Calculating Auto Accident Settlement Amounts

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One of the most common questions auto accident attorneys get is, “How much is my case worth?”. There are various factors which go into determining the value damages in an auto accident. Some of those factors are objective, such as:

  • The cost of your medical bills;
  • The cost to repair or replace your car; and
  • The amount of lost wages you sustained.

Other factors are more subjective, such as whether the claims adjuster is having a good day, the severity of your injuries, and whether you've been the plaintiff in other auto accident litigation. Whether there was contributory negligence on your part will also play a role in the settlement calculations.

How Is An Auto Accident Settlement Calculated?

The formula used to calculate auto accident settlements varies depending on the state in which the accident occurred and according to the protocols and procedures established by the insured's insurance company. Generally speaking, a settlement offer which is two to three times the total medical bills, plus other damages will fall within the range an insurance claims adjuster may be willing to consider.

In preparing a demand package, you should include all documentation which supports your settlement demand. In addition to medical bills, a typical auto accident demand package is comprised of:

  • Pain and suffering settlement demand;
  • Property damage settlement demand;
  • Lost wages settlement demand; and
  • Rental car settlement demand.

If someone died as a result of the auto accident, the demand package will also include a wrongful death settlement demand. Moreover, if the at-fault driver acted in such a way as to meet the state law requirement for the imposition of punitive damages, the demand package will also include a punitive damages settlement demand.

Will I Have To Go To Court?

Only about 20% - 25% of auto accident lawsuits go to court. However, because each case is different, there is no guarantee that you will not have to go to court. In some instances, the plaintiff and the insurance company cannot agree on a settlement amount during insurance settlement negotations and the case ends up in court.

  • The reasons cases don't settle vary, but some of the more common reasons are:
  • The insurance company may disagree with the plaintiff's valuation of the case;
  • The insurance company may not believe that the plaintiff is entitled to a pain and suffering settlement or a punitive damages settlement; and
  • The insurance company would rather take a chance with a jury if it believes the plaintiff will not make a good witness.

Help from an Auto Accident Lawyer

Statistics show that auto accident victims who represent themselves generally receive lower pain and suffering settlements, death settlements, and punitive damages settlements than those who are represented by attorneys. Therefore, to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve, you should hire an experienced auto accident attorney.