The Insurance Information Institute recently published findings about the average auto accident settlement. It cites that the average compensation for bodily injury is $15,785, and for property damage, it’s $3,841.
Further, the article states five factors that determine your settlement amount. These include your financial losses, the severity of injuries, state laws, liability, and car insurance policies. Inspecting all these areas is essential in arriving at a settlement amount.
You need an expert car accident lawyer to handle your insurance settlement to maximize your compensation when you are not at fault. Here is how an attorney can help.
Before settlement negotiations, a car accident lawyer must discover all your damages. This includes:
- Medical bills
- Property repair or replacement
- Lost wages
- Disability benefits
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Transportation costs
Medical bills alone can be significant when calculating damages. The Georgia Department of Public Health states that, in 2020, the second leading cause of visits to the emergency room and hospitalizations was because of motor vehicle crashes.
The number one cause of injury deaths for kids between the ages of five and 14 years is motor vehicle traffic deaths. For adults aged 25 to 65 and over, it is the second leading cause of death.
Damages Include What Lies Ahead
An intelligent attorney will consider all your past and future expenses. For example, if you now have a disability, it may impact how much you can earn for work. Another example is if you require additional medical care down the road.
Anything you have or spend out-of-pocket will be in your car accident claim. However, all these values are clearly defined.
There can be another piece to your settlement amount, which is your non-economic damage. This is objective and will need to be translated to monetary value. There are multiple ways your car accident lawyer can do this.
One way is to research similar cases and their outcomes. This can give an appropriate multiplier for your auto accident settlement.
Sends a Demand Letter
First, a car accident lawyer will review the liable party’s insurance policy. This helps an attorney better understand what the total policy limits are.
Determining all economic and non-economic damages can take a car accident lawyer weeks to compile. Once they decide the settlement amount you deserve, your attorney will likely send the liable parties a demand letter, including the insurance company.
An initial insurance settlement offer will likely be made following the demand letter. Almost every settlement amount that the insurance company first offers will be below the worth of your car accident claim.
Begins Settlement Negotiations
This is when your car accident lawyer combats your case with the damages they assessed. In this case, evidence is crucial. Your attorney will leverage everything, including expert witnesses, eyewitness depositions, photos, video footage, etc.
Medical professionals may weigh in on your health. Economists could give depositions. They will exhaust all avenues to ensure they are not leaving money on the table.
Some lawyers may work with an accident reconstructionist. This is how a car accident lawyer can give supporting details surrounding liability. An accident reconstructionist can examine the accident scene, including surveillance, black-box data, and tread marks.
You Have the Right to Negotiate Settlements
Your car accident lawyer will tell you this: You do not have to take the first insurance settlement amount they give you. You shouldn’t because you are not getting the best offer on the first go.
Without an attorney fighting for you, insurance companies can make it sound like their offer is a “take it or leave it” situation. This is not true. A professional attorney will make a counteroffer on your behalf.
Negotiation is how to get a fair and reasonable insurance settlement. Your car accident lawyer will also tell you that when you counteroffer, it should be more than the desired settlement amount. An attorney will leave “wiggle room” to negotiate down.
Taking Legal Action For Fair Compensation
Legal action for your car accident claim is always an option. There are cases where it could be your best course of action, but it depends on the circumstance of your lawsuit. The Bureau of Justice Statistics recently published data showing that only 3% to 4% of personal injury cases, including car accident claims, go to trial.
Both lawyers and insurance companies understand that even when they enter settlement negotiations, the car accident claim can end up in court. A superior car accident lawyer will always keep this in their back pocket, but only if your insurance settlement is within the statute of limitations.
Filing a suit will mean more cost for the insurance company, so reaching a fair settlement amount is in their best interest. If your attorney suggests taking legal action, this likely means that all other efforts are exhausted at this time.
Applies Comparative Negligence Laws
In cases of comparative negligence, or you were partially at fault for a collision, you can still recover damages. However, a court will lower your dollar amount based on the proportion of how much at fault you are. For instance, if they find you are 33% at fault and you claim $100,000, you will receive $77,000.
Georgia practices modified comparative negligence, meaning you cannot collect compensation if you are 50% at fault or higher.
In some cases, mediation is a viable outcome instead of taking a case to court. The insurance company may suggest settling the matter with a mediator, who is an unbiased third party. The mediator listens to both parties involved in the car crash and will help with coming to a settlement.
In these cases, your attorney will accompany you and handle the meeting. If you agree to mediation, you will likely be asked to sign a “release of liability” form. This is to promise you will not file suit.
The Best Georgia Lawyer For Your Auto Accident Settlement
When you experience a car crash due to another party’s negligence, you deserve an auto accident settlement. Insurance companies will not willingly give you the highest insurance settlement amount without a proper nudge.
Scholle Law has worked with insurance companies for over 20 years on numerous severe car accident cases. We are dedicated to fighting for you.
If you want to know how much your car accident claim is worth, contact our legal team for a free consultation.