Injuries and damages resulting from car accidents are rarely cheap, regardless of how minor the incident is. Money is always a huge concern. It is only fair for car accident victims to get the proper settlement amount because of the medical bills and car damage repairs that come with car accidents.
If this is your first time being in a car accident, you may not know what the right settlement amount looks like. The insurance company might approach you with a settlement amount after an accident, but how can you tell that it is what you are entitled to? Here are several car accident circumstances that dictate the amount of settlement to settle for after an accident.
- Liability for the Accident
If the other driver is at fault for the accident, you are entitled to claim a full settlement for all your damages. However, the insurance company will likely reduce your financial compensation if you are partially at fault. Insurance companies determine who is at fault after an accident by:
- Researching how the accident took place.
- Conducting further investigations by speaking to the car accident witnesses.
- Examining the medical reports.
Some states refer to the modified comparative fault law to determine the proper settlement amount for the involved parties. This law states that you can only seek compensation if you are less than 50% liable for the car accident. The apportioning of your settlement amount also depends on your liability level. If your liability for the accident is 40%, you can only recover 60% of the settlement amount.
- The Type of Injuries Sustained
The extent of the injuries you sustain after a car accident determines the amount of settlement you will receive. The more severe the injuries are, the higher the compensation. A spinal cord injury is more severe than a broken arm. Therefore, a spinal cord injury will be more compensated than a fractured arm injury. However, this does not mean you should not seek compensation for minor injuries.
As long as the other party is at fault, you have the right to seek an appropriate settlement regardless of how minor your injuries may be. A thorough medical check-up after a minor accident is also crucial because your internal system injuries can go unnoticed. Doing this will give you a clear picture of what to accept as your settlement because you will be sure about the exact injuries sustained from the car accident.
Apart from physical injuries, some car accidents can also cause trauma, categorized under non-economic damages, often more challenging to quantify. Unlike medical bills and property damage, emotional distress cannot be calculated. Therefore, car accident lawyers are required to use a wide range of tools to place a monetary value on such injuries so that you can get the right amount of settlement.
- The Permanent Damages Sustained
Proper treatment and care for permanent damages come with steep costs. Additionally, these damages lead to the loss of income since most victims may not be able to work again. Therefore, your claim settlement increases if you sustain permanent damages. They include;
- Permanent brain damage.
- Limb amputation.
- Organ damage.
- Permanent scars.
- Body disfigurement.
The physical, emotional, and psychological pain and suffering from permanent damages are immense. They are long-term, meaning a victim’s life is impacted forever. It is only fair for such victims to receive the proper settlement amount.
- Which Statements Did You Make After the Accident?
It might seem normal to say “I am sorry” to the other party after an accident. The truth is, this could significantly affect your compensation. Making such a statement will be assumed as admitting fault for the car accident by the insurance company. It is also vital to watch how you communicate when conversing with the insurance adjuster.
Avoid telling an adjuster that you are doing okay when they ask you how you are. The adjuster might use this statement to claim that you are exaggerating your injuries to secure a higher settlement. Be neutral and avoid statements implying you are liable for the car accident. If you agree to submit a written record of the car accident, pass it through a car accident lawyer first to avoid assumptions from the adjuster that could decrease the amount you hoped to recover.
To be safe, consult a reliable car accident lawyer before engaging with the insurance company. Let your lawyer handle all the negotiations and any questions arising from the claim settlement. It is also crucial to ensure that all the details on the car accident check out before filing the claim. Have sufficient evidence to support your settlement value to avoid insufficient compensation.
- The Type of Insurance Policy
Every insurance policy is unique to the type and extent of damages and injuries it covers. A liability insurance company compensates the third party on behalf of the policyholder. Therefore, if wild animals damage your car, the claim you will file with your insurer will not be viable. Such a claim can only be feasible if you, as the policyholder, have a comprehensive insurance policy.
Before filing a claim after a car accident, it is critical to understand that the limits of your insurance policy will also determine your settlement amount. Insurance limits dictate the maximum amount the insurance company can release as a settlement.
It means that any additional car accident damages and injury costs that are beyond your policy limit will not be compensated by the insurer. You will have to settle them from your pocket. Before buying an insurance policy, understand what it covers and the extent of its limits.
How Can You Get the Most Out of a Settlement?
The aftermath of a car accident involves numerous formalities before a claim settlement. However, following through with these formalities does not always guarantee a fair and right amount of compensation. These tips will get you closer to receiving the right settlement after an accident.
- Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
Hiring a car accident lawyer is the most convenient way to secure the right compensation. Car accident lawyers have the expertise to deal with the insurance company, their adjusters, and lawsuits. They are well-informed on handling negotiations, leaving no room for the insurance adjusters to make assumptions.
But can I afford to hire a lawyer? Yes, you can. Most car accident lawyers do not ask for an upfront fee. They represent you on a contingency fee basis. It motivates them to have your best interest at heart because the higher the settlement amount, the higher their pay.
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Seeking prompt medical attention after a car accident is a plus when demanding a settlement. A medical exam helps your lawyer to get the most amount from the accident. Most car accident victims assume that lack of external injuries means they are not hurt. But the truth is, the most fatal injuries are internal and cannot be diagnosed unless you are thoroughly checked by a medic after the accident.
When you don’t seek immediate medical attention, your insurance company may question your injury claim. They might assume that you are not hurt. They might also assume that you are exaggerating the accident details for the money. These assumptions could significantly reduce the amount you had hoped to recover.
- Gather Evidence from the Scene of the Accident
For a settlement claim to be accepted by an insurance company, sufficient evidence has to be presented. Evidence is crucial in proving liability, damages, and injuries that resulted from the accident. Every detail from the accident scene is crucial when securing the right amount of settlement. If you are in the right physical state after a car accident, step out of your car and try to gather as much information as you can from the scene. Such details include;
- The other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information.
- Photos and videos of the damages and injuries.
- The names, contact information, and pictures of the witnesses.
- The type, model, and license plates of the other car.
- The local authorities’ names, contact information, and badge numbers.
- Inform Your Insurance Company.
Filing for a claim and informing your insurance company about the accident are two different things. Don’t wait until the claim filing day to tell your insurer about your accident. Notifying your insurance company guarantees coverage when and if you need it. Delaying gives the insurance company room to deny your claim. Whether you have evidence or not, they may assume that you are lying about the accident for the settlement money.
Failure to report a car accident to your insurer immediately could also lead to a decrease in the settlement amount. Remember, you agreed to all the terms and conditions of your insurance policy before buying. If the procedure requires you to report a car accident immediately and fail, the insurance company will have the upper hand in determining your compensation.