Auto crashes can make the involved parties incur huge expenses due to property damage costs, medical bills, and rental car charges, among other expenses. Making the situation worse, when a person is severely hurt, they are incapable of working, so paying the bills becomes a big challenge. Fortunately, California personal injury law allows car accident victims to recover compensation for the losses resulting from the crash.
However, imagine this: you have been hurt in a car crash and deserve compensation, yet you do not know the actual worth of your injuries. How will you know what is fair to compensate for your injuries and losses? At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we interact with people who do not understand how to determine the value of their car accident personal injury lawsuit/claim. In this regard, this blog looks at how much an average car accident personal injury claim/lawsuit is worth and what compensation amount you may expect.
Average Settlement for Auto Accident Personal Injury Case In California
California State does not have a law that sets a limit on how much you can sue for in an auto accident lawsuit/claim. Data from various sources across the U.S indicates that generally, most resolved cases settle for between 14,000 and 28,000 dollars, while the average is approximately 21,000 dollars. However, this does not mean anything for your injury case since each situation is different. Some cases settle for just a few thousand dollars while others settle for millions, so it is worth repeating that there is no specific number. The idea is that you can sue for the full extent of your legal damages. The size of your insurance policies, the degree of the liable party’s negligence, and how severe your injuries are are among the primary factors in establishing the settlement value of your claim/lawsuit— they can significantly decrease or increase the verdict settlement.
Here Is Why Valuation Varies
As implied above, valuation and compensation amounts for personal injury cases vary significantly depending on the specific case. They range anywhere between a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars. This wide range exists because these figures reflect actual instances in which individuals such as you were hurt in various distinctive situations. Average settlement amounts for personal injury cases are not just derived from some spreadsheet or chart.
In a car collision, some victims suffer mild injuries and others severe. Some claims/lawsuits are relatively straightforward, while others are intricate. And some cases settle quickly without so much negotiation, whereas others need expert testimony and extensive proof-gathering before the defense side is convinced to make an offer to settle.
The injuries, losses, expenses, and damages for every case have to be calculated separately for that specific claim/lawsuit. Your medical costs will likely account for a significant percentage of your total damages. However, the emotional suffering you went through, lost wages you incurred, loss of companionship you suffered, and other types of damages will also be factors.
Additionally, there are other factors that an average person does not realize. For instance, previous verdicts by the jury are usually used to calculate future settlement values. Insurance negotiators, judges, and lawyers may review past cases and consider them.
Considering all these factors, you want to have practical anticipation when determining what may be a fair settlement amount for your car accident personal injury case. Any skilled personal injury attorney should tell you this when you have your consultation.
What You Should Know About Suing for an Auto Crash Settlement
After being in an auto crash, the liable party’s insurance provider will quickly reach out to you to try and settle the issue even before you know how much you have suffered. When accident victims are offered a settlement before an attorney is involved, the insurer usually offers payment for the pending medical bills and perhaps a few extra hundred dollars. The main problem with agreeing to this kind of offer is it may take several months to years before a person fully recovers from the effects of an accident. Future medical expenses are a significant matter in a situation where the victim sustained substantial injuries. Should you agree to the insurance company’s first offer, they will need you to sign a release agreement so that they will not be responsible for paying any future medical bills you will incur.
When you retain a car crash personal injury attorney to help you recover compensation, the first move should be to document all your injuries, losses, and damages. They should gather police reports, medical bill records, employment records if you lost your job or could not go to work due to the injuries, and property damage estimates. Using all this info and consulting with you about your actual injuries, they can establish a rough estimate of how much your case is worth.
Factors That Help Determine Your Settlement Value
Several factors play a role in determining the settlement value in personal injury claims/lawsuits, including:
- Out-of-pocket costs— Out-of-pocket costs are expenses directly linked to the accident, like tow truck charges, cab fare, prescription costs, Uber rides, and other costs you incur due to a direct outcome of the collision.
