While insurance companies claim to accurately calculate the value of a victim’s car accident claim, the reality is there is no precise method. Instead, a car accident claim’s value depends on at least eight key factors, which we’ll explain below.
The experienced car accident lawyers at Cousin Benny know how to maximize the value of an injured victim’s personal injury lawsuit by utilizing these factors to build solid cases for monetary compensation on behalf of their clients. If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Philadelphia, contact our legal team today.
Factors that Determine How Much a Car Accident Settlement May Be
An insurance company will take a narrow approach when evaluating car accident claims. They only assess whether their insured is at fault and the total amount of a victim’s medical bills. This approach ignores several key factors.
1. What Type of Insurance Policy Each Driver Involved in the Accident Has
The value of your claim may be limited if you purchased limited tort auto insurance. Additionally, the financial coverage available under the other driver’s insurance policy can also affect the value of your claim. As §1702 requires drivers to purchase automobile insurance with minimum limits of $15,000 per person / $30,000 per person, the amount you can recover may be limited if your losses exceed the financial coverage available from a driver carrying a policy with minimum limits.
2. Proof of Negligence and Fault
To win a car accident case, you must prove the other driver caused the collision by a preponderance of the evidence, i.e., 51%. The value of your claim may be reduced if you lack sufficient evidence to meet this burden. Additionally, under Pennsylvania’s Comparative Negligence statute, §7102, you can still make a personal injury claim as long as your level of negligence does not exceed 50%. However, any award you recover is reduced in proportion to your level of negligence, e.g., a verdict of $10,000 is reduced to $6,000 if a judge or jury found you to be 40% at fault.
3. The Severity of Your Injuries and Medical Expenses
Life-threatening injuries requiring emergency medical care and surgery have higher financial value as opposed to soft tissue injuries. This is because catastrophic collisions usually cause life-threatening injuries. Similarly, victims who suffer life-threatening injuries often incur significant medical bills due to the extensive treatment they need to recover fully.
4. Long-Term Disability
A permanent disability is a life-altering event. While most car accident victims fully recover, a sizable proportion are left permanently disabled. Specifically, car accident victims who are permanently disabled often suffer mobility issues, decreased range of motion, and suffer lifelong pain.
5. Lost Wages Due to Missed Work
Some car accident victims cannot work while undergoing medical treatment for their injuries. Alternatively, they may be able to work, but their earning capacity is reduced because they cannot work full time. Finally, some victims cannot work permanently due to the severity of their injuries.
6. Pain and Suffering Damages
Very often, the victims of catastrophic car accidents suffer life-threatening injuries which cause extreme levels of physical pain. In addition to physical pain, a car accident’s terrifying nature can leave victims mentally traumatized.
7. Extent of Property Damages
Property damage is a good metric regarding the value of a car accident case. Stated simply, visible property damage demonstrates a collision occurred. Severe property damage shows the destructive nature of the collision and the victim’s injuries.
8. Other Out-of-Pocket Expenses
In addition to medical treatment, injured victims must pay for other services such as transportation or rental vehicles. Victims sometimes lack comprehensive automobile insurance coverage or only carry liability coverage, so they must pay for vehicle repairs. Finally, some victims also incur the expense of paying for prescription drugs and medical devices, e.g., slings, crutches, etc.
Types of Compensation Available
In order to obtain financial compensation in a car accident lawsuit, you must claim and prove your damages. Generally, damages is another way of describing the losses you suffered due to the other driver’s negligence. Three types of damages can be claimed for personal injury cases in Pennsylvania.
1. Economic Damages
Economic damages describe the financial losses you suffered in your personal injury case. You can claim economic damages for your past and future medical expenses and your past and future lost wages. You can also claim economic damages for your property damage.
2. Non-Economic Damages
You can seek financial compensation for your pain and suffering via a non-economic damages claim. Non-economic damages cover the losses you suffered which do not have an exact dollar amount, e.g., a medical bill. You can also seek monetary compensation for the effects your injuries had on your life, e.g., inability to lift heavy objects, inability to exercise, inability to perform household chores.
3. Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are designed to punish a person for their conduct. Additionally, a punitive damages award is meant to deter future wrongdoers. Pennsylvania law requires you to prove the other driver’s actions were malicious, intentional, or reckless.
How to Strengthen Your Car Accident Case
Auto insurance companies constantly invent new arguments to justify their evaluations, which undervalue personal injury claims. Many of these arguments can be defeated by taking the proper actions following a car accident. Additionally, these same actions may assist you in increasing the value of your claim.
1. Have a Lawyer and Tell Them the Whole Story
Auto insurance companies frequently deny claims by claiming collisions were caused by the victims. They are hoping injured victims simply give up and abandon their claims. A personal injury attorney can provide you with an accurate assessment regarding the strength of your legal claim.
2. Seek Medical Attention and Follow All Instructions
Auto insurance companies frequently minimize personal injury claims’ value by arguing that the victims suffered no injuries. They use delays in seeking medical treatment to justify this argument. You need to obtain medical treatment immediately following your car accident to ensure your injuries are correctly diagnosed.
3. Complete All Required Forms and Submit Them On Time
Certain types of claims have specific reporting requirements. For example, you must provide written notice of a car accident case involving a municipal vehicle to a local government within six months of the collision. You must also provide written notice if you intend to make a claim for uninsured motorist coverage.
4. Stay Off of Social Media
Insurance companies frequently argue car accident victims suffered no injuries. They use photos and videos as evidence to support this argument. Insurance companies search social media websites to locate photos and videos of victims performing physical activities following an accident.
5. Be Patient in Waiting for the Outcome
Courts and insurance companies are enormous bureaucracies which move at a slow pace. Insurance companies use this to their advantage and make minimal settlement offers. Being patient can allow your car accident attorney to fully prepare your personal injury case for litigation, which can increase the financial value of your car accident case.
Work with the Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Cousin Benny
Injured victims need the service of an experienced personal injury attorney when pursuing a car accident lawsuit. At Cousin Benny, our legal team fights hard to obtain the financial compensation our clients need. Contact us today for a free consultation.