Jill Kolodner | November 24, 2020 | Car Accidents
Most car accident cases are settled through negotiations with the other driver’s insurance company. Your personal injury lawyer drafts a settlement demand letter to send to the insurance company. The settlement demand letter begins the settlement negotiations.
In some cases, an insurance company might make a settlement offer to begin negotiations. In either case, your lawyer and the insurance company discuss the facts of the car accident case and the damages you sustained because of the accident.
Suppose the insurance company refuses to pay a fair amount to settle the claim. In that case, your personal injury attorney might suggest that you agree to mediation or that you consider filing a lawsuit. Your lawyer does his best to settle the car accident claim without the need to file a lawsuit so that he can get the most money for you in the quickest time.
Factors That Affect the Amount of Your Car Accident Settlement
Some factors affect the value of your car accident settlement. These factors are often outside of your control. However, your car accident lawyer works to minimize the factors that can lower your car accident settlement amount while maximizing the factors that increase the value of your claim.
Nine factors that could impact the amount of money you can receive for your car accident case include:
1. The Type and Severity of Your Injuries
Your injuries have a significant impact on the value of your car accident settlement. Catastrophic injuries usually increase a car accident settlement value because it costs more to treat these injuries. Examples of catastrophic injuries include amputations, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries.
Additionally, it generally takes longer to recover from a severe injury, which increases the amount of lost wages and other economic damages. The pain and suffering associated with traumatic injuries are assumed to be much worse than a minor injury.
2. The Amount of Your Financial Damages
Your financial damages also impact the value of your claim. You are entitled to include all reasonable and necessary expenses related to the accident in your claim amount. Examples of financial damages included in a car settlement include:
- Loss of income
- Medical costs and expenses
- Travel expenses
- Help with household chores
- Travel expenses
- Personal care costs
- In-home health care costs
- Medications and medical equipment
- Physical therapy and other therapy costs
Carefully documenting damages for a personal injury case increases the value of your claim. You must have proof of your damages to recover compensation for the damages.
3. The Policy Limits of the Insurance Policy
Maryland requires drivers to purchase a minimum amount of liability insurance. Liability insurance compensates accident victims when a driver causes a car crash. The required automobile liability insurance in Maryland is:
- $30,000 for bodily injury per person injured in an accident
- $60,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
- $15,000 property damage coverage
Unfortunately, a severe injury could cost more than $30,000 to treat, especially if the person requires surgery and therapy. That would not leave any money for the person’s other damages, such as lost wages, pain, and suffering.
If the other driver has minimum car insurance and your claim exceeds $30,000, the insurance company might pay the policy limits and close the claim. You could sue the driver to obtain a personal judgment, but the driver might not have any money or assets to pay the claim.
If you have underinsured motorist coverage, you might receive additional compensation for your claim by filing a claim with your insurance carrier. Your personal injury lawyer searches for all sources of compensation to maximize your recovery for damages.
4. Whether You Contributed to the Cause of the Car Accident
Maryland has strict laws regarding contributory negligence. You are barred from recovering any money for your injuries or damages if your actions contributed to the cause of the car accident.
It does not matter if you are only slightly at fault and the other driver is 90 percent at fault. You are still barred from recovering any money for a personal injury claim.
5. Caps on Non-Economic Damages in Maryland
Maryland does not place a cap on economic damages. Economic damages are the financial losses you incurred because of the car wreck.
However, Maryland does cap non-economic damages. Non-economic damages represent the pain and suffering you experienced because of the accident and your injury. “Pain and suffering” damages include our physical pain, mental anguish, loss of quality of life, emotional distress, and other non-financial damages.
6. Whether a Government Vehicle or Employee Was Involved
If a government vehicle or employee was involved in your car accident, your compensation is capped. The state caps both economic and non-economic damages when it is sued for a car accident claim. Even if you settle your claim, you cannot receive more money than the damage cap for government claims.
7. Whether You Sustained a Permanent Disability or Impairment
Accident victims who sustain permanent impairments or disabilities can demand more money for their car accident settlement. In addition to damages through the date of the settlement, you could recover future damages.
Future damages include:
- Ongoing medical treatment
- Cost of long-term personal care
- Decreases in earning potential
- Loss of future income
You may also receive an amount for the pain, suffering, and loss of quality of life you experience because of the impairment or disability.
8. The Insurance Company Involved in the Case
Some insurance companies are easier to work with than other insurance companies. They are willing to negotiate in good faith to reach a fair and just settlement.
Other insurance companies act in bad faith. If an insurance company acts in bad faith, you could have a separate claim against the company for bad faith insurance practices. You could recover additional compensation for the bad faith claim.
9. Whether or Not You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Some personal injury cases might not require the help of a lawyer. However, most individuals benefit from consulting with a personal injury attorney after a car accident.
The insurance company is not going to tell you if your claim is worth more money. It wants to pay as little as possible to resolve your car accident claim. Therefore, if you are not familiar with personal injury laws, damages, and the value of claims, you could accept a settlement amount that is much lower than the actual value of your injury claim.
When you hire a car accident lawyer with a reputation as a successful negotiator and trial attorney, the insurance company might take the case more seriously. It knows that your lawyer is not afraid of taking the case to trial if the insurance company does not negotiate a fair settlement.
Your lawyer also understands insurance tactics and tricks. He knows what to watch for and how to fight back to protect your legal rights and best interests. Your lawyer fights for maximum compensation for your car accident settlement.