Suing After An Auto Accident Most states have specific laws that govern this process, so…
If you've been injured in a car accident that was someone else's fault, you have the right to seek damages. This allows you to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and the pain and suffering you've experienced. One of the questions our personal injury lawyers are asked most often is, "How much is my car accident claim worth?" To help you better understand what your case is worth and how much you can expect, the auto accident lawyers at The Fitzpatrick firm are breaking down the factors that determine a car accident settlement.
Types Of Damages In A Car Accident Case
If a car accident claim goes before a jury, and they find in favor of the accident victims, they will award compensation based on both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to the actual costs accrued due to the car accident. This includes:
- Medical bills already accrued from the injury, including time spent in the hospital and other medical treatment.
- Future medical costs, such as ongoing physical therapy or the need for medical or mobility devices.
- Lost wages, including those already lost from being unable to work, and also future impacts on earning potential.
- Property damage to recover the cost of the vehicle damaged in the collision.
Typically, the higher the economic impact, the more likely an insurance company will pay a higher settlement or a jury will award a larger amount. An experienced personal injury attorney will investigate the case thoroughly to determine the economic impact related to both current and future damages. Using this information, your attorney will fight for a fair settlement offer in the case.
Non-economic damages refer to the pain and suffering that accident victims experience. A jury can determine a monetary value for factors including:
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of companionship in the event of wrongful death.
- Physical pain and suffering damages
- Emotional trauma
Punitive And Exemplary Damages
Punitive damages awarded in a personal injury lawsuit are not to compensate the victim. Instead, these are considered a type of punishment in a civil case and are only awarded to the plaintiff when the defendant's behavior is found to be particularly egregious or harmful. For car accident claims, punitive damages are more often awarded in cases of drunk driving or severe instances of negligence.
What Factors Determine the Value of a Car Accident Claim
There are several factors that determine how much a personal injury claim is worth. This includes, but is not limited to:
The primary factor that determines how much you are likely to get in a car accident settlement is the extent and severity of your injuries. For example, a severe spinal injury is more likely to result in a larger settlement than minor injuries, such as a broken ankle that is expected to heal and lead to minimal long-term impact.
Common car accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Neck injuries, including whiplash
- Soft tissue injuries, including torn cartilage or serious bruising
- Broken bones
- Abrasions that may result in scarring
An experienced car accident lawyer will analyze your medical reports and work with medical experts to determine the severity of your injuries to determine the baseline of your claim.
If a severely injured accident victim suffers from a traumatic brain injury or other injuries that can cause chronic pain or long-term disability, the settlement offer is likely to be significantly higher than an injury with a high likelihood of complete recovery.
When a car accident leads to injuries that require intensive medical treatment or the need for long-term medical care, such as physical therapy or assisted living, the medical bills are likely to be significant and the victim is less likely to return to work, resulting in a loss of income. Larger economic impacts tend to result in a higher settlement.
Car accidents often result in whiplash, traumatic brain injury, and tissue damage, all of which are difficult to prove as the damage may not be visible on an x-ray or CT scan.
The insurance company responsible for paying out damages is much more concerned with profits than they are with ensuring car accident victims receive a fair settlement, so they may imply that the injury isn't as serious as the victim says.
Having an experienced personal injury lawyer who can provide professional medical opinions can improve the likelihood of reaching a fair settlement.
One of the primary factors that determine how much a Georgia car accident settlement is worth is how much insurance is available. Georgia requires drivers to carry a liability insurance policy that will cover $25,000 in damages, though many drivers carry higher coverage, and commercial vehicles carry significantly larger insurance policies.
Typically, the value of your settlement is limited to the insurance coverage of the negligent driver, though if your medical bills and other economic costs are higher, a claim can be filed using your uninsured or under-insured motorist policy on your own insurance plan.
Fault In The Car Accident
If you are partially to blame for the car accident, you may still recover compensation, but it will be reduced. Georgia has a comparative negligence system in personal injury cases which means that the jury will determine how much fault both parties had in the accident.
For example, if a driver was texting while driving and ran a red light, but the other driver wasn't wearing a seat belt, the jury may determine the plaintiff was 20 percent responsible for the injuries they sustained. Thus, they would reduce the personal injury claim they would award by 20 percent.
Average Car Accident Settlement Amounts
The average settlement for a car accident in 2019 was just over $18,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute, but as we mentioned above, medical expenses and other factors all determine the amount an injury victim will receive.
Minor Collision Settlements
A minor collision resulting in minimal property damage and minor injuries, like soft tissue injuries or whiplash, will typically receive as low as $2,500 up to $25,000.
Car Accident Settlements With Severe Injuries
For car accidents resulting in traumatic brain injuries, spinal damage, or long-lasting injuries, the medical expenses and pain and suffering damages will be higher. Thus, settlements for severe injuries often begin at $50,000 and may range up to $200,000 or more.
Average Settlement For A Fatal Car Accident
Wrongful death in Georgia car accident cases often warrants the highest settlement offer. It's not uncommon for loved ones to receive up to $1 million or more, depending on the circumstances of the case.
How Long Does An Insurance Company Have To Settle A Claim In Georgia?
In the state of Georgia, insurance companies are generally required to settle claims within 30 days of receiving notice of the claim.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if an insurance company needs more time to investigate the claim or determine the amount of damages, it may request an extension from the policyholder. If an extension is granted, the insurance company must provide written notice to the policyholder within 30 days of receiving the claim.
In addition, insurance companies are not required to settle claims that are being disputed by the policyholder. If a policyholder disagrees with the insurance company's decision, they have the right to file an appeal.
Generally speaking, however, most insurance companies will attempt to resolve claims in a timely and efficient manner.
What Are the Statute Of Limitations To File An Accident Claim In Georgia?
Georgia law has a statute of limitations in place of two years from the date of an accident to file a car accident case or two years from the date of death in a fatal car crash.
However, an insurance company may delay settlement negotiations in order to run out the statute of limitations, so it's important to work with an injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident in order to prevent missing the window of opportunity to file a personal injury claim.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With An Experienced Atlanta Car Accident Attorney
Car accidents often result in severe or catastrophic injuries that require extensive medical treatment and can seriously impact your quality of life. At The Fitzpatrick Firm, LLC, we seek maximum recovery for our clients, whether we negotiate a fair settlement out of court or take your case in front of a jury. Schedule a free legal consultation with our Atlanta car accident attorney today by calling (678) 607-5550 or filling out the form below.