Did you know that each year, 1.35 million people are killed in road accidents? But non-fatal crashes equally have a huge cost.
Car accidents can be physically, emotionally, and financially draining. Even a ‘minor’ crash that doesn’t leave you in lasting pain or needing long-term treatment or rehabilitation can result in hefty medical bills and substantial loss of earnings from not being able to work during your recovery.
When your accident was primarily caused by another party’s negligent or reckless actions, you might be entitled to compensation, paid either as a settlement agreement or through a court. But what is a fair settlement for a car accident? We explore what kind of settlement you can expect from a car accident injury claim.
Types of Injuries Sustained in a Car Accident — And Why It’s Important for Getting a Fair Settlement
But why is this important?
More severe injuries typically result in higher medical bills, so a successful personal injury claim will likely result in a higher settlement. However, injuries sustained in a car accident can also require long-term — perhaps even permanent — care.
While a broken bone may heal without any issue, leaving you free to go back to work without any more pain once it’s healed, some injuries can have a lasting impact.
A traumatic brain injury may lead to permanent brain damage, while a spinal cord injury could result in muscle weakness or paralysis. In these cases, you might not be able to do the same job as you did previously or even return to work at all. These injuries can also affect your mental health, causing depression or significantly impacting your quality and enjoyment of life.
For such life-changing injuries, you may receive an additional type of damages designed to compensate you for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and the overall impact of your injury on your life.
A fair settlement for a car accident will account for both your incurred expenses and the severity of your injury.
What Damages Are Included in a Good Car Accident Settlement?
There are two main types of damages awarded in a fair car accident settlement:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
Economic damages are the monetary losses you’ve experienced due to your injury. These include:
The most likely property damage in a car accident is to the car. If other property is destroyed — such as a phone or laptop — these losses can also factor into a compensatory award.
You may be entitled to claim reimbursement of your medical expenses. These can include your hospital bills, costs for medication, transportation to and from medical appointments, and rehabilitation. If you have a severe injury that requires long-term treatment, your award will also include projected medical costs for the future.
Many people in car accidents are unable to work immediately after their injury. If your injury has prevented you from working or forced you to work fewer hours or have fewer work responsibilities, you may qualify for compensation to cover lost income. If you cannot return to work for an extended time, you can also claim your projected lost earnings for however long you will be unable to work.
You may also be entitled to non-economic damages. These are more difficult to quantify as they are subjective — how can you put a price on daily pain and suffering, emotional anguish, or losing a limb after a car accident?
Non-economic damages are calculated by applying a multiplier to your total economic damages, and this multiplier ranges between one and five. A minor injury that heals without complication will be at the lower end of the scale, with significant, life-changing injuries ranking much higher, resulting in more compensation.
Because non-economic damages are so subjective, this is where the real question of a fair settlement arises. Insurance companies typically use complex formulas to determine how much you could be entitled to, but a formula cannot comprehend just how much you’re suffering as a result of your injury.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
Car accidents undoubtedly cause psychological distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms aren’t always immediately apparent, but once psychological pain surfaces, it may require professional treatment. You may be able to claim costs for psychological therapy as part of a fair settlement.
Loss of Enjoyment
A car accident can prevent you from engaging in everyday activities and hobbies. Perhaps you’re passionate about gardening and like to spend your days tending to your plants. If you’re in a car accident that leaves you with a severe injury and chronic pain, you may not be able to enjoy pottering around your garden again. This could have a huge impact on your mental health and wellbeing — and you can claim damages for it.
Pain and Suffering
You can receive compensation for emotional distress in a settlement agreement, or a court can calculate your pain and suffering to compensate you at trial. Calculating pain and suffering is difficult, which is why it’s recommended to work with an experienced car accident injury lawyer. They will gather evidence to demonstrate the physical and emotional distress you’ve endured. For example, not being able to pick up your kids or drive to and from the grocery store can add to your pain and suffering.
Various factors influence the extensiveness of injuries, including:
- The pain endured from physical injuries and related medical treatment
- Emotional or mental trauma
- Chronic pain or discomfort
- Diminished quality of life
- Inability to complete specific tasks.
Wrongful Death Claims
If a driver killed your loved one in a car accident, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit. A state’s wrongful death statute may allow a surviving spouse, children, parents, or the estate’s personal representative, to bring a wrongful death claim. To prove wrongful death, you must prove liability, so a family member must show:
- The defendant (driver) owed the deceased a duty.
- The driver breached that duty.
- The driver caused damage to the deceased.
If you can prove these elements, you can recover compensation for:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical expenses
- Loss of future income from the deceased
- Loss of companionship (if you’re filing as the surviving spouse)
- Loss of love and care (if filing as the deceased’s child)
- Pain and suffering.
Punitive damages are a third type of damages you may be entitled to in a personal injury claim. Punitive damages, known as exemplary damages in Texas, are a type of award sometimes given to the plaintiff of a personal injury claim. Unlike compensatory damages designed to compensate you for your injuries, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are only awarded in certain circumstances, such as in cases of drunk driving, where the court may want to set an example of the drunk driver to deter others from driving while intoxicated.
Punitive damages are not available if you negotiate a settlement with the other party — a jury only awards them if you decide to go to court.
|Want to see how much compensation you could receive? Find out with our quick and easy personal injury calculator.|
What Is the Typical Auto Accident Settlement Amount?
If you think you’re entitled to compensation, you may be looking for a specific figure to give you an idea of how much you could expect from a car accident settlement.
Unfortunately, there is no typical amount. Every accident is unique, and two people with the same injuries will likely experience completely different recoveries.
This makes it difficult to determine what a fair settlement is.
What constitutes fair is subjective, but a fair settlement will typically include your economic damages (the amount you’ve paid in medical treatment and repairs and your lost wages) and an appropriate sum of non-economic damages. You can expect to receive a higher settlement if you’ve lost a loved one in a car accident or if your injuries will affect the rest of your life. For example, if you’re unable to work ever again, you should expect a settlement that enables you to live adequately without struggling financially.
What’s the Best Way to Ensure a Fair Settlement?
A strong case is the best way to ensure you get a fair car accident settlement, and the cornerstone of a strong case is evidence.
After your car accident, you should ideally take photographs of the scene, including the vehicles involved and the injuries sustained. You should also seek a copy of the police report and get medical attention immediately. Remember to explain to your doctor how you got your injuries.
Our experienced car accident lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio can help you gather all the relevant evidence to secure a good settlement, including witness testimony, damage expenses, and medical bills.
Whether you think you might have partially caused the accident or blame the other driver for the crash, call a car accident injury lawyer to review your case and determine your options. A good car accidents lawyer should know how to negotiate with insurance companies and fight sham claims to get you the fair settlement you deserve.
You should contact an expert car accident injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident because there’s a limited amount of time to file a claim. In Texas, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date of an accident, and if you don’t bring your case before this deadline, you will lose your right to receive compensation.
To talk to an expert car accident injury lawyer and see what kind of settlement you could expect from your claim, get in touch with our personal injury lawyers in Texas by calling 855-LAW-NINJA or filling in our contact form. We don’t charge upfront fees and only take a fee if we win your case.
Patino Law Firm
1802 N 10th St
McAllen, TX 78501