How Much is My Car Accident Case Worth?
After being in a car accident, you are naturally wondering how much your case is worth. The honest answer is that without knowing the details of your case, it is impossible to know because there are many variables and unknowns that can impact the value of your case.
In most cases, people can recover three categories of damages:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages or future impairment of wages
- Pain and suffering
- Out of pocket expenses
- Loss of consortium
What does future impairment of wages mean? It just means that you are allowed to recover money for money that you would have received in the future had you been able to work. Having the right expert, such as an economist, can help you in determining what this number would be by reviewing your tax returns, wage statements and paystubs, and social security earnings.
What are out of pocket expenses? This is expenses that you might have incurred if you paid for a wheelchair or a knee brace or some kind of medication that was not repaid to you by the insurance company. These tend to be nominal, meaning they are not in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
What does loss of consortium mean? This is a category of damage that would apply to your spouse or domestic partner if they could not receive the full benefit of your relationship because of your injuries. For example, if your injuries were so serious that you could not have sex, then your spouse could make a claim.
What does future medical bills mean? Future medical bills are just what they sound like. They represent money for medical bills you might incur in the future to treat your injuries. For instance, since you only have three years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit, if you are going to need medical care far into the future, let’s say for the next ten years, then there would need to be money set aside to pay for this treatment.Pain and Suffering Damages Explained
Pain and suffering is also known as general damages. With regards to pain and suffering, there is normally a loose connection between the amount of your medical bills and the amount you receive in pain and suffering. In other words, if you have a $10,000 medical bill, it is unlikely that you will receive $10.00 in pain and suffering or $10,000,0000. The first number is too low and the second number is too high in relation to the medical bill.
There are other considerations to take into account as well. The first is how much money the insurance company for the driver has who hit you. It may seem unfair, but legally the insurance company for the at-fault driver who hit you only has to pay, at most, the policy limit of what their customer purchased. What does this mean as an example?
Let’s say that John Smith buys a $50,000 insurance policy and pays $1,000 per year for this insurance. If John Smith gets into an accident with you, his insurance company only has to pay, at most, $50,000. This is the case even if your medical bills are $100,000. This may seem unfair, but it is the law. As you can see, there may not be enough insurance available, or you may have to look to your own car insurance company for a recovery, which is known as Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage claim.Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If you do not have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage, and if the person who hit you does not have enough insurance to cover your damages, then the only option you have is to try to get a recovery from the driver who hit you. This may be easy or hard. The driver may attempt to hide his or her money, transfer title to the home, or any number of things. It is almost always easiest to simply attempt to get the insurance company to pay for whatever policy they have, if your bills are and damages are significant enough.Determining the Size of Your Case
As already mentioned, the primary factor in determining the size of your case comes down to the size of your medical bills and the amount of insurance that the driver has who hit you and, in some cases, the amount of car insurance that you purchased if you have what is called a UIM policy through your own car insurance. There is another factor that can play into this as well.
This other factor is the level of negligence committed by the defendant. In criminal law terms, this would be described as the level of guilt of the person. But to be clear, criminal law does not apply to personal injury cases.
In a personal injury case, you must prove your damages on what is called a “more probable than not basis,” meaning that the scales have to be tipped slightly in your favor. If you are able to show, with evidence and witness information, that the defendant acted in a very egregious manner towards you, or that the defendant had engaged in similar conduct before and harmed others, chances are you will be in a position to receive more money than you would if it was a simple accident that did not cause much harm. Chances are to prove this, however, you are going to heavily litigate your matter, meaning a lot of discovery, depositions, and the like.How The Jackman Law Firm Can Help
The Jackman Law Firm has the resources to help you determine the size of your case and make sure you maximize your recovery. We can help you recover money for medical bills, lost wages, loss of future wages, and pain and suffering. The insurance company for the person or company who hit you will rarely offer you a fair settlement at first.
Rather, you have to either engaged in extensive negotiations, file a lawsuit, or do both in order to obtain the compensation you deserve for your case. If you have questions, concerns, or thoughts about your case, feel free to call The Jackman Law Firm for a free consultation.