It's not an easy task outlining the cost of a car accident in dollar value. So many car accident cases go to court because of how hard it is to pin down a dollar value. Furthermore, between the insurance companies and the personal injury attorney, the actual value of the settlement may vary. While most professionals would advise hiring a car accident attorney to help with a personal injury claim, some prefer to tough it out on their own. So, how do you calculate what your Columbus car accident claim is worth?
The Information Behind Making a Compensation Claim
Contrary to popular belief, car accident attorneys don't pull numbers out of a hat when making a claim. The base value that most settlements start at is the cost of your medical bills and car repairs. Determining the value assigned to the car may require some research into how old the vehicle is and the current market value of similar vehicles. Estimating repairs also requires that you look at the parts used and any specific damage to the car. This consideration takes into account rear-end damage and other specific damage types.
However, the settlement value doesn't end there. It's common knowledge that most individuals who have been through a car crash have had severe mental trauma because of the incident. However, calculating compensation for these injuries is a bit more involved. The long-term effects of an injury may vary. A broken knee, for example, may heal with time but still cause immense pain occasionally. More permanent injuries such as spinal damage leading to paralysis or traumatic brain injuries may require separate consideration. Depending on how the injury impacts your ability to enjoy life or make a living, the settlement value may vary. Loss of income is also a significant concern among some individuals. Being laid up in a hospital for an auto accident makes it impossible to work.
Insurance Adjusters and Claim Determination
After the personal injury lawyer drafts the settlement, the insurance company will likely send the initial claim over to an adjuster for evaluation. The insurance company may have liability for any or all of the following:
- Emotional damages
- Physical and mental scarring
- Permanent disability mentally or physically
- Physical pain and suffering associated with the crash
- Lost wages and income stemming from the crash
- Medical costs and other related expenses
If an injury victim declines to claim pain and suffering damages, the adjuster is likely to total the medical and repair bills to get a broad figure of the value of the proposed settlement. Companies typically provide extra compensation for pain and suffering settlements or vehicle replacement. The method an insurance company uses to calculate the value of the payment will vary from company to company. They typically rely on a "multiplier" approach. However, unlike attorneys, these multipliers are usually computer-generated, utilizing a complex algorithm. They are rarely, if ever, whole numbers.
The multiplier method bases its premise on the idea that injuries with quantifiable damages (such as medical costs) usually come from more severe injuries. To properly reflect the severity of these injuries, damages should be multiplied based on a number, the multiplier. A personal injury lawyer may also use the multiplier method, but their calculation isn't as in-depth as those from an insurance company or adjuster. They usually look at a ballpark figure, while insurance adjusters utilize technology to give them a closer figure. Thus, a disagreement in the settlement multiplier is to be expected in most deliberations.
An alternative to the multiplier method is the per-diem calculation. Some adjusters and lawyers utilize this method to calculate pain and suffering damages based on a per-day rate. The per-diem method looks at a monetary settlement due to you based on the weekly suffering. This method is better for plaintiffs with long-term injuries since it guarantees at least some form of income.
Types of Damages Involved in Settlements
The courts usually award compensation settlements based on the damages that the individual may have faced. These damages can be broken down into three (3) broad categories.
These damages are the most straightforward for anyone to calculate. They refer to the typical damages that may result from a car crash. Medical bills and ongoing medical care costs may be included in this calculation. If there are permanent or long-lasting accident injuries, these future costs will come into play. Costs of rehabilitation also fall into this category. Complications such as traumatic brain injury or spinal injury may also be considered for long-term settlement awards. Accidents result in hospital stays that may impact the person's ability to earn money. Lost wages form part of these damages to accident victims as well. Property damage and other extraneous costs associated with the injury are also a vital part of the special damages category.
General damages don't cover specific costs associated with the case. Because of this, they are nearly impossible to calculate. Pain and suffering compensation, as well as loss of enjoyment of life, fall into this category of damages. Since it's nearly impossible to determine how someone would be if the crash had never happened to them, the calculation of this type of damage is extremely subjective. The jury usually decides the general damages awarded. If the case doesn't get to trial, these damages are agreed on there between both parties at pretrial.
Punitive damages are leveraged against a defendant to punish them and to dissuade similar future behavior by others. They are usually added on to any other fee structure for compensation for a crash. The recklessness of the behavior and the damages resulting from it determine these settlements. Things like reckless driving that may result in wrongful death may fall under this category. The damages awarded vary significantly in the amounts paid out based on these factors. A judge or a jury levies them. No pretrial settlements broach the topic of punitive damages since it would require one party to admit wrongdoing.
Getting an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you're involved in a car accident suit, you may want to consider consulting an attorney before proceeding. The goal of an accident lawyer is to get maximum compensation for the injured person. Fair compensation varies by situation. Contact Babin Law today and schedule a free consultation with a car accident attorney in Columbus.