- Property damage cost— The cost of replacing/repairing any personal property damaged during the accident also needs to be part of your compensation amount. This includes cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and even property like clothing, computers, phones, and other items damaged in the accident.
- Home caregivers— You might need hired assistance and caregivers to help you with your daily life and ongoing recovery. In-home caregivers are usually very costly in areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the living cost is high. Therefore, the value of these damages can be substantial.
- Inability to perform household chores— You also deserve compensation if you are incapable of performing household tasks after the accident. You may incur costs because of hiring another person to handle familial duties and daily chores you used to do before the accident. You can even seek compensation when work is left unperformed because you did not hire anybody to stand in your place.
- Loss of consortium— a claim/lawsuit for loss of consortium seeks compensation for any damage that the collision and the resulting injuries caused to your marriage, including the intimate relationship with your spouse.
- Pain and suffering damages— you are eligible for compensation because of the loss of enjoyment of life, pain, and suffering because of the car accident. This includes any way the crash and the injuries you sustained have negatively impacted your life, including your work, social life, family, hobbies, sports, and activities.
- Current and future lost income— if you failed to report to work because of the accident you suffered, you could sue for lost wages. Additionally, you can seek to recover damages for losses related to a lost or diminished capacity to work during your recovery period or in the future.
- Medical bills amount— generally, an insurance company will offer you a settlement amount that includes your medical expenses. However, ensure you ask for the full value of your medical care. You may have present and future expenses that you deserve to be fully compensated for, such as continuing physiotherapy and psychological treatment.
- Punitive damages— based on your case facts, compensation for punitive damages may also be included in your settlement amount. Punitive damages are rarely awarded. Instead of compensating the victim for the losses incurred, they are awarded to punish the liable party for their conduct and deter other people from engaging in similar behaviors. To recover the settlement for punitive damages, you must prove that the liable party acted with reckless disregard for human life or maliciously.
Other factors that may also affect your settlement value are:
- Pre-existing medical issues or conditions before the accident
- A determination of who was to blame for the collision
Determining Settlement Value for An Auto Accident Claim/Lawsuit
The ideal way of determining how much your case is worth is by speaking to a car accident personal injury attorney. Sometimes, you may not require a lawyer to assist you with your claim/lawsuit. If your bills are only for a family doctor visit or emergency room visit with slight damage to your car, you will likely not require an attorney. But if you suffered substantial injuries or your loved one died due to the collision, an attorney is, no doubt, required to evaluate the case. Most lawyers offer a cost-free initial consultation, so you may not have to incur charges to discuss your case with an attorney.
The Average Car Accident Injury Case Settles Out of Court
Many injury cases involving vehicle accidents are settled out of court— not through lawsuits with juries and judges. Only about two to three percent of all personal injury matters in California end up in a trial by the jury. You should never forget this when reviewing what other victims may have obtained when they suffered injuries in accidents.
Straightforward cases and cases with sufficient proof to support one side can easily be settled without going to court. But more complex cases at times proceed to trial. Typically, these cases have different issues that cannot be resolved between the involved parties within the state's two-year statute of limitations before the chance to go to court ends.
Consider these two scenarios:
The first scenario: here, let us suppose you have been in an auto collision while driving on a highway at 75 mph. You had been cutting in and out of traffic hurriedly and hit an auto that changed lanes without looking. Consequently, you sustained a chest injury that worsened the pre-existing chest problem you have suffered from your entire life.
This case is intricate. Although the other motorist inattentively changed lanes, you also were aggressively operating your vehicle. Maybe the two of you sustained injuries and are blaming one another. Liability, in this case, is unclear, and the insurance companies are likely to analyze the extent and causation of your loss and injuries.
The second scenario: you have been involved in a car collision where the liable driver ran a stop sign and knocked you over, causing you to suffer a broken arm. This is relatively a straightforward case since the driver is to blame for the traffic violation of running a stop sign that caused the accident and made you sustain a severe injury.
