What is Your Accident Claim Worth? Top 3 Factors That Determine Personal Injury Settlements
Updated: Apr 13
One of the most common questions we at Sheeley Law receive from accident victims is, “how much money can I get for my injuries if I sue?” As you may expect, the answer is not cut and dry. For example, Attorney Ann Sheeley recently secured a $275,000 settlement for one of her clients who was injured in a car accident due another driver’s negligence. However, each case is unique and the amount you may receive depends on numerous factors. In this blog, we discuss the top factors that determine what your accident claim may be worth. As always, Rhode Island personal injury lawyer Ann Sheeley is here for you 24/7 for a free consultation to answer your specific questions.
Top Three Factors That Affect Accident Settlements:
If it is proven that the other driver’s negligence was entirely responsible for causing the accident, then they are considered “at-fault” and you should be entitled to full compensation for damages. In that case, that driver’s liability insurance company would typically cover some or all of your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. All motor vehicle insurance policies have limits, though, which is the maximum amount an insurance company will pay for certain damages stemming from an accident. Should the maximum amount of the other driver’s insurance policy be met, you may still be able to collect more under your own policy should your coverage include Un/Under insurance coverage. This comes into play if the “at- fault” driver has no-insurance is “un-insured” due to a lapse in coverage or other circumstances, or is “under-insured”, meaning their policy limit be not sufficient compensation for your injuries.
When determining fault, insurance adjusters always examine claims with a fine-tooth comb to see if your actions contributed to the accident. Fortunately, Rhode Island is a “pure comparative negligence” state, meaning it does not require the other party to be 100% at fault for you to file a claim. For example, suppose your damages amount to $100,000. If you are deemed 25 percent responsible for the accident, your total compensation would be reduced by $25,000 for a total possible settlement of $75,000.
What if the at-fault driver left the scene of the accident? What if they were uninsured? What if they only had only $15,000 in insurance coverage? You may also be able to seek damages through your own insurance policy. An experienced personal injury attorney, such as Sheeley Law, will leave no stone unturned to find ways to maximize a settlement.
2) Severity of Injuries
Another important factor that impacts the amount you receive from an accident claim is the severity of your injuries. Insurance companies and jurors typically award more compensation for catastrophic injuries that permanently affect an individual’s life. For example, a spinal cord injury that leaves the victim paralyzed will receive a higher settlement than a broken arm.
Even if your injuries are minor, you should still consult a personal injury attorney. Sore necks, backaches and bruises have the potential to worsen over time. Furthermore, you may still incur medical expenses or miss work as a result of your minor injuries.
No matter how severe your injuries, it is important that you seek medical attention immediately following an accident. When you delay receiving medical care, you are giving the insurance company a reason to question your claim and argue that the accident did not cause your injuries.
3). Amount of Total Damages
If you’ve been injured in any kind of accident caused by someone else’s negligence - whether it be a car, truck, motorcycle or pedestrian accident - you’re likely facing a stack of bills, including medical expenses, and car repairs. In addition, you may be unable to work for an extended period while recovering. Economic damages are your financial losses, such as medical expenses, personal care, and loss of income.
The amount of your total damages also includes non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is a legal term that refers to physical pain and the psychological effects of an injury, such as: the inability to carry on with daily activities, PTSD, depression and anxiety, panic attacks and other psychological trauma caused by the accident. Placing a monetary value on pain and suffering can be complicated and will depend on the severity of the accident, the victim’s prior lifestyle, and other factors. In order to receive a fair settlement for pain and suffering, you need the support of an experienced personal injury law firm, such as Sheeley Law.
What is Your Claim Worth?
Insurance companies will always try to settle out-of-court and convince the accident victim to accept their first, low-ball settlement offer. That is why it is critical that you hire a qualified personal injury attorney to protect your rights, argue your case, and explore all possible ways to get you a maximum settlement.
An experienced Rhode Island personal injury attorney, like Ann Sheeley, as many strategies to help secure the highest settlement possible. For example, most drivers are grossly under-insured for liability and SUM (supplemental underinsured/uninsured motorist) coverage. If the at-fault driver only has a $25,000 liability policy, this may not be enough to cover your medical expenses. However, you may be able to collect additional money from your own insurance policy’s SUM coverage as explained above.
Not all accident lawsuits go to trial. In fact, many times a settlement can be reached. An accident settlement is an out-of-court agreement between you, the at-fault driver, and the insurance companies for the damages, which include your medical bills, any lost wages or loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering you experience as the result of the car accident. Once you accept a settlement, your case is closed and you will not be able to file another lawsuit for that particular accident.
Naturally, the question of how much money you can expect by filing a claim is at the top of an injured victim’s mind. For minor injuries, the monetary award could be in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $20,000. For severe or catastrophic injuries, the award could be hundreds of thousands of dollars or much more. Unfortunately, there’s no way we can blindly give you a precise dollar amount because all accidents are unique and have many variables. That is why it is always best to contact a personal injury firm, such as Sheeley Law, to discuss the particulars of your accident and see if you have a legitimate case. A reputable personal injury attorney will protect your rights, ensure you receive proper medical care and fight to get you maximum compensation for your losses, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and loss of any future income.
Naturally, if you sustained injuries in an accident, you want to know if the financial compensation will be worth the time and effort to file a claim. Attorney Ann Sheeley has more than 25 years of experience and a proven track record of delivering results because when it comes to you and your family, “Results Matter.” In court and in settlement negotiations, she will be your advocate, standing up for your rights and interests at all times and keeping you informed every step of the way