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How Much Money Should I expect in Settling a Car Accident Claim?

Posted on September 25, 2014

How Much Money Should I expect in Settling a Car Accident Claim?

No reputable lawyer will tell you at the beginning of your case what you should expect in settlement. When you are first injured, too much information is missing. Your lawyer hasn’t fully investigated the circumstances surrounding the accident and has not completed discovery (in which each side presents the information they have to support their position). You may not realize the full extent of your injuries. You don’t know how long you will require medical treatment, or if the treatment you get will allow you to completely recover full function or not. You don’t know if you will suffer a chronic pain condition after your main injury heals, and you don’t know the full psychological effect the injury may have on your life. You don’t know how much your medical expenses will ultimately be, or how close to being your “old self” you’ll be when you’ve reached your maximum medical improvement.

If your settlement could be determined by a calculator, you wouldn’t need a lawyer, but in reality, the lawyer you choose can have an enormous effect on the outcome of your case and the amount of money that goes into your pocket.

How Much Insurance Coverage is Available?

What your attorney can tell you, however, is how much insurance is available to cover your damages. A good personal injury attorney will examine all sources of insurance coverage (liability, uninsured motorist coverage, etc.) and work to identify all potentially liable parties. If there is only one at-fault party and you have no personal injury protection (PIP) insurance or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage of your own, and your damages are extensive, your attorney will work on having the insurance company offer the full amount of the policy limits, which will usually be your maximum settlement amount, assuming the company is acting in good faith.

Types of Damages

Assuming adequate insurance coverage, once you’ve been in treatment for some time, you will have a better idea of your “special damages,” those that can be exactly calculated by producing bills, receipts, and payroll records. Added to that will be projected costs of future treatment and loss of ability to earn as you did previously.

But what is harder to determine is a value for those damages referred to as “general damages,” which do not have a dollar value but are often very grave losses to an accident victim: suffering, disability, pain, emotional anguish, disfigurement, diminished quality of life. Having a highly skilled personal injury attorney presenting your case in negotiations with the insurance company or in a trial before a jury can make an enormous difference in the settlement amount you can expect.

Deductions that Can Eat Away at Your Settlement Amount

Finally, when your case does settle, the amount of money you receive will depend on what needs to be paid from the settlement amount: medical liens, legal fees, court costs, and reimbursements to your public or private health insurance provider.(Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurers have the right to be reimbursed what they’ve paid for your treatment.) This is another reason having a very good Birmingham personal injury attorney makes a big difference in the amount of money that goes into your pocket. An excellent lawyer will continue to fight for your best interests, even after your case has settled, and will try to negotiate liens and reimbursements down as low as possible, to leave more money for you.

At the Drake Law Firm in Birmingham, we keep right on working for you after the insurance company’s check arrives by working with healthcare providers and health insurers to reduce lien amounts and minimize reimbursements whenever possible. We want to see you walk away with enough money to ensure that you’ll not only have the ability to afford the medical treatment you need and to pay your bills, and that you’ve been compensated for the non-economic losses that have so affected the quality of your life, and we work tirelessly to achieve that end.