Like many personal injury-related cases in California, this case will most likely be settled out of court through negotiations between the involved parties. The driver's insurer will make a settlement offer, you and your attorney will assess it, and both sides will discuss and negotiate the matter before monetary compensation is awarded.
As it is evident, the first scenario will more likely end up in court because of how complex the involved issues are. It is a perfect example of why each accident has unique facts and does not always fall under the ‘average’ bracket.
The Effect of Past Jury Ruling on Your Current Personal Injury Case
As mentioned above, past jury verdicts are not always a proper means of calculating the average compensation value for personal injury cases. If you decide to analyze past cases similar to yours, ensure you pay attention to the defense rulings.
Defense rulings are where the complainant fails to substantiate their claim and receives zero dollars in compensation. Unfortunately, many personal injury cases that are resolved in court end with defense rulings without any monetary awards since jury trials usually involve complex situations where fault is questionable, and it is difficult to establish whether the victim’s injuries were the direct outcome of the crash. Before insisting on filing a lawsuit in court, think deeply about the likelihood of a defense verdict.
Sometimes, trying to establish how much your case is worth by reviewing the average jury verdict or injury settlement may be in vain. No past situation is exactly like yours. So many factors can decrease or increase your case value.
Factors Impacting Your Case Value
Particular factors will maximize or minimize your settlement value, so you should look for anything that could reduce your case value. Some of these factors are within your control, while others are merely the facts surrounding your case.
It is also critical to know that no personal injury attorney guarantees a specific case value. Any lawyer who does that is simply not telling you the truth, and so are the websites that publish deceptive and inaccurate case values. Ensure you ask questions when consulting with personal injury attorneys to ensure you receive quality advice.
Factors that Decrease the Settlement Value
Unfortunately, several factors can affect your case value and reduce your settlement amount. They include:
Your Lawyer’s Experience
One of the crucial factors that can establish your case value is how qualified your attorney is. Ensure you hire a top-notch personal injury attorney who will ensure no expenses are overlooked while the insurer is solidly held liable for compensating for your injuries and losses.
Hiring the right lawyer can significantly affect your settlement value because of their expertise and how much they are interested in your claim. Having the appropriate personal injury lawyer fighting for you will ensure the insurance provider does not stall negotiations once they give you a lower settlement offer than what you deserve.
If the liable driver is uninsured, it will create a problem. You may turn to your underinsured motorist insurance coverage to help ease the effect. However, your settlement value might be lower than you deserve since no insurance coverage is available to pay for your damages.
Insurance Policy Limits
All insurance companies have a set limit on the amount they will pay, and this is a constant factor you cannot control. Remember this since only a large insurance company will set a policy limit worth millions of dollars.
In many California car accident collisions, unless you have sued a trucking company, MUNI, Uber, or a motorist hired by a company, you are suing another individual. Usually, you do not pursue them personally— you seek compensation from their insurance coverage.
If the insurance coverage limit is low, the insurance policy will hardly cover your x-rays and ambulance. California requires only 15,000 dollars in liability, which is not much.
Establishing who caused the accident is vital in determining your settlement value. If you contributed to causing the accident, your settlement value will be reduced. California follows the comparative negligence rule, meaning the total settlement value will be lowered by your percentage of fault. For instance, if your settlement amount would be valued at 100,000 dollars if you did not in any way contribute to the crash, but it is established that you were 30% to blame for the collision, you would be awarded 70% of the total settlement value, which is $70,000.
Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
If you have sustained injuries after being in a car collision and would like to know what next, consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we handle all personal injury-related cases, including car accidents. If you wish to hire a lawyer to help you calculate your case value or obtain beyond the average amount for a personal injury case, we are readily available to help. You could be eligible for a substantial compensation amount than what the insurance company has offered. We will help you skillfully negotiate your compensation amount. We offer a cost-free initial consultation for victims with personal injury cases throughout California. Call us right away at 800-492-6718 for our expert services.