoverable damages, value your intangible losses, and negotiate with the insurer for a better agreement. Most personal injury law firms offer complimentary consultations and case assessments.
What Factors Will Affect My Car Accident Insurance Settlement?
Numerous factors can affect the validity and value of an auto accident claim. These include:
- The type of injuries you have and their severity
- The required medical treatment and care
- Your lasting injuries and impairments
- Future and ongoing care needs
- If you can return to your job
- Your other financial losses
- The pain and suffering you endured
- Any ongoing emotional distress or psychological losses
- The circumstances that led to the crash
- Other significant factors that could increase or decrease your claim’s value
Your contribution to the cause of the crash could also affect your recovery. The laws differ by state. For example, in Louisiana, under La. Civ. Code Art. 2323, you can sue for compensation and recover damages even if you were partially at fault in the crash. However, this would decrease your recoverable damages.
In Alabama, case law (Golden v. McCurry (1980)) affirms the legal doctrine of pure contributory negligence. If you played a causative role in the crash in any way, you cannot recover damages.
Understanding the Types of Recoverable Damages
In most car accident claims, you can recover compensatory damages. There are two categories of these losses:
- Economic damages: Economic damages are the expenses and financial losses you incurred due to a crash or those you will likely face in the future.
- Non-economic damages: Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are the intangible losses you experienced that do not have a direct financial value.
Other types of damages may also be available in some cases. It is important to know that punitive damages are rare in traffic accident lawsuits. These damages penalize the liable party for particularly bad or intentional behavior. Your attorney will be able to discuss whether these damages would be possible based on their analysis of your case.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 537-8185
Proving Your Losses and Determining Your Case’s Value
The value of your car accident claim will depend directly on your recoverable damages. Identifying and documenting these expenses and losses is a vital part of financial recovery. Evidence that you or your attorney will need to collect includes:
- Medical bills
- Pay stubs and proof of time missed at work
- Car repair estimates or the replacement value
- Other receipts
- Your relevant medical records
- Documentation of any other losses or costs
This will allow you to demand compensation for your damages, such as:
- Current and future treatment of accident injuries
- Lost wages and other income
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damages, including car repairs
- Pain and suffering
- Other intangible losses
Should I Settle or Sue the Liable Driver for More Money?
Most car accident cases settle without going to trial. It is rare for a victim to have to sue and have the lawsuit go to a jury trial. This does occasionally occur, though.
Generally, the victim and their legal team – if they have one – presents strong evidence proving negligence and liability. They file an insurance claim with the liable party’s insurance company and demand a payout based on recoverable damages. This often leads to settlement negotiations.
With a strong case, you will likely reach a fair settlement at this point. If there are questions of fact or the insurer refuses a just payout, a lawsuit may be necessary. If your attorney must sue in your case, there is a limited time to do so. This period depends on the state. For example:
- You have up to one year after a crash to sue in Louisiana under La. Civ. Code Art. 3492.
- You may have up to three years to begin a lawsuit if your collision occurred across the state line in Mississippi, per Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-49.
Many Car Accident Victims Choose to Hire a Personal Injury Law Firm
If you suffered injuries in a collision, you may opt to hire a personal injury lawyer to manage your claim or lawsuit. This is a good choice, especially if there are serious injuries, intangible losses, or you do not have the time to dedicate to navigating this process on your own.
Our lawyer knows how to identify your recoverable damages, value your non-economic losses, and put a fair settlement value on your case. They will demand a just settlement and manage the negotiation process for you. If that does not give the desired results, they can sue and take your case to court.
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You can talk to a lawyer from the Morris Bart law firm for free today. We represent clients throughout the Gulf South, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. We manage cases based on contingency and charge no upfront fees to work on your case.
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