Every year, around 2 million drivers in the United States suffer permanent injuries as a result of their accidents. The price of recovery often far exceeds what their personal insurance can cover. If they’re not at fault, they can pursue fair compensation through a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
It’s important for anyone pursuing compensation to know what they are owed. For one, the other party may be providing the bare minimum required without taking into account every factor affecting you. Fair compensation should include things like time taken off of work and emotional trauma after an accident.
Here’s everything to consider before accepting fair compensation in your personal injury settlement or claim.
Personal Injury Claim vs. Settlement
You can get fair compensation in one of two ways. The first way to get it is through a personal injury claim you submitted to the other party’s insurance company. Another way to get compensation is as a settlement or by winning a lawsuit.
In a best-case scenario, you submit a claim after an accident with all your personal information regarding the accident. This includes recent medical records and a police statement. You then receive compensation covering any damages received.
A settlement is pursued if the other insurance company denies your claim for one reason or another. Maybe they believe you were at fault. They may also not believe the extent of your injuries.
You’ll need to then hire a personal injury attorney to pursue a lawsuit. The other party can then choose to pay the desired settlement amount. Otherwise, you’ll have to take them to court if you want fair compensation.
Parts of a Personal Injury Settlement
Whether you’ve submitted a claim or are pursuing a lawsuit, the amount owed to you will depend on multiple factors. These include:
- Medical bills related to your injuries
- Lost wages due to an inability to work following an accident
- Pain and suffering brought on by the accident
- Permanent disabilities sustained
- Property damage due to the accident
Your basic auto insurance policy covers things like property and collision damage, bodily injury liability, and medical payments. However, they don’t always take into account pain and suffering, permanent disabilities, or lost wages. They’re often harder to quantify or prove, but they can have long-lasting effects.
In addition, your insurance has a limit on how much they can cover. The type of coverage you can get and how you navigate claims may also depend on the state you’re in.
How you pursue fair compensation differs from state to state. There are two types of legal fault applied in a personal injury case: at-fault and no-fault. At-fault accidents happen in states that don’t require personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. The driver found responsible pays for all damages.
In no-fault states, all drivers need some form of PIP coverage or they cannot legally operate a vehicle. This type of insurance covers only your medical costs. Even if you were the one that caused the accident, the other party would use their own PIP coverage to pay for their medical costs.
The person named at-fault still has to pay for property damages in a no-fault state. In addition, you may still pursue a personal injury claim if your medical bills exceed your own coverage.
California is an at-fault state, so not every driver needs to have PIP coverage. Instead, it uses comparative negligence to weigh the percentage of fault. In other words, you may be found 20 percent at fault in an accident. This means you’ll only receive 80 percent of your desired compensation from a claim.
Fair compensation is calculated based on the various factors mentioned earlier. Most commonly, it includes the total cost of your medical expenses and lost wages. You may have to ask for an additional percentage to be added to pay for your attorney’s fees. This is never more than a third of what you receive in total.
A judge may also use a multiplier system that considers the severity of your injuries and other personal factors. It’s often used when there is no documentation to use as evidence in a personal injury case. Insurance companies break down settlements into different types of damage. They include:
Compensatory damages refer to direct expenses like medical bills. General damages are the pain and suffering you endure. Punitive damages are awarded when there was clear negligence or malice on the defendant’s part. Nominal damages are paid out for minor injuries.
Factors to Consider Before Accepting
It isn’t enough for the insurance company to offer compensation for your injuries and trauma. They need to take into account the specific nature of the damages as well as the potential for future losses.
Coverage of your medical bills will need to be included in addition to what you paid. That amount will go directly back to your health insurer once you’ve received the settlement. In addition, the settlement may include all future health care expenses stemming from the accident. The same goes for auto repairs that you’ve paid for ahead of receiving the settlement.
If the initial settlement offer isn’t enough, then you do not need to accept it. You’ll then rely on your attorney to renegotiate a new settlement or pursue a lawsuit. They’ll determine how much money was awarded to similar cases and make recommendations based on that knowledge.
Get Fair Compensation for Your Injury
Fair compensation after an accident means more than coverage for repairs and hospital bills. It takes into account the trauma you received, the scars you retained, and the time it took to pursue a lawsuit if a claim was denied. However, pursuing fair compensation can be difficult without the help of professional legal services.
Valley Accident Attorneys is ready to fight for your legal rights after an auto accident. We offer no fee guarantee legal services, 1-on-1 case evaluation, and years of experience. Contact us to learn more and get your free consultation.