There is no such thing as a typical fair settlement for a car accident, but it should, at the very least, cover the medical and repair bills you incurred because of the accident. This amount will vary from person to person and case to case.
However, some states only allow you to take a percentage of your losses, based on your level of negligence. Settlements vary from case to case, so it might be beneficial to consult with a lawyer who will evaluate your losses and estimate a fair settlement for your car accident case.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), just the average cost of a property damage only (PDO) car accident is $3,862. That is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the expenses you can expect to incur.
Compensation You Might Be Entitled To Recover
After a car accident, you might recover compensation for both economic and non-economic losses, including:
- Doctor’s visits
- Hospital stays
- Transportation costs
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Property damage
- Funeral and burial costs (in cases of wrongful death)
A car accident lawyer can better estimate what you deserve to receive based on your losses. If your case does not settle outside court, and a judge or jury decides the negligent party deserves punishment, they could award you punitive damages.
Factors That Affect Your Recovery Amount
Again, each case is different, but a few factors could influence each case, including negligence laws and the various statutes of limitations.
Each state adopts different negligence laws, but there are generally three different options:
- Contributory negligence: If you had any blame for the accident that caused your injuries, the law could bar you from seeking compensation from any other party who might be negligent.
- Pure comparative negligence: This concept means that you can recover compensation even if you were up to 99 percent at fault.
- Modified comparative negligence: If you were less at fault than the other driver, you could recover compensation.
Basically, the higher your level of fault is, the lower your settlement will be. If you were zero percent at fault for the accident, you could be entitled to compensation for the full amount of your losses.
Note that you can contest your level of negligence. For example, if the insurance adjuster claimed you were partially at fault because you had eaten in the moments before the accident, which affected your ability to react, you could produce evidence to refute their claim.
Statutes of Limitations
Each state also has its statute of limitations, which is the time limit placed on filing your claim for compensation. Generally, the statutes are in place to account for evidence being destroyed over time and witness’ memories fading.
If you fail to file before the time limit, you generally will not be able to seek any settlement, let alone a fair one. Some circumstances might allow you more time to file, so you might want to consult with a personal injury lawyer regardless of whether you are within the time frame.
To seek a settlement, you must be able to assign liability to the other driver. You generally have to prove the following aspects in a personal injury case to show the other party was at fault:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care: They had an obligation to act in a reasonable way to prevent harming others.
- The defendant breached the duty of care: They did something unreasonable or negligent, such as exceeding the speed limit or failing to yield the right of way.
- The breach caused the accident: Their unreasonable or negligent action directly caused the accident and your injuries.
- You suffered material losses: You must show that you suffered financial losses because of the accident.
If you can prove the above circumstances in your case, you have shown the other party’s negligence. While it may seem clear-cut, proving negligence can often become incredibly involved and require a lot of evidence, including police reports, photos and videos, and eyewitness statements. It might even require hiring a crash reconstruction specialist. A car accident lawyer can help you with the process.
Getting Legal Help
Building a case for compensation following a car accident can be challenging, especially if you suffered injuries or the loss of a loved one. A lawyer might be beneficial to you during this difficult time. They can gather all the evidence to assign negligence and build your case. They can also negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf or take your case to court to fight for a judgment in your favor.
A car accident lawyer from Ben Crump Law, PLLC, can offer assistance during this period. We can determine what a fair settlement for your car accident is. We work on contingency, which means you owe us nothing upfront or out-of-pocket. We only get paid if we secure an award for you. Give our office a call today at (800) 959-1444 to speak with a team member.