Let’s look into some of the details of a case that will help you understand what goes into an auto accident settlement….
Summary of the Car Accident
Amy was running errands one night when she was involved in a car accident. Amy had stopped for a red signal light at an intersection. However, the driver behind her, John, was following too close to her vehicle.
John failed to stop in time and collided with the rear of Amy’s vehicle. John was charged with failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision. Both vehicles were towed to a local garage.
One of the biggest factors involved in auto accident compensation claims is the issue of liability. The less blame you can get for the wreck, the better your chances of getting a accident compensation claim.
In this case, the liability was determined by reviewing the car accident report made by the investigating police officer. Witnesses also reported seeing John drive too close to the vehicle. Taking these two facts into consideration, it was found that the accident was 100% caused by John’s negligence.
Property damage is damage to or the destruction of public or private property, caused either by a person who is not its owner or by natural phenomena. In this case John caused $1500 of property damage to Amy’s car. Property damage is a separate legal issue from personal injury and is settled usually a few days/weeks after the date of the accident.
As a result of the accident, Amy suffered severe personal injuries. She was transported by the ambulance to the Emergency Room. There she complained of having sharp pain in her upper back and neck.
She was diagnosed with severe back and neck strain.
Amy was prescribed Percocet (5/325mg) to relieve her severe pain and discharged home with instructions to rest and use hot and cold packs. She was told to follow up care with her personal physician
Amy was examine, x-rayed and treated by her Chiropractor for a total of 26 Visits. Her treatments consisted of Adjustments (manual manipulation), intersegmental traction
stretching exercises, Cryotherapy (ice) and a home exercise program.
The following is a summary of the Amy’s medical expenses after her auto accident
Ambulance Bill $ 200.00
Emergency Room $ 433.00
Calculating Pain and Suffering
The most difficult part in auto accident compensation claims is figuring out the value of your pain and suffering. In order to receive a personal injury settlement, you must demonstrate that your injuries were serious and had a severe impact on your life.
For approximately six months, Amy was in serious pain due to her car accident injuries. These injuries prevented her to complete normal daily tasks such as dressing, lifting, bending, twisting, and sitting or standing for long periods of time without experiencing pain.
Amy’s injuries had a serious and visible affect on her daily life.
According to the medical records, these problems were consistent with someone who was experiencing back and neck pain. In addition, causation statements obtained from Amy’s treating physicians showed that her injuries were likely caused by the accident.
They were not pre-existing injuries which had somehow resurfaced. All of these factors contributed to the final accident settlement amount that was demanded for her compensation claim.
In this auto accident compensation claim case, the amount demanded for pain and suffering by her attorney was calculated as approximately three times her health care expenses (3 x $3633 =$10899).
Although, there is no scientific formula that can be used to determine your exact settlement amount, there are personal injury settlements calculator that can help aid in the process.
It’s important to note that Amy’s injuries were backed up by her medical report and physician’s statements. Otherwise it would have been difficult to clearly prove the car accident and her personal injuries were linked.
It may be obvious that the injuries occurred after the accident. But you never want to take any chances when going against the insurance companies. So keep a copy of your medical report and doctor’s statements.
At the time of the accident Amy was also employed and making $10.00 per hour. As a result of the car accident, she lost 16 hours of wages. Therefore she would be entitled to receive a total amount of $160.00 in lost wages. ($10.00 x 16 = $160.00)
Final Accident Compensation Settlement
Health Care Expenses $ 3,633.00
Lost Wages $ 160.00
Pain and Suffering $ 10,899.00
For Amy’s case, a claim demand of $14,692 was made in her demand letter by her attorney. After negotiating the accident settlement with the insurance company, the figure was brought down to $8,900.00.
You may notice that the final settlement is below what Amy demanded. This is typical in insurance claim negotiations. You make an offer and the insurance company makes a counter (lower) offer. You go back and forth until both parties agree to a settlement amount.
The important thing to understand is the process that goes into determining your accident compensation claims. The final value always depends on the specifics of your case. How serious were your injuries, how clearly can you prove fault, demonstrate pain and suffering, the reputation of your attorney etc.
All of these factors decide on how much leverage you have versus the insurance companies. The better you understand these factors, the better your chances of getting a reasonable personal injury settlement.