What’s a Realistic Settlement Amount for My Traffic Accident?By Gabriel Levin on January 16th, 2018
Lawsuits are often time-consuming and emotionally draining, so it’s little surprise that many people want to settle their claims outside of court. A settlement allows you to avoid going to trial and possibly losing, and it lets you get money fast. If you’re struggling to pay mounting medical bills, then you should talk to your car accident lawyer about what kind of compensation you can expect to receive in a settlement.
Ignore the Insurer’s Initial Lowball Offer
In many traffic accident disputes, you won’t be negotiating with the other driver, but with their insurer. If you are injured by a transportation vehicle, then you might be negotiating with the company’s business insurer. In any event, you shouldn’t be surprised if they give you an initial lowball offer. The initial offer is just like the sticker price on a car you see at the dealership. It’s a starting point for negotiations, nothing more.
Your traffic accident lawyer will be focused on getting a higher amount of compensation than what is initially offered, and they’ll use evidence that the other driver is at fault as leverage. To help things, you should work with your car accident lawyer to get the evidence you need to sue. For example, write down your own memories after the accident and let your attorney know the identity of any witnesses to the crash.
How Much Are My Injuries Worth?
This is a complicated question and unfortunately, there is no easy answer. A lot depends on the injuries you suffer and how much it costs to treat them. For example, if you need surgery to manage a traumatic brain injury, then your medical expenses will be a lot higher than if you only suffered whiplash. Your total compensation also depends on the following factors:
- Your age
- How much income you make
- Whether you can return to your old job or to any job at all
- Whether you will you need continuing medical treatment or rehabilitation
- Your pain and suffering
- How much damage was done to your car in the wreck
- Whether your injuries have affected your marriage
Sometimes, you can easily apply a dollar amount to your injury. For example, if you’ve received medical treatment, you can add up the medical bills and arrive at a number. But other injuries, like pain and suffering, are more difficult to determine. Your personal injury attorney should fully evaluate the evidence to determine how much you are likely to recover for these non-economic damages.
How Motivated is the Other Side to Settle?
You also will need to consider how much money the other side is willing to pay. If your case drew a lot of media attention, then the insurer might be highly motivated to settle your dispute. When comedian Tracy Morgan was injured by a Walmart truck, Walmart actually reached a settlement with Morgan directly instead of having their insurers negotiate with him. Unsurprisingly, Walmart probably wanted to get a settlement out of the way so that they could get out of the news cycle and make the case disappear.
Conversely, some insurers might like to play hardball. If you hire an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney, then they can anticipate what tactics the other side will use. For example, you might need to wait out an insurer that plays hardball and not settle until your trial date begins to approach.
Were You Partially at Fault?
Sometimes, more than one person is partially to blame for the accident. For example, both cars might have run red lights and crashed into each other at the intersection. In this situation, it’s wrong to say that only one side is to blame for the accident when both drivers were careless. Furthermore, some drivers might only be partially at fault—but they aren’t 100% blameless.
In some states, if the victim is even a little bit to blame, they can’t receive any compensation for their injuries. Fortunately, Pennsylvania has taken a different approach. In Pennsylvania, the amount of money you receive will be reduced by your percent of liability.
For example, let’s say your injuries are worth $100,000. If you’re 50% to blame for the accident, you can only get $50,000. However, Pennsylvania also requires that you not be more to blame than the other side. This means that if you were 51% responsible for the accident, then you can’t recover anything.
Only a jury can assign blame, but during the negotiation process, each side will have a good idea of the circumstance surrounding the accident. For this reason, they can reasonably anticipate if you were partially responsible for your injuries. This doesn’t mean you won’t get a settlement—you very well might. Instead, it means you might get a smaller amount than you would if you were 100% blameless.
Settlement Is Voluntary
You should never be afraid to enter settlement negotiations with an insurer since you always have the power to walk away. A settlement is entirely voluntary, and if you aren’t pleased with an offer, you don’t have to accept it. Instead, you can go to court and try your chances in front of a jury.
Of course, if you try to negotiate without the help of a lawyer, then you might quickly accept a lowball offer, simply because you are feeling overwhelmed or in dire need of money. To get the compensation you deserve, you should never sign anything an insurance company gives you without running it by your lawyer at first. In fact, you should tell the insurer to only talk with your lawyer.
Call a Philadelphia Traffic Accident Lawyer Today
Traffic accidents often leave their victims in a state of fear, depression, and physical pain. You are not alone. At The Levin Firm, we help accident victims and their loved ones get the compensation they deserve. We’ve worked tirelessly to help victims begin to rebuild their lives by holding the parties at fault legally responsible. Call us today for a free consultation at 215-825-5183, or fill out our online contact form.