When you first call a car accident attorney and ask them how much your case may be worth, they will usually be unable to give you a specific answer. A lawyer is only in a position to answer this question in precise detail once they learn more about you. Still, they can give you a ballpark estimate of the value of your case and explain how the insurance company may determine your damages. It helps to be aware of the theoretical underpinnings of your case before you begin the legal process.
An experienced car accident lawyer will determine what you can do in a car accident settlement and explain the concepts behind your settlement amount. Then, they will fight to get the insurance company to pay you the total amount that you are due. The legal process for car accidents is always challenging and much more complicated if you try to handle it independently.
There is a distinction between asking "how much a car accident is worth" versus "how much my claim is worth." A lawyer can never give you a blind answer to these questions, and the first response will be to say, "It depends." Then, the lawyer will tell you they need to review your information to analyze your due amount because everything depends on you and how much damage you have suffered. Two people can suffer similar physical injuries, but the size of their settlement may vary drastically.
In your car accident claim, the first requirement is that you prove that the other driver was to blame for the accident. You must have the evidence necessary that demonstrates that they were negligent. Your attorney has already investigated your car accident and assembled the case you need to meet your burden of proof.
Your car accident lawyer in San Antonio will also analyze your case to determine how much to seek in your claim. When you prove that someone else was to blame for your crash, they will be responsible for paying you for all the harm they caused you.
The Broad Categories of Your Car Accident Damages
Your car accident damages fall into two general categories:
- Economic damages represent the actual financial costs to you of the accident.
- Non-economic damages compensate you for the more subjective impacts of the car accident on your life.
There are few straightforward elements of your car accident damages, and the insurance company may push back on your claim amount.
Here are some of the individual elements of car accident damages.
You have the right to receive reimbursement for all medical expenses that have come out of your pocket. Your health insurance company may have laid out the bulk of the money for your care, but you had co-payments and cost share. The insurance company and healthcare providers require payment for what they have spent, and you should receive compensation for what you paid.
Your car accident settlement will also pay for your future medical care. Thus, you must know the extent of your long-term care needs when you file your claim.
Your car accident injuries may have caused you to miss time from work, and in the worst-case scenario, you cannot work again at your job. Alternatively, you can return to work, but your physical injuries may keep you from earning what you otherwise may have.
The responsible driver must pay you for your lost income, both your actual losses and any reduction in your earnings capacity. Lost income is often an intricate part of your car accident claim because the insurance company may claim that you can work or dispute what you may have earned in the future. Your attorney can work with a vocational expert to determine what your career path and earnings may have been.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are a misunderstood part of car accident compensation. Many claimants do not understand this area, so they often leave a lot of money on the table.
Pain and suffering damages are a subjective measure of how you have been affected by your car accident injuries. You can be dealing with a severe injury that causes you a significant amount of physical pain. The responsible driver should compensate you for the car accident's physical discomfort and emotional effects. You can suffer from anxiety or depression because of your ordeal and have the right to financial reimbursement for these harms the same as you will for economic damage like lost income.
Insurance companies know they can get away with underestimating your pain and suffering damages when you do not have a lawyer to keep them honest. They will use an "objective formula" that makes their calculation seem fair and efficient, knowing full well that it does not adequately cover how you have suffered.
Your attorney knows the traffic laws for pain and suffering and understands that your damages come from your unique experiences. If you have been particularly affected by car accident damages, you can be entitled to more money. Moreover, if you were living an active life before your accident, and you can no longer do so, your pain and suffering damages will be higher.
The experience of the car accident itself may have caused you lasting emotional harm, where you are afraid to drive a car again or have bad flashbacks to the accident. Many car accident victims end up struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, and as long as you have suffered a physical injury, you can also recover compensation for emotional distress.
The non-economic elements of your car accident claim can be particularly challenging. You can be sure that insurance companies will minimize your situation no matter what you say about your experience. They may hide behind formulas or try to sound as authoritative as possible about what they believe your damages are. You know the hardships you have been through, and you can tell your story by working through your lawyer.
Wrongful Death Damages
If a loved one dies in a car accident, the measure of your damages changes. Instead of focusing on what happened to the deceased person, the damages are from what the family has lost when their loved one died in a wrongful death claim. The settlement will measure the value of the deceased person to the family. The estate can also recover damages for how the person suffered between the time of the accident and their death in a separate lawsuit called a survival action.
The insurance company will review the evidence once you have filed your car accident claim and can determine whether to accept liability in the case. It may then make a settlement offer and begin the discussion of your financial compensation, which will likely be ongoing and not wrap up quickly.
You Can Negotiate with the Insurance Company for a Better Settlement
The initial settlement offer is precisely that - it is the insurance company's opening salvo in what can be a lengthy battle. Car accident settlement negotiations can get contentious and take time over the long term, and the insurance company will make your life as hard as possible.
The first settlement offer is often for a small fraction of what you deserve, so remember that it is not the insurance company's last offer or final word about how much it may be willing to pay.
Why You Need an Attorney for a Car Accident Claim
Whatever advantage the insurance company has can rapidly disappear when you hire an experienced attorney to handle your case. Your lawyer is the equalizing force who places you on a more even footing with the insurance company.
The first thing your attorney will do in your case is to prove that someone else was to blame for the car accident, which is the prerequisite for receiving car accident compensation. You will have to show that someone else's negligence was the cause of your injuries. The fault is not always apparent immediately, and your attorney may need to gather evidence that shows what happened.
Then, your attorney will give you the knowledge of how much your claim is worth. When you have the same information as the insurance company, you are on a more even footing during settlement negotiations. Too many people settle their claims for a fraction of their actual value because they never knew how much they were worth in the first place.
Insurance companies look at you differently when you hire a lawyer and know they can get away with less. Ultimately, it means more money in your pocket, even after you pay a lawyer. Insurance companies use claims filed by those without a lawyer to subsidize the total payments they make to those with an attorney.
Without a lawyer, insurance companies see you as someone at their mercy. They view themselves as all-powerful when, in reality, they sit across the table from you as the representative of the responsible driver. They do not have the power to dictate anything to you, although many people believe that insurance companies are the judge and jury. When you hire a lawyer, you come to the table knowing you can fight back if the insurance company is unreasonable.
Money Is Not an Issue When Hiring a Lawyer
You should not worry about how you will get the money to pay for a lawyer because you do not have to pay an attorney out of pocket. The contingency system means that you only have to pay your lawyer if and when you win your case, and you will never have to write your lawyer a check for their time if you don't get financial compensation. Thus, nothing should stand in the way of getting legal help after your car accident.
Protect Your Future By Consulting a Car Accident Lawyer Today
A car accident can be a traumatic experience, both physically and emotionally. In the aftermath of such an event, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what steps to take next. You want to ensure you receive the full value of your claim.
That's where a car accident lawyer can make all the difference. They can ensure that you receive proper compensation for your injuries and damages. Often, insurance companies will try to settle for the lowest possible amount, leaving you shortchanged and unable to fully recover. A car accident lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Additionally, a personal injury lawyer can help navigate the complex legal process that follows a car accident. They have the knowledge and experience to handle all the paperwork, deadlines, and legal requirements, saving you time and stress. They can also gather evidence, interview witnesses, and build a strong case to support your claim.
Consulting a car accident lawyer immediately after an accident is crucial to protecting your future. They can fight for your rights, secure the compensation you deserve, handle the legal process, and navigate any potential pitfalls. Don't hesitate to reach out to a car accident lawyer today.